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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Belarusian Azarenka collapses at U.S. Open

The U.S. Open tournament got a major scare when No. 10 seed Victoria Azarenka collapsed Wednesday in New York.

(A trainer, left, helps Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who collapsed during her second-round match of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.)

The Belarusian, who was moving lethargically throughout the match, was rushed off the court in a wheelchair just 30 minutes into her second-round match against Argentina's Gisela Dulko.

Azarenka's sluggishness continued in the third game, when she called for a trainer. While the 21-year-old was treated for an apparent arm injury, she also complained about blurred vision.

Competing in another scorching day at Flushing Meadows on the Grandstand court, Azarenka was trailing Dulko 5-1 in the opening set of the day, with the temperature rising to 32 C at 11:30 a.m. ET.

With the humidity registering at 42 per cent, Azarenka - serving at 15-30 - fell to the ground just after returning a backhand, prompting medical personnel to rush out and yell to the sidelines for water.

After a few minutes on the court, Azarenka spent was helped into a wheelchair as the trainer checked her pulse.

Tournament officials are expected to give an update on Azarenka's condition.

Azarenka's agent said an hour after the match that she was taken to hospital.

Dulko said Azarenka was conscious and responsive when she walked over to make sure she was fine.

"I was scared," said Dulko. "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 comfirmed the brutal heat conditions, which forced tournament officials to place an extreme weather policy in effect, just as they did Tuesday, when temperatures reached the mid-30 C range. Under the warning, the women are allowed a 10-minute break between the second and third set, while the men may receive medial treatment for illness reasons.

"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 intense heat has also affected other players through the first three days of competition.

In other action, unseeded Ava Ivanovic of Serbia moved on to the third round by dismantling No. 21 Zheng Jie of China, 6-3, 6-0.

Inanovic, a former No. 1 player and 2008 French Open champion, used 22 winners to get by her Chinese opponent.

The Serb has never competed past the fourth round of the U.S. Open.


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