Melbourne: An urgent medical situation had an impact on players on adjoining courts at the Australian Open when Nigel Sears, who is Ana Ivanovic's coach and Andy Murray's father-in-law, was rushed to a hospital while both third-round matches were in progress.
Four-time finalist Murray had a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 32 Joao Sousa and signed a few autographs but skipped the usual on-court interview before walking directly off Margaret Court Arena on Saturday night, leaving to check on the welfare of his pregnant wife's father.
Ivanovic was leading Madison Keys 6-4, 1-0 when her match was stopped. She could be seen saying "That's my coach," before both players left the court when their match was suspended. It was the second time in three days that an Ivanovic match was interrupted for a spectator needing medical aid — her second-round match was delayed for a half-hour when a woman fell on the stairs at Rod Laver Arena.
This time, the 2008 finalist didn't come back to win. Despite having breaks in the second and third sets, Ivanovic lost six of the last seven games to lose 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to No. 15-seeded Keys.
There was no official confirmation on Sears or his condition from the Australian Open, although Rod Laver Arena stadium announcer Craig Willis told the crowd: "Nigel Sears had a turn, as we all saw. He's in the hospital cracking terrible jokes he cracks all the time and a TV was wheeled into his room so he could watch the match. He's OK."
Murray's match wasn't stopped, but word filtered through as he finished. His brother, Jamie Murray, was keeping track of Sears' health, British media reported.
Sousa was the only one of the four players involved in the opening night matches who was available to comment on the episode.
"I just heard that Andy went direct to the hospital. Good thing is (Sears) is conscious, he's speaking," Sousa said. "So we hope there's nothing bad and, of course, first is the family and the health, so I think it's very good that Andy went there to be with him."
Murray's wife, Kim, is due to give birth to their next child next month, and the two-time major winner said he'd miss a match in any round to be there if she goes into labor.
He didn't comment, and tournament organizers said Ivanovic and Keys wouldn't be available for interview, either.
In written statements released by the tournament, neither Keys nor Ivanovic make any reference to Sears or the delay.
Earlier, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka dropped her opening service game without winning a point, but recovered quickly to beat Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes. Azarenka is growing as a favorite in the bottom half of the draw after No. 2 Simona Halep went out in the first round and No. 3 Garbine Muguruza lost in the third round.
Azarenka will next play No. 48-ranked Barbora Strycova, who upset 2015 Wimbledon finalist Muguruza 6-3, 6-2.
"I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world," Strycova said.
Sydney-born Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open since 1987 when she beat Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2. Her next match is against 2015 semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova, who had a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 9 Karolina Pliskova.
Muguruza's loss left No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player in the bottom half of the women's draw. Kerber beat Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3 to move into a fourth-round match against fellow German Annika Beck and a potential quarterfinal with Azarenka.
Milos Raonic dedicated his third-round victory, a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki to victims of a shooting in a remote community in Saskatchewan, Canada which left four people dead and at least two injured.
"Today, before I stepped out on court it was a difficult day back home," the 25-year-old Canadian told the crowd. "I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today's victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I'm sure the world is behind you."
Raonic faces a tough fourth-rounder against Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian and 2015 French Open champion, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory over Lukas Rosol.
No. 8-seeded David Ferrer overwhelmed Steve Johnson 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and to set up a meeting with another American in the next round. No. 10-seeded John Isner, who fired 44 aces as he advanced with a 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4 win over Feliciano Lopez.
First Published On : Jan 23, 2016 19:54 IST