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A panic attack: how Halep “just lost it” during her second round at Roland-Garros

Simona Halep lost her way in her second-round match against the Chinese player Qinwen Zheng. She admits she felt a wave of extra pressure and suffered a panic attack

Simona Halep Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 26, 2022 Romania’s Simona Halep reacts during her second round match against China’s Qinwen Zheng (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Simona Halep was more than one hour late for her press conference on Thursday at Roland-Garros. But it was not just the time she needed to digest a second-round loss to Qinwen Zheng. The Romanian, a former French Open winner, said she had a unexpected panic attack in the middle of the match and that was the key to the strange final scoreline – 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, with the 30-year-old losing 12 of the 13 last games.

“I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it. But she’s playing well, and actually she played a good match in the end,” admitted Halep.

This ‘something’ has a name: a panic attack, or in her own words, “I couldn’t focus any more.”

Halep added: “I didn’t know how to handle it, because I don’t have it often, fortunately. I don’t really know why it happened, because I was leading the match. I was playing well. But just happened, and I lost it. It’s just a tennis match, so I have to see it a little bit more relaxed. Probably put pressure on myself too much, because I really wanted to do well.”

She confirmed she needed time to gather herself again and meet the journalists with a smile.

“After the match, that was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’m recovered, and I will learn from this episode. I have to accept it. It’s something normal that everybody has. I will be better next time, for sure. I don’t have these things so it was new for me. It’s nothing like dangerous, in my opinion, but it happened. So it’s good that now I can smile,” she admitted.

‘I’m in a good place’ – Halep

At this stage Halep can see no reason why this happened, but she feels it’s related to the high level of expectation she had coming to Paris.

“I felt good. I practised well, I worked hard. But it just didn’t happen, and probably I got a little bit of panic during that, let’s say, overthinking. I knew that I have just to calm down, because the doctors checked everything. Everything was perfect. Not really a reason, just mind.”

Without giving specifics, Halep declared herself ready for the next challenge.

“It’s part of the process, and I’m looking forward already to be better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not. I know it’s like a cliché, but it’s a new day, and I’ll wake up motivated to keep working. Next tournament, I will have another chance, Im good and able to play. No injury, which is really good. I’m in a good place.”

Simona Halep hired Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach in April with the intent to return to the top and become a Grand Slam contender again. She practises at the Mouratoglou Academy on the French Riviera and lives in Nice.

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