Collapse of Andy Murray’s father-in-law sours Briton’s day
Nigel Sears, coach of Ana Ivanovic, is carried from the stadium on a stretcher at the Australian Open
The Australian Open championships were rocked late on Saturday when Andy Murray’s father-in-law Nigel Sears collapsed during a match at Rod Laver Arena, overshadowing the world number two’s advance to the fourth round.
Sears, the coach of former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, collapsed while watching the Serb’s third-round clash against Madison Keys, prompting medical staff to rush to the 58-year-old’s aid.
Adding to the surreal atmosphere at Melbourne Park, Briton Murray was oblivious to the unfolding drama as he battled Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the neighbouring Margaret Court Arena.
Play was suspended for an hour at Rod Laver Arena, as Sears received treatment before being fitted with breathing apparatus and carried from the stadium on a stretcher.
He was taken to hospital for further treatment and was being examined by a cardiologist, organisers said.
A teary-eyed Ivanovic was eventually led back to centre court to continue her match against Keys and although the Serb fought hard she fell 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“Obviously, it was a tough match,” Ivanovic said after declining post-match media commitments.
“I really wanted to win and have a chance to come back. Obviously, a little bit disappointed.”
Murray, whose wife Kim Sears is due to give birth to their first child next month, completed a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over 32nd seed Sousa and was led straight from the court by an official rather than conduct the usual courtside interview.
Murray also skipped the post-match media conference and the Scot’s only comment was confined to his match. “It was tricky. I didn’t feel great.”
The medical emergency overshadowed the action on day six which saw Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza dumped out of the tournament and Victoria Azarenka given a huge boost in her bid to win a third title at Melbourne Park.
The 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka also reached the last 16, staying on track for a blockbuster semi-final against Murray.
Muguruza, rated one of the few women capable of threatening champion Serena Williams, slumped out at the hands of unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova, her 6-3, 6-2 loss punching a hole in the draw.
With Romanian world number two Simona Halep sent packing in the opening round, seventh seed Angelique Kerber remains the top woman in the draw’s lower half.
But the path to a dream final against Williams seems laid out for 14th seed Azarenka.
A succession of injuries over the past two years and a bout of depression have slowed the Belarussian, who clinched back-to-back titles at Melbourne Park in 2012-13.
But her 6-1, 6-1 humiliation of Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka was her eighth win in succession and further evidence the sleeping giant has awakened.
“I had a lot of changes and emotions from last year that I still didn’t know how to handle,” the 26-year-old said.
Following Roger Federer’s 300th victory in grand slams on day five and Maria Sharapova’s 600th on tour, Wawrinka notched his 400th career win with a triumph over Czech Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).