Lifestyle & Belief

French Open final fiery affair for Raphael Nadal, protesters


A protester runs onto court with a lit flare before the start of a game in the men's final between Rafael Nadal of Spain and David Ferrer of Spain at the French Open on June 9, 2013 in Paris.


Matthew Stockman

Raphael Nadal will never forget winning his eighth French Open title.

It will be hard to shake the image of bare-chested protesters bursting from the crowd with lit flares before shouting political slogans and being hustled away by security.

It was certainly the tensest moment of a match Nadal dominated, beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday in Paris at Roland Garros.

The victory was also his record-breaking eighth French Open championship.

“I never realized something like this would be able to happen, but now here we are,” Nadal said after the match, according to The New York Times.

Nadal has returned to form after missing several months with knee problems.

He’s now the first player to ever win the same major tournament eight times.

“It’s one of the most special ones,” Nadal added, USA Today reported.

As for the protesters, BBC said they were demonstrating against same-sex marriage.

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Nadal was left startled in the sixth game of the second set when a man wearing a white mask leapt over from the stands and ran up to Nadal as he lit the flare.

The protester ran around waving the flare before he, and another bare-chested accomplice, were bundled away by security staff, Reuters said.

It was the second such interruption within the space of a few minutes as a man and a woman were led away from high up in the stands after shouting protests.

AFP photos from the match showed the man had “Kids right” written across the stomach.

He burst through courtside spectators, shoving aside fans to make his way onto the clay court.

The small group had banners that called on President Francois Hollande to resign.

France has recently passed laws giving women greater access to abortion and birth control while also witnessing its first same-sex marriage recently.

Tennis is a sport especially jittery around protests given a crazed man stabbed Monica Seles at a tournament in Germany 20 years ago.

Seles needed two years to recover from a knife wound to her back; losing the prime of her career.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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