BEIJING: Eugenie Bouchard’s comeback match from concussion ended in tears on Monday when dizzy spells forced her to retire from her China Open first-round match against Andrea Petkovic.
On a day when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was also hit by dizziness, Bouchard lasted just 10 games before retiring from her first match since she slipped and banged her head in the locker rooms at the US Open.
Bouchard skipped last week’s Wuhan Open to continue her recovery, but said she had felt ready for Beijing and was bitterly disappointed to retire.
“Unfortunately, I did not feel well enough to finish the match,” she said in a statement released by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
“It is really frustrating as I was very much looking forward to playing the China Open. I thought I was physically ready, but unfortunately the symptoms of my concussion came back.”
Bouchard had her blood pressure checked on court and she then sobbed into her towel before rising and walking off, waving grimly to the crowd, with the score at 6-2, 1-1 to Petkovic.
“I just asked her what happened, and she told me that she felt very dizzy,” said Petkovic, who comforted Bouchard as she pulled out.
“Then I asked if it was the same, if it still was the concussion. She said, yeah, it tends to come back when she gets physically very active.”
Fans in facemasks
Earlier Tsonga refused to blame Beijing’s notorious air pollution as he was also hit by dizzy spells before falling at the first hurdle 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to little-known Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer.
The eighth seed was down in the second set when he staggered on court and took a time-out, during which he had his heartbeat checked with a stethoscope and was given medication.
But it was not long before the out-of-sorts Tsonga limply succumbed to Haider-Maurer, who at world number 64 becomes the lowest-ranked player to beat the Frenchman this season.
The Chinese capital’s air pollution was in the “very unhealthy” range, with some fans wearing facemasks, but Tsonga said he did not know if that was what caused his problem.
“I don’t know. You know, nothing in me can calculate if it’s enough oxygen for me or not. I just play tennis. Today I had an opponent, he was just better than me today,” he shrugged.
“I was like, dizzy. It came just like this, on one run. After one run, I went back to play a return and I feel a little bit dizzy. But I hope it’s nothing important,” Tsonga added.
The departures of Tsonga and Bouchard came after women’s top seeds Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, troubled by injury and illness, both exited on Sunday.
The tail-end of the season has seen a series of retirements and withdrawals, including Serena Williams’ decision to rest until next year. Maria Sharapova is also sidelined from Beijing with injury.
In other results, men’s fifth seed Milos Raonic was upset 6-4, 6-4 by Viktor Troicki, but Agnieszka Rad¬wanska survived a three-set encounter with Mona Barthel, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
World number one Novak Djokovic, unbeaten in five appearances, heads the men’s draw while third seed Flavia Pennetta, the US Open champion, is now the on-paper favourite among the women.