Kristina Mladenovic, who has now dropped 12 straight matches after losing to Julia Goerges on Friday, says she's learned a lot from her two hugely different halves of the season.
The Frenchwoman surged up the rankings at the beginning, winning St. Petersburg and reaching the finals of Acapulco and Madrid. Then she thrilled the home crowds by reaching the quarterfinals during the French Open, defeating defending champion Garbine Muguruza.
Since the grass-court season, though, she has hardly won a match. Mladenovic points to an injury that affected her fitness and movement, saying she shouldn't have just kept playing.
"I got injured in Wimbledon," she told press at Zhuhai. "I had some issues with my knee. It was not the reason of my losses, but it was the reason why physical-wise I was not moving the same way on the court, which changes my level of tennis,” she said.
“But I learned that I should not think that we all tennis players have some pain here and there and that we should just play with it, because as long as it's, playable, you push.
"You know, with having very big tournaments during the U.S. summer, I was really not thinking one second of pulling [out] of those events with a Slam, and the last part was also tough decision to make, because even with my bad U.S. summer, I still had chances to qualify for Singapore, so we took the decision to, keep forcing and playing. But it turned out being a bad decision, because I couldn't improve my game.
"On the other hand, maybe staying home and just not trying, my chances would have been worse mentally for me, because I'm a competitor and I don't complain about myself. That's things I have learned.”
But having reached the Top 10 for the first time in her career, Mladenovic still says that on balance, it wasn't a bad season.
"Pretty unique season, let's say. The second part is dramatic. It's terrible. The first part is also dramatic but in a positive way," she said. "It's true that it was a tricky journey this year with a big up and a big down, and you can play constant and very, let's say, solid the entire year. I could have done that probably and finished the same ranking I will do now with having best six months and a very bad six months.
"But at the end, it's the ranking that counts, and I know the reason why it went bad. I also learn a lot, so let's say this year would be probably the best I had in every term—experiences, highlights, improvements, lessons. And it's a difficult period in second part, but I think I will get much more mature and stronger for my next years of my career.”
Mladenovic is No. 10 in the rankings.