Australian Open qualifying begins, poor air quality from bushfires brings abandoned matches

At Melbourne Park, Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic was leading her first-round Australian Open qualifying match against Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele when she dropped to her knees with a coughing spell and was forced to pull out of the match. (Screenshot: ESPN Australia/NZ)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Australian Open qualifying begins, poor air quality from bushfires brings abandoned matches

  • Organizers said further decisions on match scheduling would be made
  • Melbourne started the day with hazardous air pollution levels

MELBOURNE: Smoke haze and poor air quality caused by wildfires temporarily suspended practice sessions for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday, but qualifying began later in the morning in “very poor” conditions and amid complaints by at least one player who was forced to forfeit her match.
At the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Melbourne, former No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova struggled in the heat and smoke and her match against Laura Siegemund was called off late in the second set. Siegemund won the first set in a tiebreaker but players and officials decided to stop play at 5-5 in the second.
"Both players are feeling the smoke so we are going to stop the match at this point," the umpire said.
At Melbourne Park, Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic was leading her first-round Australian Open qualifying match against Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele when she dropped to her knees with a coughing spell. Ranked 180th, Jakupovic was a set up and one point away from a tiebreaker in the second set when she experienced breathing difficulties and retired from the match.

“I was really scared that I would collapse," Jakupovic told Australian Associated Press. "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."
Jakupovic said it was "not fair" that officials asked players to take the court in those conditions.
“It's not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don't have much choice."

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard needed some medical assistance during her first qualifying match before beating You Xiaodi 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
Organizers said further decisions on match scheduling would be made using onsite data and in close consultation with its medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology, and scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency in Victoria state.
Melbourne started the day with hazardous air pollution as smoke from wildfires in Victoria's east and in southern New South Wales state drifted through.
The central business district, close to where Melbourne Park is located, recorded overnight hazardous levels of fine particles in the air and the EPA categorized the air quality as “very poor."
Firefighters in the region spent the night being called out to fire alarms triggered by the smoke haze.

 


Coach Misbah says Pakistan must move on from Old Trafford defeat

Updated 10 August 2020

Coach Misbah says Pakistan must move on from Old Trafford defeat

  • England sealed an unlikely three-wicket victory on Saturday after slumping to 117-5 in pursuit of 277
  • The second test of the three-match series will begin on Thursday at the Rose Bowl in Southampton

MANCHESTER — Pakistan cannot dwell on their defeat by England in the first test at Old Trafford as it would make it tougher for them to respond in the next two matches, coach Misbah-ul-Haq has said.
England sealed an unlikely three-wicket victory on Saturday after slumping to 117-5 at one point in their pursuit of 277, as Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 139 runs to turn the tide.
“It was a thrilling test match and full credit must go to England for the way they fought back, came from behind and took the game away from us,” Misbah wrote in his column on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s website here
“There is disappointment, of course, but we must not keep that feeling in our minds otherwise it will be difficult to come back... the team believes we can fight back.
“Sometimes luck doesn’t favor you, sometimes the opposition plays well – that’s the beauty of the game.”
Misbah praised opener Shan Masood, who scored 156 in the first innings, as well as pacemen Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah who picked up two wickets each.
“It was a brave decision to bat first against England’s bowling attack in those conditions,” the 46-year-old said.
“Shan Masood batted really well and... should be given a lot of credit for his innings. He’s been working so hard... he’s changed a few things in his setup. He’s a different batsman.
“The bowling was also excellent. It’s a young seam attack, apart from Mohammad Abbas, and both Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah did really well.”
The second test of the three-match series will begin on Thursday at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.