Australain Open Melbourne Park

VIDEO: ‘I couldn’t breathe’ – Australian Open qualifier stopped by disturbing smoke-related coughing fit

The Australian Open faced fresh controversy over its decision to push ahead despite the bushfire crisis after Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from qualifying due to a coughing fit.

Smoke from the Australian bushfires engulfed Melbourne on Tuesday, delaying the start of qualifying.

The city of Melbourne advised residents to remain indoors due to the resultant air-pollution, but players were asked to take to the court later in the day once levels were deemed to have returned to safe levels.

However, despite being a set up in her match against Stefanie Vogele, Jakupovic dropped to her knees at the back of court and started to cough uncontrollably before being forced to retire.

“I was really scared that I would collapse,” she said after being helped off court by Australian Open medical staff. “That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore.

“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.

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

Meanwhile, across the city, Maria Sharapova’s match in the Kooyong Classic was suspended due to the poor air quality.

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.