A FLOCK of low-flying Seagulls caused havoc at a WTA tennis match at Melbourne Park today – with poor balls kids and officials having constantly to clean up their poo.
As night-time fell over Melbourne, the Phillip Island Trophy match between Bianca Andreescu and Madison Brengle was interrupted at various times in the second and third set due to an invasion of hungry court-invading birds.
A seagull takes over in Melbourne
Every evening during the tennis, seagulls descend on the grounds and rummage through the bins searching for food.
And given the lack of crowds on-site due to a state Covid-19 lockdown, they seized their chance to swoop in low on the open-aired 1573 Arena.
In scenes reminiscent of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, the match was played out to a soundtrack of shrieking from above.
Ball boys and girls as well as officials had to run on the court to wipe up the mess produced by the dozens of birds overhead.
Both players complained and pointed out the mess amid concerns they could slip on the freshly-dropped excrement.
Seagull poo is a real concern for organisers because tennis players can injure themselves if it is not wiped up properly.
Canadian Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, was even robbed of an ace in the second set when a seagull flew low during her delivery.
And though she originally saw the funny side of it, American Brengle even went after one with her racket in the third set in a moment of frustration.
Andreescu, 20, prevailed 7-6 4-6 6-3 and will now play Kazak Zarina Diyas in the last 16, but this contest was surely one of the most peculiar of her career.
Though the Australian Open has reached the quarter-final stages of the singles, there are other WTA events taking place on the outside courts.
Britain’s No1 Jo Konta had issues two years ago when she was dumped out of the Australian Open in a match that finished at 3.12am because of seagull droppings.
The Brit’s second-round defeat to Garbine Muguruza did not start until 12.30am local time due to the bird mess on Court Three.
It was switched at short notice to another court but Konta ended up exiting the Slam Down Under.