French Open – Women: Second seed Li Na beaten in first round

Former winner in Paris three years ago blames state of mind for early exit

Li Na: “In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.” Photograph: EPA

Li Na: “In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.” Photograph: EPA

 

Li Na helped set an unwanted record by crashing out in the first round at Roland Garros yesterday.

Second seed Li’s 7-5 3-6 6-1 loss to Kristina Mladenovic coupled with Stan Wawrinka’s defeat by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday meant it was the first time in history that the two Australian Open champions have lost in the first round in Paris.

It was also the first time that the men’s and women’s champions at one grand slam have both lost in the opening round of the next.

Second seed Li won the title in Paris three years ago but only made the second round last year.

France’s Mladenovic has been having a poor year in singles, dropping outside the top 100, and it looked like Li had turned things around when she won the second set.

But the Chinese player was having one of her wild days and Mladenovic dominated the deciding set before bursting into tears at her moment of victory.

Li cut a dejected figure in her press conference and felt her mind rather than her tennis was to blame for the loss.

She said: “I think it doesn’t matter who plays today against me, I would always lose . . . So many things are wrong . . . The problem is myself.

“I didn’t follow the game plan and, even when I was standing up in the court, in my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”

Fourth seed Simona Halep had no such problems, the Romanian narrowly missing out on a double bagel on her way to a 6-0 6-2 victory over Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova.

Former champion Ana Ivanovic, seeded 11th here, is another woman in form and she was an impressive 6-1 6-3 winner over rising French star Caroline Garcia.

Sixth seed Jelena Jankovic completed the win over Sharon Fichman after being held up by bad light on Monday night while there were also first-round victories for Sloane Stephens and 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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