Tennis star appears to clutch chest while being ‘out of breath’
The world number 22 tennis player has been pictured with his hand appearing to be on his chest before shakily leaving a match with respiratory difficulties.
Australian Open hopeful Nikoloz Basilashvili needed treatment from a doctor during a worrying episode at the Sydney Cup, where he was 4-1 down in the opening set to world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas.
A physio attended to Basilashvili, who seemed startled by the incident and was heard telling his team that “every shot I’m out of breath” before the showdown was abruptly called off.
The disturbing development came less than two weeks before the Georgian star will be hoping to take part in the first Grand Slam of the year when the Australian Open begins in Melbourne.
Tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili was forced to retire after struggling to breathe and needing treatment from a doctor.The Georgian player was representing his country in the #ATPCup in Sydney.#seanknowspic.twitter.com/7YxYXsGXWM— Sean Cardovillis (@sean_cardo) January 6, 2022
Colin Fleming, a commentator for Stan Sport, was widely quoted to have described the scene 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.”
Some onlookers called the conclusion to the match "scary", while tennis website OpenCourt claimed Basilashvili may have been recovering from Covid.
"[He] told the trainer he had Covid '10 days ago'," the outlet said on social media.
"Practiced a couple days and felt all right, but says now he's struggling to draw any more than shallow breaths. Got crushed in his first singles, didn't play the second tie, retired today."
Melbourne contender Tsitsipas conceded that he was not able to give an update on Basilashvili.
"I don't really know how is his health," the Greek told Tennis Majors via Tennis World USA. "It's not easy playing when you're not 100 percent. I completely understand his situation."
Basilashvili told the trainer he had Covid "10 days ago". Practiced a couple days and felt all right, but says now he's struggling to draw any more than shallow breaths.Got crushed in his first singles, didn't play the second tie, retired today. https://t.co/utMfLfT0av— Stephanie Myles (@OpenCourt) January 5, 2022
Tsitsipas faced challenges of his own at a time when many stars are warming up for the first major of the year and encountering additional concerns around Covid restrictions and remaining healthy.
"Sometimes it's a bit too hot," he admitted, having earlier withdrawn from his first singles match through fatigue.
"You could fry an egg on the court, but we are ready for difficult matches and also the excitement."