All Tennis, All the Time
I wonder how many players will drop out from the january-events if the temperatures remains between 40-50°C.
And then we are not even talking about the air pollution from the forest fires.
I feel sorry for the nature and the animals. Not so much for the people. Majorities of the aussies have been among the biggest climate-change deniers for decades (and voted for politicians that had the same points of view), so they get what they deserve. Just as a wake-up call it would be good if these conditions remained like this for the next two months.
"Never argue with an idiot - they take you down to their level and then beat you on experience"
"Don't wrestle with a pig: you both get dirty, but the pig actually likes it"
Premature.....per link, the next 2 weeks forecast to be slightly above moderate temps, a couple of days not even touching 90's (Fahrenheit) with temps averaging mid 70's. If these project to be the same for the fortnight of the AO, I'd say it would by player-friendly and enjoyable climate-wise for the event. Let's hope that it is for all concerned....
A map of the wildfires, as attached, appears devastating for Aussie land's major cities. However, rain is in the forecast for the 5th and 6th around Melbourne. Hopefully, it happens and puts those flames to rest....
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=htt ... AdAAAAABAD
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova will be awarded a world card to play in this month's Australian Open, the organizers of the year's first Grand Slam said on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Russian is currently ranked 147th in the world after a season in which a long-standing shoulder injury restricted her to eight tournaments.
Sharapova played her first match since losing in the first round of last year's U.S. Open at the Brisbane International on Tuesday but was defeated 3-6 6-1 7-6(3) by American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
Smoke haze again forces delay in Australian Open qualifying
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Tempers flared at Australian Open qualifying Wednesday as players battled through another day of smoky air and two of the game's all-time greats were labeled "selfish" for not protesting about the conditions.
Australian Open officials delayed the start of play by two hours on the second day of qualifying until smoke from regional wildfires cleared later on. Smoke and hazy conditions at Melbourne Park on Tuesday had affected the opening day's play, with organizers criticized for allowing qualifying matches to proceed.
A number of players complained, including Australian Bernard Tomic, who sought medical treatment during his first-round loss when he struggled to breathe. Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic said she feared she would pass out before retiring from her match when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing spell.
The ill will spilled over into Wednesday, with Canadian world No. 103 Brayden Schnur taking aim at 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, saying the pair was "selfish" for failing to step up and protest against playing conditions during qualifying.
Schnur said it was incumbent upon the biggest names in the sport to be the voice for lesser-known players.
"It's got to come from the top guys," Schnur said. "Roger and Rafa are a little bit selfish in thinking about themselves and their careers, because they're near the end and all they're thinking about is their legacy, and they're not thinking about the sport itself and trying to do what's good for the sport. So those guys need to step up."
Schnur, who is the third seed in the qualifying tournament, was also critical of officials after his first-round win over Austrian Sebastian Ofner, which took more than two hours in the hazy conditions that blanketed Melbourne Park on Wednesday.
Schnur battled with conditions that he described as like smoking a cigarette.
"You feel super dryness in your throat," he said. "That's 100 percent not normal and players who have asthma are at a huge disadvantage right now."
Organizers delayed play by three hours Wednesday, but the air quality index when the players took to court was still graded as "unhealthy" due to the smoke from the bushfires in Victoria.
The Australian Open begins Monday.
Australian Open officials tight-lipped as smoke questions linger
MELBOURNE, Australia -- As hazardous smoke from Australia's ongoing bushfire crisis -- which has claimed 28 lives and destroyed over a thousand homes -- continues to blanket the city of Melbourne, Australian Open officials are finding new ways to avoid directly answering the question on everyone's mind: How will the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific be impacted?
On Wednesday morning, just five sleeps out from the scheduled start of this year's tournament, organisers again refused to acknowledge reporters' inquiries around how toxic smoke could impact the most watched annual sporting event in the southern hemisphere, as weather delays and player withdrawals raised more concerns.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was joined on Melbourne's Federation Square live stage by Australian Open Tournament director Craig Tiley at a media call promoting the Open's major sponsor Kia.
Before the start of the event, AO media officials informed the press pack that there would be no opportunity for direct questions to Tiley or Nadal, instead that there would be a prearranged Q&A as part of proceedings.
Rafael Nadal poses with fans at Melbourne's Federation Square. Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Nadal arrived to a raucous applause, signed a few giant tennis balls and posed for a selfie with a group of ball kids before taking part, alongside Tiley, in that stage-managed interview session hosted by former Aussie doubles legend Todd Woodbridge. There was no mention of smoke or air quality.
Nadal then signed the windscreen of the car he had arrived in before hopping back in and departing -- most likely to his five-star Melbourne hotel room where he could escape the smoke that had left dozens coughing and feeling ill.
At the same time, a news release announcing further disruption to play on Wednesday quietly slid into inboxes, and the Australian Open's social media team got busy on Twitter.
Replying to @AustralianOpen
Conditions at Melbourne Park are being constantly monitored and further decisions will be made using the onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, @BOM_au and scientists from @EPA_Victoria.
The onsite data and measurements early this morning were similar to yesterday, when #AusOpen practice and play were suspended and delayed. Conditions yesterday were forecast to improve throughout the day, which is what occurred.
6:19 PM - Jan 14, 2020
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To have the face of the tournament fronting media and the general public some 3km from Melbourne Park while information is being dripped out on Twitter is not a good look. For Tiley to fail to comment on it at all is even weaker.
Tiley might be regarded by many players as one of the best tournament directors in the world, but he and his team have made little public effort to combat the haze issue.
On Tuesday morning, with Melbourne's air quality officially ranked as the third worst in the world, Tiley and chief operating officer Tom Larner, fronted a hastily arranged media opportunity to ensure that the tournament would act in the best interests of the players, fans and staff.
"This is a new experience for all of us in how we manage air quality, so we have to listen to the experts," Tiley said.
Larner added, "We will stop if conditions become unsafe based on medical advice."
A man in a face mask rides across Melbourne's Yarra River, days ahead of the 2020 Australian Open. ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images
By midafternoon, Slovenian world No. 180 Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her Australian Open qualifying match after collapsing to the court in a coughing fit.
"I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like the heat," Jakupovic said. "But I just couldn't breathe anymore, and I fell on the floor.
"It's not healthy for us. I was surprised; I thought we would not be playing today, but we don't have much choice."
Polarising Australian player Bernard Tomic was another who felt the effects in qualifying, claiming, "I just can't breathe," during his loss to American Denis Kudla. Tomic even called for an asthma puffer during the second set as the smoke took its toll.
And over at Kooyong, 7km southeast of Melbourne, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova was explaining to the local commentary team that her match with Germany's Laura Siegemund was abruptly halted as both players were struggling with the effects of smoke.
In the midst of all this, the Australian Open issued a news release, only it wasn't in relation to the smokey conditions and player welfare, but rather the launch of a Harry Potter-themed day on the second Monday of the tournament. But there is no magic wand to solve this problem.
A generation ago, the Australian Open was barely a major. Now, Tennis Australia, under the guidance of CEO Craig Tiley, has revived the major, partnered with the Laver Cup and resurrected the ATP Cup. Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images
With air quality conditions around Melbourne continuing to worsen as bushfires burn for a third successive month, we've already seen a number of beaches and pools close, sporting events cancelled and construction workers forced to abandon outdoor projects. Ambulance callouts for people struggling to breathe also have risen significantly.
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin on Jan. 20 -- already a later start than in previous years -- but if conditions don't improve dramatically by then, calls to have it postponed or even compressed will grow increasingly louder.
Constant failure to address the pressing issue at hand is showing a lack of care and accountability from Australian Open organisers, not just for players but the hundreds of thousands of fans expected to fill Melbourne Park over the coming weeks.
Australian Open 2020: 'It boils my blood' - GB's Liam Broady on air quality email
By Russell Fuller
Britain's Liam Broady has described an email sent to players defending the decision to allow play at the Australian Open despite the poor air quality as a "slap in the face".
He says it "boils his blood" that he was made to play his first-round qualifying match on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old was "gasping for air" as he lost to Belarusian Ilya Ivashka.
Play had earlier been suspended for an hour as Melbourne was blanketed in smoke from the bushfires.
The email was sent to male players by the ATP Tour and Tennis Australia, and has been seen by BBC Sport.
It concludes the "conditions are challenging, but the medical experts say they are acceptable for play".
"The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago, the more it boils my blood. We can't let this slide.
"The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face. Conditions were 'playable'. Were they 'healthy'?
"Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?
"What do we have to do to create a players' union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? On tour we let so many things go that aren't right but at some point we have to make a stand. ALL players need protection not just a select few."
Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her qualifying match after a coughing fit and says other players she spoke to reported breathing difficulties and headaches.
The email to ATP members said "player welfare is utmost in our considerations", and details the hitherto undisclosed protocols that Tennis Australia has put into place.
A 'PM2.5' air quality reading is being taken every four minutes at Melbourne Park. Whenever the reading exceeds 200, Tennis Australia says play is suspended.
Readings elsewhere in the city on Tuesday suggested the air quality index was over 200, but the email says "no play has taken place at any time above the 200 threshold on the PM2.5 scale".
It also claims some sporting organisations have a threshold of 300 before they take any decision to suspend play.
There were no problems with air quality as qualifying continued on Thursday. Wednesday's heavy rain has brought in cooler conditions, with Melbourne's air officially rated as "good".
American player Noah Rubin, who lost in the first round of qualifying on Wednesday, said a lot of players felt "disrespected" by the email, which he described as being sent "too late".
Former Wimbledon junior champion Rubin, 23, says he had "blood and black stuff" coming out of his nose after his match, also complaining of irritated eyes and shortness of breath.
"A lot of players have been feeling it in the throat and eyes," Rubin, who was not the source of the leaked email, told BBC Sport. "It can't be healthy breathing it in.
"The talk between players is about disappointment. A lot are saying they can't wait to get out of Australia right now and we love playing in Australia.
"It's left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths - almost literally.
"We feel awful about what is happening with the fires - it is terrible and obviously there are way worse things - but we're talking about how are we having a tournament going on, and how do we not know how to go about it? Why can't we play inside; why are there not emergency things taking place?"
Rubin added he had approached Tennis Australia and the ATP for clarity, accusing them of being defensive when he asked for more communication to be given to the players about why decisions had been made.
American player Nicole Gibbs, who was treated for a mouth cancer last year and had two months out following surgery, urged tournament officials to display the air quality numbers in the players' locker rooms.
"We should have access to the air quality numbers and the associated health risk of whatever that valuation is," said Gibbs, who lost to Britain's Harriet Dart in qualifying on Thursday.
"We have TVs in our locker room which show us what the heat index is at any time so I've been expressing to tournament officials I'd also like to see the air quality."