Slovenian tennis pro Dalila Jakupovic has decided to retire from her Australian Open qualifying match due to “unhealthy” air quality.
Dalila Jakupovic, the world number 180, retired from her qualifying match at the Australian Open due to unhealthy” air quality from ongoing bushfires in the country. Jakupovic had to assisted off court she retired at 6-5, 5-6 against Swiss Stefanie Vogele in the first round.
Jakupovic said: “It was really bad. I never experienced something like this. I was really scared I would collapse because I couldn’t walk any more.”
Because of the air quality, practice was temporarily suspended and qualifying was delayed by an hour. According to organizers, the conditions were expected to improve and would be “monitored constantly”.
Asked about the decision of organizers to push with the qualifiers, the Slovenian responded: “I think it was not fair because it’s not healthy for us. I was surprised. I thought we would not be playing today but we really don’t have much choice.”
People in Melbourne were actually advised by authorities to stay indoors and keep pets inside. Since July 1, at least 28 people have died and around 10 million hectares of land has burned.
Jakupovic added: “I’m angry and sad. I’m more sad because I had the win [in my grasp] and I just couldn’t finish it. I don’t have asthma even and I don’t have breathing problems from the heat. I was scared.”
Prior to Jakupovic’s retirement from the match, Australian Open organizers have said: “Further decisions will be made based on onsite data, and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria. As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority.”
In a similar incident, Eugenie Bouchard left the court during her qualifying match against You Xiaodi, complaining of a sore chest, but returned after a medical timeout to win 4-6, 7-6, 6-1.