‘I want my freedom back,’ fumes Kristina Mladenovic

Kristina Mladenovic said that the USTA were treating players on an enhanced protocol plan like 'prisoners or criminals'

Kristina Mladenovic

French player Kristina Mladenovic slammed the US Open authorities for treating her, and a group of seven players who were in close contact with Benoit Paire, like ‘prisoners or criminals.’

A day before the US Open started, it was announced that Paire had tested positive for Coronavirus. According to reports, the tournament organisers identified a group of 10 people who had been in close contact with Paire. Of that, seven were deemed ‘most affected group’ and were put under an ‘enhanced protocol plan.’

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The ‘most affected group’ was allowed to compete at the tournament, but their movement has been heavily restricted. They only have access to their hotel rooms and the tournament site.

One of members of the group, Adrian Mannarino said that they were so isolated from the rest that he had been asked to use staircase instead of elevators.

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“I have to take stairs all the time,” Mannarino said. “Either going to my suite on-site or going to my hotel room, which is on the seventh floor, which is a lot of stairs.”

According to the new protocols this group of seven players, which includes Kristina Mladenovic, were made to sign, they are required to stay within the US Open bubble until September 12, whatever the result of the match.

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Meanwhile, in an Instagram Live session Paire confirmed that he had tested negative for the virus on Monday.

After losing 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-0 Varvara Gracheva in the second round, Mladenovic lambasted the authorities.

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“It’s a nightmare what we are experiencing here,” Mladenovic told reporters on Wednesday. “I have only one desire, and that’s to get my freedom back and even that we don’t have yet.”

“If I had known that playing cards for 40 minutes with a mask with a player who tested positive and ultimately negative would have these consequences, I would never have set foot in this tournament,” the Frenchwoman added.

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“I have the impression we are prisoners or criminals. 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.”

Mladenovic is still alive in the doubles draw. She, and partner Timea Babos, are the top seeds in the women’s doubles and will play their second round match against Kaitlyn Christian and Guiliana Olmos on Friday.