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French Open bans alcohol in stands after fan spits at player

ROLAND GARROS — French Open organisers have banned fans from drinking in the stands after David Goffin was spat at by a fan on Tuesday.

Goffin beat Frenchman Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard in five sets on Court 14 but was furious afterwards with the partisan crowd, claiming one even spat chewing gum at him.

As a result, supporters will still be allowed to drink alcohol “in the alleys” between courts and on the concourse of the stadiums, but will not be able to sit with a drink in their seats.

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo also says they have “upgraded” security measures and told umpires to be stricter with the crowd during the match.

“I have personally passed the instructions to the chair umpires, who must be super reactive to all that, trying to control the court and what is happening,” Mauresmo said.

“I think a lot of the umpires are very experienced. For matches that are a bit heated, we also choose [officials] who are experienced and fully capable of handling the match and the fans.

“The umpires are really going to be even more strict to further respect to the players and respect the game.

“This is something that we’re not going to tolerate, to overstep these two things. That’s for sure. So umpires have quite an important role in this matter.

“And definitely in terms of security, we’re going to try to see which people is maybe making [trouble]… because I think it’s a few individuals at some point that are overstepping.

“[Security personnel will] try to calm them down or they go out. If they go too far, they go out.”

However, Mauresmo did say that they had not been able to identify the person who spat at Goffin and that there had been no ejections so far during the tournament.

She added: “We’ve tried to gather yesterday information on what happened and how we can do the things so these kind of new rules are from this morning. So we’ll see how it goes.

“We are happy that people are very enthusiastic about watching tennis, about being part of the matches, about feeling emotions and showing emotions. But yes, definitely there are steps that they shouldn’t go further [than].

“I don’t want to be negative and I’m an optimist. I’m really [hoping] to see that people are going to react in a good way and that it’s going to be okay, and if it’s not, we will take other measures.”

It will be music to the ears of Iga Swiatek, the world No 1 who came through a three-hour thriller against Naomi Osaka on Wednesday.

The Pole complained to the umpire after, at 4-5 in the deciding set, a fan called out just as she was preparing to hit a drive volley – which she missed – and she addressed the Philippe Chatrier crowd directly afterwards.

“This is serious for us. We are fighting our whole lives to be better and better. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that,” Swiatek said.

“The stakes are big. There is a lot of money to win. The few points may change a lot.”

Her comments were greeted with support and applause, backing up Mauresmo’s assertion that the crowd trouble has generally been restricted to a small minority of supporters.

“I knew that I should be more focused and not let this distract me, but sometimes it’s hard, because in tennis we’re used to the stadium being silent during the point,” Swiatek told reporters afterwards.

“It happened more times, especially before the returns, and that’s why I wanted to speak out about it, because if it would happen one time, I would just let it go.

“I know the French crowd is enthusiastic. But for now in tennis we have these kind of rules that there should be more silence in the audience, and I just wanted to point out that it’s not easy for us.

“But I know that French crowds can be kind of harsh, so I don’t want to be [above] the radar right now.

“I don’t know if that [confronting the crowd] was a good decision or not, but I hope they can treat me as a human and just we can kind of work on it.”

Fortunately for Swiatek, she is highly unlikely to face a Frenchwoman at any point in this tournament: there is only one left in her half of the draw, and Chloe Paquet has never been past the second round of a grand slam.

Daniil Medvedev is similarly unlikely to face one at this tournament, but as an expressive character on the court, he has had his fair share of run-ins with rowdy crowds.

“Playing French in Roland Garros is not easy,” Medvedev said with a smile. He has done it three times and lost every time.

“I would say that in US Open and Wimbledon is not the same. Australia can be tough. I played Thanasi [Kokkinakis, of Australia] once there on the small court. It was, whew, brutal.

“It’s good to have energy between points, but then when you’re ready to serve, it’s okay, let’s finish it and let’s play tennis. Same before first and second serve.

“And then when there is a changeover, when there is between points, go unleash yourself fully, it’s okay.

“But again, when you’re already bouncing the ball, you want to get ready for the serve, if it would be 10 years we would be playing loud, we would not care.

“But for the moment it’s not like this so when you get ready for serve, you want to toss the ball, then suddenly 10 people continue screaming, the serves are not easy.

“So for the moment, let’s try to be quiet.”

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