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Watch: Players split as French Open vows to crack down on unruly fans

As the French Open announced stricter measures Thursday to clamp down on inappropriate fan behaviour, players had varying stances on a polarising issue with Iga Swiatek told by one rival “she cannot complain”. 

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said action would be taken to weed out troublemakers following complaints by Swiatek, the women’s defending champion, and David Goffin.

“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,” asserted Mauresmo, while acknowledging that “identifying the person is not always easy”.

Swiatek scolded spectators in her on-court interview for making noise during several points of her tense second-round win over Naomi Osaka.

But Paula Badosa, who will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in round three, suggested Swiatek has it better than most given her status as the world number one and a four-time Grand Slam winner.

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,” said Spain’s Badosa, the former world number two.

“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.”

Badosa recalled the 2020 and 2021 editions of the tournament, when fan capacity was reduced due to Covid-19 restrictions and matches at times were played in front of empty stands. 

“Honestly, I like when the fans cheer and all this. I think I get pumped,” she said.

“Look, we had a very tough situation years ago when we were playing without fans with the Covid situation, so now, for me, I’m so happy they’re back and think they’re very important for our sport.”

‘Quiet or super loud’

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,” said Medvedev.

“Now what happens is that 95% 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,” he continued.

“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 claimed he was spat at by a spectator as he defeated French player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard in the opening round on Tuesday.

Mauresmo, a former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion, said there would be “no hesitation” to remove anyone caught throwing something at a player.

She said it would be at an umpire’s discretion how to handle other disruptive spectators, but called for them to be sterner while announcing alcohol will now be prohibited in the stands.

“There will likely be situations when it comes down to judgement,” said Mauresmo.

“Throwing something at a player, you’re out. Expressing yourself during a point is a no-no, we’re going to try and limit that as much as possible. 

“The umpires have tighter, even more precise instructions on keeping the audience under control. It’s part of the role of the umpire to manage that too.”

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