Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sports

Coach reported conscious after scary collapse

MELBOURNE, Australia — Ana Ivanovic led her third-round match against American Madison Keys, 6-4, 1-0 Saturday at the Australian Open when a disturbance in her player's box caught her eye. Nigel Sears, 58, had collapsed on a staircase inside Rod Laver Arena.

Seeing Sears in distress, Ivanovic approached the chair umpire, Felix Torralba, and told him, "I think he's my coach."

The players stayed on the court for several minutes, during which Ivanovic cast several worried glances at her box. As medics continued to attend to Sears, play was indefinitely suspended. Ivanovic appeared near tears as she left the court.

The word that medical staff members attending to Sears relayed to the players' teams was positive — in the ambulance en route to a nearby hospital, he was conscious, alert and sitting upright.

Stadium announcer Craig Willis told the Rod Laver Arena 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 okay."

Andy Murray, Sears' son-in-law, was playing his own third-round match against Joao Sousa in the adjacent Margaret Court Arena when Sears collapsed, though he was presumably unaware of what had happened. In Murray's box, his mother, Judy, apparently knew. She sat stone-faced, though she checked her phone during changeovers.

Any sign of distress from his mother likely would have bothered No. 2 seed Murray, who won 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Kim Murray, his wife and Sears' daughter, is home in Britain, more than eight months pregnant with their first child.

"I do jump every time I get a phone call in case it is news about the baby," Murray had written in his "as-told-to" column for the Age, a Melbourne newspaper.

Ivanovic and Keys resumed play after the update about Sears. Keys won the second set 6-4 to force a third set. Ivanovic led the final set 3-0, but Keys won six of the next seven games to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Murray was not required by tournament organizers to stay on the court for the winner's interview. Ivanovic and Keys were also allowed to skip their postmatch media obligations.

Andy Murray's brother Jamie told reporters that Sears was "conscious, talking and sitting up."

Six-time and defending women's champion Serena Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Margarita Gasparyan in 55 minutes. Williams lost her service in the opening game but quickly found her groove to set up a rematch of last year's final with Maria Sharapova, who defeated Belinda Bencic in the preceding match.

Williams has beaten Sharapova in 18 of 20 matches and hasn't lost to her since 2004.

Sharapova, the No. 5 seed, won 7-5, 7-5 but needed 2 hours, 5 minutes to advance.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, the women's 14th seed, beat qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1. Azarenka is emerging 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. Azarenka will next play 48th-ranked Barbora Strycova, who upset 2015 Wimbledon finalist Muguruza 6-3, 6-2.

No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori was the first male player through to the quarterfinals, beating No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Milos Raonic dedicated his third-round victory 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. Raonic next faces Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian and 2015 French Open champion, who defeated Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

No. 8 seed David Ferrer overwhelmed Steve Johnson 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting with another American in the next round, No. 10 John Isner, who fired 44 aces to knock off Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4.

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