on air now

Doctor slams ‘irresponsible’ decision not to call off Australian Open qualifiers despite smoke haze

Hazardous air quality across Melbourne has wreaked havoc at the first day of the Australian Open qualifying matches and the Kooyong Classic.

Smoky air forced Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic to retire during her Australian Open qualifying match at Melbourne Park.

Ms Jakupovic suffered a coughing fit on court, requiring medical attention.

Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard also required medical attention after complaining of a sore chest during her qualifying match. Ms Bouchard managed to return to the court and went on to win her match.

Bernard Tomic also had to see a tournament doctor after struggling to breathe during a match.

Across town, the first game of the Kooyong Classic was called off mid-match due to the oppressive smoke haze.

The match between Russian, Maria Sharapova, and German, Laura Siegemund, was declared a draw after more than two hours of play.

“Both players are feeling the smoke so we are going to stop the match,” the umpire announced.

Sports physician Dr Peter Brukner said he believes play should’ve been called off.

“When it [the air] gets to the hazardous stage … then to be playing sport at a high level in those conditions is irresponsible,” he told Sportsday.

“We have a duty to protect our sportspeople and our athletes, and I think this is one situation where we have to make the hard decision.

“I know it’s inconvenient … but I think it probably should have been cancelled.”

There are fears the start of the Australian Open next week will be impacted by poor air quality from the bushfires.

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Image: Mike Owen/Stringer