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“I had a headache and then I fainted.” Tennis players are increasingly losing consciousness on the court

Date: February 23, 2024 Time: 11:48:57

This fall, professional tennis returned to China after almost three years: after the scandalous story of the possible rape of former first racket Peng Shuai, the WTA canceled tournaments in the Middle Kingdom. However, the finances of women’s tennis are not very good now and its leaders have exchanged their anger for mercy. The first on the list of rehabilitated was the WTA-250 category tournament in Guangzhou, where an unpleasant event occurred in the second round match between the Danish Clara Tauson and the representative of Kazakhstan Yulia Putintseva. The match was played under tremendous heat of 40°C and tremendous humidity (53%). No wonder the Dane got dizzy in the second match and called a physiotherapist. He didn’t really help. She had barely started the third set when Clara committed a double fault, she staggered and collapsed on the court. The girl came to her senses, but she left the court only in a wheelchair.

It would seem like this could happen to anyone, but there have been so many such cases lately that it has become an unhealthy trend. Who is to blame and what to do?

Wu Yibing lost consciousness twice in a few months.

Shortly before the start of the US Open 2023, Novak Djokovic fought in the Cincinnati final with Carlos Alcaraz and looked like a vegetable for almost a set and a half. The Serb could not move normally, he wrapped himself in an ice towel, doused himself with water and shouted to the team: everything became easier only after sunset. The long-awaited coldness made Novak come to his senses, changed the course of the failed record match of the tournament (3 hours 50 minutes) and broke the Spaniard, who had already seen himself with the trophy. “It wasn’t hard to notice that after the heat subsided, Djokovic looked like he had grown wings,” Andy Roddick said.

Wu Yibing doesn’t tolerate heat very well.

Photo: Adam Hagy/Getty Images

Not every player can handle the weather conditions like a tennis legend. Chinese tennis player Wu Yibing is suffering especially this year. It would seem that an Asian should normally tolerate heat and humidity, but in reality everything is different: two faintings in a few months can lead to forced retirement. First, Wu Yibing passed out during a first-round match at Wimbledon with Francis Tiafoe; He received medical attention for 15 minutes, after which he returned and managed to finish the match, in which he lost in three games.

A month later, the 23-year-old Chinese, who won his first ATP title this season (in Dallas), fell ill during a tournament in Washington. In 40-degree heat, Wu Yibing, in the match with Yosuke Watanuki, led the first set with a score of 4: 1, after which he collapsed on the way to his bench. The next examination did not reveal any pathology in the Chinese and the doctors allowed the boy to return to the tour. Wu Yibing reached the second round of the 2023 US Open, where this year there was real hell: in unbearable weather conditions, most of the matches seemed like survival games.

The management of the American Major achieved another audience record: in 2023, 957,387 spectators attended the matches in New York. However, players will remember the tournament with chills. Already in the first week, Dominic Thiem, Christopher Eubanks, Emil Ruusuvuori, Petra Kvitova and Hubert Hurkacz withdrew from the tournament for various reasons, suffering from an unknown infection. It’s likely that someone else kept them company, but they didn’t admit it or show it on or off the court.

The fan was taken from the stands on a stretcher

The most difficult circumstance for the tennis players was the abnormal heat combined with strong humidity. “One day a player will die and they will see what he can lead to,” Daniil Medvedev lamented in the quarterfinals against Andrey Rublev. The future US Open 2023 finalist repeatedly consulted doctors during the meeting: he complained of shortness of breath and used an inhaler. During the Major, Daniil resorted to the same help from physiotherapists in almost every match.

Both players doused themselves with cold water, used ice towels and air conditioning. And this is with the roof partially closed: if the kids played outside, the load would be even greater. “The conditions here are as cruel as at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021,” lamented Medvedev. – At the end of the first set I no longer saw the ball, I played almost at random. I saw that Andrey couldn’t run. He couldn’t wait to take a cold shower, but the thing is, when you take one, there are two options: either it gets better or your body goes into a huge spasm.”

2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem felt ill and withdrew from the tournament

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

The humidity was so high that tennis players could easily change their shirts after each match. Not only the tennis players suffered, but also the spectators: one of them suffered heatstroke during the quarterfinals between Madison Keys and Marketa Vondrousova. The 32-year-old had to be carried out of the stands on a stretcher. On the same day, due to abnormal heat, matches between wheelchair players were postponed until later.

A recent study from the University of Portsmouth found that the average temperature in all four hulls has increased significantly in recent years. If previously the abnormal heat was mainly recorded at the Australian Open (especially in 2020, when the country was engulfed in smoke from forest fires), now the rest of the major tournaments are incredibly hot and stifling. This year in New York it was even hotter than in January in Melbourne: up to three degrees. It should be noted that the partially closed roof on one side saved the players, but on the other it got in the way. “Half of the court is in the shade and the other in the sun. I just didn’t see some balls,” admitted Jelena Ostapenko after the match with Cori Gauff.

Since 1988, at the US Open alone, there have been 17 cases of tennis players withdrawing from the Slam due to exposure to extreme heat. In 2018, France’s Alizée Cornet faced Sweden’s Johanna Larsson at 35°C and 46% humidity. After the second set, the tennis players had a 10-minute break due to the heat, from which Alize returned with her shirt inside out. She only realized this before the start of the game and quickly changed her clothes while she was behind the baseline. Referee Christian Rask deemed Cornet’s actions unsportsmanlike conduct and warned him. “That match turned into a real nightmare. I was constantly getting sick from the heat and then there was that story about changing my clothes,” Cornet complained.

It’s time for tennis governing bodies to think about increasing safety precautions

Two years ago, in the United States, something similar to Wu Yibin’s suffering happened to the British Jack Draper. In the first round of the Miami Masters, the 19-year-old left-hander met with Mikhail Kukushkin, called the doctors several times during the match and at the end of the match completely floated on his opponent’s set point. Jack lost consciousness, fell and left the court in a wheelchair.

It is not just the United States or Australia that suffer from heat waves. This year, the Argentine Camilo Carabelli lost to the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of Roland Garros by 0-3 and arrived at the press conference with a broken face. “I fainted after the game. I remember I had a really bad headache and then I passed out. When I woke up, I was lying on my back covered in blood,” Camilo admitted.

Karabella’s face after losing consciousness and falling

Photo: from Karabella’s personal archive.

Everything suggests that in the very near future there will be more and more cases of this type. This summer, Sicily set a European temperature record of 48.8°C in August, and in July, Phoenix maintained a record temperature of 43°C for 19 consecutive days. Under such conditions, the “Helmets” should think about building even more stadiums with retractable roofs and a more detailed schedule to be able to play more games in the night session. You can also increase the breaks between games and sets, and also work with the “even” score: let whoever wins the 40-40 tie take the game, as in some doubles tennis tournaments.

There is now growing talk that abnormal heat could lead to a postponement of the 2026 FIFA World Cup (to be held in three North American countries) from summer to winter. It is evident that the international tennis calendar now needs a reset; it may even be necessary to sacrifice some tournaments. Leaving everything in its current state is definitely not an option. Otherwise, as Medvedev said, someone will definitely die.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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