Bushfire smoke concerns players as Australian Open 2020 edges closer

Australian Open 2020 qualifiers kicked off earlier today (14th January) but the conditions in Melbourne because of widespread bushfires in the country have attracted more attention than the on-court action. Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic had to retire from the tournament due to poor air quality in the city.

Multiple players were affected by the poor air conditions in Melbourne because of the widespread bushfires in Australia. While Jakupovic had to retire following a coughing fit, a lot of other players felt the effect of the air quality and made their displeasure known to the world.

Here’s what some of the Australian Open 2020 participant players had to say about the conditions on the first day of the Grand Slam.

Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic: “I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore. It’s not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don’t have much choice.”

Maria Sharapova was up against Germany’s Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament in Melbourne but their match was ultimately suspended while it was in its third set.

“We played over two hours and I actually started feeling a little bit of a cough coming up to the end of the second set. But I’ve been sick for a few weeks so I thought it was something to do with that.” Sharapova told SBS.

“When I heard Laura speak to the umpire and said she was struggling with it as well I was like, ‘Okay, thankfully I’m not the only one’ and then the umpire came down and said let’s just play one more game. We were out there for over two hours so I think from a health standpoint it was the right call from the officials.”

World number five Elina Svitolina:

World number 142 Mandy Minella:

World number 125 Noah Rubin: