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French Open: Djoko row overshadows Tsitsipas' comfortable win

Last updated on: June 01, 2023 09:21 IST

IMAGE: Stefan Tsitsipas marched into the second round of the French Open. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed an incident-free path into the third round of the French Open with a win over Roberto Carballes Baena on Wednesday but all eyes will be on Novak Djokovoic later as a political row sparked by the two-times champion intensified.

Tsitsipas is chasing his first Grand Slam title and made a sluggish start to his campaign against Jiri Vesely but the fifth seed looked back to his best against Carballes Baena, as he came through a mid-match test to beat the Spaniard 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2.

World number three Jessica Pegula, who is hoping to hoist her maiden Grand Slam trophy on the Parisian clay, advanced into the third round after her ailing Italian opponent Camila Giorgi retired after losing the opening set 6-2.

The fallout of Djokovic's statement earlier this week that "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" continued as the Kosovo Olympic authorities asked the International Olympic Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against the world number three.

Djokovic wrote the message on a camera lens after his first-round win on Monday, the same day that some 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the town of Zvecan - where the 22-times major champion's father grew up.


Serbian authorities said 52 protesters were also wounded.

"Djokovic has yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists' propaganda and used the sport platform to do so," said Ismet Krasniqi, the president of Kosovo's Olympic Committee.

"The further post-match statements made by such a public figure without any feeling of remorse directly result in raising the level of tension and violence between the two countries."

France's Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said that the message sent by Djokovic, who takes on Marton Fucsovics later in the evening, was "not appropriate" and should not happen again.

Former champion Jelena Ostapenko had not made second week at Roland Garros in her last five appearances and the 2017 winner's disappointing run continued as unseeded American Peyton Stearns prevailed 6-3 1-6 6-2 in their second-round clash.

The feisty Latvian's exit along with 2021 champion Barbora Krejcikova's defeat by Lesia Tsurenko a day earlier means holder Iga Swiatek is the only remaining winner of the Suzanne Lenglen Cup remaining in the women's draw.

Three-times quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina took a leaf out of her husband Gael Monfils' playbook following the local hero's epic win over Sebastian Baez a day earlier to script her own comeback and down Australian Storm Hunter 2-6 6-3 6-1.

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka later beat compatriot Iryna Shymanovich 7-5, 6-2 but the world number two refused to comment on the war in Ukraine.

The 25-year-old had been urged by her first-round opponent Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine to take a personal stand.

"I've got no comments to you," she told a reporter who asked her specifically to condemn it.

World number three Jessica Pegula, hoping to hoist her maiden Grand Slam trophy on the Parisian clay, advanced into the third round after her Italian opponent Camila Giorgi retired after losing the opening set 6-2.

Anna Blinkova dashed French hopes with a stunning 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over fifth seed Caroline Garcia, wrapping up victory on her ninth match point.

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis came through a rollercoaster clash against 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 victory and seventh seed Andrey Rublev beat Corentin Moutet 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

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