World No 2 Daniil Medvedev struggled to deal with the suffocating heat in Tokyo during his third round match against Fabio Fognini at the Olympics. At one point, chair umpire Carlos Ramos had to ask him if he could continue.
“I can finish the match but I can die. If I die, are you going to be responsible?” Medvedev said.
He need two medical timeouts and one visit from the trainer before he finally defeated Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Later, after winning, he said he felt “darkness” in his eyes. “I didn’t know what to do to feel better. I was ready to just fall down on the court,” he said.
Medvedev received medical treatment and had his chest massaged while leading 5-2 in the opening set but then held his serve in the next game to close it out.
He then took another medical timeout while trailing 4-3 in the second.
“I felt like my diaphragm has blocked,” Medvedev said. “I couldn’t breathe properly. It was the most humid day we had so far — maybe the hottest.”
Both players were allowed to leave the court for 10 minutes between the second and third sets with an extreme heat rule in effect.
Medvedev said he took a “cold, freezing shower” during the break but that the sharp change in temperature put his body into shock and caused him to cramp.
Spanish player Paula Badosa was less fortunate. She left the court in a wheelchair after retiring from her quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova because of heatstroke.
After some rain a day earlier, the temperature rose to 31 degrees Celsius but the heat index made it feel like 37 degrees Celsius.
The problems the players faced raised questions over why organizers did not grant requests earlier in the tournament from Medvedev and other players — including top-ranked Novak Djokovic — to move all of the tennis matches at the Games to the evening.
Organizers said immediately after Medvedev’s win that they were “considering” playing the matches later, starting Thursday.