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World 172 Seyboth Wild stuns Medvedev at French Open amid Djokovic fallout

Brazil's Thiago Seyboth Wild bites his racket during his match against Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's singles match on day three of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on 30 May 2023. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

World number two Daniil Medvedev was knocked out of the French Open in the first round on Tuesday, losing in five sets to 172nd-ranked Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil as Roland Garros attempted to move on from Novak Djokovic’s Kosovo controversy.

Seyboth Wild, who came through the qualifiers and had never previously won a Grand Slam match, triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

It was Medvedev’s fifth loss in the opening round at Roland Garros in seven appearances.

“It’s a dream come true to beat these kinds of players on this court,” said the 23-year-old Brazilian who unleashed 69 winners on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I was cramping in the second set and couldn’t really serve the way I wanted but I tried to play my best tennis.”

Seyboth Wild, without a win on the main tour since February 2022, held his nerve in the conclusion of the four-hour 15-minute match, one of a Grand Slam record 21 first-round ties to require five sets.

He twice saw breaks retrieved by Medvedev in the deciding set before finally backing up a third break with a hold for 5-3. Two giant forehands secured victory.

Medvedev arrived in Paris buoyed by winning his first-ever clay court title at the Italian Open last week for his fifth trophy of 2023.

“Every time the clay court season finishes, I’m happy,” said Medvedev.

Djokovic will return to Court Philippe Chatrier on Wednesday night for his second-round match with controversy over his “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” message still raging.

The Belgrade-born superstar, chasing a record 23rd Grand Slam title in Paris, wrote the message in Serbian after his opening-round victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic on Monday.

“Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, center of the most important things for our country,” 36-year-old Djokovic told Serb media.

His comments came amid heightened ethnic tensions in northern Kosovo where demonstrators and NATO soldiers have been injured.

Serb TV reported that “vandals” had destroyed a mural bearing the image of Djokovic on a building in Orahovac, a town in south-western Kosovo where a small number of Serbs live amongst the majority Albanians.

French veteran Gael Monfils, a semi-finalist 15 years ago but now ranked at 394, came back from 0-4 in the final set to defeat Sebastian Baez of Argentina 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a match which ended after midnight.

Monfils, 36, overcame cramping to secure a first win since August last year before a serious foot injury sidelined him until March.

Defending champion Iga Swiatek survived an early wobble to reach the second round with a straight-sets win over Cristina Bucsa of Spain.

The world number one, bidding to become the first woman to successfully defend the title since Justine Henin in 2007, came through 6-4, 6-0.

Swiatek could lose her top ranking to Aryna Sabalenka or Elena Rybakina at Roland Garros.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina kept up the pressure by downing Czech teenager Brenda Fruhvirtova 6-4, 6-2.

Russian qualifier Mirra Andreeva, 16, marked her Grand Slam debut with a 56-minute 6-2, 6-1 victory over Alison Riske-Amritraj of the United States.

Andreeva, the youngest player in the tournament and ranked 143, hit the headlines at the Madrid Open earlier this month where she reached the last 16.

Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Ons Jabeur eased past Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, who won her maiden WTA title in Rabat on Saturday, 6-4, 6-1.

Coco Gauff, the 2022 finalist, battled to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 success over Rebecca Masarova but Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 champion, was knocked out in the first round for a second successive year, losing 6-2, 6-4 to Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

Fourth seed Casper Ruud, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year, eased past Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Alexander Zverev, who suffered a season-ending ankle ligament injury in his 2022 semi-final loss to Nadal, eased past Lloyd Harris of South Africa 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/0), 6-1.

Holger Rune, seeded six, passed a tough test against American Christopher Eubanks, winning 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.

Italian qualifier Andrea Vavassori saved five match points to knock out Serb 31st seed Miomir Kecmanovic in a five-hour 10-minute epic.

Vavassori hit a colossal 106 winners in his 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (11/9) victory.

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