Coughing fit from bushfire smoke forces Australian Open player to forfeit match

Ross Houston
January 15, 2020

Jakupovic was leading her Round 1 Open qualifying match against Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing fit.

The Australian Open officially kicks off on January 20.

"So I called the physio [therapist] on the court and I was getting better". I never experienced something like this and I was really scared. "I was surprised. I thought we would not be playing today, but we don't have much choice". "I couldn't stand up".

Tennis Australia says it will continue to work with their medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and Environment Protection Authority Victoria scientists when making decisions about whether it's safe to play.

The hazy conditions were not expected to last all week in Melbourne, with a change in wind direction and the forecast wet weather set to clear the city's air by Wednesday night.

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

While TA has said they were consulting experts, Victoria state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the governing body should establish a proper air quality policy along with its existing extreme heat policy to determine whether conditions are fit for play.

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.

Air pollution was at hazardous levels across the city due to thick bushfire smoke. Australian men's player Bernard Tomic complained of getting exhausted easily and breathing difficulty.

The hazardous air quality also coincided with the start of the Australian Open qualifiers, with the first round of matches delayed.

Canadian women's player Eugenie Bouchard took a medical timeout during her qualifying match. Sharapova and Siegmund complained to the chair umpire before the match was abandoned.

"Why do we need to wait for something bad to happen to do an action", she tweeted.

"When we find doctors who say that playing at 45 degrees is not risky at the AO and referees who say that the wet grass is not slippery at Wimbledon, we must be able to find an expert who certifies that the air quality is sufficient right?"

The Victorian government's advice as Australia's bushfires rage on is to "minimize the time spent in smoky conditions" and "avoid exercise"-both tough to do if you're competing outdoors in the Australian Open".

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