Wildfires Causing Hazardous Air Conditions, Breathing Problems as Australian Open Begins

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Air conditions in Melbourne, Australia have been considered hazardous and delayed play on the first day of qualifying matches during the Australian Open. Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic went into a coughing fit during her match against Switzerland's Stefanie Vögele and was forced to retire despite leading through two sets.

"I was really scared that I would collapse," she said, according to The Guardian. "That's why I went on to the floor because I couldn't walk anymore. I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems."

Eugenie Bouchard won her match against You Xiaodi in three sets but had to overcome chest pains that she described as "spikes in her lungs," according to The New York Times.

The Wildfires remain an issue in Victoria's east and in southern New South Wales. The EPA categorized the air quality as "very poor." Residents have been told to stay indoors and keep windows shut.

A match between Russian star Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegmund of Germany was called off due to smoke.

Tennis Australia's chief operating officer Tom Larner has said that they will treat any suspension of play like a weather delay due to rain or heat. Once conditions are deemed safe, players will resume play on the court. Organizers changed the rules on suspensions and breaks due to hot conditions in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.