LONDON – Simona Halep was ready for a vacation. But it's going to start a week earlier than she wanted after she gave away a big lead, wasted a match point and lost Saturday at Wimbledon, joining the procession of top women ousted.
Ranked and seeded No. 1, fresh off winning her first Grand Slam title at the French Open, Halep chastised herself as "unprofessional" after bowing out in the third round at the All England Club, dropping the last five games while being beaten 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 by Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan.
"I just was too negative to myself, talking too much. I think because I was tired, because I'm tired, I couldn't stay focused for every ball," Halep said. "Mentally, I was tired. Also physically, I feel tired. My muscles are gone."
For the first time in Wimbledon history, none of the top five women's seeds reached the round of 16. Only one of the top 10 seeds will be in action in Week 2: No. 7 Karolina Pliskova. The only past champion at the grass-court tournament left is Serena Williams. Only two other women among the 16 left even own a Grand Slam singles title: Angelique Kerber has two, Jelena Ostapenko one.
"I'm not surprised anymore," said 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko, a 6-0, 6-4 winner against Vitalia Diatchenko, who eliminated five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in the first round. "Because every day, something strange is happening in the draw."
Far less so in the men's bracket, although No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev did depart Saturday with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 loss to Ernests Gulbis, a Latvian ranked 138th who is the first male qualifier since 2012 to reach Wimbledon's fourth round.
Gulbis already has been a major semifinalist — at the 2014 French Open — while the up-and-coming, 21-year-old Zverev has yet to have that sort of breakthrough.
Otherwise, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro all won on a day the English spectators were preoccupied with two things: soccer and the sun. They followed along on cellphones as England beat Sweden 2-0 in the World Cup quarterfinals in Russia — the All England Club did not put that other sport on any of the video screens — and used umbrellas, fans and lotion to deal with heat that reached 90 degrees.
Halep, of Romania, essentially wilted after taking a 5-2 lead in the third set. She didn't win another game.
"I tried to hang in there," Hsieh said.
Halep was a point from victory while ahead 5-4 as Hsieh served at 30-40. But the 48th-ranked Hsieh got out of that predicament with a backhand winner.
Halep held two break points in the last game but failed to convert either.
Asked when she thought she could win the match, Hsieh responded, "I don't feel I can," then laughed heartily.
Hsieh plays an unconventional brand of tennis, relying on drop shots repeatedly and gripping her racket with two hands for forehands and backhands.
Getting to the fourth round equals her best run at a major tournament in singles, although she does own two Grand Slam doubles championships. And she apparently enjoys the spotlight, because all three of her career victories over top-10 opponents came at either the Australian Open (two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza), the French Open (2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Johanna Konta) or, now, Wimbledon.
On Monday, Hsieh will face 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova
Halep will be gone, away for much-needed rest and relaxation.
What will she do with the free time?
"Anything," Halep said, "but tennis."