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Former champion Li ousted at French Open

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The Sports Network
5/27/2014 1:43:26 PM
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PARIS - The surprises continued Tuesday at the French Open.

A day after men's Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was eliminated in the first round, the women's winner in Melbourne was shown an early exit at Roland Garros as France's Kristina Mladenovic knocked out second-seeded Li Na in three sets.

The big-hitting Mladenovic sent the 2011 French Open champ home with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win on Court Lenglen.

This marks the first time in history that both the men's and women's Grand Slam singles champions have lost in the first round at the next major.

"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."

Li piled up 37 unforced errors.

"I gave it away," she said.

Li had a strong start to 2014 when she followed a victory in the season-opener in Shenzhen with a triumph at the year's first major championship back in January. She was also was the runner-up in Miami, but had played only two of the French Open tune-up events and was a quarterfinal loser in both Madrid and Rome.

It was the third straight early exit at Roland Garros for Li, who lost in the fourth round as the defending champ in 2012 and fell in the second round last year. Other than her championship run in 2011, Li has never been past the fourth round in seven other French Open appearances, including Tuesday's ouster.

She is the first reigning women's Aussie Open champ in 14 years to lose in the first round at the French (Lindsay Davenport, 2000).

Fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania had no trouble Tuesday in a 6-0, 6-2 rout of Russia's Alisa Kleybanova, while sixth-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic completed a suspended match from Monday by overcoming Canadian Sharon Fichman 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and 10th-seeded 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani held off promising American Madison Keys 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

In more action involving former No. 1 stars, 11th-seeded Ana Ivanovic whipped France's Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-3 and Belgian Yanina Wickmayer ousted 13th- seeded Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2. Ivanovic is a former French Open champ and runner-up.

Meanwhile, 15th-seeded American Sloane Stephens topped Chinese Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) on Day 3.

Also on Tuesday, 21st-seeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens beat Montenegro's Danka Kovinic 7-6 (8-6), 6-2; 22nd-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova mauled American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-3; 27th-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the French champion in 2009 and runner-up in 2006, eased past Sofia Shapatava, of Georgia, 6-3, 6-1; 26th-seeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea advanced past Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-2; 24th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova outlasted 43-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 0-6, 6-2; and Spaniard Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor tripped up 30th-seeded Czech Klara Koukalova 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

Several other women reached the second round, including Brit Heather Watson, rising Italian Camila Giorgi, Aussie Casey Dellacqua, last week's Strasbourg runner-up Silvia Soler-Espinosa, and Americans Coco Vandeweghe and Alison Riske. Vandeweghe beat Czech Iveta Melzer 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, while Riske doused Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-6 (7-2), 6-3.

The second round will commence Wednesday, including matches for top-seeded reigning champion Serena Williams, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, seventh- seeded former world No. 1 and former French Open champ Maria Sharapova, and 29th-seeded Venus Williams. The two-time French champion Serena will face Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, while Radwanska will meet last week's Nuremberg runner-up Karolina Pliskova, Sharapova will face Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, and Venus will encounter Slovak Anna Schmiedlova.

Serena bested the then-reigning champion Sharapova in last year's Roland Garros finale.

Li Na (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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