Danielle Collins played a contentious match against Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open Monday night.
During the second set, the American was being pestered by a bug as she prepared to serve.
A ball person ran over and took care of the insect, carrying it away rather than killing it.
NEW YORK — Between the raucous crowds, inclement weather, and city sounds of Flushing Meadows, the 2022 US Open has offered plenty of distractions for tennis’ biggest stars.
American Danielle Collins had to deal with yet another source of interference during her match against World No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka at Arthur Ashe Arena Monday night — albeit a tiny one.
As the 2022 Australian Open runner-up stepped to the baseline ahead of her first service game of the second set, she noticed a bug crawling near her feet. She tried to usher it out of harm’s way with the tip of her racket, but the little critter stubbornly stuck around.
A ball person ran out to offer Collins some assistance. Crouching down on the hard court, the US Open staffer attempted to trap the insect rather than squishing it — all while holding two tennis balls in his left hand.
According to commentators calling the match on ESPN, the 19th-ranked Collins is a noted animal lover with a reputation for ensuring bugs are “properly moved” while she plays.
“That happened in a match we saw her play last week,” analyst Ted Robinson said. “She did the same thing with an insect that she made sure was properly moved — safely. Relocation.”
“I’m not sure the ball people are trained for this,” he added.
After a few tries, the ball person was able to urge the insect to fly away, and the match continued. Collins — who had won the first set — went on to lose the match 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 to end her best-ever US Open run in the fourth round.
But thanks to Collins’ goodwill, the bug has lived on — and may just find itself back at Ashe as Sabalenka faces Czech star Karolína Plíšková in Wednesday’s semifinal.
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