As Federer finished an interview after his first-round
At first, Federer seemed startled. Then he looked uncomfortable, trying to brush away the unexpected guest, who appeared to be in his teens, before a guard led the spectator away. And in the end, Federer was angry at what he considered a serious lapse in security.
"I'm not happy about it. Obviously, not [for] one second [am I] happy about it," Federer said, adding that something similar happened a day earlier, when several kids interrupted his practice session at Roland Garros. "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."
Tournament director Gilbert Ysern headed to the locker room to offer a personal apology and also spoke to Federer's wife, Mirka, in the players' lounge. Ysern called it "embarrassing" and acknowledged Federer "has good grounds for being unhappy," but chalked the whole thing up to "lack of judgment" on the part of the security staff that let the intruder get by.
"Honestly," Ysern said at a news conference, "at this stage, there is no reason for us to change the security procedures."
Ysern noted that tennis security was beefed up worldwide after then-No. 1 Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by someone who came out of the stands during a changeover at a tournament in Germany in 1993.
"Given what happened with Seles and … [that] we live in a civilization that has gone a bit mad, it's clear that we absolutely owe it to the players to allow them to play on the court," Ysern said. "Fortunately, our sport doesn't have fences and barbed wire around the courts. There's not that physical separation that isn't very pleasant."
It was, certainly as far as Federer was concerned, the most noteworthy development on Day 1 at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament. Like No. 2 Federer, who beat Colombia's Alejandro Falla, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, most seeded players progressed without a hitch.
Two seeded women headed home too: No. 25 Peng Shuai, a 2014
Against Falla five years ago at
Didn't help Sunday against the 2009 French Open champion, because, as Falla explained, "When I played my best tennis, he also played really well."
Yes, Federer tends to do that.
And so it was that the most unsettling part of Federer's afternoon came moments after his match concluded. The too-close-for-comfort encounter began with the spectator putting an arm around Federer's shoulder and holding up a phone to try to snap photos. Eventually, a guard pulled the kid away.
"It's a risk for the players," Falla said, "because anything can happen if a guy just can jump on the court."
Federer pointed out that his 2009 final on the same court was interrupted when a man jumped over the photographer's pit, went right up to the Swiss star and, oddly enough, tried to put a hat on him.
In a jab at the security staff, Federer said Sunday that being a guard is "not just being there, standing there on the courts, wearing a nice tie and suit. It's not that funny."
Gulbis, who beat Federer in the fourth round in Paris last year, did manage to put a humorous spin on Sunday's episode.