Fury as eco-zealots halt US Open semi final as one glues himself to floor

8 September 2023, 08:00

Eco zealots halted the semi final
Eco zealots halted the semi final. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Extinction Rebellion activists sparked fury on Thursday as they halted the women's semi final at the US Open.

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Three protesters brought the intense game between Coco Guaff and Karolina Muchova to a halt for almost an hour as they chanted "end fossil fuels" and donned tops with the same slogan.

American teenager Gauff and Czech 10th seed Muchova initially stayed on the court for about 10 minutes while security tried to deal with the situation.

The Arthur Ashe crowd at one point began chanting "kick them out" with the protesters apparently being difficult to shift.

One of them went as far as to glue his feet to the concrete in protest.

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"Are they like talking to them or are they going to remove them?" Gauff asked chair umpire Alison Hughes and tournament referee Jake Garner.

She then spoke to her coach, Brad Gilbert, saying "they say they are negotiating, like it's a hostage situation. What should I do?"

Both players eventually left the court with Gauff leading 6-4 1-0.

After 50 minutes of chaos, the Extinction Rebellion activists were finally thrown out of the stadium, with spectators booing and shouting "You suck!" and "F*** you".

Gauff won the match, making it through to her first US Open final after a 6-4 7-5 victory.

The disruption came just days after another spectator was thrown out after using an Adolf Hitler slur during a match between Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner.

The players were embroiled in a fourth round tie in New York on Monday night when the game was paused due to the racial slur being shouted from the crowd.

Zverev - the German No.12 seed - stopped play just seconds before a point and approached the umpire.

He said: "He just said the most famous Hitler phrase there is. It is unacceptable."

British umpire James Keothavong went on to turn in his chair to directly address the audience, asking the culprit to identify themselves.

Security were later seen talking to a middle-aged man and before leading him away.