On Sunday, top tennis players at the French Open hit the clay courts. However, this year’s Roland Garros is different due in large part to Rafael Nadal’s absence. Before the competition, Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic discussed the unusual circumstances with media.
For the rest of us, it creates a possibility and an opportunity to strive to win a title, he said. The truth is, I don’t miss him.
“Honestly, I don’t miss him… I’ve had not so much success against him.” 😅
Nadal’s absence from the French Open this year presents the 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙚𝙘𝙩 𝙤𝙥𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮 for a title shot, says Novak Djokovic 🏆 pic.twitter.com/zvMfgzKtU0
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 28, 2023
There were a few more unusual happenings on the first day of the tournament, despite the 14-time French Open winner missing it for the first time in 19 years due to a left hip flexor issue.
Marta Kostyuk was jeered for not extending her hand to Aryna Sabalenka.
Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine was defeated 6-3, 6-2 by Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka. Kostyuk decided not to shake the Australian Open champion’s hand following the match.
News Kostyuk received just before her match with Sabalenka said that Russia had launched its “biggest drone attack” on Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on Sunday. With her mother and sister, Kostyuk resides in Monaco, but her father and grandfather continue to live in Kiev.
When she skipped the customary greetings and told reporters after the defeat that the supporters should be “embarrassed” for doing so, she was booed. Additionally, she stated that she “cannot respect” Sabalenka for keeping silent about the war.
Win on Sunday, according to Sabalenka, was “emotionally painful.” She continued by saying that she could see why Kostyuk avoided her.
“Nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war. Nobody. How can we support the war? Nobody — normal people — will never support it. Why [do] we have to go loud and say that things? This is like: ‘One plus one [is] two.’ Of course we don’t support war,” Sabalenka said after the match. “If it could affect anyhow the war, if it could like stop it, we would do it. But unfortunately, it’s not in our hands.”
How did the United States fare?
For the most part, American tennis players had a difficult day. But in an All-American match, No. 3 Jessica Pegula triumphed over Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2.
No. 24 Mackenzie McDonald, an unseeded American, was defeated by Sebastian Korda 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. Out of the six men who advanced on Sunday, only Korda was an American.
Nuno Borges of Portugal defeated John Isner in a thrilling fifth-set tiebreaker, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (9)
Thanasi Kokkinakis, an Australian wildcard, stunned Dan Evans, the 20th seed, by winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Into the #RolandGarros second round for the first time since 2015 👏
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 28, 2023
Evans’ defeat leaves only two male Brits left in the draw: Jack Draper and Cameron Norrie. Seven players lost in qualifying, leaving no British competitors in the women’s singles with Emma Raducanu injured.
Maria Sakkari, the eighth seed, was defeated by Karolina Muchova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and she moved on to the next round.
Results No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas fought against Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic to win 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7).
Vesely is now back after a protracted injury hiatus. There is little chance that this would get to a fifth set, Tsitsipas remarked. “Jiri was a challenging barrier. He treated me poorly, but I’m pleased with how I handled it.
11th seed Karen Khachanov defeated Constant Lestienne, a French favorite 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3,
The No. 13 seed Hubert Hurkacz defeated David Goffin with scores of 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Observations for Day 2
On Monday, Djokovic is expected to start his quest for the trophy. He’ll go off against American Aleksandar Kovacevic initially.
Kaia Kanepi of Estonia will compete against No. 20 Madison Keys.
The No. 12 seed and American fan favorite Frances Tiafoe will compete against Filip Krajinovi in an early-morning match.
No. 32 Shelby Rogers and superstar No. 6 seed Coco Gauff won’t participate until Tuesday. No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 16 Tommy Paul, the top-seeded American men, won’t play until then as well.