Australian Open qualifying delayed, Jakupovic suffers coughing fit

Poor air quality in Melbourne has already impacted the Australian Open, where qualifying is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

"Practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality," an official statement said on Tuesday.   -  Getty Images

Australian Open qualifying was delayed on Tuesday due to poor air quality as smoke from bushfires in Australia impacted Melbourne. Play was due to get underway at 10:00 local time (23:00 GMT), but thick smoke blanketed Melbourne, leading to it being pushed back by an hour.

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months and there have been concerns over player and spectator welfare at the year's first grand slam, with the main draw beginning on Monday. The poor air quality has already impacted the event, with the Australian Open announcing practice had also been suspended during the morning on Tuesday.

READ | Sharapova's match at Kooyong abandoned due to smog

"Practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality," a statement read.

"Qualifying matches will begin at 11am. Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored. Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria. As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority."

Air quality in Melbourne has been in the 'hazardous' and 'very poor' range since midnight local time (13:00 GMT) in readings provided by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

- I just couldn't breathe anymore – Jakupovic quits Australian Open qualifier amid bushfire smoke -

A tennis player who abandoned her Australian Open qualifying match amid the bushfire smoke in Melbourne feared she would collapse on the court. Dalila Jakupovic was a set to the good against Stefanie Vogele when the Slovenian suffered a coughing fit, eventually dropping to her knees and requiring assistance.

 

She was taken off the court and, speaking after the match was called off, the world number 180 expressed her surprise that it even went ahead, given the poor air quality. "I was really scared that I would collapse," she said.

"That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk anymore. I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat. The physio came again and I thought it would be better.

"But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn't breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor. It's not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing but we don't have much choice."

  Dugout videos