French Open 2023 Day 4: Novak Djokovic gets warning and win, women's No. 5 seed Carolina Garcia falls

Novak Djokovic of Serbia writes in Serbian on the camera lens a political statement, 'Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence' about the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia after his first round victory during day 2 of the 2023 French Open, Roland-Garros 2023, second Grand Slam tennis tournament of the season at Stade Roland-Garros on May 29, 2023 in Paris, France.
Novak Djokovic wrote a political statement in Serbian on a camera lens Monday at the French Open. Now he faces disciplinary action.

In a French Open tournament without Rafael Nadal, Serbian star Novak Djokovic is a favorite to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

Four days into his journey toward that goal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was put on notice for a message he wrote on a television camera lens. "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence," he wrote after defeating Aleksandar Kovacevic on Monday.

On France 2's broadcast, French Sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera warned that Djokovic’s message was "not appropriate." She added that French Open director Amelie Mauresmo spoke with him to emphasize the importance of "neutrality" on the court.

The Kosovan Olympic Committee (KOC) also called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) to take disciplinary action against him.

Djokovic’s message “breached the fundamental principle of the IOC charter on the point of political neutrality and involved yet another political statement in sport," KOC President Ismet Krasniqi wrote in a letter to the IOC.

Djokovic “yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists propaganda and used the sport platform to do so,” according to the KOC. The committee says his actions raised “the level of tension and violence between the two countries, Kosovo and Serbia.”

This comes after 30 NATO peacekeeping soldiers were reportedly injured Monday during conflicts with Serb protesters in Zvecan, the northern Kosovo town where Djokovic's father grew up. Serbs comprise a majority in Kosovo's north. They did not accept the country's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo's population is more than 90% Ethnic Albanians.

Djokovic elaborated on his statement before any disciplinary action was on the table. “It's the least I could have done," he said. "I feel the responsibility as a public figure – doesn’t matter in which field – to give support."

All of that came before Djokovic actually played tennis on Wednesday, which he did pretty well. The two-time French Open champion defeated Márton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the third round, where he will face No. 29 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Roland-Garros has been filled with discussions about social and political issues this year. Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk stirred the crowd to boos when she opted not to shake Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka's hand after a loss Monday. In a post-match news conference, she said she couldn't respect Sabalanka's silence on the war. On Tuesday, American Sloane Stephens spoke out about her experience with racism after a win, saying the issue has "only gotten worse."

On the court, the tournament has featured its fair share of upsets. Djokoivic, the No. 3 seed, will face Hungary's Marton Fucsovics in the night session Wednesday. While that match is likely to go to the favorite, there were some other interesting results during the day.

Notable upsets

It wasn't a great day for the home crowd at Roland Garros, as No. 5 Caroline Garcia, the top-ranked French woman, lost to unseeded Anna Blinkova 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Garcia is the highest-ranked women's player to exit the French Open so far.

  • Before that, American Peyton Stearns, ranked No. 69 in the world, took down No. 17 seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

  • Last spring, Stearns became the first University of Texas woman to win the NCAA Division 1 singles national championship. The 21-year-old credited that experience for the mental toughness to defeat the 2017 Roland Garros winner on Wednesday.

How did the rest of the Americans do?

American No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula advanced to the third round at Roland-Garros in an easier-than-expected manner Wednesday after her opponent, Italy's Camila Giorgi, withdrew at the end of the first set.

  • Pegula appeared in control of the match, leading 6-2 before getting the walkover due to Giorgi feeling pain from a knee injury.

  • American Sloane Stephens defeated Varvara Gracheva 6-2, 6-1. Coming into this year's French Open unseeded, she has now reached the 3rd round for 10 of the last 11 years.

  • Sebastian Korda, one of top-ranked American men, lost to Sebastian Ofner 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4.

Other results

  • World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz had a relatively smooth victory over Taro Daniel 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

  • No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka def. qualifier Iryna Shymanovich 7-5, 6-2.

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 2021 finalist, advanced to the third round in a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over world No.57 Roberto Carballes Baena.

Highlight of the day

Iga Swiatek celebrated her 22nd birthday with a sparkling cake Wednesday. The Polish star has celebrated her birthday in Paris since her first appearance as a junior in 2016. Her breakthrough title in 2020 was the only anomaly, as that tournament was moved to October.

What to watch on Day 5

It's a veritable party of Americans on Day 5. You could practically fill your entire viewing schedule Thursday with nothing but matches featuring Americans.

  • No. 6 Coco Gauff vs. Julia Grabher

  • No. 9 Taylor Fritz vs. Arthur Rinderknech

  • No. 12 Frances Tiafoe vs. Aslan Karatsev

  • No. 16 Tommy Paul vs. Nicolas Jarry

  • No. 20 Madison Keys vs. Kayla Day (American vs. American)

  • Claire Liu vs. No. 1 Iga Swiatek

  • Bernarda Pera vs. No. 22 Donna Vekic

  • Marcos Giron vs. vs. Jiri Lehecka

  • Emma Navarro vs. Bianca Andreescu

  • Lauren Davis vs. Lesia Tsurenko

And that's not all! There are plenty of other matches to watch.

  • No. 1 Iga Swiatek vs. Claire Liu

  • No. 4 Casper Ruud vs. Giulio Zeppieri

  • No. 4 Elena Rybakina vs. Linda Noskova

  • No. 6 Holger Rune vs. Gael Monfils

  • No. 7 Ons Jabeur vs. Oceane Dodin

  • No. 8 Jannik Sinner vs. Daniel Altmaier