Simona Halep admits she is “worried” about the lower back injury that forced her to retire from her China Open first round against Ons Jabeur on Sunday.
The world No. 1 sustained the back problem in Wuhan last week during a practice session with Petra Kvitova but said it was just a block that should get better in a few days. But Halep was clearly in pain during her first round in Beijing as she dropped the first set 6-1 to a confident and aggressive Jabeur.
The trainer came out to try and help Halep during the set but she decided to retire as soon as the opening set was over.
“There is a pain. I couldn’t move properly, so that’s why I stopped. I don’t know exactly what it is. I will go home. I will have an MRI and I will see,” said Halep, who is now on a four-match losing streak for the first time since 2012.
“Hopefully is not the back, the bones or something like that. I’m just worried now. I feel sad that I couldn’t finish.”
Halep’s concern comes from the fact that she feels the pain is no longer simply a muscle issue.
“The muscle is better, the muscle of the back. But now I started to feel yesterday in the bones. So it’s really tough when you have back injury because you cannot bend, you cannot react at the balls. All the body was really contracted. I couldn’t play.”
Halep pushed herself to play the full match against Dominika Cibulkova in Wuhan last week, but was hampered by the back during her straight-sets defeat to the in-form Slovakian. She didn’t want to do that in Beijing fearing she would exacerbate the issue even more.
“That’s why I stopped, because I felt like it’s getting worse if I continue. Today I could stop. I think last week was also good point to stop, but I forced a little bit to see how it goes. But here it was a bit too much,” explained Halep.
“[The pain was] since the beginning of the match. Also before at the practice. The pain didn’t let me at all. I knew that there is pain, but I thought if I warm up during the match, it’s going to be better. But wasn’t.
“In Wuhan was also the lower back was blocked so I couldn’t move for two days there. Then with a lot of treatment, it was better. I started to feel in the muscle a lot. Was really, really contracted. Then I had some needles. I did the treatment. The muscle was better. But now I still feel the bone.”
Halep is still entered in the Moscow tournament, which is scheduled to take place from October 15 to 21, then should head straight to Singapore for the WTA Finals.
On her part, Jabeur, who now has two top-10 victories in her career, looked visibly upset after Halep informed her she had to retire.
“I didn’t want the match to end like this. I wanted a real battle. Unfortunately she was injured. I didn’t look happy because I didn’t want to win this way,” said the 113th-ranked Tunisian.
“But, of course, I take the win. I hope next time we can play a real match without anyone injured.”
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