China’s Zheng Qinwen says severe stomach cramps ruined her hopes of a shock French Open victory over world number one Iga Swiatek on Monday and left her wishing “I can be a man”. Zheng, just 19 and playing her first Roland Garros, took the top-seeded first set before slipping to a 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-2 loss in their eighth of final. The world No. 74 needed a medical time-out to tie up her injured right leg at the start of the second set, but she revealed that was the least of her concerns.
“It’s just girl stuff,” Zheng said in reference to her period pains.
“The first day is always so hard and then I have to do sports and I’m always in so much pain on the first day.
“I couldn’t go against my nature. I wish I was a man so I didn’t have to suffer from that. It’s hard.”
In an 82-minute opening set, Zheng saved five set points, had two of her own, then clawed her way back from 2/5 in the tiebreaker to stun the top seed.
It was the first set lost by Swiatek since April 23, when she was stretched by Liudmila Samsonova in the semi-final in Stuttgart.
With the 2020 Roland Garros champion’s streak looking in jeopardy, Zheng required a medical timeout at 0-3 in the second set for a leg injury.
Zheng, who had beaten 2018 champion Simona Halep en route to the fourth round, came back with her right thigh tightly bound and quickly dropped the second set.
Swiatek earned himself a double break in the decisive game against his tiring opponent, whose physical problems contributed to his 46 unforced errors.
“The leg made it difficult,” Zheng added. “But that, compared to the stomach, was easy. I can’t play tennis because the stomach was too painful.
“I really give my best on the court, it’s just difficult.”
Swiatek extended his winning streak to 32 games to tie the third-best winning streak this century set by Justine Henin 14 years ago.
“Zheng played incredible tennis,” Swiatek said after reaching the quarter-finals for the third year in a row.
“I was surprised by some of her shots, her top spin was amazing. Big thumbs up to her. I’m happy to be back after a frustrating first set when I had the lead.
“I’m proud to still be in the tournament.”
Swiatek will face 11th seeded USA Jessica Pegula for a spot in the semifinals.
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