Serbian Novak Djokovic sparks political row by writing anti-Kosovo message on TV camera after first-round victory at French Open… and world No 3 also winds up the crowd at Roland Garros
- Serbian Novak Djokovic made the statement as his father was born in Kosovo
- Serbia fails to recognise Kosovo’s independence, which was declared in 2008
- Tempers have flared up in the last weeks with Serbs boycotting local elections
Novak Djokovic sparked a political row at Roland Garros on Monday by scribbling a nationalist, anti-Kosovo message on the camera after his three-set win over American Aleksandar Kovacevic.
The Serbian world No 3 wrote ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, stop the violence’ on the television lens after the match, repeating a message that he said earlier this month which got the reply of ‘No vax, no entry’ from Kosovo’s culture minister on Twitter.
Serbia fails to recognise Kosovo’s independence, which was declared in 2008, despite having no formal control there.
Tempers have flared up in the last weeks due to Serbs boycotting local elections and trying to prevent newly-elected Albanian mayors from entering office.
He said: ‘The least I could do is this, I feel responsible as a public figure and the son of a man who was born in Kosovo, I feel the need to show support to all of Serbia.’
Novak Djokovic sparked a political row with a nationalist message at Roland Garros on Monday
World No 3 wrote ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, stop the violence’ on the television lens
Djokovic (above) became the latest player to fall foul to the jeers of the Roland Garros crowd
Earlier, he had become another to rile the partisan Parisian crowd at Roland Garros, who controversially booed Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk on Sunday and also took umbrage with Brit Cameron Norrie over-celebrating his win.
The fans on Court Philippe Chatrier cheered every point of Kovacevic, who has Serbian descent, especially in the third set when he put up a good fight to force a tiebreak.
But when Djokovic broke the 24-year-old’s serve in that set, he put his finger to his ear to wind up the crowd. That gesture was swiftly reciprocated by loud jeers, which continued throughout the match.
The main threat to Djokovic’s 23rd crown is world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who opened his campaign in fine form by beating Italy’s Flavio Cobilli in three sets to win 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
US Open winner Alcaraz, who told Mats Wilander to call him ‘Carlitos’ in his post-match address, said: ‘I enjoy playing here and felt a great energy from the crowd.’