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U.S. Open: Victoria Azarenka collapses, retires from match


Victoria Azarenka, an on-the-rise 21-year-old from Belarus who beat Maria Sharapova to win the Stanford tournament earlier this summer and was 9-2 during the hard court prep events leading to the U.S. Open, collapsed after hitting a backhand 31 minutes into her second-round match against Gisela Dulko.

Azarenka retired from the match, so the score line is 5-1, ret. There hasn't been an official medical report though Azarenka was treated on the court with ice packs and was taken off in a wheel chair. Her representative said Azarenka has been taken to a hospital where she was alert. Just before she fell, Azarenka seemed to clutch at her side. For the second day in a row, an extreme heat policy is in effect, allowing the women to take a 10-minute break after two sets and the men to take medical timeouts as needed.

Dulko said, "I was scared. She went to the floor. I was worried for her. I went to see her, brought some ice, did whatever I could." Azarenka was seeded 10th and considered a strong dark-horse candidate to win her first major at the U.S. Open.

It was a happier outcome for another woman who suddenly seems to be a contender. Ana Ivanovic, a 22-year-old Serbian who won the 2008 French Open title and seemed on her way to contending for more majors and a spot at the top of the rankings, has spent much of the last two years fighting injuries and losing her confidence and seeing her ranking drop to a low of 65th in the world last month.

On Wednesday, Ivanovic upset 21st-seeded Zheng Jie of China, 6-3, 6-0, while playing well-conceived tennis that wasn't overly heavy on raw power and featured delicate shot making from the net and the baseline.

"I feel like I'm playing like a top 10 player," Ivanovic said. "I have the confidence now I can beat these players." Up next for Ivanovic might be 13th-seeded Marion Bartoli.

-- Diane Pucin in New York

 Photo: Victoria Azarenka. Credit: GEPA / US Presswire. 

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