Sport

Hazardous bushfire smoke over Melbourne affects Australian Open players

Hazardous bushfire smoke over Melbourne affects Australian Open players”

Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was leading 6-4, 5-6 in her qualifier against Stefanie Vogele at Melbourne Park when she slumped to her knees at the back of the blue hardcourt suffering apparent breathing difficulties.

Australian Open practice was temporarily suspended on Tuesday due to poor air quality as bushfires continued to rage across the country.

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

Melbourne reportedly had the worst air quality in the world today, a title that has also been bestowed on Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra in the last few months.

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

Siegemund had taken the first set 7-6, with the pair locked at 5-5 in the second when play was called off.

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

The world No. 180 was forced to retire midmatch at Melbourne Park on Tuesday due to the hazardous smoke lingering from bushfires in the east of the state of Victoria.

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.

Tennis Australia said onsite conditions were improving and were being constantly monitored.

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.

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

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

A tournament spokeswoman told Reuters the players had agreed to play and organizers deemed conditions safe for matches to go ahead after receiving advice from authorities.

"Avoid being outside in the smoke or dust".



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