By Chris Chase, USA Today

A shirtless, masked protester carrying a lit flare jumped on the court during Sunday's French Open final, near where Rafael Nadal was preparing to serve to David Ferrer. The man jumped over fans in the front row and ran behind Nadal's bench before he was tackled by security and removed from the stadium.

Nadal saw the intruder and broke for the locker room before being corralled by a security guard.

"I felt a little bit scared in the first moment, but these kinds of things are impossible to predict," he said after the match.

Neither Nadal nor Ferrer ever appeared to be in imminent danger from the intruder, but the incident cast a pall on the match as it drew the inevitable comparisons to the Monica Seles tragedy from 20 years before.

Nadal was leading 5-1 in the second set when the protester disrupted the match. There was a brief delay before play resumed.

Crazed fans have been getting on tennis courts far too easily in recent years. In 2009, a man ran on the court at the French Open final and tried to place a red hat on Roger Federer's head (below). Similar incidents at other Slams were also innocent, like the time a man tried to hug Federer and another incident in which a trespasser wanted to shake Nadal's hand.

Tennis can't stand for the continued intrusions. The man on Sunday was just a few feet away from Nadal. Even if he didn't have harmful intentions, the next one could.

Minutes before the incident, fans in the upper deck were expelled for disrupting the match with a loud protest about children's rights. The group was protesting France's recent same-sex marriage law and were calling for the removal of French president Francois Hollande.

French Open tournament director Gilbert Ysern decried the protesters but said he was happy with security response.

It's always a concern when you organize big events like this. Fortunately nothing too serious happened. Compare to what happened in Boston for instance a couple of motnhs ago. We can't but think of Boston. When you organize a big event like this you can't ever reach 100 percent security and keep things like that from happening. The only thing you can do is be more cautious about security.

Nadal would later praise security for stopping the situation.