Re­fusal to shake hands cre­ates flap

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY HOWARD FENDRICH

PARIS — As any­one who ever has played or watched ten­nis knows, the post-match hand­shake at the net is as much a cus­tom­ary part of the sport as a racket, ball or serve. So when a player who lost at the French Open re­buffed his op­po­nent’s at­tempt at the rit­ual Tues­day, it be­came the talk of the tour­na­ment.

On a day when No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 3 Stan Wawrinka won, and a cou­ple of top-10 play­ers un­ac­cus­tomed to long stays at Roland Gar­ros — Alexan­der Zverev in the men’s draw, Jo­hanna Konta in the women’s — lost, the most buz­zwor­thy devel­op­ment stemmed from a match be­tween one guy who stands 50th in the world and an­other who is 285th.

Af­ter los­ing to Martin Kl­izan of Slo­vakia 7-6 (4), 6-3, 4-6, 0-6, 6-4 in the first round at Roland Gar­ros, wild-card en­try Lau­rent Lokoli of France skipped the usual sign of sports­man­ship. In­stead, he went to the side­line to pack up his things.

When Kl­izan ap­proached, right arm ex­tended, Lokoli dis­mis­sively waved him off with the back of a hand, mo­tion­ing to stay away. Af­ter­ward, Lokoli said he wasn’t be­ing a sore loser but rather that he didn’t want to shake be­cause he thought Kl­izan was fak­ing an in­jury dur­ing the match and was gen­er­ally “dis­re­spect­ful.”

“I just have (a) prob­lem with his at­ti­tude,” Lokoli said, “be­cause he wasn’t fair. That’s it.”

Kl­izan, who will face Murray in the sec­ond round, ini­tially opened his news con­fer­ence by be­ing con­fronta­tional with re­porters, re­peat­edly say­ing he had no com­ment and adding: “I don’t want you to make a big story about noth­ing.”

Even­tu­ally, he spoke about a prob­lem with his left calf that he said forced him to pull out of other re­cent clay-court tour­na­ments and made him con­sider with­draw­ing from the French Open. Later Tues­day, Kl­izan played in a dou­bles match that he and Joao Sousa of Por­tu­gal lost in straight sets.

Lokoli was an­gered by what he in­ter­preted as games­man­ship, say­ing Kl­izan ap­peared to be dog­ging it in mo­ments — such as the 6-0 fourth set — ham­pered by his leg: “I’m won­der­ing if he’s go­ing to retire or no, be­cause now he’s not run­ning any­more, you know?” And then, in Lokoli’s view, Kl­izan sud­denly would be fine.

“I’m just say­ing that, you know, there are ways of do­ing things. If you’re in­jured, for in­stance, well, you’re in­jured. So what? Call the doc­tors,” Lokoli said. “This is what re­ally both­ered me.”

He added: “Look at re­al­ity. The per­son just on the other side of the net is do­ing things that are very, very weird. Strange things.”

Kl­izan ex­plained the fourth set this way: “He played per­fect. No mis­take. Serv­ing aces. I was play­ing bad. At that time, I feel a lit­tle bit one pinch in my calf. So I was scared.”

As video of their awk­ward ex­change af­ter the fi­nal point made the rounds on so­cial me­dia, even Murray took note.

“Ob­vi­ously I saw a few videos of (Kl­izan’s) match to­day,” Murray said af­ter his 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 vic­tory over An­drey Kuznetsov. “It was ob­vi­ously a pretty en­ter­tain­ing match.”

Murray, the run­ner-up in Paris last year, over­came some trou­ble in the sec­ond set, bro­ken in three of four ser­vice games dur­ing one stretch. But he picked up his game in the last two sets, which the three-time ma­jor cham­pion saw as a good sign af­ter strug­gles this year.

“It was a de­cent start,” Murray said, “con­sid­er­ing, ob­vi­ously, how I played in the buildup.”

While 2015 cham­pion Wawrinka, No. 8 Kei Nishikori, No. 18 Nick Kyr­gios and No. 29 Juan Martin del Potro were among other win­ners on day three, No. 9 Zverev and No. 27 Sam Quer­rey were seeded men who ex­ited.

The only seeded woman to lose was Konta, who was a semi­fi­nal­ist at the Aus­tralian Open last year but never has won a main-draw match at the French Open.

Zverev is a 20-year-old who won the Ital­ian Open last week, rais­ing his pro­file con­sid­er­ably, but he has yet to reach the sec­ond week of a Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

“You some­times play bad. It’s just: This is our sport. There is no re­grets. I mean, what can you do? In Rome, I played fan­tas­tic, I won the tour­na­ment. Here I played bad, I lost first round. That’s the way it goes,” said Zverev, who broke a racket over his leg dur­ing his 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 loss to Fer­nando Ver­dasco.

“But,” he added, “the world doesn’t stop now.”


Madison Keys serves to Ash­leigh Barty dur­ing their firstround match at the French Open ten­nis tour­na­ment at the Roland Gar­ros sta­dium on Tues­day in Paris.

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