Tennis player collapses in 'disgraceful' Australian Open drama

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.

Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic is pictured shortly before retiring from the Australian Open qualifying tournament, after suffering a coughing fit.
Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her round one Australian Open qualifying match, after suffering a nasty coughing fit believed to be due to bushfire smoke engulfing Melbourne on Monday. Picture: Twitter/@simonrbriggs

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.

"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.