Maria Sharapova quits mid-match amid smoke haze havoc in Melbourne

The bushfire smoke blanketing Melbourne has wreaked havoc on the lead-up tournaments for the Australian Open, with players at both the grand slam qualifiers and Kooyong Classic visibly affected by the conditions.

Maria Sharapova and Germany’s Laura Siegemund called off their Kooyong Classic match with the former up 7-6, 5-5.

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The news came shortly after Slovenian hopeful Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her first round Australian Open qualifier in Melbourne, after suffering a coughing fit on the court.

Jakupovic had been winning her qualifying match before she appeared to collapse.

Both Sharapova and Siegemund reported feeling the onset of coughing fits and breathing issues as a result of the smoke, citing that as the reason for calling off the match.

Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard, pictured left and right, both felt the effects of bushfire smoke while playing ahead of the Australian Open next week.
Maria Sharapova called off her first-round match at the Kooyong Classic citing bushfire smoke as the reason, while Canada's Eugenie Bouchard also appeared to be affected during her match at the Australian Open qualifiers. Pictures: Getty Images/Channel 9

“When I heard Laura speak to the umpire and said she was struggling with it as well, I was like ok, thankfully I'm not the only one,” Sharapova told media after the match.

Siegemund was of a similar opinion to her opponent, saying there was no doubt the smoke haze had affected her.

“It certainly doesn't feel like it's the healthiest conditions to play in,” she said.

Eugenie Bouchard calls for medical timeout in Aus Open qualifiers

Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard was forced to take a lengthy medical time out in her Australian Open qualifying match against China’s Xiaodi You on Monday.

The former world no.5 called for the break after complaining of a sore chest, and was escorted from the court into the rooms in the arms of doctors a short time after.

Spectators took to Twitter, noting that both Bouchard and You seemed to be struggling as they entered the third set of what was shaping up to be a marathon clash.

You had even resorted to serving underarm once the match resumed, indicating the toll the lengthy match was taking on both players.

The Chinese contender had called for a medical timeout of her own late in the second set, and was even called for a foot fault on her underarm serve once the third set was underway.

Bouchard eventually prevailed over You, claiming a 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 victory to move into the second round of qualifying.