Federer not happy with security, Organizers defends


Paris: It happened in 2009, again in 2013 and on Sunday once more security was embarrassingly breached at the French Open in a city still on edge after January`s deadly Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

Roger Federer, one of the sport`s biggest stars, was targeted by a young fan desperate only for an innocent `selfie` with the 17-time Grand Slam title legend.

But two decades after the on-court stabbing of Monica Seles in Hamburg by a deranged fan, officials are all too sensitive to such breaches, especially those being watched by millions around the world.

On Sunday, the youngster raced from the executive, courtside boxes, catching the burly, suit-and-tied security guards completely unawares before they eventually realised the potential danger and muscled him off the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier.

Federer had just cruised past Alejandro Falla into the second round and was ambling off court when the incident happened.

He appeared shocked to see the spectator, dressed in t-shirt and jeans, heading straight for him.

It was an eerie repetition of the 2009 final when another fan leapt from the stands on the same court to plant a hat on the head of the Swiss star.

Four years later, the men`s final between another of the sport`s A-listers, Rafael Nadal, the nine-time champion, and David Ferrer was suspended as flare-carrying protestors were chased away.

“He (Federer) was pissed off with what happened,” admitted tournament director Gilbert Ysern.

“To some extent it`s not the end of the world, but it`s embarrassing, of course, for Roland Garros.

“It shows that we collectively as an organization made a mistake and we will have to correct that and make sure it doesn`t happen again.”

Tennis is getting used to such heart-stopping incidents.

This year`s Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was held up for five minutes after two people ran onto the court to protest the country`s policy on refugees.

In 2006, Federer`s Wimbledon quarter-final was hit when protestors invaded Centre Court, a day after a streaker had also leapt onto the turf when Maria Sharapova was playing.

Wimbledon organisers briefly even pondered the possibility that glass screens may have to be constructed to keep spectators off the area of play.

Ysern said that Sunday`s incident reflected a failure in judgement by the staff employed to patrol the 15,000-capacity Philippe Chatrier Court rather than a breakdown in procedures which will not be changed.

But he admitted he was unaware of a similar incident on Saturday when Federer was besieged by a small group of autograph hunters while he practised.

“I am not happy about it. It happened in practice, too. It`s just a kid, but then three more kids came. And today on centre court where you would think this is a place where nobody can come on, just wanders on and nothing happens,” said Federer.

“Something needs to happen quickly. Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that that`s where you do your job, that`s where you want to feel safe.

“And so clearly I`m not happy about it. But nothing happened, so I`m relieved. But clearly it wasn`t a nice situation to be in.”

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo slayings, security has been tightened at Roland Garros in the city`s plush 16th arrondissement.

“We are in close contact with the police and we follow their advice, as can you imagine, of course,” said Ysern. “The level of security has been enhanced.”

But Ysern, keen to play down what he described as a non-aggressive incident, insists that he is happy with the standard of the security being provided.

“There is no reason why we should change the security systems, because it`s not the system that`s being challenged. We have enough people on the courts. They have been trained. They have been briefed. They have been prepared.

“So today, this was a wrong judgement from one of the staff on the courts who was not vigilant enough.”