There were smiles and laughs all round at the US Open on Saturday when a squirrel invaded Svetlana Kuznetsova’s match against Flavia Pennetta on court 11.
Kuznetsova looked less than impressed after chasing the rodent away with the aid of a ball girl.
The Russian could be forgiven her sense of humour failure – because the critters are becoming something of a problem at the New York grand slam.
Squirrels have interrupted several matches in the first week alone – and while they may look cute they can carry all manner of unpleasant diseases including rabies.
The reason for the squirrels’ presence is fairly easily explained. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the tournament takes place, is located in Flushing Meadows Park – an area of parkland in the densely-populated New York borough of Queen’s.
Throw in several thousand burger wrappers and half-eaten hot dogs, and the place is a haven for squirrels.
Tournament organisers might want to take a leaf out of Wimbledon’s book – the All-England Club employs Rufus the hawk to scare off pests including London’s ubiquitous pigeons.