The Australian Open 2020 is about to start in four days. Like every year, this year’s Australian Open promises a lot of action on the field as several star players compete to kick off their calendar year with a major title under their belt.
However, this time around, the first Grand Slam of the year is going to start under a cloud of uncertainty due to the catastrophic bushfires in Australia, which in turn has affected the overall air quality in Melbourne as well.
And today, we bring you a list of five players who have shown their resentment over the authorities’ decision to go ahead with the competition despite facing not-so-ideal conditions.
Dalila Jakupovic (Slovenia)
Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic is perhaps the most affected tennis player at the Australian Open 2020 so far because of the air pollution in Melbourne. The 28-year-old had to retire during the qualifiers against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele after getting down on her knees due to difficulty in breathing during the match. After the match, Jakupovic expressed how difficult it was to play in the scorching heat along with polluted air conditions in Melbourne.
“It was very hard for me to breathe for the whole match,” said Jakupovic while talking to CNN as quoted by Fox61.com. “After 20 minutes I already had difficulties. I wasn’t able to make more than three shots running left and right because I was already getting an asthma attack. I don’t have asthma normally. I just couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk so I just went down (onto the floor) because I couldn’t stand up straight. After that, I had a panic attack because I couldn’t get air. It was very hard, I have to say. It was one of my hardest matches.”
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
World number 5 Elina Svitolina is the most top-seeded women’s tennis player to have raised her voice regarding the seriousness of the matter. The 25-year-old, who is yet to win a Grand Slam in her career, has expressed her concerns through her official Twitter account where she stated: “Why do we need to wait for something bad to happen to do an action.”
Gilles Simon (France)
Veteran French tennis star Gilles Simon is another player who raised his voice over the conditions in Melbourne. The 35-year-old is not taking part in the competition but expressed his opinion through a message on his official Twitter account where he stated: “When we have doctors who state that playing in 45 degrees isn’t dangerous at the Australian Open and referees who state that wet grass isn’t slippery at Wimbledon, we must be able to find an expert who can certify that the air quality is sufficient, no?”
Liam Broady (Great Britain)
Britain’s Liam Broady has also criticised the authorities for making players play in conditions that are clearly far from perfect. The British number 4 lost his tie in the qualifiers against Belarusian tennis player Ilya Ivashka with a 6-3, 6-0 scoreline and expressed his anger through a screenshot of his own message which he shared on his official Twitter account on Thursday.
“The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago the more it boils my blood,” his message stated. “The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face, conditions were “playable.” Were they “healthy”? Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?”
Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is the most famous player to voice his concerns about the Australian Open 2020 due to the conditions in Melbourne. The world number 2 who is also the most successful player in the history of the competition with seven titles under his belt, said that even though it should be the last option for the organisers to delay the start of the competition due to weather conditions but also suggested that it not going to be a wrong call if the conditions are effecting health of the players.
“You have to consider it [delay] because of some extreme weather or conditions,” said Djokovic as quoted by the Guardian. “That’s probably the very, very last option. (But) if it comes down to …the conditions affecting the health of players, you have to consider it.”