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Djokovic strolls into French Open round of 32, fans hit with alcohol ban

Djokovic strolls into French Open round of 32, fans hit with alcohol ban

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Djokovic strolls into French Open round of 32, fans hit with alcohol ban

Novak Djokovic reached the French Open last 32 for the 19th successive year on Thursday as Roland Garros organisers banned alcohol from the stands in an effort to counter disruption from rowdy fans.

Defending champion Djokovic cracked 43 winners past Spain’s 63rd-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena to canter to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win.

The three-time champion, seeking a record 25th Grand Slam title, goes on to face 30th seed Lorenzo Musetti.

Djokovic has defeated Musetti four times in five meetings.

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However the Italian gave the Serb a major scare at the French Open in 2021 when he won the first two sets of their last 16 clash before retiring injured in the decider.

“It was a difficult match against Roberto. He hit a lot of very good and precise shots,” said Djokovic.

“The last game of the first set I played really well and started to play at a higher level. At the end of the match I was then playing very well.”

Also easing through to the third round on another rain-hit day in the French capital were women’s title contenders Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina.

The behaviour of fans at the tournament, which was brought into focus by Belgium’s David Goffin’s claim that he had chewing gum spat at him, prompted a series of measures to clamp down on loutish behaviour.

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“Alcohol has been allowed in the stadiums until now but that’s over,” tournament director Amelie Mauresmo told reporters.

However, alcohol including beer from mobile vendors, will still be sold around the grounds.

Mauresmo said fans will be ejected if they throw something at a player and that “umpires have tighter, even more precise instructions on keeping the crowd under control”.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who effectively ended Rafael Nadal’s French Open career in the first round, defeated Goffin 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2.

Zverev arrived in Paris on the back of winning the Rome Open title and is the only player to reach the semi-finals at the last three French Open tournaments.

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On Friday, a Berlin court will hear an appeal by Zverev against a fine for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

He received a 450,000-euro ($487,000) fine in October but appealed the ruling earlier this year, leading to a full trial.

The 27-year-old is not required to attend the proceedings and insisted on the eve of the tournament that he “believes in the German system”.

On Thursday, he refused to further discuss the case.

“I have said everything before the tournament,” he said.

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Casper Ruud, the runner-up to Nadal and Djokovic in the last two years, needed five sets to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

After only nine singles matches were played after a Wednesday washout, 55 second round ties were scheduled on Thursday.

World number two Sabalenka fired 27 winners past Japanese qualifier Moyuka Uchijima to win 6-2, 6-2.

‘BLANKET AND TEA’

The two-time Australian Open champion, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2023, has made at least the last four at her past six Grand Slams and is expected to be Iga Swiatek’s chief rival in the Pole’s quest for a fourth French Open title.

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Sabalenka will take on close friend Paula Badosa of Spain for a place in the last 16.

“It’s not the best weather. I feel like going back to the hotel. Getting a blanket and hot tea, and Netflix,” said the Belarusian who had the benefit of playing under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

Fourth-seeded Rybakina, the only woman to defeat Swiatek on clay this year, was similarly untroubled. She eased past Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4.

Qualifier Olga Danilovic, ranked at 125, came from a set and 5-3 down to defeat in-form 11th seed Danielle Collins 6-7 (3/7), 7-5, 6-4.

Also exiting was 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko who fell to Denmark’s 72nd-ranked Clara Tauson 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3.

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Peyton Stearns, who captured her first WTA title in Rabat last weekend, stunned Russian 10th seed Daria Kasatkina 7-5, 6-2.

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Former Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is joining Hajduk Split after Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab terminated his contract by mutual consent following a six-month spell.

The 36-year-old scored once in eight games after joining Al-Shabab in January 2024 as they finished eighth on 52 points.

“The club management agreed with the Croatian player Ivan Rakitic to terminate the contractual relationship between the two parties by mutual consent,” the Saudi club posted on the X social media platform.

Hajduk Split on Sunday announced the signing of the former Barcelona and Sevilla midfielder for one season with the option of an extra year in what will be his first campaign in Croatia.

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Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, played 106 games for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, and helped the country reach the World Cup final in 2018. 

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Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

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Croatia's Vida retires from international football

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has retired from international soccer after 14 years in the national team, the Croatian Football Federation said on Sunday.

Vida, 35, made his international debut in May 2010 and has played 105 matches for Croatia. He was part of the Croatia side that reached the final of World Cup 2018 and finished third in World Cup 2022.

“It is an honour to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world once in your career,” Vida said in a statement.

“And when you do it 105 times, you play in seven major competitions … then you can just be infinitely grateful for such a privilege.”

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Former Bayer Leverkusen and Besiktas player Vida currently plays for Greek top-flight club AEK Athens. 

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Sydney Collins will miss the Paris 2024 women’s soccer tournament after fracturing her left leg during a training game in her first match back after suffering a similar injury to her right leg earlier this year, Team Canada said on Saturday.

Gabrielle Carle will replace Collins in Canada’s Olympic squad, while Desiree Scott will take Carle’s spot as an alternate for the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, it said.

Collins sustained the injury on Thursday during a closed-door training match against Nigeria, her first since fracturing her right leg in February.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney during this difficult time. She has worked incredibly hard to return in time for Paris 2024, and while this is a setback, we know she will come back stronger,” said women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman.

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“She will be with us in spirit every step of the way.

“With the depth and resilience of our roster, it’s a next-player-up mentality, and both Gabby and Desiree’s experience will be invaluable to our team’s success.”

Canada will begin the defence of their Olympic title on July 25 against Group A opponents New Zealand. 

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