- 2023 French Open is now entering the homestretch
- Right from the beginning, it struck a raw nerve
- Novak Djokovic is at the heart of it all
The 2023 French Open is now entering the homestretch and it is not without a share of controversy.
Right from the beginning, it struck a raw nerve with several key tennis players missing in action in the second Grand Slam of the year. One of the iconic tennis stars missing at Roland Garros is Rafael Nadal who is the face of the clay court.
His hip injury kept him away from the tournament which the world knows and celebrates him for. Besides this, other big names such as Emma Raducanu, Matteo Berrettini, and Andy Murray among others also missed this year’s French Open.
However, which are the controversies rocking the tournament so far?
MIYU KATO DISQUALIFICATION OVER BALL GIRL INCIDENT
Japanese tennis player Miyu Kato who was part of a woman’s doubles team with Indonesian tennis player Aldila Sutjiadi was forcefully eliminated after accidentally hitting a ball girl with a tennis ball. In between points, Kato blasted a cross-court shot that hit the ball girl on the shoulder. This was despite previous warnings by the umpire.
Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo who were the rival team protested and the umpire cancelled the match and disqualified Kato and Sutjiadi. Before the Japanese and Indonesian duo begged officials to believe it wasn’t an intentional act, Kato tried to console the ball girl and apologised. But she sobbed uncontrollably and officials escorted her from the court.
Kato broke down in tears as soon as umpire Alexandre Juge confirmed the disqualification. One of the tournament officials said that hitting anyone with a tennis ball is punishable because it’s always deemed intentional. Even when it’s accidental, tennis laws deem it an intentional act.
The crowd in the stands jeered the officials for eliminating the 16th-seeded women’s double players. it went down as a major controversy of the 2023 French Open. This effectively means they forfeited a cash prize and ranking. Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the 2020 US Open after angrily hitting a judge with a tennis ball on her throat.
Players are prohibited from hitting, kicking, or throwing a tennis ball within the confines of the tournament site. The only exception is when they are reasonably pursuing a point during a match (including warm-up), according to the grand slam rulebook.
“In all cases of default, the decision of the referee in consultation with the grand slam chief of supervisors shall be final and unappealable,” the rule states.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC ANGERED BY BOOING CROWD
Following his triumph over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the French Open, Novak Djokovic had one of his anger fits at the 2023 French Open. Boos from the audience irked him after defeating Fokina by 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-2.
Djokovic put up a great fight, to advance to the fourth round of the French Open for the 14th year in a row. Nevertheless, the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd at Roland Garros jeered and booed the Serbian throughout the three hours, 36 minutes-long match for no justifiable reason.
A visibly agitated Djokovic told ESPN that fans always come to the court to support certain players. But some of them always get tickets with the intention to boo other players which he finds disrespectful.
“’But they are individuals. There are people — there are groups or whatever — that love to boo every single thing you do. That’s something that I find disrespectful and I frankly don’t understand that,” said the Serb.
“But it’s their right. They paid the ticket. They can do whatever they want,” he added.
Djokovic grabbed the final three points after trailing 5-4 in the tiebreaker to finally defeat Fokina with a second-set win. He let his emotions take over amidst the booing by yelling and pounding his fist, which didn’t win him any friends with the hostile French audience.
The World No. 3’s French Open campaign has already been marred by controversy as he seeks to overtake Nadal as the most successful male player in the history of the tournament during the next two weeks.
Besides the booing incident, he earlier courted trouble when he wrote on camera, that Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. It followed an incident in May where police lobbed teargas canisters at a group of Serbians who had camped outside the office of the recently elected Albanian Mayor in Zvecan town in Kosovo.
Zvecan is one of the four Serbian municipalities in northern Kosovo and this incident left 50 people with injuries. However, the Serbian talked his heart out at the beginning of the 2023 French Open.