MELBOURNE: Third seed Simona Halep blamed stress for her quarter-final humiliation in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday, admitting she failed to cope on the big stage.
The Romanian hoisted the white flag on Rod Laver Arena as her renowned fighting qualities deserted her, allowing Russian 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova to romp home 6-4, 6-0.
“I practised very well in the morning, but I was a little bit too stressed before I started the match,” she admitted.
Halep was disconsolate after conceding a dreaded 6-0 “bagel” in the second set, an astonishing scoreline for the world number three in the last eight of a Grand Slam.
But the 23-year-old, who was also bageled by Dominika Cibulkova when she was dumped out of the tournament at the same stage last year, also argued bad luck played a part in the loss.
“I felt in the beginning of the match my game was not going well, so I just tried to change something but it didn’t work very well,” she said.
“In important moments she played really well. She had very lucky balls on the lines. Mine were out. So, yeah, wasn’t too good.”
She said making the final eight last year, when she was seeded 11, was a big result but she expected a world number three to go deeper into the Grand Slams.
Halep made the final of the French Open and the semis at Wimbledon last year but said the experience did not help during Tuesday’s massacre at Melbourne Park.
“Sometimes you cannot manage the situation. I tried. I did everything I could this match,” she said. “But just mentally during the points maybe I didn’t fight very well today.
“I just lost my concentration to win the points, to win the match. So I didn’t believe any more in the second set, and that’s maybe why I lost 6-0.”