PARIS, May 27 (Reuters) - Li Na, the Australian Open champion, followed her male counterpart Stanislas Wawrinka out of the French Open in the first round when she lost 7-5 3-6 6-1 to local favourite Kristina Mladenovic on Tuesday.
The second seed from China, who won at Roland Garros in 2011, never hit her stride on court Suzanne Lenglen on another chilly day in Paris.
Once dubbed the next big thing of French women’s tennis, Mladenovic saved two set points in the opener, lost focus in the second but stepped up a gear again in the decider to wrap it up on her second match point.
“It’s incredible, without you I couldn’t have done it,” a weeping Mladenovic told the cheering crowd.
In the men’s draw, 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, one of the young players expected to challenge the likes of champion Rafa Nadal in Paris, found the service of giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic too hot to handle. The 11th seed was beaten 6-4 7-5 7-6(4).
Simona Halep, seeded fourth, narrowly missed inflicting the first “double bagel” of the tournament after serving for the match when leading Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 6-0 5-0.
But the Romanian lost concentration and gave up two games before winning on her first match point. The diminutive Halep won the juniors’ title at Roland Garros in 2008 and her power and accuracy from the baseline will trouble all but the best here.
She was the most improved player on the women’s tour in 2013 after winning six WTA titles, and carried her form into the new year, reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, the older stateswoman of the WTA Tour at 43, saved four match points but still went down 6-3 0-6 6-2 to 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian 27th seed and 2009 French Open champion, eased through 6-3 6-1 against Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava. Romanian 26th seed Sorana Cirstea beat Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak 6-7(3) 7-5 6-2. (Editing by Ed Osmond)