Sports

Thiem advances after brush with deadly snake



BRISBANE, Australia — 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 Australian James McCabe, 20, in a first-round qualifying match when fans courtside spotted the snake.

Security personnel quickly arrived, but the umpire had to stop play as the snake slithered on to 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 ballkids, 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-centimeter eastern brown snake and one of Australia’s most deadly reptiles — was soon safely removed, allowing play to resume.

But Thiem, 30, was not yet out of danger as he had to save three match points before leveling the match by winning the second-set tiebreak. He then went on to clinch the deciding set for a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 win.

The Austrian, currently ranked No. 98 after several years with a troublesome wrist injury, will face either Italian Giulio Zeppieri or another Australian, Omar Jasika, in the final qualifying round tomorrow.

Thiem reached the final of the Australian Open in 2020 when he pushed champion Novak Djokovic to five sets, and he won the US Open later that year.

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