Li Na stunned by Kristina Mladenovic in first round of French Open
PARIS -- No. 2 Li Na lost to France's Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday, quickly ending her bid to become the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same year.
Paris has turned out to be a less than hospitable place for winners of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Li's early exit came less than 24 hours after Stan Wawrinka bowed out to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He loss marks the first time in history that both reigning Australian Open champions fell in the first round.
"The problem is myself," Li said. "I don't think I'm doing well on the court. And also, even during the match, I don't think totally [about] what I should do, like especially I didn't follow the game plan. ... In my mind, I didn't have any idea how to play the match."
Mladenovic, the 2009 French Open junior champion who is ranked No. 103, broke Li three times in the first set and twice in the deciding set. The 21-year-old Frenchwoman has a big-hitting game that lifted her to No. 36 in the WTA rankings last summer, but she slipped out of the top 100 last month after a poor start to the season.
"This is really big," she said. "You don't beat Li Na every day."
Despite bouts of visible and audible frustration in the first two sets, Mladenovic calmed herself down in the third, taking advantage of Li's downward spiral. Li, the 2011 French Open champion, hit just five winners to 15 unforced errors in the final set, while Mladenovic cleaned up her game to hit five winners and five unforced errors. Mladenovic, who hasn't advanced past the second round in any tournament this season, finished with 21 winners and 25 unforced errors, while Li lit up the stat sheet with 27 winners and 37 unforced errors.
"I gave it away," Li said.
Li lost in the opening round for the first time in eight appearances at Roland Garros. She was anchoring the bottom half of the draw, which includes No. 4 Simona Halep, No. 5 Petra Kvitova, No. 6 Jelena Jankovic and No. 11 Ana Ivanovic.
Mladenovic next plays American Alison Riske, who defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-6 (2), 6-3. Neither woman has ever made it past the second round at Roland Garros.
This post has been updated.