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Tennis star says he could 'die' in Tokyo heat, another leaves court in a wheelchair

"I'm fine. I can finish the match but I can die,” world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev told the umpire.
Russia's Daniil Medvedev pauses during a third round men's tennis match against Italy's Fabio Fognini at the Olympics in Tokyo on July 28, 2021.
Russia's Daniil Medvedev struggled with the conditions during his match against Italian Fabio Fognini.Patrick Semansky / AP

A Spanish tennis star was taken off the court in a wheelchair and another asked the umpire who would take responsibility if he died Wednesday as the hot and humid weather conditions took their toll at the Tokyo Olympics.

The world No. 2 in the men’s game, Daniil Medvedev, became visibly upset with the umpire as he struggled with the conditions during his match against Italian Fabio Fognini.

Medvedev, 25, took a medical timeout and called his trainer onto the court on a couple of occasions.

As he was serving in the second set after winning the first, umpire Carlos Ramos asked if he was alright.

"I'm fine. I can finish the match but I can die,” the Russian star replied, before asking whether the sport’s governing body, the International Tennis Federation, would “take responsibility” for his death.

After the match, which he won, Medvedev, said that he “didn’t feel good enough with my breathing,” even during the first set.

“That's why I called the physio, I felt like my diaphragm was blocked," he said. “And then in the second set, I just had darkness in my eyes, like between every point, I didn't know what to do to feel better."

He later tweeted that he was "still alive."

Meanwhile, Paula Badosa suffered heatstroke as she took on the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova. After a lengthy medical timeout, she was unable to recover sufficiently and left the court at the Ariake Tennis Park in a wheelchair.

Badosa, 23, who became the only player to contract Covid-19 at the Australian Open in February, also had to pull out of the mixed doubles which she was scheduled to play with Pablo Carreno Busta.

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"It's a shame to end my participation in this way,” she said afterward, according to Reuters. It's been a tough ask since Day One, we tried to adapt as best we could but today my body hasn't held up as it needed to.”

She added that she had suffered heatstroke and didn’t feel like she could carry on with the game.

"Along with the pressure of the competition ... they're just things that happen in sport and today it was my turn to experience this. I leave proud to have represented my country in the most professional way possible," she said.

The International Tennis Federation, which is the governing body of the sport at the Olympics, said its "extreme weather policy" was implemented during the day.

The federation's "extreme weather policy" allows a 10-minute break between the second and third sets if agreed by both players, and Medvedev used that time to get a freezing cold shower.

Medvedev appealed for a delayed start for tennis at the Tokyo Olympics due to weather conditions last week. His plea for all matches to be moved to the evening was supported by world No. 1, Novak Djokovic.

"I agree with him 100 percent," Djokovic said at the time, adding that he had also asked for the time to be changed.

"They have the lights on all the courts, they're going to make life much easier for all of us players. I just don't understand why they don't move it, I sincerely don't understand,” he said.