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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020

'I just couldn’t breathe anymore' - Tennis player abandons Australian Open match played in thick smoke

Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had a coughing fit on court at Melbourne Park and was forced to retire.

Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic.
Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic.

DALILA JAKUPOVIC WAS forced to abandon her Australian Open qualifier at Melbourne Park on Tuesday after she had a coughing fit on court due to poor air conditions.

The Slovenian received medical attention after she was seen struggling on her knees during the second set of her match with Stefanie Vogele.

Smoke blanketed Melbourne on Tuesday and play at the Australian Open was delayed, with readings showing the air quality in Victoria’s capital as “very poor”.

Bushfire smoke badly interrupte first day of qualifiers as Australian Bernard Tomic and Canadian Eugienie Bouchard also required medical time outs because of breathing difficulties during their matches.

Ranked 180 in the world, Jakupovic was a set up and one point away from a tiebreak in the second set when she was forced to retire from her match.

“I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore,” Jakupovic said.

“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 anymore and I just fell on the floor.

“It’s not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don’t have much choice,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova revealed she felt a “cough coming” before her match against Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic was suspended.

As players struggled with the conditions at Melbourne Park, Sharapova also battled at nearby Kooyong before her match against Siegemund was stopped.

The Russian former world number one, who was trailing 7-6 (7-4) 5-5, said organisers made the right decision.

“We played over two hours and I actually started feeling a little bit of a cough coming up to the end of the second set,” Sharapova told SBS.

“But I’ve been sick for a few weeks so I thought it was something to do with that.

“When I heard Laura speak to the umpire and said she was struggling with it as well I was like, ‘Okay, thankfully I’m not the only one’ and then the umpire came down and said let’s just play one more game.

“We were out there for over two hours so I think from a health standpoint it was the right call from the officials.”

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months and led to concerns over the air quality at the year’s first grand slam.

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