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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
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.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album