Tennis match halted by court invader dressed as giant panda

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There were bizarre scenes at the ABN AMRO Open in Rotterdam as someone dressed as a giant panda ran on the court during a qualifying match between Quentin Halys and Gregoire Barrere.

The ATP 500 tournament is playing host to a number of the sport’s top stars, including Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev – who are all in action for the first time since the Australian Open.

And while Tsitsipas, Rublev, Auger-Aliassime and Medvedev were all seeded, Halys and Barrere had to reach the main-draw through the qualifiers. The pair both won their first qualifier in straight sets, with Halys beating Zizou Bergs 6-3 6-2 and Barerre beating Jesper De Jong 7-5 6-2.

They then faced off in a second qualifier and were left utterly baffled when a court invader dressed in a giant panda costume ran on and did a lap before leaving.

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Both players simply stood there and waited for the invader to leave as they did a forward roll and ran around the court before leaving where they had entered. No security attempted to tackle the invader and the person’s actions prompted no reaction whatsoever from either player or the crowd, who simply waited in silence for the invader to leave.

And once that had happened, Halys and Barrere promptly resumed playing. Fans on social media were also baffled by the incident, with one writing: “the world literally stopped”.

Another joked: “Nothing to see here. Carry on.” While a third simply questioned: “Where’s… the security?”

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Australian tennis player Lizette Cabrera also weighed in, tweeting: “What in the panda is going on here”. Barrere went on to win the match 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 to qualify for the main-draw, while Halys still qualified as a lucky loser.

Barrere defeated David Goffin in his first round match, before losing to Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Halys, meanwhile, was eliminated in the first round by Botic van de Zandschulp.

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