Australian Open tennis: Bushfire smoke interrupts practice

Thick smoke has shrouded Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park

Thick smoke has shrouded Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park

She said: "I was really scared that I would collapse. That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk anymore", Jakupovic said.

It advises staying indoors, if possible, closing windows and doors, visiting air-conditioned public spaces such as libraries and shopping centres, following asthma and other respiratory-health plans, and speaking to a doctor or nurse if you experience difficulty breathing or a tightness in your chest. I actually like heat. "I think both of us felt it", Sharapova told reporters.

Jakupovic said it was "not fair" that officials asked players to take the court in those conditions.

"It's not healthy for us", she said. I warmed up and then I was most surprised by how bad it still was when I was walking out to the court.

Poor air quality caused by ongoing bushfires has forced one player to retire from her match and delays during qualifications at the Australian Open.

Melburnians are enduring some of the worst air quality in the world today and it's now taking its toll on elite athletes.

It's an obvious concern with the world's eyes set to be glued on Melbourne during the two-week championship, scheduled to begin Monday.

It's an obvious concern with the world's eyes set to be glued on Melbourne during the two-week championship from Monday when thousands of worldwide and Australian tennis fans will also throng to the precinct.

The central business district, close to where Melbourne Park is located, recorded overnight hazardous levels of fine particles in the air and the EPA categorised the air quality as "very poor".

"During the period of when we suspended practice and restarted the matches there was an improvement in the conditions".

"We have now real time raw data that we can collect - we have installed measuring devices on-site for air quality".

Meanwhile, at the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Melbourne, former world number one Maria Sharapova struggled in the heat and smoke and her match against Laura Siegemund was called off late in the second set. "They are obviously tracking the situation every day as it is evolving", said Djokovic, who is also the ATP Player Council president.

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