- Novak Djokovic starts strong, defeating Kovacevic in straight sets
- Young guns Alcaraz and Sinner impress with dominant victories
- Stephens sends a powerful message while Kvitova suffers early exit
Novak Djokovic began his campaign for a historic 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title at the French Open with a convincing 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(1) win over Aleksandar Kovacevic. The Serbian tennis star effortlessly cruised through the first two sets but faced some resistance from his 24-year-old American opponent in the third set. Despite the victory, Djokovic courted controversy by inscribing a political message, “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence,” on a camera lens in Serbian as he left the court.
Meanwhile, the rising star Carlos Alcaraz, currently ranked number one in the world, displayed his prowess by crushing Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in his first Grand Slam match since his U.S. Open triumph last year. Alcaraz’s exceptional performance demonstrated his potential as a formidable competitor.
Another promising young player, Jannik Sinner, closed out the night session with an impressive victory over Alexandre Muller, triumphing 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. The eighth-seeded Sinner showcased his dominance and set up an exciting clash with Daniel Altmaier in the next round.
In the women’s draw, Sloane Stephens, the 2018 runner-up, made a strong statement by dismantling former world number one Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-4. Despite her on-court success, Stephens addressed the issue of racist abuse in tennis, highlighting its persistent presence and worsening nature throughout her career.
In a winning return to Grand Slam tennis following a one-year maternity break, Elina Svitolina secured a commanding 6-2, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Martina Trevisan. Svitolina also used her platform to bring attention to the ongoing war in her home country of Ukraine, expressing frustration at the lack of focus on the suffering caused by Russia’s invasion.
However, the tournament saw some early upsets as Petra Kvitova, the tenth seed and former champion, suffered a surprising 6-3, 6-4 defeat against Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto. Additionally, Swiss player Belinda Bencic, the Olympic champion, fell short, losing 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 against lucky loser Elina Avanesyan.
As the French Open progresses, Novak Djokovic’s quest for another Grand Slam title continues, while young talents like Alcaraz and Sinner aim to make their mark. The competition also serves as a platform for players like Stephens and Svitolina to raise important issues and advocate for change both on and off the court.