Novak Djokovic criticised for anti-Kosovo message at French Open by French sports minister

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Novak Djokovic warned his controversial anti-Kosovo message at French Open was ‘not appropriate’… and Serb told it ‘shouldn’t happen again’ by France’s sports minister

Novak Djokovic has been warned by the French sports minister that his nationalist, anti-Kosovo message was ‘not appropriate’ and the Serbian has been told to ‘not get involved’ with politics again at Roland Garros.

World No 3 Djokovic scribbled on the camera that ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’ after his match on Monday. It was a nod to how his native Serbia has never formally accepted Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, despite being recognised by 100 countries and the ITF.

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But French minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told French TV: ‘This message is very activist, very political. You shouldn’t get involved, especially in the current circumstances, and it shouldn’t happen again.’

Oudea-Castera, a former tennis player herself, also said that French Open chief Amelie Mauresmo had spoken with the 22-time Grand Slam winner and his team to emphasise the principle of political neutrality on the tour.

Kosovo’s head of Olympic Committee, Ismet Krasniqi, said Djokovic had ‘promoted nationalist propaganda and used his sporting platform to do so’. He added: ‘The statements made without any remorse directly resulted in raising the level of tension and violence between the nations.’

Serbian Novak Djokovic has been criticised for his anti-Kosovo message at the French Open

Serbian Novak Djokovic has been criticised for his anti-Kosovo message at the French Open 

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The World No 3 scrawled a message on a camera after his first round win at the French Open

The World No 3 scrawled a message on a camera after his first round win at the French Open

Ukrainian player Elena Svitolina, who called for all Russians and Belarussians to be banned from the tour, said Djokovic was free to speak his mind.

‘We are living in the free world, so why not say your opinion,’ she said. ‘I mean, if you are with a friend sitting, talking, you’re going to say your opinion, he is going to say his opinion. So why not?’

Elsewhere at Roland Garros, world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz needed four sets to advance into the third round and then let out a huge roar in celebration at completing a full on-court interview in English.

The Spaniard beat Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 and wowed the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier with a mix of dropshots, volleys and a forehand winner down the line to seal the victory.

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Alcaraz will play world No 32 Denis Shapovalov on Friday and the Canadian said: ‘I’m a huge fan of Alcaraz. Super humble, really nice guy and wears his top player shirt very well. I look up to him a lot.’

Those on Court Simonne Mathieu were treated to a thriller in the scorching Parisian heat as Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis knocked out three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka in four hours and 38 minutes.

Fan favourite ‘Stan the man’ said: ‘The support is very touching for me, and that’s why I continue. It’s to live these moments.

‘But what I have received, well, it’s difficult to say. People know I’m 38 years old and it’s the end of my career. I think they are trying to enjoy it to the fullest, and they’re happy to see me. So we enjoy it together.

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