In a French Open tournament without Rafael Nadal, Serbian star Novak Djokovic is a favorite to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Four days into his journey toward that goal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was put on notice for a message he wrote on television camera lens. "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence," the 22-time Grand Slam champion wrote after defeating Aleksandar Kovacevic on Monday.
In response, the Kosovan Olympic Committee (KOC) called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) to take disciplinary action against him.
Djokovic's message "breached the fundamental principle of the IOC charter on the point of political neutrality and involved yet another political statement in sport," KOC President Ismet Krasniqi wrote in a letter to the IOC.
Djokovic “yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists propaganda and used the sport platform to do so,”according to the KOC. The committee says his actions raised “the level of tension and violence between the two countries, Kosovo and Serbia.”
This comes after thirty NATO peacekeeping soldiers were reportedly injured Monday during conflict with Serb protesters in Zvecan, the northern Kosovo town where Djokovic's father grew up. Serbs comprise a majority in Kosovo's north. They did not accept the country's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo's population is more than 90% Ethnic Albanians.
Djokovic elaborated on his statement before any disciplinary action was on the table. “This is the least I could have done," he said. "I feel the responsibility as a public figure – doesn’t matter in which field – to give support."
Roland-Garros has been filled with discussions about social and political issues this year. Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk stirred the crowd to boos when she opted not to shake Berusian Aryna Sabalenka's hand after a loss on Monday. In a post-match press conference, she said she couldn't respect Sabalanka's silence on the war. On Tuesday, American Sloane Stephens spoke out about her experience with racism after a win, saying the issue has "only gotten worse."
On the court, the tournament has featured it's fair share of upsets. Djokoivic, the No. 3 seed, will face Hungary's Marton Fucsovics in the night session Wednesday. While that match is likely to go to the favorite, there were some other interesting results during the day.
It wasn't a great day for the home crowd at Roland Garros, as No. 5 Caroline Garcia, the top-ranked French woman, lost to unseeded Anna Blinkova 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Garcia is the highest-ranked women's player to exit the French Open so far.
Before that, American Peyton Stearns, ranked No. 69 in the world, took down No. 17 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
Last spring, Stearns became the first University of Texas woman to win the NCAA Division 1 singles national championship. The 21-year-old credited that experience for the mental toughness to defeat the 2017 Roland Garros winner on Wednesday.
How did the rest of the Americans do?
American No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula advanced to the third round at Roland-Garros in an easier than expected manner on Wednesday after her opponent, Italy's Camila Giorgi, withdrew at the end of the first set.
Pegula appeared in control of the match, leading 6-2 before getting the walkover due to Giorgi feeling pain from a knee injury.
American Sloane Stephens defeated Varvara Gracheva 6-2 6-1. Coming into this year's French Open unseeded, she has now reached the 3rd round for 10 of the last 11 years.
World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz had a relatively smooth victory over Taro Daniel 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka def. qualifier Iryna Shymanovich 7-5, 6-2.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 2021 finalist, advanced to the third round in a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over world No.57 Roberto Carballes Baena.
Highlight of the day
Iga Swiatek celebrated her 22nd birthday with a sparkling cake on Wednesday. The Polish star has celebrated her birthday in Paris since her first appearance as a junior in 2016. Her breakthrough title in 2020 was the only anomaly, as that tournament was moved to October.
What to watch on Day 5
It's a veritable party of Americans on Day 5. You could practically fill your entire viewing schedule on Thursday with nothing but matches featuring Americans.
No. 6 Coco Gauff vs. Julia Grabher
No. 9 Taylor Fritz vs. Arthur Rinderknech
No. 12 Frances Tiafoe vs. Aslan Karatsev
No. 16 Tommy Paul vs. Nicolas Jarry
No. 20 Madison Keys vs. Kayla Day (American vs. American)
Claire Liu vs. No. 1 Iga Swiatek
Bernarda Pera vs. No. 22 Donna Vekic
Marcos Giron vs. vs. Jiri Lehecka
Emma Navarro vs. Bianca Andreescu
Lauren Davis vs. Lesia Tsurenko
And that's not all! There are plenty of other matches to watch.
No. 1 Iga Swiatek vs. Claire Liu
No. 4 Casper Ruud vs. Giulio Zeppieri
No. 4 Elena Rybakina vs. Linda Noskova
No. 6 Holger Rune vs. Gael Monfils
No. 7 Ons Jabeur vs. Oceane Dodin
No. 8 Jannik Sinner vs. Daniel Altmaier