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who wants to hug nadal?

Rafael Nadal Makes a New, Scary Friend

Last night, after Rafael Nadal outlasted Gael Monfils in four sets, a crazy/drunk/stupid person ran out of the stands, gave Nadal a hug, and told him how much he loved him. Nadal, having just played tennis for a couple of hours and being inconveniently shirtless at the time (that guy, he's always shirtless!), was too bewildered to do much more than hug the guy back. Nadal was downright cheery about it. "For me it wasn't a problem. The guy was really nice," Nadal said. "He was a great fan," he said. "He said, 'I love you,' and he kiss me."

These incidents are always funny until they're not. A clearly addled Calvin Klein deciding he wants to talk to Latrell Sprewell in the middle of a Knicks game, right when Latrell is about to throw the ball inbounds, is hilarious. (Well, until Klein checks into rehab two weeks later, anyway.)

But then, of course, you have the stabbing of Monica Seles by a crazed Steffi Graf fan in 1993. The footage of it is still harrowing to watch.


That incident changed Seles's life, and changed the trajectory of women's tennis forever. (It also allowed Graf to rule tennis for a few extra years, which is exactly why Seles's attacker went after her in the first place.) And lest we forget, there's the charming family Ligue, the erudite father-and-son combo who got drunk and beat up a random Royals first-base coach. And are still proud of it.

Nadal's "good fan" was arrested, and his identity has not been released. We also don't know how he got past security, though if you've see Arthur Ashe Stadium at the end of a long-ish match like last night's, you know people start growing rather groggy by the end. They've been there a long time. Weaknesses are exposed.

So now you know: If you run out of the stands after Rafael Nadal wins a match and are nice when you tell him you love him, he will hug you back. Then you will be cuffed. It's funny until it's not.

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Photo: AP