Paris: Li Na helped Stan Wawrinka set an unwanted record after joining her fellow Australian Open champion in losing in the first round of the French Open yesterday.
China's Li Na returns to Kristina Mladenovic during the French Open first round match in Paris yesterday. Pic/AFP
Li's 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 loss to Kristina Mladenovic came around 16 hours after Wawrinka was dumped out by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and it is the first time ever that the ignominious double has occurred.
Second seed Li won the title in Paris three years ago but only made the second round last year. 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 is the first Australian Open women's champion to lose in the opening round in Paris since Lindsay Davenport 14 years ago.
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.
Halep's rise up the rankings over the past year has been remarkable and this was only her second ever win in the main draw at Roland Garros. It was also her debut on Court Philippe Chatrier, and things could not have been going better when she led 6-0, 5-0 only to be broken.
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 the match today, because I don't think she was putting a lot of pressure on me.
France's Kristina Mladenovic (left) celebrates her French Open first round win over Li Na. Pic/AFP
"I think today I just gave it away. Today is not about the tennis game. So many things are wrong.
"If I'm doing well, I believe I still can win the match if it's not my best day. But I don't think today I tried a lot.
"Of course, the easy thing I can say is it's a bad day for me, but it's not. I'm 100 per cent sure.
"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."