Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic has said she was ‘really scared’ when she collapsed on court at the Melbourne Open.
The 28-year-old was leading her qualifying match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele on Tuesday when she collapsed to her knees in a coughing fit brought on by bushfire smoke which lingered over the city.
She retired the match and later slammed organises for making players take to the court when the air quality was the worst in the world.
Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic (pictured) has said she was ‘really scared’ when she collapsed on court at the Melbourne Open
Talking about her collapse on the Today show on Wednesday, Jakupovic said: ‘It was really scary. I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t know what to do, I had a feeling like I’m going to collapse on the court.
‘I was really scared I have to say. The whole match was tough for me to breathe, to get any air. So it was tough conditions.
‘We are used to pollution, we play in China, but this smoke is something different. We are not used to it.’
In a dig at organisers, she said: ‘We didn’t expect we would be playing yesterday when citizens were told to stay inside.’
On Tuesday Jakupovic said it was ‘not fair’ that officials asked players to take the court in those conditions.
‘It’s not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don’t have much choice.’
Slovenian player Dalila Jakupovic collapsed on the court mid-match on Tuesday after suffering a coughing fit
The 28-year-old had been a set up and one point away from a tiebreak in the second set when she suffered breathing difficulties and had to withdraw from the match
Also on Tuesday former Wimbeldon finalist Eugenie Bouchard was reported to have sought medical attention after complaining about a ‘sore chest’.
The 25-year-old Canadian, who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world, called multiple medical timeouts in her 4-6 7-6 6-1 victory of China’s Xiaodi You.
Bouchard received medical attention for about 10 minutes after winning the second-set tie-break, then taking the first game of the third.
After the opening game of the deciding set, You then asked for assistance from the trainer.
You regularly served under-arm during the third set as she struggled in the oppressive conditions.
Organisers were forced to delay the start of the qualifying tournament and suspend practice earlier as Melbourne’s air quality ranged from hazardous to poor.
Former Wimbeldon finalist Eugenie Bouchard (pictured on Tuesday) was also reported to have sought medical attention after complaining about a ‘sore chest’
Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova’s (pictured on Tuesday) Kooyong Classic match was called off late in the second set as she struggled in the heat and smokey conditions
Play eventually got underway at 11am – an hour later than scheduled – after the city’s air was the worst quality in the world overnight because of the bushfires in the state’s east.
Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova’s Kooyong Classic match was called off late in the second set as she struggled in the heat and smokey conditions.
Taking on German Laura Siegemund in the Australian Open warm-up tournament, the players and officials decided to stop play at 5-5 in the second set.
World No.72 Siegemund had won the first set 7-6 (7-4).
The umpire said the conditions were behind the call to stop play after almost two and a half hours.
‘Both players are feeling the smoke so we are going to stop the match at this point,’ the umpire announced.
The first day of qualifying was delayed and practice suspended as Melbourne’s air quality ranged from hazardous to poor on Tuesday morning
A general view of Rod Laver Arena with the city shrouded in smoke in the background ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park
Despite the decision, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Croatian Borna Coric began to warm up for their Kooyong match.
Thick smoke stretched from fire-ravaged Gippsland, past Melbourne to Geelong, with hazardous air quality across most of the state on Tuesday.
‘Overnight for Melbourne it did reach the worst in the world,’ the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
Vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions were told to stay inside.
The championship starts on Monday. Thousands of international visitors and Australian tennis fans will also throng to the precinct.
Australian Open tennis organisers forced to suspend practice and postpone the start of the qualifying tournament as heavy smoke from Victoria’s bushfires blankets Melbourne Park