Novak Djokovic Crowned Champion: 10 Highlights From French Open 2023

The French Open ended on Sunday with Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek crowned champions after two weeks which featured geopolitics, controversies over sportsmanship as well as marathon matches. Here are the top 10 highlights of the French Open 2023

The first match on Roland Garros’s showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier saw Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk suffer a deluge of boos after she refused to shake the hand of Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka after her straight-sets defeat.

“I want to see people react to it in 10 years when the war is over. I think they will not feel really nice about what they did,” said Kostyuk.

“I didn’t expect it. People should be honestly embarrassed.”

Djokovic in ‘Kosovo heart of Serbia’ row

After his first round win over Aleksandar Kovacevic, Djokovic wrote “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence” on a TV camera lens.

“Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, centre of the most important things for our country,” 36-year-old Belgrade-born Djokovic said.

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said Djokovic’s message was “not appropriate” while the Kosovo Olympic Committee demanded Djokovic be sanctioned.

“A lot of people disagree, but it’s what I stand for,” a defiant Djokovic said after his second round win.

Marathon men

Germany’s Daniel Altmaier knocked out Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner in the second round after a five-hour, 26-minute battle — the fifth longest match in tournament history.

Altmaier, the world number 79, twice staved off match points late in the fourth set before eventually prevailing 6-7 (0/7), 7-6 (9/7), 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 on Court Suzanne Lenglen on his fifth match point.

Fritz shushes crowd

Taylor Fritz defeated Arthur Rinderknech, the last French player in the tournament, and celebrated by placing his finger to his lips as the majority of fans on Court Suzanne Lenglen roundly jeered him.

“They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure I won. Thanks guys,” the American said sarcastically in his on-court interview as the boos continued.

The 25-year-old had become irritated throughout the match as fans sang the French national anthem in a desperate bid to push their last remaining hope into the next round.

Redemption after ‘unjust’ doubles default

Japan’s Miyu Kato found redemption as a French Open mixed doubles champion, four days after she was controversially disqualified from the women’s doubles for accidentally hitting a ball girl.

“It has been challenging in the last few days after my unjust disqualification from the women’s doubles,” Kato said after she and her partner Tim Puetz defeated Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus in the final.

“I am now looking for a positive result to my appeal so I can reclaim my prize money, points and my reputation.”

The 28-year-old Kato and her Indonesian teammate Aldila Sutjiadi were defaulted from the women’s doubles after a gentle lob from the Japanese player left a ball girl in tears and shaking.

Marathon women

Beatriz Haddad Maia battled from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-5 after three hours and 51 minutes in the third longest women’s match ever played at the tournament.

The match was just 16 minutes short of the record four hours and seven minutes it took Virginie Buisson to beat French compatriot Noelle van Lottum in the first round at Roland Garros in 1995.

Double bounce

World number six Holger Rune reached a second successive French Open quarter-final in a five-set win over Francisco Cerundolo, shrugging off a controversial double bounce incident in the match as “that’s life”.

“When I was hitting the ball, I just ran for it. I saw it after the next point on the TV, and I saw it was a double bounce,” said Rune.

“So I felt sorry. Sorry for him. But this is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

‘I won’t sell my country’

Sabalenka boycotted two post-match media conferences claiming she did not feel “safe” after facing a barrage of questions over the war in Ukraine and her close personal links to Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

Eventually she returned to the press room in an attempt to make her position clear.

“I’m not supporting the war, meaning I don’t support Lukashenko right now,” she said.

Sabalenka was speaking after beating Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals. Svitolina was booed for not shaking hands while accusing the Belarusian of inflaming the tension by waiting at the net for a handshake she knew wasn’t coming.

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