Wild shock for Medvedev, Djokovic accused of fanning political flames

Wed, May 31, 2023
By editor
4 MIN READ

Foreign

DANIIL Medvedev became the highest-ranked player to exit the French Open after losing a marathon encounter against Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild on a windy Tuesday.

On the other hand, Novak Djokovic found himself at the centre of a political storm.

Iga Swiatek gave herself an early birthday gift a day before turning 22 by dismissing Cristina Bucsa 6-4 6-0.

This is as world number seven Ons Jabeur beat Lucia Bronzetti 6-4 6-1 and 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva earned her first Grand Slam main draw win.

World number two Medvedev emerged as a surprise contender for the Paris title following his Rome triumph but the Russian blew his chance in gusty conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Wild sealed a 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

“I watched Daniil play since I was junior and beating him on such a court is a dream come true,” world number 172 Wild said after the gruelling clash which lasted more than four hours.

Medvedev later said he had no regrets about his clay court season ending prematurely.

“Today because of the wind and the dry court, I had my mouth full of clay since probably the third game and I don’t like it,” Medvedev said.

“I don’t know if people like to eat clay, to have clay in their bags, their shoes, white socks, you can throw them to the garbage after the clay season. Maybe some people like it. I don’t.”

Meanwhile, Kosovo’s tennis federation said Djokovic risked aggravating an already tense situation after the world number three wrote on a camera lens that Kosovo was “the heart of Serbia”.

This was after his first-round win a day earlier.

Some 30 NATO peacekeeping soldiers were injured on Monday in clashes with Serbian protesters in the northern Kosovo town of Zvecan, where Djokovic’s father grew up.

“The comments made by Djokovic at the end of his match against Aleksandar Kovacevic, his statements at the post-match conference and his Instagram post are regrettable,” Kosovo tennis federation chief Jeton Hadergjonaj said.

“In spite of a general message against violence, the statement ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’ and further statements after the match made by such a public figure… directly result in raising the level of tension between the two states, Serbia and Kosovo.”

The French Tennis Federation, which organises the Roland Garros tournament, said in a statement: “The same rules apply to all four Grand Slams. The tournament referee and Grand Slam Supervisors ensure that these rules are complied with.

“Messages are passed on to the teams of any players concerned by such matters.”

A source told Reuters that the organisers did not see 22-times major champion Djokovic’s action as “detrimental to the best interests of the tournament”, as per the Grand Slam rulebook.

Last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud advanced to the next round by thumping Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4 6-3 6-2.

He was joined by sixth seed Holger Rune who dug deep to get past Christopher Eubanks 6-4 3-6 7-6(2) 6-2.

Alexander Zverev exited Roland Garros in agony last year after rolling his ankle during his semi-final against Rafa Nadal, but the German celebrated a winning return by beating Lloyd Harris.

He won 7-6(6) 7-6(0) 6-1.

Andreeva announced herself to the world when she stunned 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-4 in Madrid last month.

She also defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette before falling to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The Russian qualifier broke new ground at the majors with a 6-2 6-1 win over former world number 18 Alison Riske-Amritraj.

“Last year I was here as a junior and couldn’t imagine I can be here playing the women’s tournament, being in a major passing qualification,” said Andreeva.

She meets Diane Parry after the French wild card beat Rome runner-up Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-3.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Andreeva, who also hoped to practise with Jabeur in Paris, said.

“I just try to enjoy every moment here.”

Brenda Fruhvirtova, another 16-year-old seeking a statement win, crashed out following a 6-4 6-2 defeat by Elena Rybakina.

The Wimbledon champion continued her quest for a second Grand Slam title with this.

American sixth seed Coco Gauff also shook off a slow start to seal a 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Spain’s Rebeka Masarova.(Reuters/NAN)
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