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Tennis stars help in fire evacuation

ROME, May 1 (UPI) -- Reigning U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and several other top tennis players were forced to flee a Rome hotel fire that killed three people Saturday.

Roddick helped Rome firefighters evacuate guests onto the roof of the Parco dei Principi. The fire blazed through several floors of one of the Italian capital's best-known hotels, which housed players entered in next week's Italia Masters.

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None of the players was injured, but 30th-ranked Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands and Italy's Filippo Volandri were evacuated by firefighter's cranes. Former world No. 1 Marat Safin of Russia and Max Mirnyi of Belarus were among those forced to vacate the hotel before dawn.

An elderly Canadian couple perished in the blaze and an American guest died trying to lower himself to the street using a sheet, according to local news reports.

About 30 players were staying at the five-star hotel. Several of them were spotted Saturday morning in the players' lounge wrapped in blankets and wearing slippers. Only one Italian player, Giorgio Galimberti, was due to play in Saturday's qualifying event.

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