Eastbourne’sJohanna Konta admits she pushed herself to the limit after surviving an on-court collapse at the US Open.
Konta beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 5-7 6-2 to reach the third round in New York, but only after enduring a sudden bout of illness on Court 13 that left her lying in a heap on the baseline.
The British number one was a set point down in the second set when she dropped to the floor, red in the face and struggling to breathe, with almost 15 minutes passing before play resumed.
The match began just before 2pm local time at Flushing Meadows and it is likely the heat, reaching 30 degrees Celsius, contributed to Konta’s discomfort.
“I think all athletes kind of play a very fine line with that. We push our bodies to the limits that they can go,” Konta said.
“I definitely hit one of my limits. That was the way my body reacted.
“I was feeling a little bit the conditions and also my own energy levels. I was just managing the best that I could with what I had today.
“Basically my heart rate spiked and I couldn’t really control my breathing. I started hyperventilating. I started shaking. So yeah, basically that’s why I went down on the ground, because I was quite violently shaking.”
Konta had eased through the first set, via two breaks of serve, but was less convincing in the second as her physical problems began to develop.
Trailing 6-5 on serve, the game had gone on past the 10-minute mark as Konta had to stave off two Pironkova set points.
On the third, she missed her first serve and then dropped to the floor, hunching over the baseline on her knees.
Umpire Julie Minori Kjendlie phoned for a physio before coming down to meet Konta. She laid out a towel and brought bags of ice, which Konta placed under her arms and on her body.
“I needed to get ice on myself, try to get my breathing down, start to just really calm myself down and in turn my muscles and my heart calmed down as well,” Konta said.
“That’s basically what happened. It was basically very embarrassing.”
Konta was attended to by a doctor and play eventually restarted but she fired the second serve long to concede the second set, and then left for a five-minute toilet break.
Her departure irritated Pironkova, who was sympathetic to Konta’s physical problems but not to her taking another time-out to go to the bathroom.
“I wish I could say all players use bathroom breaks accordingly to go to the toilet,” Pironkova said.
“Obviously some players use them to refocus. I don’t think they should be used that way.”
She added: “With that toilet break, I think the match was stopped for just too long. It was unfortunate. I had my momentum going, I was getting back in the match.”
Resuming play for a second time, Konta then claimed six out of the next seven points and two breaks in the set to clinch victory.
Pironkova’s handshake was notably brief but Konta was not acting outside of the rules.
“The way it worked out with the medical time-out it was right at the end of that second set,” Konta said.
“I guess it worked out that way but I needed to get changed out of my clothes. I was soaked through.
“I’m not a fan of drama. I’m not a fan of these sort of things. I did the best that I could with the cards that I had.”
Konta said she experienced a similar episode four years ago at another tournament in the United States, but insisted her recovery was fairly swift.
The world number 14 was confident she we would be back to full fitness against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic on Friday.