Mladenovic collapses again but blames umpire, Djokovic triumphs

France's Kristina Mladenovic reacts as she plays against Germany's Laura Siegemund during their women's singles first round tennis match at the Philippe Chatrier court on Day 3 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on September 29, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 30 September 2020

Mladenovic collapses again but blames umpire, Djokovic triumphs

  • The French player lost to Laura Siegemund of Germany 7-5, 6-3 after serving for the first set at 5-1

PARIS: Kristina Mladenovic’s first match since her nightmarish end to the US Open produced another collapse and a controversial umpire’s call at the French Open on Tuesday.

The French player lost to Laura Siegemund of Germany 7-5, 6-3 after serving for the first set at 5-1.

Mladenovic was furious with chair umpire Eva Asderaki for not spotting a double bounce on set point. During a 10-stroke exchange, Mladenovic hit a drop shot that Siegemund ran for and got back over the net — although a TV replay showed the ball bounced twice. Mladenovic slowed up, looked confused, and wound up touching the net, which automatically gave the point to Siegemund.

“Mistakes are human but I don’t see how the umpire can miss that. She didn’t see a double bounce,” Mladenovic said. “Unfortunately she will continue at Roland Garros, and I won’t continue at Roland Garros.”

For Novak Djokovic, though, his first Grand Slam action since his disqualification at the US Open went as smoothly as can be.

The top-ranked Serb, who is bidding for a second title here and an 18th major title overall, beat Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 under a closed roof at Court Philippe Chatrier. The first set lasted just 20 minutes and Djokovic broke the 80th-ranked Ymer nine times overall.

Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth-round match at the US Open this month for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball hit in anger after dropping a game.

On Tuesday it was was Siegemund who faced questions of unsportsmanlike conduct for not acknowledging the double bounce that should have handed Mladenovic the first set.

“If she would have done it, she would have all my respect and be super fair play,” Mladenovic said. “But she’s not the one responsible. I think the chair umpire is the one that should be really focused on that call.”

Siegemund also said it wasn’t up to her to make the call, and that she wasn’t sure right away whether the ball had bounced twice.

Mladenovic suggested tennis should start using video replays, like the highly controversial VAR system used in soccer.

“It would be great and we’d avoid a sad scenario like I had today,” Mladenovic said.

It wasn’t quite as sad as Flushing Meadows, though, where she served for the match at 6-1, 5-1 against Varvara Gracheva then lost a tiebreaker and lost 6-0 in the third set.

She called that the most painful loss of her career. Four days later, she was part of the top-seeded women’s doubles team dropped from the US Open for having been potentially exposed to COVID-19.

In other women’s first-round matches, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Mayar Sherif 6-7 (9), 6-2, 6-4. Sherif was the first Egyptian player to qualify for the main draw at Roland Garros.

Danish teenager Clara Tauson earned her first tour-level victory by beating US Open semifinalist Jennifer Brady 6-4, 3-6, 9-7. The 17-year-old Tauson, who won the Australian Open junior title last year, saved two match points.

In remaining men’s first-round play, US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini defeated Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The seventh-seeded Italian next faces Lloyd Harris.

No. 20 Cristian Garin of Chile won against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and plays lucky loser Marc Polmans.


Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

Updated 25 November 2020

Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

  • The Chinese side have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League

DOHA: Beijing Guoan have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League after a convincing 3-1 win against a rusty Melbourne Victory side on Tuesday extended their perfect record in Group E to three from three.

Another Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua also improved their chances of qualification from Group F with their second win in three matches, edging past FC Tokyo 1-0, courtesy of a late penalty.

But it was Bruno Genesio’s Beijing outfit who sent out a strong warning to their rivals in the tournament by following up on their win over FC Seoul last week with another impressive performance in Doha where the tournament’s eastern zone matches are being played after a nine-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beijing clearly looked a class above Melbourne Victory who were largely lackluster both in attack and defense, with even the Australian side’s consolation goal late in the second half coming through a huge deflection from Kim Min-Jae after substitute Gianluca Ianucci’s powerful shot from nearly 25 yards appeared heading straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Beijing allowed their Australian rivals only 40 percent ball possession and that worked hugely in their favor as they created chances galore at the Al-Sadd Sports Club.

But once again, it was their Brazilian presence which played a pivotal role, with Renato Augusto and A Lan on target in the 22nd and 34th minutes before Wang Zimin’s brilliant goal in the 74th minute to put the match out of Victory’s reach.

Frenchman Genesio, who has been in charge at Beijing Guoan for almost 16 months, was not in a very celebratory mood despite his team’s 100 percent win record so far.

“In the first half we played really well as we tried high pressing as we trained before the game and were successful in keeping control,” said Genesio.

“The only thing I am disappointed about is that we conceded one goal towards the end. We need to be more serious and cautious towards the end of the game.”

Melbourne Victory, for whom this was their second defeat in three matches — their only win came in February against Chiangrai United — are now third in the standings and would need a herculean comeback to qualify for the knockout phase.

“For us, It’s not the result we wanted,” said Victory’s Steve Kean, whose side had no match practice for several months before heading to Doha. “This was our very first match of any type, we did not even play any friendlies and came against a Beijing side that have played a full season.

2We wanted to win and take points but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Shanghai Shenhua were celebrating their success over Tokyo FC after Yu Hanchao’s successful penalty in the 74th minute proved the decisive moment in the match.

“FC Tokyo is a great team but today we really wanted to limit their opportunities,” said Shenhua coach Choi Kang-hee.

“Our players really overcame their difficulties of fitness and fatigue. They persisted from the first minute until the end and I thank them for that.

“They showed great mental power and spirit and I believe they will get better from here,” he added.

Tokyo FC’s Kenta Hasegawa was clearly upset, although he was not losing hope yet despite his team being in third place in the standings with four points from three matches

“The result is disappointing. This was the first game in the AFC Champions League for many of our young players,” Hasegawa said.

“They were not ready for this game, but I am sure the will be ready for the next.”