Novak Djokovic Stands By Kosovo Message At French Open Despite Criticism - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Stands By Kosovo Message At French Open Despite Criticism

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Novak Djokovic says he has no regrets about writing a political message concerning Kosovo at the French Open but now wants to move on from the controversy. 

Following his first round win in Paris, the 22-time Grand Slam champion wrote on the camera lens ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence’ amid a flare-up of clashes in the region which has resulted in members of the United Nations peacekeeping force getting injured. Djokovic’s message is controversial as Kosovo declared independence back in 2008 and it is recognised by over 100 countries. However, Serbia still views the region as part of its territory. 

France’s Minister of Sport, Amelie Oudea-Castera, was among those who criticized the 22-time Grand Slam champion for using political messages. Although this is not the first time a tennis player has done so with another example being that of Karen Khachanov at the Australian Open in January who wrote messages of support towards Armenians living in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

“When it comes to defending human rights and bringing people together around universal values, a sportsperson is free to do so,” Oudea-Castera told the TV station France 2. She then added that Djokovic’s message was “militant, very political” and “must not be repeated”.

However, the Serbian has reiterated his stance on the matter following his second round win over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics. After being sternly tested in an 87-minute opening set, Djokovic then won 12 out of the next 15 games in his 7-6(2), 6-0, 6-3, victory. 

“I would say it again, but I don’t need to because you (the media) have my quotes if you want to reflect on that,” he said during his press conference. 
“Of course, I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for. So that’s all.”

Djokovic, who holds the ATP record for most weeks spent as world No.1, has experienced his fair share of criticism over the years at Grand Slam tournaments. Perhaps the most notable incident concerns his stance on the COVID-19 vaccination which resulted in him being barred from playing at the Australian Open one year after losing a legal battle with authorities. 

“A drama-free Grand Slam, I don’t think it can happen for me,” he said.
“I guess that drives me, as well.”

It is the 18th year in a row that Djokovic has reached the third round of the French Open. Should he win the Roland Garros title this season, he will overtake Rafael Nadal to become the most decorated male singles Grand Slam champion in history. 

Awaiting the third seed in the next round will be Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who beat France’s Luca Van Assche 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6). He has beaten the Spaniard twice on the Tour in 2021 but has also lost to him before at last year’s Monte Carlo Masters.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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