A tennis star stopped to rescue a seemingly dead bug during his marquee Australian Open match

A tennis star stopped to rescue a seemingly dead bug during his marquee Australian Open match
Sinner picks up a bug during the 2023 Australian Open.REUTERS/Sandra Sanders
  • Italy's Jannik Sinner faced Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
  • During the decisive fifth set, the 21-year-old world No. 16 stopped to rescue a dead-looking bug.

Jannik Sinner was looking for more than one comeback at the Australian Open.

With a trip to his fourth Grand Slam quarterfinal of the past 12 months on the line, the 21-year-old Italian tennis star faced off against world No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday. Despite going down two sets early in the marquee matchup, Sinner climbed back to force a decisive fifth.

While battling back from a three-game deficit in that final set, the world No. 16 stumbled — literally — upon a bug in need of a comeback of its own.

As Sinner walked back towards the baseline for his serve, someone in the crowd called out, "It's on the court!" The young Italian looked down quickly and hopped on one foot to avoid squishing what appeared to be a giant fly.

But as the camera zoomed in on the not-so-little critter, it sure looked as though Sinner had arrived too late. Still, he bent down, grabbed the insect by its motionless wing, and handed it off to a ball kid before wiping his hand on his pink shorts.


The crowd at Rod Laver Arena broke out in applause for the young Italian, who cracked a quick smile before regaining his focus.

Sinner is far from the first tennis star to stage an insect intervention mid match. Victoria Azarenka famously allowed a bug to crawl across her face during her 2020 US Open semifinal matchup against Serena Williams. And at the 2021 Australian Open, Naomi Osaka had a fateful on-court run-in with a beautiful butterfly.

Both women went on to win their matches.

But if good karma was part of the motivation for Sinner's heroics, it didn't pay off in the form of a victory. He took one more game against Tsitsipas before the Greek star clinched the match on his own serve.

Tsitsipas will move on to face Jiri Lehecka in Tuesday's quarterfinal match.