Simona Halep suffers panic attack during French Open defeat

Halep: I probably put pressure on myself too much

The former world No 1 Simona Halep suffered from a panic attack in the middle of her second-round match at the French Open and she was unable to recover as she was upset 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by the 19-year-old Chinese player Zheng Qinwen.

Halep, the 2018 champion in Paris, was comprehensively leading the match when the panic attack occurred and she eventually called the doctor on the court.

“I probably put pressure on myself too much, because I really wanted to do well,” she said afterwards. “I felt good. I practice. I work hard. But it just didn’t happen, and probably I got a little bit of panic during [the match] thinking, overthinking.

“But I was leading, so there is no reason, in particular, why it happened. But it happened, so I have to accept it. It’s something normal that everybody has.”

Throughout the final two sets, although her ailment was not clear, Halep was extremely flat until the end. She said she had never experienced a panic attack before and she was unable to focus. “I didn’t feel better during the match,” she said. “If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better. No, I couldn’t. That’s why I said at the start I couldn’t manage it, and I don’t have many words about it. I just accept it, and I take it.”

Thursday’s action saw more upsets in the women’s draw as Karolina Pliskova, the eighth seed, was defeated 6-2, 6-2 by the French wildcard Leolia Jeanjean and the ninth seed Danielle Collins lost 6-4, 6-3 to Shelby Rogers. Seven of the top 10 women’s seeds are out of the draw before the third round.

As the upsets have piled up, Iga Swiatek has continued unabated. She reached the third round with a ballistic 6-0, 6-2 win over Alison Riske. Such was her dominance over the former top 20 player, the American was reduced to cheering exuberantly after winning her first game at 0-6, 0-3 down.

Swiatek, 21 at the end of the month, has now won 30 matches in a row, an achievement bettered this century by only Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Justine Henin. She has now dished out 15 6-0 sets just five months into this season; only five women have registered more in an entire season since 2000.

Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu narrowly avoided a default after bouncing her racquet into the crowd during her 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 upset of Ekaterina Alexandrova. The racquet narrowly missed a child in the crowd, who began to cry out of fear. “It’s an embarrassing moment for me, so I don’t want to talk too much about it.” said Begu, sheepishly. “I just want to apologise. My whole career I didn’t do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I’m just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.”

In the men’s draw, Daniil Medvedev continued to move through his section without issue, reaching the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Laslo Djere. As his affinity for clay-court tennis grows, Medvedev will get his first real test as he faces the in-form 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic.

“Not gonna lie, I prefer hard courts,” said Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion. “I think I can play better there. That’s why I can preserve my body there, quite important for a tennis player. But when I am on clay courts, I want to win. That’s the most important. Not gonna say I love it, but, yeah, trying to figure out how to do good results on clay.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the third seed, defeated Zdenek Kolar 6-3, 7-6(8) 6-7(3) 7-6(7) to reach the third round. - Guardian