Kristina Mladenovic voiced frustration with US Open quarantine protocols following a second-round exit she called a "collapse." On Wednesday, the Frenchwoman led 102nd-ranked Varvara Gracheva, 6-1, 5-1, then held four match points. Incredibly, she lost, 1-6, 7-6 (2) 6-0.
Gracheva, a 20-year-old from Russia, is playing in her first Grand Slam main draw and will face Petra Martic on Friday.
Mladenovic is one of seven players who came into close contact with Benoit Paire before he tested positive for coronavirus and is under elevated restrictions. For one, she cannot leave until next Saturday, Sept. 12.
"I have only one desire, and that’s to get my freedom back and even that we don’t have yet," she said to French-speaking press, slamming the requirement that the affected players stay in isolation other than for practice or competition.
"It's like we are prisoners, or criminals," the world No. 44 said. "For even the slightest movement, we have to ask permission even though we are tested every day and had 37 negatives. It’s abominable. The conditions are atrocious.”
The new protocols began before the first round, with Paire withdrawn one day before the US Open began. While saying the situation did affect her mentally, Mladenovic added, "I don’t want it to be an excuse for my defeat. It’s not the USTA’s fault I didn’t convert my four match points."
She added that she had not anticipated the strict measures, which were added in reaction to a casual gathering of French players in the player hotel's lobby.
"If I had known that playing cards for 40 minutes with a mask with a player who tested positive... would have these consequences, I would never have set foot in this tournament," she said.
Mladenovic remains in the doubles draw with Timea Babos; the No. 1 seeds are set to play their opener on Thursday.
Mannarino was content with the situation, saying he "couldn't complain" regarding the new regulations.
"The organizers were very responsive," he said, following a second-round win over Jack Sock. "We have our own driver, we can order food, and it arrives in our suites. Ultimately, these small advantages are quite good. I can practice, talk to a physio, it seems I can defend my chances at 100 percent."
World No. 93 Barrere agreed with Mannarino.
"I have gone from being an unknown at a Grand Slam to being like Roger [Federer]," he said. "I have my own car, guards... they are put us in another room, almost like the suites for top seeds."
Flipkens, who fell in the second round to Jessica Pegula, landed somewhere in between.
"I'm not going to use it as an excuse for my defeat," she said, having described the measures as "not fun." yet adding, "But I understand the organizers had to do something."