14 January 2020

Dalila Jakupovic suffers coughing fit and retires from Australian Open qualifying as bushfires continue to damage air quality in Melbourne

Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from Australian Open qualifying after suffering a coughing fit as a result of the poor air quality in Melbourne.

The bushfires in Australia continue to affect millions across the country, with a total of 28 people having already died since July 1.

And Jakupovic, who reached the main draw of the season's first Grand Slam in 2019, said she feared for her health while out on court.

"It was really bad," she said. "I never experienced something like this. I was really scared I would collapse because I couldn't walk any more."

The 28-year-old was helped off court at 6-5 5-6 against Switzerland's Stefanie Vogele, ending her hopes of entering the first round proper.

Organisers have responded to the treacherous conditions by ensuring players that they will be 'monitored constantly' and are expected to improve.

However, Jakupovic was not impressed that qualifying went ahead and subsequently led to her having to exit the tournament.

"I think it was not fair because it's not healthy for us," she added. "I was surprised. I thought we would not be playing today but we really don't have much choice."

The Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne on January 20 and runs until February 2.

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