China’s Cheng Qinwen said severe stomach cramps destroyed her hopes of completing a surprise French Open victory against world number one Iga Swiatek on Monday and left her wishing “I can be a man”. Cheng, 19 and playing in her first tournament at Roland Garros, took the first set from the top seed before plummeting 6-7 (5/7), 6-0, 6-2 in a round of 16 match. The world number 74 needed a medical timeout to tie up her injured right leg early in the second set but revealed that was the least of her worries.
“It’s just girl stuff,” Cheng said, referring to period pain.
“The first day is always very hard and after that I have to work out and I always feel very sore the first day.
“I couldn’t go against my nature. I wish I was a man so I wouldn’t have this. It’s hard.”
In the 82-minute opening set, Zheng saved five set points, grabbed two of them and then made her way from 2/5 in the tiebreak to stun the top seed.
It was the first set that Swiatek had lost since April 23, when she was pressured by Lyudmila Samsonova in the semi-finals in Stuttgart.
With Roland Garros’ 2020 champion streak looking in danger, Cheng needed a medical timeout at 0-3 in the second set due to a leg injury.
Cheng, who defeated 2018 champion Simona Halep on her way to the fourth round, returned with her right thigh tightly bound and quickly slipped out of the second set.
Swiatek carved out a double break in the class against her tired opponent, whose physical issues contributed to 46 non-compulsive fouls.
“The leg made it tough,” Cheng added. “But that compared to the stomach was easy. I can’t play tennis because the stomach was so sore.
“I’m really doing my best on the field, it’s tough.”
Swiatek extended her winning streak to 32 games to tie the third best winning streak of the century set by Justine Henin 14 years ago.
“Cheng has played amazing tennis,” Swatik said after reaching the quarter-finals for the third year in a row.
“I was surprised by some of her shots, and her top spin was amazing. Congrats to her. I’m happy to be back after a frustrating first set when I was on top.
“I’m proud to be still in the tournament.”
11th seed Swiatek will face American Jessica Pegula for a place in the semi-finals.
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