By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Local favourite Kristina Mladenovic was once again in total control and fell apart, this time after an umpire's decision robbed her of the opening set in a 7-5 6-3 loss to German Laura Siegemund in the French Open first round on Tuesday.
The Frenchwoman, who this month lost in the U.S. Open second round to Varvara Gracheva after leading 6-1 5-1, thought she had claimed the opening set 6-1 when one of her shots bounced twice, but Siegemund played the ball back and was awarded the point.
"That double bounce, it was set point, supposed to be 6-1, and I think the chair umpire was the only person not to have seen it on the centre court," Mladenovic told a news conference.
"So we can call that a turning point. I mean, should have been 6-1. I don't know about the outcome of the rest of the match after that but, yeah, it was definitely a key point."
At the U.S. Open, Mladenovic was one of the players facing tougher restrictions after she had been in contact with her compatriot Benoit Paire, who tested positive for COVID-19.
The 27-year-old described the New York experience as "a nightmare".
Tuesday's match was not exactly a dream, either, as mental fatigue and a lack of preparation took their toll.
"I couldn't prepare the way I wanted, so it obviously affected my whole preparation," said Mladenovic.
"I wanted to play Rome, to play Strasbourg, but I couldn't be ready for it. It's brutal for the body when you are eight days (in) lockdown in a hotel room.
"If I just talk about those eight days, because even the first week where I competed in my singles I was basically isolated and couldn't train."
On the double bounce that cost her the first set on Tuesday, Mladenovic did not blame her opponent.
"Well, she would have been the best and most fair player on the tour if she would have done that. Unfortunately, she didn't. I didn't expect her to do it," said the Frenchwoman.
"But she's not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call. It was just unlucky for me that the chair umpire didn't do her job."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)