‘Spat at me’: French Open bans booze as fan behaviour gets out of control


French Open fans have been banned from drinking alcohol in the stands as organisers attempt to clamp down after a series of inappropriate incidents in the first week of the grand slam.

Respective men’s and women’s world No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek have complained about the behaviour of fans, while Belgian world No. 115 David Goffin claimed “someone spat out their chewing gum at me” during his first round match.

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Goffin was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by world No. 4 Alexander Zverev, but made the accusation during his five-set thriller against Frenchman Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

The 33-year-old blasted the local fans before calling for action.

“When you are insulted for three-and-a-half 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. (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 later added: “A lot of people are complaining. A lot of umpires feel that there is a lot of disrespect.

“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 US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here, it’s a really unhealthy atmosphere.”

It’s probably nice for Australian Open organisers to hear after accusations of fans getting too rowdy over previous editions of the season-opening grand slam.

And French Open organisers have heard the complaints, cracking down with a ban on alcohol inside the stadiums.

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo announced the news, adding action would be taken to weed out troublemakers.

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

“We’re happy to see there’s an atmosphere, emotions and that the spectators are there. However, we will be uncompromising with respect to the players and the game,” said Mauresmo.

“If there’s the slightest behaviour that oversteps the mark, it will be the exit.”

Goffin wasn’t alone in his criticism with Swiatek rebuking the crowd after her stunning victory over Naomi Osaka in the second round.

Swiatek ultimately won the match 7-6 1-6 7-5 but had to battle back from 5-2 down in the final set.

But a shout by a fan midpoint as Swiatek battled to stay in the match left the Polish world No. 1 furious enough to call the crowd out — albeit quite politely — after the match.

“Sometimes under a lot of pressure, when you scream something during the rally, it is very distracting and hard to focus,” Swiatek said while addressing fans on Court Philippe Chatrier after the match.

“This is serious for us and sometimes it is hard to accept. The stakes are big and we are playing for a lot of money. If you could support us before the rallies but not during.

“I love you guys and I always love playing here so let’s continue that.”

World No. 1 scolds French Open crowd in polite speech

But not all players have a problem with the crowd.

Former world No. 2 Paula Badosa hit out at Swiatek’s complaints, particularly when the world No. 1 is on the best courts.

Swiatek has not played on any court other than Philippe Chatrier or Suzanne Lenglen since her second-round match of the 2021 French Open.

“I think she cannot complain, because I played Court 8 and 9 and you can hear everything,” the world No. 139 Badosa, who will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in round three, said.

“Like, I can hear Suzanne Lenglen, Philippe Chatrier, Court 6, 7 during the points. I think she’s very lucky she can play all the time on Philippe Chatrier and she’s okay with that.

“But I don’t mind. As I said, I played in small courts these days, and I was hearing so much noise. In that moment, I’m just so focused on myself and on my match that it doesn’t really bother me.”

Swiatek was far from being alone however.

Even Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis hit out at the fans in his three hour and 45 minute 1-6 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-2 win over Giulio Zeppieri in the second round.

At 5-all in the fourth set tie-breaker, Kokkinakis was left fuming at an Italian fan who started hissing at him as he prepared to hit a second serve.

While Kokkinakis won the point after his rival hit a smash into the net, the Aussie turned at the crowd, saying: “Who the f**k was hissing while I was serving? Which one of you w**kers was doing that?”

Kokkinakis then asked the umpire to act “or I have to take action into my own hands”.

See the incident in the video player above.

While Djokovic found it much easier than Swiatek in a 6-4 6-1 6-2 in his second round rout of Roberto Carballes Baena, the Serbian superstar was frustrated by a heckling fan after a person called “out” while he chased a drop shot in the first set.

He also complained to the umpire, sparking boos and jeers from the crowd, as he appealed for a hindrance.

Djokovic revealed post-match the fan was in the first row and had been shouting throughout the match.

“It’s part of what we do, you know. It’s part of sports. We are different from football or basketball, but at the same time you kind of want a good atmosphere, right, as a player,” Djokovic said.

“It’s a fine line when that line is passed, I guess, and when it starts becoming disrespectful towards the player.

“So I support a player standing up against people who are disrespecting and heckling him. It’s not always possible to tolerate.”

Daniil Medvedev sympathised with Swiatek’s frustration at being distracted by the crowd at key moments, pointing out the fine margins between winning and losing.

“If someone screams in your ear, your serve, you could double fault. That’s as easy as that. That’s not good,” Medvedev said.

“Now what happens is that 95 per cent of matches, tournaments, it’s quiet. And then when suddenly you come to Roland Garros and it’s not, it disturbs you, and it’s a grand slam so you get more stress and it’s not easy.

“There is no in between. It either should be quiet or super loud but all the time, and then we would get used to it, I would get used to it also, and we would not actually complain about it.”

Goffin also revealed after his loss to Zverev that fellow players had shared their support after he hit out at the fans.

“I don’t know how many people and how many players came to me and were on my side,” Goffin said.

“I was surprised that everybody was, like, ‘Okay, what you said is great, what you said to the press is great, I agree.’ So everybody is behind me, so I’m really surprised.”

Sebastian Korda, who awaits Carlos Alcaraz in the last 32, wants fans to enjoy themselves, but within reason.

“I’ve played in Australia on one of their brand-new courts that has a bar right next to it. It wasn’t a fun experience,” he said.

“I think they should do whatever they want, but hopefully not get too rowdy out there.”

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