Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Australian Open qualifying player collapses on court as bushfire smoke chokes Melbourne

Australian Open qualifying player collapses on court as bushfire smoke chokes Melbourne

"I just can't breathe", Tomic said, as he tried to take in big gasps of air.

"I think it was not fair because it's not healthy for us".

Meanwhile, at the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Melbourne, former world number one Maria Sharapova struggled in the heat and smoke and her match against Laura Siegemund was called off late in the second set. "I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don't have much choice".

The umpire in Sharapova's clash with German Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic determined the conditions were too risky to continue.

Tournament organizers said last week that play would be confined to Melbourne Park's three roofed stadiums and eight indoor courts in the "unlikely case of extreme smoke conditions".

Tennis isn't the only sport being halted by bushfire smoke, Australia's elite rowers who are training for the Olympics have fled to Tasmania to escape poor air quality in Penrith and Canberra.

Players and officials made a decision to stop play at 5-5 in the second set.

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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.

"This morning when we got up, the smoke haze was significant".

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

"This is a new experience for all of us in how we manage air quality so we have to listen to the experts", Mr Tiley said.

"Assessing the likelihood of smoke-induced interruptions is a bit like how we treat heat and rain".

The central business district, close to where Melbourne Park is located, recorded overnight hazardous levels of fine particles in the air and the EPA categorised the air quality as "very poor".

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