Tennis player drops to knees as bushfires cause ‘hazardous’ air levels at Australian Open qualifier

Tennis Australia faced fierce criticism on Tuesday after a player retired with breathing difficulties and others were left “gasping for air” in the opening round of qualifying matches for the Australian Open.

Dalila Jakupovic, the world No 180 from Slovenia, was leading her match 6-4, 5-6 when she fell to her knees and told officials that she could no longer continue.

The air quality index in Melbourne on Tuesday morning was over 200 – meaning hazardous – as smoke from bushfires raging across the country blanketed Melbourne in a thick, grey haze.

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