Maria Sharapova’s singles match against Laura Siegemund in the Australian Open warm-up tournament was called off in the second set due to hazardous air conditions.
The Kooyong Classic, which is an exhibition tournament ahead of the first Grand Slam season is held from January 14-16 at Australia’s spiritual home of tennis. The event will host some of the rising talents and seasoned players like CoCo Vandeweghe, Jennifer Brady, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Milos Raonic.
With the first day of play underway, Sharapova and Siegemund took on each other in an extremely competitive match. Siegemund won the first set 7-6 (7-4). The duo was fighting for the second set when the umpire stepped on court to stop play at 5-5 with both players’ permissions. This was done as the city of Melbourne was enveloped in hazardous pollution due to the bushfires that have plagued the country for months.
Sharapova was open about how she felt in the environment saying that she felt “a bit of a cough coming out through the end of the second set” as her competitor remarked on how the conditions in Australia were not the “healthiest” to play in.
Despite discontinuing play in this match, Dimitrov and Coric, who were scheduled to play in the next match, stepped on-court to begin practice. The Bulgarian beat Coric in a match that lasted almost two hours. The rest of the day went as scheduled with Raonic defeating Soonwoo Kwon in straight sets.
Former world no.1 Caroline Wozniacki, withdrew from the Kooyong Classic recovering from her play at the Auckland Open where she reached the semi-finals in the singles tournament and the finals in the doubles category with Serena Williams. Feeling “sore”, as a precautionary measure ahead of the Australian Open, Wozniacki’s last tournament before she retires, she will not feature at this year’s Kooyong Classic.
The continuing hazardous conditions in Melbourne were waived off by the Tennis Australia officials who did not entertain the possibility of postponing the start to the tournament as suggested by Novak Djokovic. However, the weight of the conditions was felt at the Australian Open qualifiers as well when the world no.180 Dalila Jakupovic collapsed due to a coughing fit. Former Wimbledon champion Eugenia Bouchard and Bernard Tomic both were forced to receive medical attention on court due to the hazardous conditions in the city.
It is currently unclear if there will be any changes made to the schedule now and the first Grand Slam of the year is set to commence main draws on January 20.