|Ana Ivanovic, at Roland Garros, on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Paris: Li Na, the Australian Open champion, followed her male counterpart Stan Wawrinka out of the French Open in the first round, when she lost 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 to local favourite Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday.
The second seed from China, who won at Roland Garros in 2011, admitted she had handed victory to the Frenchwoman through her own failings on another chilly day in Paris.
In a late match on Monday, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka came back to earth with a thump on the sodden clay when he was beaten by Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round, to become the tournament’s first big casualty. Wawrinka, the Swiss third seed threw away a 3-1 lead in the first set and even though he drew level by winning the second set he capitulated to a 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 0-6 defeat against a man who has never gone past the third round at Roland Garros.
Li’s defeat made it the first time that men’s and women’s Grand Slam champions have been knocked out in the following major in the first round.
“I think it didn’t matter who played today against me, I was always going to lose. Today I just gave it away,” said Li. “Nobody says if you’re No. 2 in the world you have to win all the matches.
“The problem is myself, I don’t think I’m doing well on the court. I didn’t think totally what I should do… I didn’t follow the game plan. In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”
Caroline Wozniacki, the former world No.1 now seeded 13th, suffered more pain after her break-up with top golfer Rory McIlroy, when she lost in three sets to Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium on her return to tennis and the public eye.
The 23-year-old Dane vowed to move on with her life after Wickmayer won a high-quality baseline battle 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2. This was her first opening round defeat at Roland Garros since her debut in 2007.
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who missed the claycourt Grand Slam because of a back injury last year, dropped a set in a 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat of Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev. But men’s seeds Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro were forced to withdraw injured.
Once dubbed the next big thing of French women’s tennis, Mladenovic saved two set points in the opener, lost focus in the second but stepped up a gear again in the decider to wrap it up on her second match point.
In the men’s draw, last year’s runner-up David Ferrer, the fifth seed, eased through 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 against Dutch Igor Sijsling, but 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, one of the young players expected to challenge the likes of eight-times champion Rafael Nadal in Paris, found giant Ivo Karlovic too hot to handle.
The Bulgarian was beaten 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) by the big-serving Croatian, who was the losing finalist in Duesseldorf this month. “Today, he was all over the court. He was just hitting his shots, you know… every volley, low slice, serving really good. He always serves good,” said Dimitrov. “I just couldn’t find the rhythm.”
Simona Halep, seeded fourth, narrowly missed inflicting the first “double bagel” of the tournament after serving for the match when leading Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-0, 5-0.
But the Romanian lost concentration and gave up two games before winning on her first match point. “I was thinking at 5-0 that I can win 6-0 6-0, but it wasn’t too good. I was a little bit relaxed after that, and it was cold.” Halep won 6-0, 6-2. She next plays British qualifier Heather Watson who beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4.
Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, the older stateswoman of the WTA Tour at 43, saved four match points but still went down 3-6, 6-0, 2-6 to 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian 27th seed and 2009 French Open champion, eased through 6-3, 6-1 against Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava. Another young Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia, offered few challenges to 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic. The Serb won 6-1, 6-3.
France’s Richard Gasquet, seeded 12, won 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 against Austria’s Bernard Tomic, while former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who had reached two quarter-finals in 13 visits before Tuesday, lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 to Argentine Carlos Berlocq.
Tommy Haas, the 16th seed, pulled out with an injured shoulder while leading 5-2 in the first set against Juergen Zopp of Estonia. Nicolas Almagro of Spain, the 21st seed, also withdrew, with an injured foot, from his match against Jack Sock of the US, trailing 0-5 in the first set.