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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Dominic Thiem endures brush with venomous snake at Brisbane International

Former world No. 3 was a set down to 20-year-old Australian James McCabe in a first-round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the reptile

AP/PTI Brisbane Published 31.12.23, 07:16 AM
Dominic Thiem in Australia earlier this year.

Dominic Thiem in Australia earlier this year. Getty Images

Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem had a brush with one of Australia’s most venomous snakes during a qualifying match at the Brisbane International on Saturday.

The former world No. 3 was a set down to 20-year-old Australian James McCabe in a first-round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the reptile.

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Security personnel quickly arrived but the umpire had to stop play as the snake slithered onto the court to the shock of the players and fans.

“I really love animals, especially exotic ones,” Thiem said. “But, they said it was a really poisonous snake and it was close to the ball kids, so it was a really dangerous situation.

“It’s something that has never happened to me and is something I’ll definitely never forget.”

The snake — identified as a 50-centimetre eastern brown snake and one of Australia’s most deadly reptiles — was soon safely removed allowing play to resume.

But so far as Thiem was concerned, the Austrian had to save three match points before levelling the match by winning the second set tiebreak. The 30-year-old then went on to clinch the deciding set for a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 win.

“It was a good win in the end,” he said later.

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal greet each other after their practice match in Brisbane on Saturday.

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal greet each other after their practice match in Brisbane on Saturday. Getty Images

Currently ranked No. 98 after several years with a troublesome wrist injury, Thiem will face either Italian Giulio Zeppieri or another Australian, Omar Jasika, in the final qualifying round on Sunday.

The main round of the Brisbane International begins on Monday. Holger Rune, ranked eighth, is the highest-ranked player in the 32-man field while Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Ben Shelton, Grigor Dimitrov and Sebastian Korda headline the other internationals.

New mom Naomi Osaka will make her WTA comeback at the tournament. Reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Jelena Ostapenko, Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin are in the 54-player women’s draw.

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