Tennis-Belgian Goffin slams partisan French Open crowd, seeks action

  • Tennis
  • Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 28, 2023 Belgium's David Goffin reacts during his first round match against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/ File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) -Belgian David Goffin accused partisan fans at the French Open of "total disrespect" and said he was spat at by a spectator during his marathon first-round victory over local favourite Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

Fans can often turn the usually quiet Roland Garros courts into a wild arena when a French player needs backing and Goffin was subjected to the experience on Tuesday afternoon.

On a raucous Court 14, Goffin kept his cool to defeat wild card Perricard 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3, before the former world number seven held his hand to his ears as he left the venue to loud jeers.

"When you are insulted for 3-1/2 hours, you have to tease the public a little," Goffin told Belgian media. "Clearly, it goes too far, it's total disrespect.

"It's really too much. It's becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and fights in the stands. It's starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.

"Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It (the match) was getting complicated. That's why I wanted to stay calm. If I started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me."

Goffin urged the organisers of the year's second Grand Slam to take action.

"A lot of people are complaining, a lot of umpires feel that there is a lot of disrespect," Goffin added. "This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We're going to have to do something about that.

"I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there's not that. Or in Australia either. At the U.S. Open, it's still rather quiet. Here, it's a really unhealthy atmosphere."

Tournament organisers said officials would ensure that fans follow the rules and respect players.

"The public are incredibly enthusiastic, particularly on the outside courts," they said in a statement.

"However, they must of course show full respect to all players while doing so. Oversight bodies are in place to make sure rules are followed.

"Although it's only natural that fans share their excitement and cheer on their favourites, this may not in any case go against the values of tennis or consideration for the players."

Last year, Taylor Fritz was booed and whistled from the Philippe Chatrier stands as the American shushed fans repeatedly after beating Arthur Rinderknech.

When the crowd pick on a player, it can becomes unsettling, as Martina Hingis found out during the 1999 title clash against Steffi Graf.

Jeered by the fans after disputing a line call while 6-4 2-0 up, the Swiss lost her composure and the match, only to be booed again after match-point.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in ParisEditing by Christian Radnedge)

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