MELBOURNE: An umpire was lucky to escape injury at the Australian Open Sunday when a spider-cam smashed into the sun shield above her chair, ripping it off, as Maria Sharapova and Ashleigh Barty stood nearby.
The drama unfolded after Australian 15th seed Barty upset the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
In the immediate aftermath the spider-cam, which hovers above the court on a cable, moving vertically and horizontally to offer an overhead perspective, attempted to swoop down closer to the action.
Instead the camera crashed into the sun shield of shocked umpire Alison Hughes, removing it completely and narrowly missing her head.
“Camera driver got his license on a weet-bix packet?,” said one Twitter user in re-posting video of the near-miss, while another tweeted: “Dear oh dear, out of control spider cam – yikes!”
Another social media user Richard Ings said people should not underplay how serious the incident was.
“The workplace should be safe. The camera at that speed could literally have killed the chair umpire,” he said on Twitter. “Where was the risk management plan to ensure the risk of injury from this spider cam was mitigated?”