Dominic Thiem’s Brisbane International qualifying match against Australian James McCabe was suspended for 40 minutes on Saturday after a poisonous snake slithered courtside. McCabe had just wrapped up the first set 6-2 against the Austrian 2020 US Open champion when the reptile — reportedly an eastern brown snake — was spotted among electrical wires on the side of the court in front of spectators. Play was halted until a snake catcher arrived and managed to tease it into a bag. Eastern browns are capable of delivering a potent bite and their venom can result in progressive paralysis and uncontrollable bleeding, according to the website of the Australian Museum.

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Australia is home to 20 of the world’s 25 most venomous, but deaths from bites are rare.

Thiem eventually won the match to move within one victory of the main draw.

Rafael Nadal avoided meeting a seed first up at his comeback tournament after drawing a qualifier in the Brisbane International, with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev a potential second-round opponent.

The 37-year-old Spaniard has been out of the game for almost 12 months following hip surgery after the 2023 Australian Open in January.

It was feared that Nadal, the winner of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, would never play professionally again.

However, he has fought his way back and was granted a wildcard to the season-opening Brisbane International in preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year at Melbourne Park beginning January 14.

While he missed out on facing a seed, there are plenty of accomplished players competing in Brisbane qualifying, including 2020 US Open champion Thiem and former world number eight Diego Schwartzman.

If Nadal advances, he will play eighth-seeded Karatsev or Australian wildcard Jason Kubler in the second round, with fourth seed Ugo Humbert lurking as a potential quarter-final opponent.

Britain’s Andy Murray drew second-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in an intriguing first-round clash.

Murray is a two-time winner of the Brisbane International, and beat Dimitrov in the final in 2013.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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