Novak Djokovic sparks ugly sexism storm at French Open

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, pictured here before the French Open final.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal look on prior to the French Open final. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has been called out by a number of female tennis champions over a comment about his rivalry with Rafael Nadal.

Speaking ahead of the French Open final on Sunday, Djokovic described his rivalry with Nadal as “the biggest head-to-head in the history of tennis”.

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Their clash in the Roland Garros final marked the 56th time Djokovic and Nadal have played each other throughout their illustrious careers.

And while that does represent the most times two players have squared off on the men’s tour, it doesn’t come close to the women’s record.

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played each other a staggering 80 times, and the former was all too happy to point that out to Djokovic on Sunday.

“Well, true... in men’s tennis... Martina and I played 80 times,” the 18-time grand slam champion wrote on Twitter in response to Djokovic’s comments.

Navratilova replied with a simple “yup”.

The Tennis Podcast host Catherine Whitaker also replied: “If I could like this tweet more than once then I sure as heck would.”

Evert then added: “When will men think before they tweet powerful statements once again overlooking women????”

“I hope the answer is ‘soon’ because I’ve got too many things to despair about this year and crossing one off the list would be helpful!” Whitaker said.

Fellow American champion Billie Jean King also took exception to Djokovic’s comment.

“ChrissieEvert and Martina played each other 80 times. #HistoryMatters,” she wrote.

Nadal hands Djokovic unprecedented thrashing

Nadal inflicted one of the most humiliating defeats on his great rival Djokovic in the French Open final, thrashing the World No.1 6-0 6-2 7-5 to lift a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam men's singles title.

Tennis fans would have been salivating at the prospect of another epic clash in one of the sport's greatest rivalries but it proved to be one of the most one-sided grand slam finals in the Open era under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The stakes were high for both players in their ninth meeting in a Grand Slam final - they were tied 4-4 previously - with the added incentive of lifting another major trophy in the battle to be considered the men's GOAT - the “Greatest Of All Time”.

Nadal has now tied Roger Federer’s haul of 20 majors with Djokovic, the last active player to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros, three adrift.

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, pictured here with Serena Williams at the 2014 US Open.
Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with Serena Williams at the 2014 US Open. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“To win here means everything. I don't think today about the 20th and equal Roger on this great number, today is just a Roland Garros victory and that means everything to me,” the World No.2 said.

“This love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable.”

Djokovic, 33, who had won five Grand Slam finals in a row since losing to Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 Australian Open, still leads Nadal 29-27 in career meetings but the scar of Sunday's defeat will run deep.

The drop shots on the slow clay courts served Djokovic well in earlier rounds and he used plenty of them in his opening game on Sunday but Nadal ran most of them down, blunting the Serbian's weapon and game plan.

Nadal made just two unforced errors in the opening set to hand his opponent a rare 'bagel' - the first Djokovic had ever suffered in a grand slam final.

“Today you showed why you are the king of clay,” said a gracious Djokovic.

“Today was a tough match, I was outplayed by a better player.”

with AAP

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