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Seyboth Wild stuns Medvedev as Djokovic stays defiant

By Our Correspondent
May 31, 2023

PARIS: World number two Daniil Medvedev was knocked out of the French Open in the first round on Tuesday, losing in five sets to 172nd-ranked Thiago Sey both Wild as Roland Garros attempted to move on from Novak Djokovic´s Kosovo controversy. Seyboth Wild, who came through the qualifiers and had never previously won a Grand Slam match, tri umphed 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 2- 6, 6-3, 6-4. It was Medvedev´s fifth loss in the opening round at Roland Garros in seven ap pearances. "I have watched Daniil play in my junior years. It´s a dream come true to beat these kinds of players on this court," said the 23-year-old Brazilian who unleashed 69 winners. "I was cramping in the second set and couldn´t re ally serve the way I wanted to but I tried to play my best tennis." Seyboth Wild, without a win on the main tour since February 2022, held his nerve in the conclusion of the four hour 15-minute match on Court Philippe Chatrier. He twice saw breaks re trieved by Medvedev in the final set before he finally backed up a third break with a hold for 5-3. Two giant forehands se cured victory. He will face ei ther Guido Pella or Quentin Halys for a place in the last 32. Medvedev arrived in Paris buoyed by winning his first ever clay court title at the prestigious Italian Open last week for his fifth trophy of 2023. Djokovic will return to Court Philippe Chatrier on Wednesday night for his sec ond round match with the controversy over his "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" mes sage still raging. The Belgrade-born super star, chasing a record 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris, wrote the message in Serbian after his opening round vic tory over Aleksandar Ko vacevic on Monday. "Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, centre of the most important things for our country," 36-year-old Djokovic told Serb media. His comments came amid heightened ethnic tensions in northern Kosovo where demonstrators and NATO soldiers have been injured. "As a public figure but also a son of a man who was born in Kosovo I feel addi tional responsibility to ex press my support to our peo ple and Serbia as a whole," said Djokovic. Serb TV reported Tuesday that "vandals" had destroyed a mural bearing the image of Djokovic on a building in Orahovac, a small town in south-western Kosovo where a small number of Serbs live amongst the majority Albani ans. French Open organisers issued a statement merely saying: "Occasionally, discus sions about international news events enter the realm of the tournament, which is understandable. "We regularly discuss the matter on the Grand Slam Board." Russian qualifier Mirra Andreeva, 16, marked her Grand Slam debut with a quickfire 6-2, 6-1 victory over Alison Riske-Amritraj of the United States. Andreeva, the youngest player in the tournament, has reached 143 in the world from 312 in April and hit the headlines at the Madrid Open earlier this month where she reached the last 16. "Last year I was here as a junior, and I couldn´t even imagine that I can be here playing women´s tournament and being in a major passing qualification," said the Russ ian teenager after her 56- minute win. Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Ons Jabeur eased past Italy´s Lucia Bronzetti, who won her maiden WTA title in Rabat on Saturday, 6- 4, 6-1. Jabeur, a first round loser 12 months ago, is idolised by Andreeva, 12 years her jun ior."Makes me feel old," said Jabeur. "I can give her a signed picture. She can put it in her bedroom!" Coco Gauff, the 2022 run ner-up, battled to a 3-6, 6-1, 6- 2 success over Rebecca Masarova of Spain but Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 champion, was knocked out in the first round for a sec ond successive year, losing 6- 2, 6-4 to Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine. —AFP