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Monday, June 17, 2024

Bee-zarre: Bees stop Alcaraz-Zverev match at Indian Wells

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Indian Wells, United States—A “bee invasion” rocked Stadium Court at Indian Wells on Thursday, sending defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev diving for cover and making a hero of local bee expert Lance Davis.

World number two Alcaraz was stung on the forehead and forced into retreat by the insects, swatting them away in alarm with his racquet and hands before seeking shelter.

He and Zverev were just two games into their quarter-final match when play was halted, with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani announcing: “Ladies and gentlemen, play is suspended due to bee invasion.”

Alcaraz’s agent, Albert Molina, told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope during the delay that Alcaraz was stung on the forehead “but he is fine.”

It would be almost two hours before play resumed, with Davis, a local expert who specializes in live bee removal, emerging as a star during the break.

Spectators watched in fascination as he used a special vacuum to remove the masses of bees that had swarmed the remote-controlled aerial “spider cam”—funnelling them into a humane live-catch cage.

With that done, officials indicated players would soon return to court, but plenty of stray bees remained and fans applauded as Davis used a spray to target some the on-court scoreboards, courtside chairs and player equipment before making his way through some sections of the stands—where spectators offered high-fives and took selfies with him.

Tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen said Davis, who operates Killer Bee Live Removal, has worked with the tournament for about seven years on a year-round basis and had already been out to help with “other beekeeping needs around the grounds.”

Alcaraz, who said he’d never seen anything like it on a tennis court, clearly felt no lingering effects from his brush with the bees. When play resumed he polished off the victory 6-3, 6-1.

It wasn’t the first time a marquee tennis match has been disrupted by bees.

At the WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara in 2022 an opening day match between Petra Kvitova and Bernarda Para was delayed as a beekeeper dealt with a swarm of bees that had attached itself to the umpire’s chair.

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