French tennis star Kristina Mladenovic has slammed the US Open for its “abominable” living conditions following her shocking second round exit.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the highly-anticipated grand slam tournament at Flushing Meadows kicked off this week with players contained in a biosecurity bubble.
Controversy immediately plagued the tournament when France’s Benoit Paire was forced to withdraw from competition after he tested positive for COVID-19.
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On Thursday, World No. 44 Mladenovic was knocked out after losing her encounter with Russian young gun Varvara Gracheva. The 27-year-old completely bottled the match after leading 6-1, 5-1.
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Following the woeful collapse, Mladenovic condemned how she has been treated by the US Open’s organisers in an emotional press conference, comparing the New York “bubble” to a prison.
“I would so much like to say a lot of things about what is going on here,” Mladenovic said.
“It’s absolutely abominable how they treat us, but I don’t want that to be an excuse for my defeat.
“It is not the fault of the USTA if I did not convert my four match points.
“I have the impression that we are prisoners.”
Sports journalist Zenia D’Cunha tweeted: “Mladenovic was in contact with a player who tested positive for coronavirus and was still allowed to play … Unlike Pella & Dellien last week.
“Maybe the restrictions affected her game but ‘wanting freedom’ is stretching it when many WTA stars chose to opt out for safety.”
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Meanwhile, No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova has been knocked out of the US Open after losing in straight sets to France’s Caroline Garcia.
Pliskova was a genuine contender for the women’s singles title at Flushing Meadows, but has made an early exit after she was humbled by the World No. 50 6-1, 7-6.
Garcia held a 1-14 record against top-20 opponents before Thursday’s upset.
The 28-year-old Pliskova was adamant the defeat had nothing to do with her elevation to top of the draw after a cluster of high-profile players withdrew from the US Open due to safety fears, including Australia’s Ash Barty.
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“No, zero pressure from this for me. This is nothing to do with my loss today,” Pliskova said.
“I maybe didn’t play my best. I didn’t serve that great. But that’s how it is sometimes. I’m not a robot, so I don’t have to play every day amazing.”
Garcia will next face America’s Jennifer Brady in the third round on Saturday.
Czech superstar Petra Kvitova won her second round match against Kateryna Kozlova in straight sets, while No. 12 seed Marketa Vounrousova lost her fixture against World No. 51 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.