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Nikoloz Basilashvili. Wikipedia
Melbourne

Three players drop out of Australian Open with chest issues while Djokovic awaits his fate

Several fully vaccinated tennis players participating in the Australian Open qualifying rounds have complained about tiredness and breathing problems. 

Published: January 10, 2022, 7:58 am

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    The stakes are high for the organizers who have been keeping tennis star Novak Djokovic as a prisoner according to his parents. The player has won the tournament nine times, including the past three years and is currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most major victories of all time, namely 20.

    Djokovic has been confined to a small room in a Melbourne hotel since the Australian authorities denied him entrance to the country, overriding his medical exemption. Australia has been living up to its history as a penitentiary with its farcical zero-Covid policy and skyrocketing number of infections.

    Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on arrival and 34-year-old Serb is now languishing in a Melbourne immigration detention facility in a bid to prevent his deportation.

    Three players drop out

    All the tennis players currently participating in the professional tennis tournament have been fully vaccinated. The world number 22 was however seen leaving the court and abandoning his match while clutching his chest with respiratory difficulties in an ATP match. Nikoloz Basilashvili told his team that “every shot I’m out of breath”.

    Colin Fleming, a commentator for Stan Sport, described Basilashvili’s symptoms as “very concerning” and added: “If you feel like you can’t take any kind of deep breath at this level and this intensity, that’s an issue.”

    Tennis website OpenCourt claimed Basilashvili “may have been recovering from Covid”, but this could not be verified. “[He] told the trainer he had Covid ’10 days ago’,” the outlet said on social media.

    His contender Stefanos Tsitsipas instead blamed the heat, not Covid, for Basilashvili dropping out in an interview with Tennis World USA: “Sometimes it’s a bit too hot. You could fry an egg on the court, but we are ready for difficult matches and also the excitement.” Clearly the heat had not bothered other players and some had even welcomed the weather conditions in Melbourne.

    Dalila Jakupovic, who was forced to retire from her match after having dropped to the ground, told news outlet The Western Australian: “I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore. I don’t have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat. The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn’t breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor.”

    Nick Kyrgios, the world’ number 93 player suffered breathing difficulties in the morning and pulled out of the match six hours before he was meant to play.

    Bernard Tomic also had to take medical time out after complaining of breathing difficulties during the early stages of the second set, but he managed to soldier on. “No air is going in. I’m getting tired so easy,” Tomic was heard telling medical staff. “Is anyone else complaining today?” he wanted to know. “No, it’s been okay,” said the medic.

    The panicked organizers of the Australian Open now blame the poor “air quality” which appears to be targeting only some players. Melbourne’s air quality is ranked as “good” by international standards.

    ‘Breathing difficulties’ plague the vaccinated

    There were no “air quality” issues for the soccer player from a Qatari club who collapsed during a game on Saturday as a result of a heart attack, according to his club. Footage from the match between Al Wakra and Al Rayyan clubs shows player Othman Coulibaly falling to the ground and starting to convulse. He previously played for Panathinaikos.

    The Qatar Stars League, Qatar’s national football league, said in a statement that Coulibaly has suffered a heart attack and is receiving medical care. The match was suspended and will resume at a later date.

    This is yet another example of a top athlete collapsing on the field. The 25-year-old Marcos Menaldo from Guatemala died a few days ago during training. The fully vaccinated player had complained of breathing problems.

    Security meanwhile found American comedy star Bob Saget’s lifeless body in a room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Orlando, Florida. Saget had recently confirmed that he had been boosted.

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