Wednesday July 28th, 2021 3:29AM

French Open: Mladenovic collapses again but blames umpire

By The Associated Press
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PARIS (AP) — Kristina Mladenovic's first match since her nightmarish end to the U.S. Open produced another collapse and a controversial umpire's call at the French Open on Tuesday.

The French player lost to Laura Siegemund of Germany 7-5, 6-3 after serving for the first set at 5-1.

Mladenovic was furious with chair umpire Eva Asderaki for not spotting a double bounce on set point. During a 10-stroke exchange, Mladenovic hit a drop shot that Siegemund ran for and got back over the net -- although a TV replay showed the ball bounced twice. Mladenovic slowed up, looked confused, and wound up touching the net, which automatically gave the point to Siegemund.

“I think the chair umpire was the only person not to have seen it on the center court," Mladenovic said.

That point and the set should have belonged to her right then because of the double bounce, but neither Siegemund nor Asderaki acknowledged as much.

“Mistakes are human but I don’t see how the umpire can miss that. She didn’t see a double bounce," Mladenovic said. “Unfortunately she will continue at Roland Garros, and I won’t continue at Roland Garros."

She did not expect Siegemund to have to own up.

“If she would have done it, she would have all my respect and be super fair play,” Mladenovic said. “But she’s not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call.”

But she did call for video replays, like the highly controversial VAR system used in soccer.

“It would be great and we’d avoid a sad scenario like I had today,” Mladenovic said.

It wasn't quite as sad as Flushing Meadows, though, where she served for the match at 6-1, 5-1 against Varvara Gracheva then lost a tiebreaker and was crushed 6-0 in the third set.

She called that the most painful loss of her career. Four days later, there was more misery when she was part of the top-seeded women’s doubles team dropped from the U.S. Open for having been potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Public health officials who oversaw her tournament hotel said she was at risk after playing cards in a group including Benoit Paire, the Frenchman removed after testing positive for the virus. She had to go into quarantine.

Following Siegemund on Court Philippe Chatrier was top-ranked Novak Djokovic beneath a closed roof. Djokvoic, bidding for a second title here and an 18th major title overall, faced Mikael Ymer.

In other women's first-round matches, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Mayar Sherif 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4. Sherif was the first Egyptian player to qualify for the main draw at Roland Garros.

Danish teenager Clara Tauson earned her first tour-level victory by beating U.S. Open semifinalist Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7. The 17-year-old Tauson, who won the Australian Open junior title last year, saved two match points.

In remaining men's first-round play, U.S. Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini defeated Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The seventh-seeded Italian next faces Lloyd Harris.

No. 20 Cristian Garin of Chile won against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and plays lucky loser Marc Polmans.


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