Sabalenka 'intends to play' Miami Open after death of boyfriend

Sabalenka 'intends to play' Miami Open after death of boyfriend


Aryna Sabalenka intends to play in the Miami Open this week, organisers said Tuesday.

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MIAMI (AFP) – World number two Aryna Sabalenka intends to play in the Miami Open this week, organisers said Tuesday, following the death of her boyfriend in an apparent suicide.

Belarusian former NHL ice hockey player Konstantin Koltsov died late Monday, police said, after he jumped from the balcony of a room in an upmarket resort in Miami. He was 42.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Sabalenka arrived to practice at the Miami Open venue at Hard Rock Stadium early on Tuesday afternoon and later organisers said she had not asked to withdraw and was "intending to play."

The 25-year-old from Minsk, who won the Australian Open in 2023 and retained her Melbourne title earlier this year, is due to face Spain's Paola Badosa in the second round.

Miami-Dade police spokesman Argemis Colome said in an email that on Monday at 12:39 a.m. (0439 GMT), police "were dispatched to the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, in reference to a male that jumped from a balcony.

"The Miami-Dade Police Department, Homicide Bureau, responded and has taken over the investigation of the apparent suicide of Mr. Konstantin Koltsov. No foul play is suspected."

Bal Harbour is a high-end district in the northern part of Miami Beach, known for a luxury shopping mall and plush accommodations.

Sabalenka frequently trains out of Miami and keeps a residence in the city.

American Jessica Pegula said that the players were aware of the tragic news and offering support to Sabalenka.

"I think all of us all heard about it last night and then obviously there's more news about it this morning, which was just really horrible," she told reporters.

"All you can do is really offer support for however she wants to deal with it. You never know how someone is going to take it or how they want to grieve and everyone's so different.

"So I think the best you can really do is just offer support. And you know, that's really comforting. I hope for her to know, that even though we're all competitors and we're on kind of the stage where we're trying to beat each other, at the same time, we're still somewhat of a family," she added.

Koltsov's death had earlier been confirmed by the Belarus hockey federation.

"We are in mourning," the federation said on its website.

"The Belarusian Hockey Federation expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and everyone who knew and worked with Konstantin."

Koltsov's playing career included a stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL, where he made 144 appearances between 2003 and 2006.

"The Penguins extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Penguins forward, Konstantin Koltsov," the team said in a statement.

He also played for Belarus at two Winter Olympic Games -- Salt Lake City in 2002 and Vancouver in 2010 -- as well as nine world championships.

He had three children with his wife Julia, whom he divorced in 2020 before he began a relationship with Sabalenka.