Melbourne smoke causes Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic’s coughing fit

The West Australian
VideoA tennis player was forced to retire after suffering a coughing fit while Maria Sharapova's match was called off.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova has been forced off the court while a Slovenian player collapsed due to the hazardous air quality in Melbourne.

Dalila Jakupovic was leading her round one Open qualifying match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing fit.

Ranked world No.180, Jakupovic was a set up and one point away from a tiebreak in the second set when she suffered the breathing difficulties and subsequently withdrew from the match.

The match umpire was seen rushing to Jakupovic’s aid before medical officials could arrive.

A distressed Dalila Jakupovic was assisted from the court.
Camera IconA distressed Dalila Jakupovic was assisted from the court. Credit: Twitter

“I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore,” Jakupovic said.

“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 finalist Eugenie Bouchard also survived a gruelling battle in Melbourne’s smoke to scrape through the first round of Australian Open qualifying.

Eugene Bouchard looks dejected during her Melbourne match.
Camera IconEugene Bouchard looks dejected during her Melbourne match. Credit: AAPIMAGE

The Canadian, who has been ranked as high as fifth in the world, called multiple medical timeouts in her 4-6 7-6 6-1 victory of China’s Xiaodi You at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

Bouchard received medical attention for about 10 minutes after winning the second-set tie-break. You, who also needed assistance from the trainer, regularly served under-arm during the third set as she struggled in the oppressive conditions.

The umpire in Sharapova’s clash with German Laura Siegemund at the Kooyong Classic determined the conditions were too dangerous to continue.

World No.72 Siegemund had won the first set 7-6 (7-4) as Sharapova struggled in the heat and smoke in Melbourne.

Players and officials decided to stop play at 5-5 in the second set.

Sharapova said she felt a cough coming on as the match stretched past two hours with temperatures on court around 40C.

“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.

“From a health stand point it’s the right call from officials.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails