Player Collapses in Heat at U.S. Open

Had to be taken off court in wheelchair

Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010  |  Updated 1:53 PM EDT
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A medical worker runs to help Victoria Azarenka of Belarus after Azarenka collapsed on the court while playing Gisela Dulko of Argentina at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. Azarenka was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

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Victoria Azarenka collapsed and had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair half an hour into her second-round match against Gisela Dulko at the U.S. Open in Queens.

 

It was 90 degrees with 42 percent humidity when the 10th-seeded Azarenka took to the court Wednesday morning for a second straight steamy day of play at Flushing Meadows. On-court temperatures topped 100 degrees.

Azarenka was trailing 5-1 in the first set and not moving well when she fell to the ground, not appearing to twist or strain anything.

Medical personnel rushed out and yelled to the sideline to bring water. After a few minutes on the ground, Azarenka was helped into the wheelchair and moved off the court, with a trainer placing his hand on her neck to check her pulse.

There was no immediate update on her condition. About an hour after the match was called, her agent said Azarenka was being transported to the hospital. Dulko said Azarenka was conscious and responding when she walked over to make sure everything was OK.

Wearing an all-black tennis dress, Azarenka had been moving slowly throughout the match and didn't appear to twist or sprain anything when she fell to the ground. Medical personnel rushed out and yelled to the sideline to bring water. After a few minutes on the ground, being sheltered by an umbrella, Azarenka was helped into the wheelchair and moved off the court, with a trainer placing his hand on her neck to check her pulse.

"I was scared," said Dulko, who advanced to the third round. "She went to the floor. I was worried for her. I went to see her, brought some ice, did whatever I could do to help."

Dulko said the conditions were, indeed, brutal.For the second straight day, tournament officials put in place their extreme-weather policy, meaning women could ask for a 10-minute break if they split sets.

"It's tough to play out there," Dulko said. "It's really hot, really humid. You sweat so much, sometimes it's impossible to hold the racquet."

The year 2010 is going down as the hottest summer in recorded history in New York, which certainly is doing nothing to change that reputation.

Seven men's matches went five sets and 14 women's matches went three sets in the stifling heat on Tuesday, though Azarenka was the first to fall with what appears to be a case of heat exhaustion.

The news traveled quickly through the tennis world.

"Did anyone watch Vikas match?? I really hope she is ok!" top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki said on her Twitter account, a few minutes after Azarenka fell. The previous night, Wozniacki defeated Chelsey Gullickson 6-1, 6-1 in a match that ended around 1 a.m.

Azarenka has won four career titles, most recently at Stanford last month, when she beat Maria Sharapova in the final. She reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open this year, losing to Williams, the eventual champion.

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