Tennis Player Pulls Out Of Australian Open Qualifier With Coughing Fit Due To Thick Smoke
Dalila Jakupovic dropped out of the Australian Open qualifying tournament part way through her match with Stefanie Voegele after poor air quality caused her to have a severe coughing fit.
The day's play at Melbourne Park was delayed for an hour because of the 'blanket of smoke' that came over Melbourne on Tuesday morning because of the bushfires that have been tearing through Australia recently.
When play did start Jakupovic took the first set 6-4 and needed just one point to take the second set to a tie break against the qualifying tournament's 11th seed Voegele but couldn't continue after a coughing fit stopped her.
Awful scenes in Melbourne.- ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) January 14, 2020
Dalila Jakupovic has abandoned her #AusOpen qualifying match after suffering a coughing fit while playing in thick smoke caused by the #AustralianFires. pic.twitter.com/WAJv6TzTjW
The Slovenian needed medical attention and was helped off court by officials, handing victory to her Swiss opponent.
After the match she confirmed she'd never suffered from asthma or other issues with her breathing, saying, "I was really scared that I would collapse. That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk any more.
"I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat. The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn't breathe any more and I just fell on the floor."
Eugenie Bouchard also struggled in her qualifier for the first Grand Slam of the tournament, although the Canadian did make it through, and called for a new rule that would stop play if the air conditions were bad, saying, "I felt like it was tough to breathe and a bit nauseous. I felt like the conditions got worse as the match went on...but I was out there for a long time.
"As an athlete we want to be very careful, our physical health is one of the most important things. It's not ideal to play in these conditions. Just like the heat rule, there should be an air quality rule.
Tennis Australia boss Tom Larner did say that players would be taken off if conditions were deemed to be unsafe, "We're treating any suspension of play like a rain delay or a heat delay, in that we will stop if conditions become unsafe based on medical advice, and once those conditions are safe to play, players will get back on court."
The Australian open starts next Monday and goes on until February 2nd, organisers will be hoping for no more drop outs due to the conditions during an awful time for the country.