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Paris, May 24: Roger Federer blasted French Open organisers Sunday after a fan breached tight security and raced on to court to grab a ‘selfie’ with the Swiss great. The 17-time Grand Slam winner had just completed a routine 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Colombia’s Alejandro Falla when he was shocked to see a young fan sprinting towards him on the showpiece Philippe Chatrier Court. Also Read - French Open 2020 Final: Chris Evert Calls Out Novak Djokovic For 'Rivalry With Rafael Nadal Biggest in Sport' Comment
It was particularly embarrassing as security at this year’s French Open has been tightened following January’s deadly Islamist attack on Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Although the male fan was quickly manhandled away, 33-year-old Federer was furious with the lapse in security, claiming he had also been targeted in practice on Saturday. Also Read - French Open 2020: Novak Djokovic Showers Big Praise on Rafael Nadal After Historic Roland Garros Triumph, Says Today You Showed Why You Are King of Clay
“I am not happy about it. It happened yesterday in the practice, too. It’s just a kid, but then three more kids came. And today on centre court where you would think this is a place where nobody can come on, just wanders on and nothing happens. Something needs to happen quickly. Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that that’s where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe. And so clearly I’m not happy about it. But nothing happened, so I’m relieved. But clearly it wasn’t a nice situation to be in,” said Federer.
Federer was also involved in a security scare in the 2009 final at Roland Garros when a fan ran on to the same court and placed a hat on the star’s head. Two years ago the final, which featured Rafael Nadal, was also held up when a shirtless spectator, brandishing a flare, leapt from the stands and onto the court before he was wrestled away by security officials. Player safety at tennis tournaments has been a major concern ever since 1993 when Monica Seles was stabbed by a deranged fan in Hamburg.
Tournament director Gilbert Ysern admitted that Federer was right to be “pissed off” and admitted that the youth, who had been sitting in the courtside sponsors boxes, had been banned from the event.
“But it’s not the end of the world,” added Ysern. “It’s embarrassing. It shows that we made a mistake and we have to correct it to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Federer, the 2009 champion and seeded two this year, goes on to face Spain’s Marcel Granollers for a place in the last 32. Federer, one of a record 39 men over 30 in the first round, is desperate to make the most of a kind draw which dumped top seed Novak Djokovic, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and third seed Andy Murray all in the opposite half. Federer’s Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka, the eighth seed, took just 96 minutes to make the second round, seeing off Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan 6-3 6-2 6-3.
Wawrinka, who made the last-eight in 2013, goes on to face either Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic or Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina in the next round. But he too was unhappy with organisers after the tournament’s official website went into surgical detail regarding his private life. Former Australian Open winner Wawrinka announced last month that he and his wife Ilham were separating but he was furious to discover that his personal problems were the focus of the website’s preview of his opening round match.
“It was a completely stupid article. For a Grand Slam website, it should be an article about the tennis and that’s it,” said Wawrinka. “It was a shit article.”
Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori enjoyed a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win over France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu and next faces either Australia’s Marinko Matosevic or Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. Latvian 24th seed Ernests Gulbis, who knocked Federer out in the fourth round last year on his way to the semi-finals, defeated Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) for only his third win all year.
Romania’s Simona Halep, the 2014 runner-up and third seed, saw off Russian world number 91 Evgeniya Rodina 7-5, 6-4 and next faces Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the Croatian player who knocked her out of the US Open last year. Russian ninth seed Ekaterina Makarova breezed past US wildcard Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-2 while Spanish 21st seed Garbine Muguruza, who shocked Serena Williams in the second round last year, beat Croatian qualifier Petra Martic 6-2, 7-5.
Croatian 18-year-old Donna Vekic, coached by 1997 champion Iva Majoli, put out French 31st seed Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 for her first win at the tournament. Later Sunday, Serbian seventh seed Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, starts her campaign against Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, a quarter-finalist in 2010 and 2012.