Unhealthy air from bushfires, player collapses, Australian Open in crisis

Unhealthy air from bushfires, player collapses, Australian Open in crisis

Agency News

With a player collapsed during a practice session of Australian Open after breathing unhealthy air in Melbourne from the raging bushfires.

The player who met with a strange fate– Slovenia’s Delila Jakupovic – later spoke of her fear as she found herself unable to breathe during her first-round qualifying match. Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from the qualifiers at Melbourne Park due to the smoke, having used an inhaler - despite not having asthma - during the match. She won the first set 6-4 against Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele but retired just before sending the second set into a tiebreaker. She told reporters she was feeling the impact of the smoke during her practice session in the morning, and it only got worse during her match.

With this unfortunate incident, the Australian Open has been thrown into a crisis less than a week before it was due to start. The incident of player’s collapse has been triggered a chorus of outrage about the organisers' decision to press ahead.

Maria Sharapova called off her exhibition match after less than two sets, while Eugenie Bouchard left the court after struggling to breathe and world number five Elina Svitolina asked the authorities "why do we have to wait for something bad to happen" before they take action.

And with just five days to go until the start of the main event it has emerged that Tennis Australia's contingency plan for dealing with more bushfire smoke over the next three weeks is also being called into question.

The eight indoor courts in the National Tennis Centre(NTC) at the south-east corner of the site have been seen as a potential escape route in the case of consistently polluted conditions. But Great Britain’s Jay Clarke found the NTC courts unusable as the smoke from the bushfires found its way in through the ventilation system.