Swiatek launches Roland Garros offer as Djokovic challenges in Kosovo line

‘Kosovo our cradle’: Novak Djokovic after his victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic on Monday

Iga Swiatek begins her bid to become the first woman in 16 years to successfully defend the French Open title on Tuesday as Novak Djokovic remained defiant after controversially weighing in on the Kosovo crisis.

World number one Swiatek, a two-time champion in Paris, takes on Moldovan-born Spaniard Cristina Bucsa as she seeks to emulate Justine Henin, the last consecutive winner at Roland Garros in 2007.

The 21-year-old Pole arrives in Paris unaware of a thigh injury suffered in Rome.

“Luckily nothing bad happened. I’ll be good for my first round. That’s the most important thing for me,” she said.

Also on the way is world number two Daniil Medvedev, who was boosted by claiming his first-ever clay-court title at the prestigious Italian Open last week. It was also his fifth trophy of 2023.

The Russian has endured a bittersweet relationship with Roland-Garros, losing in the first round on his first four visits. He ended that streak with a run to the quarter-finals in 2021.

The eccentric Medvedev takes on former US Open junior champion Thiago Seyboth Wild, a 172-ranked Brazilian who was scheduled to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has insisted he doesn’t fear punishment for his potentially explosive ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’ message he scribbled on a TV camera outside court Monday in court. amid renewed violence in Kosovo.

The Belgrade-born superstar, chasing a record 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris, penned the message in Serbian after his first-round win over Aleksandar Kovacevic on court centerpiece Philippe Chatrier.

“Kosovo is our cradle, our bastion, the center of the most important things for our country,” Djokovic, 36, told Serbian media.

His comments came after NATO-led peacekeepers dispersed Serb protesters who clashed with police in northern Kosovo demanding the removal of newly elected Albanian mayors.

About 30 soldiers were injured during the clashes, as well as more than 50 demonstrators.

– “I have no remorse” –

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. However, Kosovo Serbs remain largely loyal to Belgrade, particularly in the north, where they constitute the majority and reject any attempt by Pristina to consolidate its control over the region.

“As a public figure but also the son of a man born in Kosovo, I feel an additional responsibility to express my support for our people and for Serbia as a whole,” Djokovic said.

“I hear there have been many complaints on social media and from international journalists that someone will punish me but I have no remorse and would do it again because my position is clear.

“But I am against war, violence and conflict of all kinds and have always shown it publicly.”

Djokovic has been hailed in his native Serbia.

“A man of his word and integrity. He proved it time and time again and repeated it in Paris by doing something that made the hearts of all Serbs vibrate,” commented the tabloid Alo.

On Tuesday morning at Roland Garros, 16-year-old qualifier Mirra Andreeva marked her Grand Slam debut with a 56-minute 6-2, 6-1 victory over Alison Riske-Amritraj of the United States.

Andreeva, the tournament’s youngest player, reached world 143 from 312 in April and made headlines at the Madrid Open earlier this month where she reached the last 16.

Later, fourth seed Casper Ruud, last year’s runner-up to Rafael Nadal, will face Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer while sixth-seeded Holger Rune, a quarter-finalist on his 2022 debut, will face Christopher Eubanks of the United States. United.

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, the fourth seed, will take on Czech teenager Brenda Fruhvirtova with 2022 runner-up Coco Gauff taking on Spain’s Rebecca Masarova.


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