WIMBLEDON CHAMPION Elena Rybakina withdrew suddenly from the French Open after an illness left her struggling for breath.
Moments before she was due to appear on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Kazakhstan’s No1 tennis player pulled out of her third-round clash with Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina was forced to pull out of the French Open with illness
The No4 seed – who recently won the Italian Open in Rome – had been among the favourites for the women’s singles title in Paris.
Rybakina, 23, who broke the heart of Ons Jabeur in the 2022 Wimbledon finale, said: “I wasn’t feeling good already on Thursday or Friday. I didn’t sleep two nights and had some fever.
“I really tried on the warm-up but I feel that the right decision is to withdraw, because it’s really tough to play with these conditions.
“I’m really upset not be able to play but I guess that’s life. There are a lot of ups and downs. I just wanted to give 100 per cent and obviously I’m far from being 100 per cent.
“It’s unlucky for me. I’ll try to recover and do my best to be prepared for the grass season already.
“I saw the doctor and they said that actually it’s all a virus here in Paris. I guess with my allergies, my immune system just went down and I picked up something.
“I had a fever, headache. It’s difficult to perform and obviously to run and even breathe. So I think that was the only right decision I could make.”
Iga Swiatek, the defending champion and world No1, enjoyed a golden bagel – 6-0 6-0 – as she whitewashed Xinyu Wang from China in 51 minutes.
American Coco Gauff made the last 16 as she knocked out 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva with a 6-7 6-1 6-1 triumph.
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