‘I can DIE’: Ailing Russian ace Medvedev fears for health in searing Tokyo heat before battling into Olympic quarter-finals (VIDEO

Daniil Medvedev said he “can die” on court as the Russian star struggled badly in oppressive conditions in Tokyo before seeing off Italy’s Fabio Fognini to reach the Olympic quarter-finals.

Frequently bending over with exhaustion before serving and requiring medical treatment several times during the match on Wednesday, Medvedev was at one point asked by umpire Carlos Ramos whether he was able to continue.

“What can I do? I’m fine. I can finish the match, but I can die,” the Russian replied, before talking about "responsibility." 

Temperatures on court rose to 31C (88F) but the heat index made them feel more like 37C (99F).

Medvedev first required treatment for an abdominal problem while leading 5-2 in the opening set, and needed another medical break when trailing 3-4 in the second.

Both players were allowed a 10-minute break between the second and third sets due to the extreme conditions, and Medvedev was given more treatment in the final set when a trainer came onto court to massage his left arm and thigh.

With Medvedev taking his time between serves, Fognini cut a frustrated figure on the other side of the net, slamming his racket into the ground when the match was over.

Fognini cut a frustrated figure on court. © Reuters

Medvedev, who is competing for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team, will next face Spanish sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the last eight.

However, the scenes on Wednesday will pile more pressure on organizers regarding the conditions players are being forced to endure.

Both Medvedev and Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic have questioned why matches can’t be moved to the evenings to avoid the suffocating heat.

After defeating Kazakh rival Alexander Bublik in a grueling first-round match, Medvedev had said it was a “joke” that players were only allowed a 60-second changeover period.

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“I think the fact that we have only one minute between the changeovers is a joke… It should be 1:30 like it is in other tournaments,” Medvedev had fumed.

“But you have to play. That’s the Olympics, you go for the medal. You are not here to cry about the heat.”

After Wednesday's scenes, fans described Medvedev’s match with Fognini as verging on a “pantomime” while also fearing for the players’ health – pointing the finger at US Olympic broadcasters NBC over the timing of events. 

Medvedev, 25, will now need to recover in time to face Carreno Busta, knowing that he will likely have to contend with the conditions as well as his opponent.  

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