January 14, 2020
A Tennis player was forced to quit her match in the Australian Open qualifiers after poor air quality caused by huge bushfires left her “scared I would collapse”. 
Dalila Jakupovic Quits Australia Open Qualifier As Bushfires Choke Melbourne
Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was leading Stefanie Vogele 6-4 5-6 at Melbourne Park on Tuesday when she slumped to her knees suffering breathing difficulties.
Huge fires have swept across Australia in recent months, killing 28 people, making thousands homeless and scorching 27.7m acres of land – almost half the area of the UK.
Jakupovic told reporters she was fighting for breath. “I never experienced something like this and I was really scared,” the 28-year-old said.
“I was scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went on the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore. When I was on the ground it was easier to get some air.”
Her decision to quit the match came just hours after tournament organisers defended the decision to go ahead with the qualifiers, which were initially delayed because of the poor air. 
One Melbourne resident tweeted a photo of the smoky air in the city on Tuesday, writing: “I can see the #AusOpen from my office window. 
“It’s hard to believe that players are even attempting to compete in these conditions.”I can see the #AusOpen from my office window. It's hard to believe that players are even attempting to compete in these conditions. #melbournesmokepic.twitter.com/nbzP61VZik— Kathy Mak (@KathyMaky) January 14, 2020Visibility is horrible and you can taste the smoke in the air in Melbourne. A global ranking website rated us as having the second worst air quality in the world at one point overnight. ⁦@abcmelbourne⁩ ⁦@abcnews⁩ ⁦@BreakfastNews⁩ pic.twitter.com/VAJpgogDta— Stephanie Ferrier (@FerrierSteph) January 13, 2020A warmup match between former world number one Maria Sharapova and Germany’s Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne was also abandoned on Tuesday after both players complained about the air. 
Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova said she felt a cough coming on in the second set.
“After two and a half hours that was the right call for me. I think both of us felt it,” she told reporters.
The pollution prompted warnings from Victoria state’s environment watchdog for people to stay indoors, bring pets inside and shut windows.
Meanwhile, a horse-racing event was cancelled and construction workers downed tools for the day. However, governing body Tennis Australia said early on Tuesday that “conditions onsite [were] improving” at Melbourne Park.
Authorities expect the smoke to linger until Wednesday, when afternoon showers are forecast.
Bushfire smoke has affected a number of elite sporting competitions involving football, rugby league and cricket, and the pollution has raised safety fears at tennis’s first Grand Slam of the year.Related... These Are Some Of The Australian Animals Hit Hardest By Wildfires The World’s Oceans Were The Hottest In Recorded History In 2019
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