Australian Open: Hazardous air condition delays matches, restarts amid haze

WION Web Team Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Jan 14, 2020, 06.14 PM(IST)

Players Maria Sharapova of Russia (L) and Laura Siegemund of Germany (R) speak to a tournament official as their match is abandoned due to the smoke from Australia's bushfires, in Melbourne Photograph:( AFP )

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Australia Open qualifying matches were delayed due to Hazardous Air conditions. But Craig Tiley (director of the Tournament) has defended the decision to proceed with the qualifiers. 

The year's first Grand Slam started with a sheet of haze and smoke that covered Melbourne due to the Australian bushfires. 

Also read: Tennis: Federer, Williams lead way to raise funds for workers in Australia bushfires

Australia Open qualifying matches were delayed due to Hazardous Air conditions. But Craig Tiley (director of the Tournament) has defended the decision to proceed with the qualifiers. 

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A player collapsed in a coughing fit and retired from the Australian Open qualifying on Tuesday as organizers faced criticism over the matches going ahead despite Melbourne's air quality to "hazardous" levels due to the bushfires.

In pics: Global icons raise money to help rescue Australia bushfire victims

Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was leading against Swiss player Stefanie Vogele (6-4 5-6) at Melbourne Park Arena, Melbourne when she collapsed on her knees on the blue hardcourt. She was seen fighting for breath.

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The raging Australian bushfires have claimed 28 lives and destroyed nearly 11.2 million hectares of land. 

Victoria state's environment watchdogs have also flashed pollution warnings and have asked the citizens to stay indoors. 

Bushfire smoke has affected several sports involving soccer, rugby league and cricket with pollution leading to safety fears at the Australian Open.

Authorities expect the smoke to stay until Wednesday when showers in the afternoon are forecast.

Novak Djokovic expressed concern earlier this month that bushfire smoke might cause health problems for players. Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund's matchup was abandoned due to smoke. Maria Sharapova called off the match as she was unable to bear the heat and the smoke.

Tournament organizers last week said that play will be confined to indoor stadiums if the air quality deteriorates.

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A professional tennis Mandy Minella who hails from Luxembourg is competing for the qualifiers took to Twitter to express her concerns to the authorities.

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The Australian Open is scheduled to be played between January 20 to February 2.