A crowd of spectators have been left stunned after a tennis player broke down in tears as he was forced to retire due to suspected heart problems – but was immediately comforted by his opponent in a moving embrace.
Canadian player Felix Auger-Aliassime, 18, appeared inconsolable as he confirmed he would have to retire from the first round match against fellow Canadian and friend Denis Shapovalov.
According to Seven Sport, teen Auger-Aliassime had previously called the doctor on to the court after appearing to clutch at his heart and struggle with his breathing. He was pictured lying on the floor in clear distress as he battled the hot day in New York.
However, despite being his opponent at the time, Shapovalov instead stepped up as a loyal friend as he encouraged him to continue playing.
“Just try your best, keep going,” Shapovalov is claimed to have told him.
It worked and brave Auger-Aliassime carried on playing, however the pain became too much when he landed 4-1 down in the third set. Breaking down into sobs, he approached his friend at the net and admitted his heart was racing and he’d have to pull out.
In yet another incredible act of sportsmanship, Shapovalov grabbed hold of him and embraced him, before saying: “You played a f***ing great match.”
Speaking afterwards, Shapovalov told reporters: “It’s actually really tough to see him going out like this… I told him at the net we’re going to be back here, we’re going to play so many of these.”
Reporters and spectators watching the match flooded social media with praise for the moving act on the court, with one writing: “The genuine care and concern from Shapovalov as he talked about his friend Felix after that match is something I won’t forget for a long time.”
Another added: “Down 5-7, 7-5, 1-4 to Shapovalov, Auger Aliassime retires in tears. Hugs Denis. Horrendous moment.”
And one wrote: “Many a #USOpen to come for the 18-year-old, but still a horrible way to bow out…”
Seven Sports claims Auger-Aliassime has had problems with his heart in the past and was previously diagnosed with tachycardia – known to occur when the heart rate shoots too high. That incident in 2017 forced him to retire from a Challenger event in Guadeloupe.