Wild scenes as animals invade tennis
Only in Australia.
Away from the bright lights of the Australian Open, Melbourne Park was hosting another tournament on its outside courts - although observers may have mistaken it for a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock film.
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The Phillip Island Trophy kicked off on the weekend and players who had already been knocked out of the year's first grand slam were able to enter into the WTA 250 event.
Madison Brengle and Bianca Andreescu both suffered early exits from the major Down Under but were keen to get more matches in and played each other in the opening round of the lower-profile tournament.
Or at least, they tried to.
Australia's adventurous wildlife didn't exactly make it easy as seagulls and insects combined to cause havoc in the Victorian capital.
First up, the start of Andreescu and Brengle's match was delayed because there was so much bird poo on the court that had to be cleaned up before play could get underway.
Eventually the American and Canadian got going while a horde of seagulls flocked overhead, occasionally interrupting proceedings when they dropped down to the ground and swooped across at eye level during the match.
Play was interrupted when one winged spectator popped down onto the court, reminding Brengle of Hitchcock's 1963 classic The Birds - a horror movie about ultra violent birds invading America.
"It's like a Hitchcock … thing," she said.
At one stage Brengle looked ready to use her racquet on a seagull rather than the ball, while on another occasion Andreescu was robbed of an ace because a seagull distracted her opponent as the ball was heading her way.
Madison Brengle was ready to go all after one of them. 😂 pic.twitter.com/YnuXi0Rn35— Tennis GIFs 🎾🎥 (@tennis_gifs) February 15, 2021
Not to be outdone, a stack of beetles also wanted in on the action.
The Tennis Podcast tweeted: "In addition to the seagull poo, the court is also being invaded by beetles. Because Australia."
They certainly caught Brengle's attention. "What is that one? It's like a pill bug … but bigger!" she said.
New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg summed things up perfectly when he tweeted: "This Brengle-Andreescu match should be airing on Animal Planet. It's been absurd.
"That match deserves to go viral."
For the record, Andreescu won 7-6 4-6 6-3 and will play Zarina Diyas in the next round.
Originally published as Wild scenes as animals invade tennis