An Australian Open hopeful has been forced to withdraw from the qualifiers this week, after suffering a coughing fit on court believed to be due to the bushfire smoke engulfing Melbourne.
Fans took to Twitter when Dalila Jakupovic, who had won the first set and was nearing a tiebreak in the second, appeared to collapse at the back of the court in her match against Stefanie Vogel.
Jakupovic appeared to suffer a serious coughing fit, which soon forced her to retire from the match.
Questions were raised about whether or not the qualifiers should commence on Monday, after the City of Melbourne issued a warning to residents to stay indoors due to the conditions.
Tennis Australia issued a statement in which the said conditions were improving and would continue to be monitored, which was received poorly by players.
Advice from the EPA for Melburnians is to stay indoors, keep windows and doors shut, and leave pets inside.
Fans took to Twitter soon after the Slovenian hopeful collapsed, with many extremely critical of the decision to push ahead with some scheduled matches.
Awful to watch. Jakupovic one set up and one point away from a tiebreak in the second set when she collapsed to her knees at the back of the court... https://t.co/6ctjghm68x— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) January 14, 2020
Apparently, Jakupovic had an injury/ illness concern coming into the match. Had spoken to doctors prior to taking to the court.— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 14, 2020
Given she had to turn to her inhaler during the match, there’s little doubt the smoke haze would’ve been a contributing factor to her retirement. https://t.co/F7fBiVkJ49
Scoreboard telling of the Australian Open’s first retirement, Dalila Jakupovic. Behind scoreboard you get an idea of the air quality, which seems to have deteriorated in past hour. pic.twitter.com/1htPVZrB6X— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) January 14, 2020
Indefensible choice to play the matches outside today— Tyler Park (@ty_park8) January 14, 2020
"Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored," a Tennis Australia statement read.
"Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from the EPA.
"As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority."
Other warm-up tournaments at risk from smoke
Organisers of the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne are also keeping an eye on conditions but expect play to start at the scheduled time of 1pm with the air expected to become clearer.
"The health and safety of the players, spectators and all in involved in the Kooyong Classic event is paramount," tournament director Peter Johnston said.
Twenty-two Australians are taking part in Open qualifying, including former world No.17 Bernard Tomic.
The world No.182 is drawn to play American Denis Kudla on Tuesday.
Tomic recorded just seven wins at ATP level in 2019 - none at the slams - and hasn't played a tournament since a first-round loss to Dan Evans in Stockholm in October.