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Novak Djokovic Begins French Open Campaign with Victory

Novak Djokovic, the world number one and two-time champion at Roland Garros, started his quest for a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a straight-sets win over Aleksandar Kovacevic. The Serbian won 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-1) in the first round of the French Open. He is joined in the second round by US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, who beat Flavio Cobolli 6-0 6-2 7-5. The two players could meet in the semi-finals as they are in the same half of the draw. Djokovic’s victory was overshadowed by his political statement on a camera lens, which read “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”

Djokovic’s Statement on Kosovo

After his victory, Djokovic wrote on a camera lens, “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.” Djokovic, whose father was born in Kosovo, said, “I am not a politician, nor do I intend to enter into debates. As a public figure, I feel an obligation to show support for our people and all of Serbia.”

Alcaraz Advances to Second Round

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, the US Open champion, also advanced to the second round of the French Open. The 20-year-old beat Flavio Cobolli 6-0 6-2 7-5 in straight sets. Alcaraz will face Japan’s Taro Daniel in the next round as he continues his bid for a second major title. Alcaraz’s approach to the sport was praised by Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who described him as a “breath of fresh air.” Alcaraz said, “For me, it’s the most important thing to enjoy and smile on court.”

Thiem Hopes to Return to Tennis Heaven

Two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem lost to Argentine Pedro Cachin in a five-set match. Thiem, who finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019, fought back from two sets down but was ultimately edged out 6-3 6-2 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 6-2. Thiem’s progress was derailed by a wrist injury in 2021, which kept him off the ATP Tour for 10 months. Discussing his bid to return to the top of the men’s game, Thiem said, “It was exactly like that, from tennis heaven to tennis hell, and now hopefully back to tennis heaven.”

Top-10 Seed Auger-Aliassime Exits in First Round

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime became the first men’s top-10 seed to exit the French Open, losing to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in straight sets. Italian eighth seed Jannik Sinner overpowered France’s Alexandre Muller in the night session match on Court Philippe Chatrier. American 12th seed Frances Tiafoe progressed with a straight-sets victory over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, while there were also victories for top-20 seeds Alex de Minaur and Roberto Bautista Agut. Canadian 26th seed Denis Shapovalov battled to a five-set win over American Brandon Nakashima, while Switzerland’s 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka rallied in the decider to win against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

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