The Australian Open organisers have come under scrutiny from fans and players alike as play continues in qualifying despite the air quality index in Melbourne reading at 210 which is “very unhealthy”
Over the last week the air quality has improved with it being in a “hazardous” level however advice from City of Melbourne is to still stay indoors:
The question is, how is play still underway at Melbourne Park?
A contingency plan would have been to move matches indoors to the National Tennis Centre which is on site as they have the room but this has not happened and players and fans aren’t happy.
A sad story from qualifying today.
Just after 3 o clock this morning Dalila Jakupovic was up a set at 6-4 and about to go into a second set tie-break when she collapsed to the ground suffering with a coughing fit and breathing problems. Due to this, Dalila had to retire from the match she was playing in “very unhealthy” air quality!
This is a video of the Jakupovic sadly having to retire and was in tears as she left the court:
When Dalila came to press, she had this to say.
Almost four hours later there has yet to be a statement from organisers who did say in a message about delaying start times from 10am to 11am:
“As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority.”
Down the road at the Kooyong Classic exhibition between Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund the two after playing two sets decided to call it a day and end the match there due to the air quality in Melbourne.
Players have come out in criticism of playing in these conditions at Melbourne Park right now.
Mandy Minella from Luxembourg asked the question today on social media, what is the rush to play qualifying? Forecast shows rain is due in Melbourne and the air quality is set to improve over the coming days. Australian Open doesn’t begin until Monday and always leaves prior Saturday and Sunday free with no tennis on site but a 48 hour pushback would help players.
Gilles Simon has taken a sarcastic swipe at a few organisations saying if we can find doctors who say 45 degrees is fine to play in and slippy wet grass at Wimbledon is fine then there’s surely someone who can say air quality is sufficient.
Elina Svitolina is the most high profile player who has asked the question on social media:
Sadly, I can’t see a change happening, with the air quality and rain due I’d expect them to ride this one out but the way this has been dealt with is shambolic.
I am interested to see if the WTA comment on what has happened to Dalila Jakupovic today in Melbourne having potentially been 10 minutes away from the next round of qualifying. It will be interesting to see if the ITF get involved but the one who should have released a statement is Tennis Australia.