Hazardous bushfire smoke over Melbourne affects Australian Open players

Ross Houston
January 14, 2020

But that's what players were forced to contend with Monday during the tennis tourney at Melbourne Park, and several of them struggled to make it through their matches in Melbourne enveloped in the hazy air.

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

Polluted air caused by the bushfires raging across the country meant practice sessions were halted on Tuesday ahead of next week's Australian Open, the first Grand Slam in the tennis calendar.

The City of Melbourne issued warnings to its citizens and their pets to stay inside wherever possible.

"Both players are feeling the smoke so we are going to stop the match at this point", the umpire said.

Melburnians are enduring some of the worst air quality in the world today and it's now taking its toll on elite athletes.

Melbourne started the day with hazardous air pollution as smoke from wildfires in Victoria's east and in southern New South Wales state drifted through.

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 global and Australian tennis fans will also throng to the precinct.

Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard also complained about the poor air quality, which she claimed only worsened during the match. TA said it will work with its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Environment Protection Authority Victoria scientists when making decisions about whether it's healthy to play.

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.

TA chief operating officer Tom Larner said any smoke stoppages would be treated in the same way as an extreme heat or rain delay.

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