French Open, Day 1: Favorite Sabalenka wins controversial opening match

No handshake on the net and boos from the stands: The explosive first round duel between Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine and co-favorite Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus at the French Open in Paris ended emotionally, especially for the loser. On the first day of Roland Garros, two DTB aces, Oscar Otte and Jule Niemeier, are also in action.

Kostjuk was whistled at by the audience after the 3:6, 2:6. At least Sabalenka showed understanding for her opponent’s attitude. “She didn’t deserve to leave the place like that. I understand why they don’t shake hands with us,” said the Australian Open winner about the protests of some Ukrainian players.

Kostjuk was also irritated by the Paris audience and his reaction to the refusal to shake hands after the end of the game. “I want to see how people will react ten years from now, when the war is over,” she said. “I am very sure that the reaction will be different at Wimbledon.”

Kyiv-born Kostyuk has been a harsh critic of the tennis federations for their treatment of professionals from Russia and the Belarusian ally following the invasion of Ukraine. And she continues to be critical of her opponent from Sunday: “I don’t respect her. She never says that she personally opposes the war. You should change the questions you ask these players,” said the 20-year-old.

Kostjuk was reacting to Sabalenka’s statements a few minutes earlier, when the world number two had declared: “If we could somehow stop the war, we would do it. But unfortunately it’s not in our hands. Nobody in this world, no Russian or Belarusian athlete supports the war,” said the 25-year-old.

“You should first speak for yourself. And then for the others. I know tennis players who support the war,” Kostjuk countered. “She may soon be number one in the world. She could send an important message by raising her voice.”

French Open: Tsitsipas and Rublev with a bumpy start

World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas had a surprisingly difficult time at the start in Paris. The 24-year-old won against the Czech Jiri Vesely on Sunday 7: 5, 6: 3, 4: 6, 7: 6 (9: 7) – he is now in round two of the Clay Court Grand Prix for the sixth time in a row. slams

Afterwards, the second top ten player, who served in Roland Garros on Sunday, also had to go through four sets. The Russian Andrey Rublev (25/No. 7) ultimately prevailed 6: 1, 3: 6, 6: 3, 6: 4 against Laslo Djere from Serbia.

“After the second set I was a bit too calm. I didn’t have the same energy anymore,” Rublev said afterwards: “But then I caught myself again and was able to decide the match.”

Tsitsipas had more problems than expected on the Philippe Chatrier court with his opponent, who slipped down to world number 445 due to a persistent thigh injury. In the fourth set, the Greek fended off four set balls and finally won after 3:13 hours. In round two, Tsitsipas meets the Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

The Paris finalist from 2021 is one of the extended favorites in Roland Garros this year – as is the Monte Carlo winner Rublev. Both are still waiting for their first Grand Slam title.

French Open: Zverev doesn’t feel like “stupid comments”

In Paris, Zverev wants to land the long-awaited liberation from Tuesday – and at the same time silence his prominent critics.

“The experts sometimes make pretty stupid comments,” said Zverev. He doesn’t want to be told that he’ll “never play at the top again. I’ll prove that’s not true. I know how to achieve my goals.”

However, three previous Wimbledon winners expressed their doubts about Zverev before the tournament started. Boris Becker advised to “chop wood”. Michael Stich lacks the “joy of the game” with the Olympic champion from Hamburg. And John McEnroe sees Zverev even “at the bottom”.

Due to the serious ankle injury in 2022 in the semifinals, McEnroe said Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper, Zverev “lost everything: self-confidence, world ranking points, his ranking position. That makes his situation even worse.” Just a year ago “he seemed poised to beat Nadal at Roland Garros,” said McEnroe. Today the picture is different.

French Open: Djokovic talks about Nadal’s cancellation

Novak Djokovic reacted with regret to the approaching end of his great rival Rafael Nadal’s career. “When he announced that he was going to play his last season, I had the feeling that a part of me went with him,” said the Serb before the start of the French Open in Paris.

14-time champion Nadal will not serve at Roland Garros for the first time in 19 years due to a hip flexor injury and plans to retire in 2024. “It made me think about my own career and how long I want to play. I was also a bit emotional about what he said,” explained Djokovic, who is a record Grand Slam winner with Nadal .

In Paris, the 36-year-old is aiming for title number 23 and thus the sole record. “It’s no secret that one of the main reasons I still play is to break records and make tennis history,” Djokovic said. It is extremely motivating and inspiring when “history is at stake”.

The two-time Paris winner has identified Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz as his closest competitor in the next two weeks. “He’s number 1 in the world and has won big titles on clay this season,” said Djokovic: “So at the moment he’s the biggest favourite, despite the fact that he has a Grand Slam title and I’m 22. “

French Open: “Lucky Loser” Hanfmann is there in Paris

Yannick Hanfmann is now in the first round of the French Open in Paris. After his defeat in qualifying on Friday, the 31-year-old moved up as a “lucky loser” for Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi. In his opening match he meets the Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

This means that eight Germans are now starting in Roland Garros. In addition to Hanfmann, there are five participants in the main draw of the men’s competition in Jan-Lennard Struff (Warstein), Alexander Zverev (Hamburg), Daniel Altmaier (Kempen) and Oscar Otte (Cologne). Tatjana Maria (Bad Saulgau), Jule Niemeier (Dortmund) and Anna-Lena Friedsam (Neuwied) are among the women.

Hanfmann had played a strong clay court season before his defeat in the qualifying final against Swede Elias Ymer (3:6, 4:6). In Rome he beat two top ten players and advanced to the quarter-finals before falling to eventual winner Daniil Medvedev.

French Open, Day 1: The top matches at a glance

2023-05-28 18:55:00
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