Tennis Players Struggle to Breathe as Bushfire Smoke Affects Australian Open Qualifier

Bushfire smoke triggered “breathing difficulties” for several tennis players during an Australian Open qualifying round in Melbourne on Tuesday, January 14, local media reported.

The smoke caused Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic to cough as she sank to her knees and later withdrew from the match at Melbourne Park in Victoria, according to local media. Medical timeouts were also called for Australian Bernard Tomic and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Victoria’s Environmental Protection Agency categorized Tuesday’s air quality in Melbourne as “hazardous” and advised people in smoke-affected areas to stay indoors.

The Australian Open said on Twitter that practice was “temporarily suspended” due to poor air quality.

The video, filmed by Alex Nikolaou, shows Bouchard walking off the court.

“Kudos to Genie Bouchard. Genie wins the match especially after her respiratory episode,” Nikolaou said on Twitter.

Australian Open officials said air quality testing and a variety of experts would “continue to be consulted” when evaluating the safety of game play, according to local media. The Australian Open Championship officially begins on Monday, January 20. Credit: Alex Nikolaou via Storyful

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