Simona Halep suffers panic attack during French Open defeat

<span>Photograph: Shi Tang/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Shi Tang/Getty Images

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, losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to the 19-year-old 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.

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“I probably put pressure on myself too much, because I really wanted to do well,” she said afterwards. “I felt good. I practise. 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.”

There were more upsets in the women’s draw as Karolina Pliskova, the No 8 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 racket into the crowd during her 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 upset of Ekaterina Alexandrova. The racket 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.”

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In the men’s draw, Daniil Medvedev continued to move through his section with ease, 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 when 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.”

The 29th seed Dan Evans lost in four sets to Mikael Ymer of Sweden, who reached the third round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win. Evans struggled physically during his match after suffering a chest infection over the last week and shrugged off being booed at the end of his defeat.

When Ymer brought up match point, Evans swatted his service return into the net. The shot was met with jeers from the crowd but Evans was unrepentant.

Dan Evans
Dan Evans struggled physically during his defeat to Mikael Ymer. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Evans said: “I gave away the last point but I couldn’t care less, to be honest with you. I think I’d put enough effort in for three-and-a-half hours. I was physically spent. That was it for me. That’s the way it is. It was a difficult match. It’s frustrating and it’s upsetting, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the way it goes.

“I’ve had a chest infection since Tuesday last week. I’ve been struggling just with that really. It’s not ideal really. Normal symptoms, sweating a lot in the night, bad sleep. The normal stuff. It probably took a lot out of me playing through, getting ready. It’s unfortunate.

“Still it’s not an excuse. I was in some good situations but physically I wasn’t spot on.”

With Evans’ defeat, Cameron Norrie, the 10th seed, is the last British singles player remaining at the French Open. He faces the 21st seed Karen Khachanov on Friday.

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