'If I die, who will take responsibility': Tennis players wilt in Tokyo heat with Paula Badosa leaving court in wheelchair

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Paula Badosa had to leave the court in a wheelchair after suffering in the heat - AP
Paula Badosa had to leave the court in a wheelchair after suffering in the heat - AP

Britain's remaining Olympic tennis hopes went up in flames on a day organisers acceded to demands to change the schedule after one player suffered heatstroke and another questioned whether they would "die" in Tokyo's sweltering temperatures.

Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury were the first Brits to exit on Wednesday, losing 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-7 to Croatians Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig in their men's doubles quarter-final.

Any lingering faint hopes were dashed later in the day when Liam Broady was beaten 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-1 by France's Jeremy Chardy in the third round of the men's singles.

But the main talking point of the day was once again the hot conditions and the startling impact on several players, with the International Tennis Federation, which organises the event, later announcing that from Thursday matches would start from 3pm, rather than 11am.

The ITF said in a statement: "In the interests of player health and welfare and following extensive consultation, the ITF has announced a change of schedule due to the increasing heat and humidity currently being experienced in Tokyo.

"The decision to start matches at 3pm from Thursday is possible due to the outcomes of today's matches across the five competitions being staged and the size of player field, and is designed to further safeguard player health."

Spain's Paula Badosa had sparked concern when she needed treatment after losing the opening set of her singles quarter-final 6-3 to Naomi Osaka's conqueror Marketa Vondrousova, leaving the court in a wheelchair. She later recovered but pulled out of her mixed doubles opener alongside Pablo Carreno Busta.

Men's second seed Daniil Medvedev also struggled during his third-round match against Fabio Fognini, taking a medical timeout on court and calling the trainer on two other occasions. When asked by chair umpire Carlos Ramos if he was alright, he was heard to say: "If I die, who will take responsibility?"

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The switch in schedule was welcomed by world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who had been among the stars to complain.

"It was nice news to receive. In my opinion, it should have been done a few days earlier. But it is what it is," he said, after beating Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his quarter-final.

"It's very good because you don't want to see situations like what we saw today with Paula Badosa. I've played tennis now professionally for 20 years and I've never faced this kind of conditions in my entire life on a consecutive daily basis."

Meanwhile Andy Murray did not rule out trying to extend his Olympic career to an unlikely fifth Games.

Asked whether he would consider trying for an appearance on the clay courts at Paris 2024 at the age of 37, Murray responded: "I don’t know. I’ve got to get the opportunity to play again. I’ve loved every minute of playing in the Olympics. It was another chance, with Joe, to win a medal, we were so close, that’s what is disappointing."

The Scot said he would also "wait and see" on whether he would play at the US Open, which starts in less than five weeks time, depending on how the minor thigh strain that caused him to pull out of his Olympic singles defence heals.

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