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‘Scary’ Shanghai Masters Experience Forces Russian ATP Star Andrey Rublev to Reach Out to the Umpire for a Destructive Solution

Published 10/15/2023, 5:30 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The Shanghai Masters witnessed a drama on the court when a drone halted play between Andrey Rublev and Grigor Dimitrov. World No. 8 Rublev had to plead with the umpire to remove the drone for safety reasons, highlighting an issue that could plague tennis in the future.

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Trailing Dimitrov in the third set, Rublev’s concentration was broken by the buzzing drone hovering above court level. The Russian voiced his concerns to the chair umpire, requesting the pilot be asked to land the device immediately. “It was scary because it was too low and I couldn’t see it,” Rublev said after the match.

Andrey Rublev leads calls to destroy drone after Shanghai Masters scare


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Dimitrov echoed Rublev’s safety worries, saying drones had no place around active matches. “If it had hit me while I was running or during my motion, I could have really gotten hurt,” the Bulgarian said. Both players feared the spinning blades or electric components could cause serious injury if struck.

Tennis authorities may need to implement stringent rules around drone use at tournaments to reassure players. The ATP Tour and WTA already prohibit drones from flying over stadiums, but more needs to be done to prevent intrusions onto the field of play. Rublev suggested drones be destroyed if unauthorised, saying “player safety has to be the priority.


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Tougher regulations needed to address drone risks


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Rublev regained focus and complete a comeback victory over Dimitrov after a brief delay. However, future incidents may not be resolved so smoothly. Players could refuse to continue playing until given an assurance of safety from officials. This risks delaying matches and disrupting tournament schedules.

Rublev’s calls for a zero-tolerance approach were echoed by other stars. World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz said, “Drones have no business in the stadium during live matches. The tour must find a way to stop this from happening again.” Fellow top-10 player Casper Ruud agreed, tweeting that player safety “should not be compromised for someone’s enjoyment.”


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The Shanghai Masters drone incident highlighted the potential dangers new technologies like drones pose to on-court safety. Tennis authorities must implement stricter regulations to ensure player welfare is not put at risk again in future. Rublev and Dimitrov showed wisdom in voicing their safety concerns publicly and pushing for change. This will hopefully lead to steps that preserve the enjoyment of the sport for both players and fans.

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Written by:

Manasvi Dwivedi


One take at a time

Manasvi Dwivedi is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports. She is a seasoned sports journalist with over four years of experience in writing about major tennis tournaments, player profiles, and the global tennis circuit. Manasvi provides in-depth coverage of the latest developments in the tennis world for EssentiallySports' passionate readership.
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