Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Sport | By

Bernard Tomic struggles to breathe in Australian Open qualifying loss

After not receiving a wildcard entry, Tomic was forced to go through the qualifying route to book a spot in the main draw of the 2020 Australian Open, however the Queenslander lost his match 7-6, 6-3.

The Solvenian 28-year-old was one set up and one point away from forcing a tiebreaker in the second set of her qualifier against Stefanie Voegele when she fell to her knees in a coughing fit while experiencing breathing difficulties.

Australian Open officials had previously halted practice sessions and qualifying matchups due to the air quality in Melbourne, which has been hovering between "hazardous" and "very unhealthy" levels ever since the blanket of smoke settled across the city last night.

Victoria's Environment Protection Authority had warned that air quality in the state - of which Melbourne is the capital - would range from moderate to hazardous because of wildfires that have been raging for months both in Victoria and the neighbouring state of New South Wales.

"Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored", a Tennis Australia spokeswoman said.

Australian Open men's champion Novak Djokovic expressed concern earlier this month that bushfire smoke might cause some health problems for players.

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

The umpire said the conditions were behind the call to stop play after nearly two and a half hours.

"We have now real-time raw data that we can collect - we have installed measuring devices on-site for air quality".

Her retirement came only hours after tournament director Craig Tiley defended the decision to proceed with qualifiers after they were initially delayed due to poor air quality.

Former world number Maria Sharapova also struggled in the heat and smoke, with her Kooyong Classic match called off late in the second set.

"Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain".

"We will stop if conditions become unsafe based on medical advice", he said.

"Avoid being outside in the smoke or dust".

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