Protesters With Flares Interrupt French Open Final

The match between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer was delyaed only briefly

By JOHN LEICESTER
|  Sunday, Jun 9, 2013  |  Updated 1:37 PM EDT
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A demonstrator tries to invade center court as Spain's Rafael Nadal plays 136compatriot David Ferrer during the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday, June 9, 2013 in Paris.

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A man who jumped onto the court with a fiery flare spurting white smoke briefly interrupted the French Open final Sunday between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

The topless spectator wearing a white mask surged from the crowd near Nadal as the Spanish player was about to serve for the second set, leading 5-1. The man had the words "Kids right" written on his belly.

Security personnel wrested the man to the ground and quickly hauled him away.

A guard stood near Nadal, protecting him, while the protester was subdued. Nadal shook the guard's hand before resuming play. The match was delayed only briefly. Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to win his eighth French Open title.

Security officers also expelled a man and a woman from the Court Philippe Chatrier after they held a banner that read in French: "Help! France is trampling on children's rights."

Another man and a woman held a similar banner in English and shouted slogans.

Five topless protesters also brandishing red flares and wearing white masks climbed to the top of the adjacent Court Suzanne Lenglen and unfurled a banner calling for the resignation of French President Francois Hollande.

Christophe Fagniez, the tournament's director of operations, later said: "The situation is under control; it's in the hands of the police."

During the 2003 final, when Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Martin Verkerk, a male streaker wearing nothing but tennis balls and sneakers ran onto the center court and hurdled the net.

In the 2009 final won by Roger Federer, a man jumped over the photographer's pit and ran on the court, went up to the Swiss player and tried to put a red hat on him. Federer brushed the man aside before security guards got close enough to intervene. After hopping the net, the man was tackled and jailed for questioning.

The worst incident involving an on-court intruder came in 1993 when a man reached over a courtside railing in Hamburg, Germany, and stabbed top-ranked Monica Seles between the shoulder blades. Seles returned to tennis in 1995, and won the 1996 Australian Open.

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