Australian Open qualifying player collapses on court as bushfire smoke chokes Melbourne

Ruben Hill
January 14, 2020

In distressing scenes this afternoon, a player competing in the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open has had to withdraw from the tournament after suffering a coughing fit brought on by the shocking air quality in Melbourne today as a blanket of bushfire smoke continues to linger across the city. "That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk anymore", Jakupovic said.

"I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems".

However, Jakupovic said it was "not fair" that officials asked players to take the court in those conditions. I actually like heat.

"The physio came again and I thought it would be better".

"It's not healthy for us", she said.

Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard also survived a gruelling battle in Melbourne's smoke to scrape through the first round of Australian Open qualifying.

Bouchard returned to play the final set following the medical timeout, and won 4-6 7-6 6-1.

The bushfires have affected a number of elite sporting competitions involving soccer, rugby league and cricket, and poor air conditions have raised fears for players' health at tennis's first Grand Slam of the year.

The smoke is also causing havoc at the Kooyong Classic just to the east of Melbourne, with the match between Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund abandoned due to the conditions.

"This morning when we got up, the smoke haze was significant".

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said when it became obvious smoke could have an impact, officials had to act for the welfare of all involved - players, fans and staff.

"We have experts who analyse all available live data as specific to our sites as possible and consult regularly with tournament officials and, in the case of heat and smoke, medical experts".

Up-to-date information can be found on the EPA's AirWatch website, which gives overall air-quality ratings, as well as the current PM2.5 level, referring to the concentration of pollutants with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres (about three per cent of a human hair) in the air.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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