David Goffin slams ‘total disrespect’ from French Open fans

David Goffin accused partisan fans at the French Open of “total disrespect” and stated he was spat at by a spectator during his marathon first-round victory over local favorite Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.

Fans can often turn the usually quiet Roland Garros courts into a wild arena when a French player needs backing, with the resulting atmosphere unmatched at the other three majors. Goffin, of Belgium, was subjected to the experience Tuesday afternoon.

On a raucous Court 14, Goffin kept his cool to defeat wild card Perricard 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 before the former world No. 7 held his hand to his ears as he left the venue to loud jeers.

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“When you are insulted for 3½ 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 destabilized me.”

Goffin urged the organizers of the year’s second Grand Slam to take action.

“A lot of people are complaining. A lot of umpires feel that there is a lot of disrespect,” Goffin said. “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.”

Tournament organizers stated officials would ensure that fans follow the rules and respect players.

“The public are incredibly enthusiastic, particularly on the outside courts,” they said in a statement. “However, they must of course show full respect to all players while doing so. Oversight bodies are in place to make sure rules are followed. Although it’s only natural that fans share their excitement and cheer on their favorites, this may not in any case go against the values of tennis or consideration for the players.”

Last year, Taylor Fritz got a reminder of how brutal the venue can be as persistent boos and whistles rained down from the Philippe Chatrier stands as the American shushed fans repeatedly after defeating Arthur Rinderknech.

When the crowd pick on a player, it can become unsettling, as Martina Hingis found out during the 1999 title clash against Steffi Graf. Jeered by the fans after disputing a line call while up 6-4, 2-0, the Swiss player lost her composure and the match, only to be booed again after match point.

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