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Tennis

Lepchenko loses at French, but closes in on U.S. Olympic spot

PARIS (AP) -- On the day Varvara Lepchenko became the last American singles player to exit the French Open, she also learned she's in line to become one of the few Americans to wear the red, white and blue at the Olympics.

A bittersweet close to an overall successful stay at Roland Garros, which included victories over 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic but ended with a thud Monday, in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Petra Kvitova in the fourth round.

"I've got real mixed feelings right now," Lepchenko said. "I'm sad but at the same time, I'm excited."

The sadness came because she never found her footing against the Wimbledon champion and only lasted 60 minutes on the court.

"I didn't show anyone any tennis today," she said. "I made it like a walk in the park."

But when the Uzbekistan native gets back to her new home in Allentown, Pa., she'll have plenty to look forward to.

Helped by her performance in France, she's projected to move to into the top 55 when the next world rankings come out.

That will make her the fourth-ranked American woman, which puts her in line for a spot in London.

Pending an expected waiver from the International Tennis Federation (necessary because she only recently became a U.S. citizen), Lepchenko will walk with the U.S. Olympic team at the Opening Ceremony in July.

"I'm playing in the Olympics and not just for any country, it's the USA," she said. "As a kid, you grow up watching the Opening Ceremony and things like that. To be there experiencing that, it's got to be an amazing feeling."

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