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Tennis star Zheng Qinwen ‘wished she was a man’ after a heartbreaking defeat at the French Open where she was affected by stomach cramps. The Chinese star took on the imperious Iga Swiatek on court Philippe-Chatrier yesterday and aimed to hand the Pole her first defeat since February.
She was halfway there as she took a phenomenal first set 7-6 and applied pressure to the world number one in a way that has rarely been seen over the last three months. But as the second set commenced, the teen began to struggle physically and was facing a 3-0 deficit before opting to take a medical timeout.
After suffering stomach cramps and thigh problems, Qinwen won just two more games before Swiatek sealed a 6-7(5), 0-6, 2-6 victory. Post-match, the world number 74, who was making her French Open debut this year, labelled her cramps as ‘girl problems’ and wished she did not have to experience them.
“It’s just girls’ things, you know. The first day is always so tough and then I have to do sport and I always have so much pain on the first day. And I couldn’t go against my nature,” she told reporters. “I wish I can be a man on court, but I cannot in that moment…I really wish I can be (a) man (so) that I don’t have to suffer from this.”
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Zheng’s thigh was strapped during her medical timeout but it seemed to do little to improve her movement as she struggled moving on the baseline. Coupled with the stomach cramps, she lost momentum and Swiatek stormed to victory.
“The leg made it tough,” added Zheng. “But that compared to the stomach was easy. I cannot play my tennis because the stomach was too much painful. I really give my best on court, it’s just tough.”
Explaining how she felt throughout the match, the young tennis star added: “In [the] first set I was just trying to play my tennis and I didn’t feel pain in my stomach, so I was able to really get there and say, ‘come on,’ [encouraging myself] to have [a] good attitude and some blood in the match.
“After [that], I just had too much pain in stomach. And I wanted to fight – I really, really wanted to fight. But I just didn’t have the power and it was really tough. I couldn’t show my tennis today in the second and third set. I’m really not happy with my performance.”
The 2020 French Open champion admitted she was surprised by the performance of her opponent. “I was surprised with some of her shots, her top spin was amazing. Huge congrats to her,” said Swiatek, who lost her first set in ten matches. “I am happy to come back after a frustrating first set when I had the lead.”
The 21-year-old’s 32-match winning streak continues and she will contest her quarter-final against America’s Jessica Pegula tomorrow.
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