‘I can die’: Medvedev survives extreme heat at Tokyo Games

Daniil Medvedev was struggling so much with the suffocating heat and humidity in the Olympic tennis tournament that at one point the chair umpire asked him if he could continue playing

TOKYO — Bent over in exhaustion before serving. Resting on his racket between points. Grasping for a rubber tube blowing cool air next to his seat on changeovers. Two medical timeouts and one visit from a trainer.

Daniil Medvedev was struggling so much with the suffocating heat and humidity at the Ariake Tennis Park on Wednesday that at one point the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, asked him if he could continue playing.

“I can finish the match but I can die,” Medvedev replied. “If I die, are you going to be responsible?”

Still, the second-seeded Medvedev produced a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Fabio Fognini of Italy to reach the quarterfinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

The ROC player is going to need some time to recover from this one, though, and it raises 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.

After some rain a day earlier, the temperature rose to 88 degrees F (31 degrees C) but the heat index made it feel like 99 degrees F (37 degrees C).

Medvedev received medical treatment for an apparent abdominal problem 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.

Visibly suffering, Medvedev took his time between points, which drew protests from Fognini.

Both players were allowed to leave the court for 10 minutes between the second and third sets with an extreme heat rule in effect.

After holding for a 5-2 lead in the third, Medvedev received yet more medical treatment when a trainer came out onto the court and massaged his left arm and thigh.

Fognini slammed his racket onto the court in disgust when the match was over, then picked the racket up and placed it in a court-side trash can.

Medvedev — if he’s up to it — will next face sixth-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain for a spot in the medal rounds. Carreno Busta beat Dominik Koepfer of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-3.

In the women’s tournament, fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine beat Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.

It’s been quite a month for Svitolina, who married French player Gael Monfils before flying to Tokyo. Monfils was sitting courtside cheering on his new bride, having already been eliminated from both the singles and doubles tournaments.

The couple got married on July 16 but have delayed their honeymoon until November, when the tennis season ends.

Svitolina is the highest seeded singles player remaining after top-ranked Ash Barty, No. 2 Naomi Osaka and No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka each lost. She’ll next face either Paula Badosa of Spain or Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for a spot in the gold-medal match.

Vondrousova eliminated Osaka on Tuesday.

Later, Djokovic was to play twice.

First, the top-ranked Serb was to face 16th-seeded Alejandro Davidovich of Spain for a spot in the quarterfinals of the singles tournament. Then he is scheduled to team up with Serbian partner Nina Stojanovic against Marcelo Melo and Luisa Stefani of Brazil in the opening round of the mixed doubles competition.

In singles, Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to achieve a Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.

Djokovic has already won the Australian and French Opens plus Wimbledon this year, so now he needs the Tokyo Games title and the U.S. Open trophy to complete the unique collection.


Associated Press reporter Syd Fryer contributed to this report.


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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf