Players Suffer Coughing Fits And Breathing Difficulties During Australian Open Qualifying - UBITENNIS
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Players Suffer Coughing Fits And Breathing Difficulties During Australian Open Qualifying

Serious concerns have been raised by players over the current conditions at the Melbourne grand slam.

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Organisers of the Australian Open have come under fire after opting to start the first day of the Australian Open qualifying despite air quality readings in the city being measured as ‘hazardous.’

 

Melbourne Park, which is the venue of the grand slam tournament, was surrounded by a haze on Tuesday as a result of the bushfires wrecking havoc across Australia. According to the National Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the air quality has been rated as ‘very poor’ since 5am local time. Prior to that, it had a rating of hazardous.

As a result of the conditions, there was a 90-minute delay to the start of the qualifying tournament. However, when the play got underway, some players still struggled in the conditions. The biggest victim was world No.180 Dalila Jakupovic, who was forced to retire from her match after having a coughing fit that forced her to drop to the ground. The Slovenian had a 6-4, 5-6, lead over 11th seed Stefanie Vögele before the match was halted.

“I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore,” Jakupovic told The Western Australian.
“I don’t have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat.
“The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn’t breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor.”

The former top 70 player has hit out at organisers for allowing matches to take place in the haze. Last week the Australian Open confirmed they have contingency plans in place should the air quality get dangerous. Their plans include moving matches indoors. Tennis Australian CEO Craig Tiley has stated that the health of players and fans is his ‘priority at all times.’

“It’s not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don’t have much choice.”Jakupovic stated.

Another to struggle in qualifying was Bernard Tomic, who crashed out 7-6(4), 6-3, to Denis Kudla. During the match, the Australian took a medical time out after complaining of breathing difficulties during the early stages of the second set.

“No air is going in. I’m getting tired so easy,” Tomic was heard telling medical staff.
“Is anyone else complaining today?”
“No, it’s been okay,” said the medic.

Eugenie Bouchard has insisted that there needs to be an ‘air quality rule’ implemented to protect the health of players on the tour. The former Wimbledon finalist received multiple timeouts during her match against China’s You Xiaodi, which lasted almost three hours. The Canadian prevailed 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-1.

“I felt like it was tough to breathe and a bit nauseous,” Bouchard said. “I felt like the conditions got worse as the match went on…but I was out there for a long time. As an athlete we want to be very careful, our physical health is one of the most important things. It’s not ideal to play in these conditions. Just like the heat rule, there should be an air quality rule.”

At the same time matches were played at the grand slam venue, Maria Sharapova’s clash with Laura Siegemung at the Kooyong Classic was stopped after she said she felt a cough coming on. Her opponent also struggled with the conditions. The venue of where Sharapova played her match is less than 8km away from Melbourne Park.

“I started feeling a cough coming toward the end of the second set but I’ve been sick for a few weeks so I thought that had something to do with it,” Sharapova told SBS after the match.
“But then I heard Laura speak to the umpire and she said she was struggling with it as well.
“We were out there for over two hours so from a health stand point it’s the right call from officials.”

Elina Svitolina, who will be a top five seed in the women’s draw at the Australian Open, is another player to hit out at officials. Voicing her concerns in a social media post.

https://twitter.com/ElinaSvitolina/status/1216944323004190720

Amidst the outcry from many on the tour, tournament director Tiley has insisted that enough is being done to protect the welfare of players. Telling reporters that Tennis Australia is looking at conditions on a ‘day-by-day basis.’

“We will just take it a day at a time. We have mitigating circumstances that we have put into place to protect the health and wellbeing of players. We will make any decision that we need to make relative to that.” He said.

There appears to be no let up in the current conditions. According to the EPA, the air quality will range between ‘very poor and hazardous’ on Wednesday.

Breakdown of EPA’s air quality classifications

  • Good – It’s a good day to be outside.
  • Moderate – The air quality is okay, but it could change soon. It’s okay to be outside but watch for changes in air quality around you.
  • Poor – The air is probably dusty or smoky. Sensitive groups may experience symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Very poor – The air is probably very dusty or smoky. Everyone could be experiencing symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Hazardous – The air is probably extremely dusty or smoky. Everyone could be experiencing symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath.

Grand Slam

Wimbledon Set To Change Historic All-White Dress Code Rule

The clothing policy at the the grass-court major, which dates back to the Vcitoria era, has been under increasing scruity in recent years.

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Ons Jabeur (TUN) playing against Venus Williams (USA) on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 3 Wednesday 30/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jon Super

It is understood that The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) are having discussions about making changes to its dress code following concerns from female players. 

 

The Telegraph is among a series of sources to report that organizers are speaking with the WTA about changing their policy to address players’ concerns about playing in white whilst going through their menstrual cycle. Whilst no official announcement has been made, it is underwood that there will be a relaxation on what colour underwear and bras are worn. Although the top layer of clothing must remain completely white. 

During this year’s championships, there was a protest shortly before the women’s finals called ‘Address The Dress Code.’ During an interview worth The Guardian, protesters said they wanted to highlight the anxiety women face whilst playing in their whites. 

More recently, tennis coach and former British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray told The Daily Mail that more players needed to speak out on the issue to drive a change to the policy. Murray, who is the mother of three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, has also called for the inclusion of women in the decision-making panel when it comes to these matters. 

“One of the biggest problems previously in sport was that it was always white shorts, white kit and so on in lots of different sports. Everything was white. Nearly all sports have moved over to colour now.” Said Murray. 

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point, but it would probably need more of the players to speak out openly about the trauma it can cause you, if you are wearing all white and then possibly have a leak while you’re playing. I cannot think of a much more traumatic experience than that.”

In a statement sent to The Telegraph, the AELTC confirmed that they are currently looking into making adjustments to the dress code. As it currently stands, the rule states that all players must wear almost all white whilst playing and practising at the Grand Slam. However, around the neckline and the cuff of sleeves can be in colour but no thicker than 1cm. The same applies to Caps (including the underbill), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks. 

“Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.” The AELTC said. 

The all-white policy can be traced back to the 1870s when it was widely considered that white was best at not showing sweat. During the Victorian era, it was viewed as improper to visibly sweat. The tournament has since continued with this tradition. 

Next year’s Wimbledon will begin on Monday, July 3rd. 

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ATP

Nick Kyrgios Urges Officials To Allow Djokovic To Play Australian Open

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Nick Kyrgios has lent his full support to Novak Djokovic and his bid to be allowed to return to the Australian Open next year. 

 

Nine-time champion Djokovic is currently waiting to see if government officials will waive his ban from entering the country. Earlier this year, the former world No.1 was deported from Australia following a high-profile dispute regarding the legality of his visa. Djokovic said he was told by Tennis Australia that a medical exemption would allow him entry into the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Something the border force and government deemed not to be a legitimate reason. After winning his first court case regarding the process of how his detention was handled, a second at the High Court ruled in favour of the government, who decided to deport him. 

Under Australian law, deportations such as these result in a three-year ban from returning to the country. However, Djokovic is hoping his ban will be removed by the latest administration who are said to be more sympathetic to the matter. 

Weighing in on the debate during the opening of the NBA store in Sydney, Kyrgios said it was important for the sport that the best players participate. Citing the recent retirement of Roger Federer, he argues that the remaining members of the Big Three must continue showing their presence at major events. 

I hope he is here, for the sport,” WAtoday quoted Kyrgios as saying.
“We just saw one of the legends leave the sport, Roger, and that’s going to be some shoes that no one is ever going to be able to fill.
“While Novak and Rafa [Rafael Nadal] are still around, we need these types of players. Otherwise, the people of Australia love the AO, Ash Barty brought us crowds, me and Thanasi [Kokkinakis] won it.
“We want to see the best players in the world there. Me being a competitor, I want to see Novak there.“

Djokovic’s potential presence at Melbourne Park would make him one of the key contenders for the title and could make it tougher for Kyrgios to claim his first Grand Slam title. The two locked horns in the final of Wimbledon earlier this year with Kyrgios claiming the first set before losing in four. 

“Of course, you want to have those guys there,” he said.
“He’s some of the reason why I play. As a kid, you want to play the best players in the world in the best stadiums. Hopefully, he is there.
“He’s had a rough run the last nine months and not being able to play here, play here, not being able to play here, hopefully, Australia welcomes him with open arms this time.”

Djokovic has won the Australian Open men’s title more times than anybody else in history. It is unclear when a final decision regarding his participation in the 2023 tournament will be made. 

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ATP

‘Unofficial’ Signs Give Novak Djokovic Hope Of Australian Open Return

The tennis star has given an update on his chances of returning to Melbourne Park following his deportation from the country.

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

Novak Djokovic says he is cautiously optimistic that he will be allowed to play at the 2023 Australian Open as legal negotiations continue. 

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion was deported from the country in January following a high-profile legal battle with authorities over his visa. Djokovic said he was told he could use a medical exemption to enter the country despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time all arrivals needed to be vaccinated. The Australian border Force declared that exemption to be invalid and therefore his visa. Djokovic was then moved to an immigration facility before winning a court hearing over how his case was handled. However, in a second legal hearing, the High Court backed the government’s decision to deport the tennis star. 

As a result of being removed from Australia, Djokovic is currently banned from re-entering for three years. However, there is hope that this ban could be waived with the help of a new administration coming to power which is understood to be more sympathetic to the situation. 

“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” Djokovic said during a recent interview with Sportal“We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case. I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever that answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one – so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”

Not everybody is thrilled by the prospect of the Serbian being allowed back into Australia. Former Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews has previously described such a move as a ‘slap in the face for those in Australia who did the right thing and got vaccinated.’ 

Djokovic is still not vaccinated against COVID-19 and has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t intend on doing so. In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, he explained that he had reservations about what is injected into his body and was cautious about the side effects. The COVID-19 injection has been deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“I respect that everyone has a different way of thinking in relation to my situation and my circumstances. After all, I have never offended anyone or ever tried to be disrespectful in any way. I always tried to show that it is important for everyone to have the right and freedom of choice.” He said. 
“For the choices I made, I knew there would be certain consequences like not going to America, and that is it. For Australia it was a different case, I had the exception, but in the end it did not work out. We know what happened, let’s not go back. This time I am waiting for the permission again. It is a good thing that they have now opened the borders for unvaccinated foreigners travelling to Australia. I have that ban, I hope it will be lifted. As I said, it is not in my hands, I hope the people in the Australian Government will give a positive answer, that is all.”

Djokovic is the most decorated male tennis player in Australian Open history with nine titles to his name. That is three more than his nearest challenges (Roy Emerson and Roger Federer both won the event six times). It was at Melbourne Park where he won his first major title back in 2008. 

“I really want to go there, I am over what happened this year and I just want to play tennis, it is what I do best. Australia has always been the place where I have played my best tennis, the results speak for themselves, so I am always extra motivated to go there. This time even more, so. I am hoping for a positive answer.” He concluded. 

The Australian Open will start on January 16th. It is unknown when a final decision regarding Djokovic’s participation will be made. 

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