Medvedev gets Wild shock, Djokovic accused of fanning political flames

Russia's Daniil Medvedev. Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Paris: Daniil Medvedev became the highest-ranked player to exit the French Open after a five-sets first-round defeat by Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild on Tuesday while Novak Djokovic was accused of fuelling tensions with his political stance.

World number two Medvedev was tipped as a surprise contender for the Paris title following his Rome triumph, but the Russian was blown away by Wild in gusty conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier and crashed to a 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-4 defeat.

"I watched Daniil play since I was junior and beating him on such a court is a dream come true," world number 172 Wild said after the gruelling encounter that lasted more than four hours.

Meanwhile, Kosovo's tennis federation said Djokovic risked aggravating an already tense situation after the world number three wrote that Kosovo was "the heart of Serbia" on a camera lens following his first-round win a day earlier.

Some 30 NATO peacekeeping soldiers were injured on Monday in clashes with Serb protesters in the northern Kosovo town of Zvecan, where Djokovic's father grew up.

"The comments made by Djokovic at the end of his Roland Garros match against Aleksandar Kovacevic, his statements at the post-match conference and his Instagram post are regrettable," Kosovo tennis federation chief Jeton Hadergjonaj.

"Despite a general message against violence, the statement 'Kosovo is the heart of Serbia' and further statements after the match made by such a public figure... directly result in raising the level of tension between the two states, Serbia and Kosovo."

Last year's runner-up and fourth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud advanced to the next round by thumping Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4 6-3 6-2 after American 16th seed Tommy Paul swatted aside Dominic Stephan Stricker 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Alexander Zverev exited the Roland Garros in agony last year after rolling his ankle during his semi-final against Rafa Nadal but the German celebrated a winning return by getting past Lloyd Harris 7-6(6) 7-6(0) 6-1.

Earlier, world number seven Ons Jabeur made a near-flawless start to her campaign by brushing aside unseeded Italian Lucia Bronzetti 6-4 6-1, while 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva earned her first Grand Slam main draw win.

Jabeur has had a stop-start season in which she had minor knee surgery before winning the title in Charleston and skipping the Madrid Open with a calf problem but the Tunisian was in peak form in Paris as she eased through the first set.

Bronzetti came into the clash on Court Philippe Chatrier high on confidence after winning the first singles title of her career in Rabat but the 24-year-old's hopes of ending a five-match losing run at the majors faded as the contest wore on.

Andreeva announced herself to the world when she stunned 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-4 in Madrid last month and also defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette before falling to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The Russian qualifier broke new ground at the majors with a 6-2 6-1 win over former world number 18 Alison Riske-Amritraj.

"Last year I was here as a junior and couldn't imagine I can be here playing the women's tournament, being in a major passing qualification," said Andreeva, who meets Diane Parry after the French wild card beat Rome runner-up Anhelina Kalinina 6-2 6-3.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Andreeva said. "I just try to enjoy every moment here."

Brenda Fruhvirtova, another 16-year-old seeking a statement win, crashed out following a 6-4 6-2 defeat by Elena Rybakina as the Wimbledon champion continued her quest for a second Grand Slam title.

American sixth seed Coco Gauff also shook off a slow start to seal a 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Spain's Rebeka Masarova.

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