Debate continues to rage after poor air quality disrupts second day of Australian Open qualifying
The Australian Open continued to bat away controversy as poor air quality disrupted a second day of qualifying in Melbourne.
Tournament organisers came in for heavy criticism after beginning matches only an hour later than scheduled on Tuesday and playing through the day despite conditions indicating a danger to health.
Several players complained of breathing issues, with Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic retiring during her first-round match after collapsing on court.
Melbourne again woke up to a smoky haze from the bush fires that have devastated parts of the country and continue to burn out of control.
This time organisers pushed back the start by three hours to 1pm when, although the air quality index continued to show conditions as “unhealthy”, the sky was noticeably clearer.
The main challenge for the players was stifling heat, although that was broken by a fierce thunderstorm that hit Melbourne Park late in the afternoon and sent players scurrying for the locker rooms.
The Australian Open has a scale for determining when play should be suspended because of heat but has not announced what parameters it is working to regarding air quality.
The chief health officer for the state of Victoria, Dr Brett Sutton, called for that to change on Wednesday, telling local media: “Tennis Australia needs to work up an air quality policy.
“I can’t make a call on what individual thresholds might be, it really does depend on what it might mean to enclose a space and what filtration systems they might have as alternatives.
“But I think they need to consider through all those thresholds, from poor to hazardous air quality, what their alternatives might be with a view to protecting as many players as possible.”
In the lead-up to the event, tournament director Craig Tiley said strategies were being considered, including playing matches indoors, with three roofed stadia at Melbourne Park and eight indoor courts at Melbourne Park National Tennis Centre to call upon if required.
A statement on Wednesday read: “Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored and further decisions will be made using the onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria.
“The onsite data and measurements early this morning were similar to yesterday, when practice and play were suspended and delayed. Conditions yesterday were forecast to improve throughout the day, which is what occurred.”
The latest problem to affect qualifying though is rain and organisers were forced to call off qualifying play for the day because of it, with more forecast tomorrow.
Rafael Nadal on crutches as he gives first fitness update since ending 2021 season early
Rafael Nadal will be out of action for “some weeks”.
Novak Djokovic hoping his ‘never-die-spirit’ will carry him to record Calendar Grand Slam
Victory would move Novak Djokovic one Slam title clear of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
WATCH: The 53-shot rally that summed up stunning Novak Djokovic v Alexander Zverev US Open match
The 53-shot exchange was a highlight that brought the New York crowd to their feet.
Early video footage of Emma Raducanu highlights her prodigious talents
Emma Raducanu has become a quickfire sensation in the tennis world.
Marion Bartoli on Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez: ‘They’re going to win multiple Grand Slams’
The former Wimbledon champion has backed the Briton to reach the top of the game.
Network UK TV coverage for Emma Raducanu’s US Open final as Channel 4 steps in
A deal with Amazon Prime is understood to be seven figures.
Novak Djokovic: ‘I’m going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career’
Novak Djokovic is one victory away from a record 21st title.
Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka highlight ‘fearless’ Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez’s key qualities
Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka on the two teen sensations.
US Open day 12: Novak Djokovic on the brink of history, royal well wishes for Emma Raducanu and more
The story of the 12th day of action from Flushing Meadows.
Emma Raducanu to face Leylah Fernandez as both bid for teenage dream US Open win
It’s Emma Raducanu vs Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final.