Azarenka's collapse caused by 'mild concussion' not searing heat

Belarussian No 10 seed hit head during warm-up but temperatures as high as 43C still take toll on players

Victoria Azarenka had been tipped by many as a possible winner of this year's US Open, but the 21-year-old from Belarus went out of the tournament in dramatic fashion here yesterday after collapsing on court. Heat exhaustion was initially blamed, but it later emerged that the world No 11 had suffered mild concussion when she hit her head in a fall in the gymnasium earlier in the day.

Azarenka had called for a trainer as early as the third game of her match against Argentina's Gisela Dulko. Thereafter she moved slowly and took her time between points, though there was little indication of what was to come when she was trailing 5-1 in the first set.

Having just hit a backhand, Azarenka suddenly fell to the ground. Medical personnel rushed to her side and Dulko helped to put an ice bag around her neck. She was eventually helped into a wheelchair and taken to a hospital nearby.

Dulko said Azarenka was conscious and responding to questions. "I was scared," she said. "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."

Assuming that heat had been to blame, Dulko added: "It's tough to play out there. It's really hot, really humid. You sweat so much, sometimes it's impossible to hold the racket."

However, Azarenka later revealed that she had hit her head in a fall while warming up for the match. "I was checked by the medical team before I went on court and they were courtside for monitoring," she said in a statement. "I felt worse as the match went on, having a headache and feeling dizzy. I also started having trouble seeing and felt weak before I fell. I was taken to the hospital for some medical tests and have been diagnosed with a mild concussion."

The heat could not have helped. The hottest summer ever recorded in New York City has been good news for suppliers of ice, 35 tons of which are used every day here, but the conditions have been tough for the players.

Azarenka collapsed just before midday, when the temperature was approaching 32C with 42 per cent humidity. It is not the first time she has left a court in distress during extreme heat. At last year's Australian Open she had to retire when leading Serena Williams, though her discomfort was also put down to a stomach virus.

For the last two days here the tournament has implemented its "extreme weather policy", under which medical time-outs for heat-related illness are allowed and a 10-minute break is permitted between the second and third sets of women's matches. The tournament referee can also postpone or suspend play because of the heat.

The on-court temperature during Andy Murray's victory yesterday over Lukas Lacko was 43C, which matched Tuesday's high, when the Serbian Novak Djokovic was among those who suffered. The world No 3 was on court for three hours and 40 minutes against compatriot Viktor Troicki before winning in five sets. His game picked up significantly when the court went into shade.

Ivan Ljubicic was one of several players who wilted in the heat yesterday. "The weather was my biggest enemy," the No 15 seed said after losing to Ryan Harrison, an 18-year-old American qualifier. "Throughout my career I struggled with the heat. Today was no different."

He added: "We saw some players struggling big time. There are comments saying it's the same for everybody, but really it's not. Some people struggle more than others and I think it's just not fun. I think people out there are coming to see good tennis, and on days like this it's all about everything except tennis."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy