Tennis: Mladenovic continues in free fall

Mladenovic returns a shot to Monica Niculescu of Romania during their first round match. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Kristina Mladenovic was tipped as a French Open favourite three months ago but after a fall at Wimbledon the Frenchwoman has experienced a painful form slump that resulted in a first-round exit at the US Open on Wednesday (Aug 30).

Mladenovic, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris on the back of an impressive claycourt campaign, suffered a knee injury at the All England Club.

Things went from bad to worse for the hard-hitting Mladenovic, who appeared toothless in three consecutive first-round defeats at US Open warm-up tournaments.

"There are highs and lows in a season. I had a complicated Wimbledon where I pulled a ligament in my right knee," said 14th seed Mladenovic, who lost 6-3 6-2 to Romanian Monica Nicolescu on Wednesday.

"I needed a rest after that fall but then it was not easy to come back to form for the American tournaments.

"It's frustrating, but it's part of an athlete's life... it's a process."

Mladenovic, who showed signs of frustration on court, refused to blame her fall.

"Wimbledon is in the past, it's not why I lost today," the 24-year-old said.

"Physically, I'm in good shape, but it was not enough. I would have needed a round or two to get things started again."

Mladenovic is confident she will soon get back to her best level as she has shaken off her injury and she will not change her schedule.

"I was really bad in the previous weeks, sometimes I was not comfortable on court. Even if it was not enough today, I have been better," she said.

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