In 2018, Simona Halep (WTA 19) won her first of two Grand Slam titles in Paris. Now the former world number 1 experienced anxious moments at the same place. Her surprising second-round defeat against the Chinese Qinwen Zheng (WTA 74) is almost a minor matter.
The Romanian got off to a good start, took the starting set 6:2 and led 2:1 with a break in the second round. But then it happened, out of nowhere Halep suffered a panic attack. They caught her completely unprepared, says the 30-year-old after the game. “I don’t know why it happened – I was leading and playing well. But it happened. And after that I couldn’t concentrate anymore.”
“It wasn’t easy for me”
A doctor was called and examined Halep. He found no physical impairments. Nevertheless, after the attack, she was totally unnerved. Zheng won eight games in a row and turned things around – she won 2:6, 6:2, 6:1. Halep also struggled in the third set. She crouched once and rested her head on the bat, breathing deeply in and out. The Romanian tried to calm down further, but didn’t succeed.
In an interview with “Eurosport”, Halep describes the situation. “It wasn’t easy for me. I couldn’t breathe properly and I didn’t know what I was doing.” The Romanian can only guess what caused the panic attack. “I’ve had two tough years, with injuries and a lot of pressure, also because of the pandemic and stuff like that. I broke down a bit today.”
At least Halep has found her smile again. “Right after the match it was really hard for me,” she says. “It’s good that I can smile again now. I have to accept it and will learn from it.” (bir)