Miami: It is not only tropical storms that can halt play at sports events in Florida. Sometimes, even the local wildlife forces the action to stop as Tommy Haas discovered.
The 38-year-old's Miami Open match with Jiri Vesely was delicately poised at 3-3 in the third set on Wednesday when a large iguana appeared on top of the scoreboard to catch some of the action.
Iggy, Iggy, Iggy, can't you see?
Keep off the tennis court, please. pic.twitter.com/7WaG5kaUDV
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) March 22, 2017
While officials pondered whether to continue with the giant lizard enjoying the view, Haas, in his final year on the tour, decided to take a selfie with the creature. "Maybe the iguana got the note that this is most likely the last time I'm playing here, and he wanted to say 'hi' and take a peek or something," said Haas. "I don't know, but it was pretty cool. Of that size, I don't think I've ever experienced that. I don't know where he came from and why he wanted to come out on court one and kind of say hello to everyone."
Special selfie @miamiopen , thanks for coming out to watch some Tennis A post shared by tommy haas (@tommyhaasofficial) on
While the crowd enjoyed the moment, officials couldn't cajole the iguana away and decided to continue play with the creature still in sight.
But Vesely complained to the umpire that he couldn't concentrate fully on the game with the unusual fan at courtside and play was eventually stopped for almost eight minutes, resuming only after the iguana had scampered across the court and then been carefully captured.
Frankie Melendez, a line umpire at the tournament, was brave enough to wrap the animal in a towel, catching it by the tail and carry it off the court.
He later narrated the incident in an interview, and said that he wanted to help the chair umpire so that the match could resume. He also revealed that they had named the lizard "Iguanacho".
While insects and bugs are a frequent annoyance for Florida's tennis players, golfers are more used to being joined my some of the Sunshine State's better known wildlife.
Just last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational PGA Tour event in Orlando, an eight-foot alligator entered the course during the first round.
Cody Gribble, a 26-year-old rookie, wasn't fazed by the situation however, calmly patting the reptile's tail which prompted it to leap back into the water.
The incident was caught on television and Gribble's cool approach impressed many.
But things don't always go so smoothly when sports and wildlife collide.
In February, a 75-year-old amateur golfer in North Fort Myers was dragged away by a 10-foot alligator and only managed to escape from the water after smashing the reptile in the eye with his golf club.
With inputs from AFP
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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2017 18:28:46 IST