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Djokovic reaches French Open third round amid drama over his Kosovo statement



Djokovic wrote ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’ on a camera lens on Monday, the same day when 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the Kosovo town of Zvecan

Novak Djokovic briefly struggled before bulldozing past Hungarian journeyman Marton Fucsovics 7-6(2) 6-0 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the French Open third round.


The world number three, who sparked controversy by writing “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” on a camera lens earlier this week, survived a high-octane end to the first set to advance to a clash with Spanish 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

“Thank you everyone for your support and presence. I hope you had fun tonight especially in the first set – me, a bit less,” Djokovic said on court.


“I was not surprised, I know him very well he can play at a very high level on all surfaces. Then I played my best game. I’m very happy with that.”

Djokovic broke his opponent’s serve in the opening game of the second set and he did not look back, cruising to victory despite being broken twice more.

He went on to sign the camera lens, avoiding another political message.

But after the match, he defiantly insisted on Wednesday “it’s something I stand for” regarding the controversy over his explosive comments about Kosovo.


“I would say it again, but I don’t need to because you have my quotes,” he said.

“I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for. So that’s all.”


Djokovic had defended his message in comments to Serb media, saying that Kosovo is Serbia’s “cradle, our stronghold”.

The world number three wrote the message on a camera lens after his first-round victory on Monday, the same day that 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the Kosovo town of Zvecan – where Djokovic’s father grew up.

Kosovo’s tennis federation on Tuesday accused Djokovic of aggravating an already tense situation, comments echoed by the Kosovo Olympic Committee earlier on Wednesday.

The ITF, the governing body of world tennis, said it had received and acknowledged a letter from the Kosovo tennis federation and had forwarded it to “the relevant Grand Slam authority”.


“Rules for player conduct at a Grand Slam event are governed by the Grand Slam rulebook, administered by the relevant organiser and regulator. There is no provision in this that prohibits political statements,” an ITF spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

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