Smoke plays havoc as Australian Open qualifier suffers coughing fit

  • Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic suffers breathing difficulties
  • Match at Kooyong involving Maria Sharapova abandoned

The safety of players at this year’s Australian Open has been brought into sharp focus after a day of poor air quality in Melbourne forced the abandonment of the former world No 1 Maria Sharapova’s match in a warm-up event at Kooyong. Another player, Dalila Jakupovic, collapsed on court at Melbourne Park in jarring scenes at the venue for the year’s first grand slam.

Jakupovic was forced to retire midway through her qualifying match when she suffered a coughing fit. The match had been given the green light to go ahead by tournament organisers after the day’s play had initially been delayed for an hour due to the blanket of bushfire smoke enveloping Melbourne on Tuesday.

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