Novak Djokovic seemed ready to move on from non-tennis issues at the French Open on Wednesday, while two of the four Taiwanese at the tournament advanced in the women’s doubles, with one due to play last night.
Serbia’s Djokovic beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-6 (7/2), 6-0, 6-3 in the second round of the men’s singles and wrote on the lens of a TV camera — an autograph and a smiley face.
It was quite different from what happened after his win on Monday, when Djokovic wrote in Serbian: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”
He spoke about the matter at a news conference later on Monday when reporters from his home country asked about clashes in northern Kosovo between ethnic Serbs and NATO-led peacekeepers.
That drew rebukes from a member of France’s government, French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo and Kosovo’s tennis federation.
French Minister of Sports Amelie Oudea-Castera on Wednesday morning warned Djokovic not to wade into such international issues again at Roland Garros, saying his comments were “not appropriate.”
Speaking on TV station France 2, Oudea-Castera said Mauresmo encouraged Djokovic and his entourage to maintain “neutrality” on the field of play.
Asked about Oudea-Castera and Mauresmo, Djokovic said: “I have no more comment on that. I said what I needed to say.”
Asked about the underlying topic, Djokovic said: “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.”
“Drama-free Grand Slam — I don’t think it can happen for me,” Djokovic said. “You know, I guess that drives me, as well.”
He found plenty of tennis-related reasons to be bothered during an epic opening set against Fucsovics, which lasted 90 minutes.
One issue was how hard and how well Fucsovics was hitting the ball early on. Another was how windy it was in the event’s main stadium, rippling the players’ shirts and whipping flags atop the arena until they twisted around their poles. That swirling air kicked up clay from the court, which led to another problem for Djokovic: shaky footing.
He would slip and slide and have trouble getting his feet planted properly.
Djokovic asked the chair umpire for more clay to be added to the playing surface.
Another complaint he had for the official was that breaks between games were being cut too short.
Still, it was Djokovic who was better when it mattered the most against Fucsovics, dominating the tiebreaker.
During the changeover after that set, Djokovic changed shirts, and TV cameras zoomed in on an object about the size of a bottle cap that appeared to be taped to his chest. It was not immediately clear what the item was.
When a reporter asked him about it, Djokovic avoided a direct answer and instead opted for sarcasm, saying: “When I was a kid I liked Iron Man a lot, so I try to impersonate Iron Man. My team delivers an incredibly efficient nanotechnology to help me deliver my best on the court, so that’s the biggest secret of my career. If it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here.”
In the first round of the women’s doubles, Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching defeated Georgia’s Oksana Kalashnikova and Aliona Bolsova of Spain 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and partner Wang Xinyu of China were to play Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova and Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan after press time last night.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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