Roger Federer fumes after selfie fan is given court blanche

'You’d think centre court was a place nobody could just wander on'

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka might have wondered whether this was the French Open’s idea of revenge after Switzerland beat France in last year’s Davis Cup final.

The main talking points on the opening day at Roland Garros centred on the leading Swiss men, though both reached the second round with plenty to spare. Federer beat Colombia’s Alejandro Falla 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 and Wawrinka trounced Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

Federer was left fuming after a fan ran on to the court and attempted to take a selfie (above) with the world No 2 before security guards ushered him away. Wawrinka, meanwhile, was upset about what he described as a “shit article” about his private life which had appeared on the tournament’s official website.

The intruder ran on to Court Philippe Chatrier, the main stadium, as Federer walked off after his win. The 17-times Grand Slam champion appeared startled as the young man had time to put his arm around him and attempt to take the photograph before guards intervened.

Federer.jpg
Federer beat Alejandro Falla in three sets

Six years ago another intruder on the same court had reached Federer before guards could stop him and attempted to place a hat on his head. In 2013, a protester jumped on to the playing area with a flare in a political protest during Rafael Nadal’s final against David Ferrer.

Federer, who complained that he had also been troubled by court intruders when he practised here on Saturday, said: “You would think centre court was a place where nobody could come on – just wander on – and nothing happens. It happened to me during the final in 2009 as well. I definitely think something needs to happen quickly.

“Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players. That’s where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe.” He added: “This doesn’t only mean for this tournament for this year – it means for all the tournaments we play, all the years coming up. We need to make sure that it’s safe out there and people don’t just wander on the court.”

The tournament director, Gilbert Ysern, who apologised personally to Federer, blamed the incident on a “lack of judgement” by individual security guards. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said. “At this stage there is no reason for us to change procedures.”

Wawrinka’s ire was directed at the tournament website, where he saw an article about his relationship with his wife, Ilham. Her name, curiously enough, was just one letter different from  that of Wawrinka’s opponent yesterday.

The article, which was quickly removed after Wawrinka complained, said the player had first left his wife and their young daughter “to fend for themselves” in 2011. They soon got back together, but the article then related how the couple parted last month for a second time.

Wawrinka announced the second split in a press release, suggesting that “the demands of my career” had been the cause. His wife, a TV presenter, responded with a statement in which she said his globe-trotting had not been to blame. Instead she talked about his “instability”, “repeated lies” and “breach of faith”.

The article then suggested that Wawrinka and the 18-year-old Croatian player, Donna Vekic, had “more in common than just an agent” and that the potential quarter-final between Wawrinka and Federer would give the latter “a chance to pass on a few tips on how to juggle personal and private lives”.

Asked about it after his match, Wawrinka said: “I hope the guy who did that article is not a journalist. I also hope the guy who is supposed to check all the articles on the website is not working any more for the tournament. Because for me, for a Grand Slam website, it should be an article about the tennis and that’s it.”

Vekic, who used to be coached by Britain’s David Felgate but now works with Iva Majoli, has slipped more than 100 places in the world rankings in the last two years, to No 165. However, she enjoyed a fine victory yesterday when she beat 21-year-old Caroline Garcia, the world No 31 and France’s most promising young player, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Chatrier.

Garcia, who had asked to play on a smaller court, said: “It’s very tough for me to play in Paris – far more difficult than in other tournaments. I’m quite emotional at times. When you are emotional, it can be a benefit. Today it was a drawback.”

Another Croatian, 33-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, won her first main draw match here for 13 years,  beating Lauren Davis 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni, who did not play any Grand Slam tournaments between 2002 and 2010, said: “I can’t believe it’s been so long. It’s been kind of crazy.”

On an opening day of bright sunshine, the biggest splash of colour was supplied by Federer’s dazzling outfit of purple and pink. When it was mentioned that the kit was very different from what he would be allowed to wear at Wimbledon, he said: “No colour any more, basically, so it’s rough there. That’s why let’s enjoy the colour while we can. It’s good to try to be fashionable in a fashionable city, like here in Paris.”

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