Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
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Australian Open qualifying begins despite poor air quality

Australian Open qualifying begins despite poor air quality

Concerns have been raised on the opening qualifying day at the 2020 Australian Open over unhealthy and hazardous conditions, after several players experienced breathing difficulties during their matches on Tuesday.

Dalila Jakupovic was leading her round one Open qualifying match against Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing fit.

The city skyline disappeared in a haze of bushfire smoke overnight as Melbourne suffered its lowest air-quality rating since records began.

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

"I had been inside from 10 o'clock for three hours and, because they had chose to go ahead, I thought it would have cleared up a lot".

Melbourne reportedly had the worst air quality in the world today, a title that has also been bestowed on Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra in the last few months. "Both players are feeling the smoke so we are going to stop the match", the umpire had announced of the match between Sharapova, and German player Laura Siegemund.

It's an obvious concern with the world's eyes set to be glued on Melbourne during the two-week championship from Monday when thousands of worldwide and Australian tennis fans will also throng to the precinct.

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

Organizers said further decisions on match scheduling would be made using onsite data and in close consultation with its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology, and scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency in Victoria state.

The EPA's air quality controller Jason Choi told state radio the smoke would likely linger until Wednesday when afternoon showers were forecast.

Poor air quality following ongoing wildfires in the country has impacted a number of players and caused delays to the qualifying stages of the competition.

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