Let me tell you the most interesting story in my life, some might say I was stupid others might say I was a fighter. It happened in August 2012, just a month after I got into the top 100 for the first time and after my well deserved holidays. I moved up in the rankings to number 83 but a week to late for the Main Draw cut off for US Open so I had to play qualies. I still remember this week as if it was yesterday. The draw was made on the day before the matches started. I was drawn to play Ze Zhang from China. We played around lunch time so it was really tough for me to eat a lot after breakfast. When I was walking to the match court I felt slight pain in the left part of my stomach. Of course I was blaming myself for not eating enough before the match. I won comfortably in two sets and I forgot about the slight pain in my stomach.
I went to eat, I felt happy and satisfied with my day at the office. After a late lunch we came back to the hotel had a couple of hours rest. I didn’t feel tired, my body felt relaxed. As every evening we decided to go to a restaurant for dinner. We had a nice dinner and quite a long way back to the hotel. I felt the pain again in my stomach, this time on my right side and luckily there was many traffic lights so I could go in the only position where I felt comfortable – hunched over with my hands on my knees. I would say there were about 10 traffic lights and I felt like we are walking forever. My first thoughts were of course what have I eaten to provoke a pain in my stomach. I didn’t think of anything that was different from previous days. Finally we arrived to our hotel. I went straight to the toilet and unfortunately for me, even though I went a couple of times before going to sleep to visit the toilet, nothing changed. My stomach was still hurting.
I slept really well, but I could only be turned on one side because the other one was too painful. I woke up. Pain was still there. Again toilet was calling, 4 times before I finally convinced myself something is not right with me and maybe I should see a doctor. But before that as a professional tennis player I had to do a tennis practice. So after hitting I went to see a doctor in the main facility. Doctor asked me where is the pain, checked me and immediately said what might be wrong with me. But. I didn’t listen. He proposed me not to play that day’s match, but because it is a grand slam and US Open I kindly asked him to give me some pain killers. He gave me 4 white big pills which I took just before my match and an escort of the doctor himself to the court. He told me he will be watching the whole match. So he sat there, unfortunately for him it was a long match.
I played an American WC Daniel Kosakowski. He took the first set, I took the second and started the third one with a break. I got cramp in my right leg so I knew I am not going to be able to play the same until the end. On top of that I started to feel my stomach again. I took it easier for a couple of games and immediately lost two service games and eventually called a doctor to court. I got some more pills, I felt pretty sick and tired but that didn’t stop me to come back to 4:4. My opponent was serving and I had a break point. I played a forehand winner directly on the line but the ball was called out. I should have been serving for the match the next game but instead I lost that game and I had to serve to stay in the match.
I wasn’t angry, which wasn’t normal for me on a point like that. I had other problems, although I wanted to win a match I wanted to finish it in one piece. Next game I served well, 5:5. First point in the 11th game, cramps in the legs and in the arms. I felt weak but ready to fight till the end. We both got our service games so the decisive tiebreak was played. We played some really long rallies and the first one to get the chance to win the match was me. I was leading 6:5, match point. I will never forget that point, long rally, opponent misses a shot and plays it long, I play it back thinking it’s over but no one calls it out. As if it couldn’t be worse I get a cramp in my middle finger of the playing hand. I lose the point but again I am surprisingly totally quiet. I continue as nothing happened but in my mind bad words are coming out. I am swearing, not so much against referees but more about the pain in my stomach and over the whole body. I saved first match point but the second I couldn’t anymore, I lost. I hear the crowd go nuts.
If something like this would have happened in the past, I would have probably argued with the umpire and tell him they could not steal the match from me in such a way. I just wanted to go out of the court so I wished all the best in the next round to Daniel. Quick as I could I went to the locker rooms and then my coach ordered a car to the hospital. We arrived there pretty soon, they scanned me put the morphyn in me and I felt great again. The doctor came to see me and as he asked me if I still feel any pain I told him I feel alright and asked him if I can go home. He told me I was lucky that appendix didn’t burst yet, but it is just before that so they need to operate me.
As I said everything happens for a reason. I feel like something was stronger up there which just didn’t allow me to win that match, I gave it all but still not enough. I know myself and if I would have won that match there is no way I would go to the hospital the same day. My 3rd round match would be the next day but probably my appendix would have burst that night and it would have been too late for me. Since then I know everything happens for a reason.