Federer and Nadal not worried about health amid bush fire crisis

Top players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have expressed confidence in the measures put in place to protect their health amid the bushfire crisis as the Australian Open gets underway

Some of tennis's brightest stars have said they are not worried about their health amid air quality concerns at the Australian Open during the bush fire crisis which has been crippling the country, but not everyone feels the same.
Thick bush fire smoke blanketed Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday, leading to a delay of play of some of the tournament's qualifying matches, with some players criticizing organizers for allowing contests that were later suspended for poor air quality to take place at all.
Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia was forced to retire from her match after dropping to her knees with an episode of uncontrollable coughing, while Canada's Eugenie Bouchard required medical assistance before completing a three-hour match.
Since then Tennis Australia has released a new air quality policy, which has been backed by stars including top seed Rafael Nadal and six time Melbourne champion Roger Federer, though some remained concerned.
"I think we're moving in a very safe range," Federer told reporters ahead of the tournament's start on Monday.
"I don't worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke."
Both Federer and long-time rival Nadal cited, as one of the reasons behind their confidence, that frequent checks of concentrations of air pollutants were being run and the fact that the threshold for suspending games is much lower than at the Olympics.
"When I receive an answer that the most important committee in the world of sport, like the Olympic Committee, allowed the people to compete until 300, and we are going until 200.
"I really cannot believe that the most important committee in the world wants bad health for the competitors. So that answer convinces me," the Spaniard said.
The two champions had been accused, in comments later clarified, of not doing enough for lower ranked players who had to play qualifiers during the worst of the haze earlier in the week.
"When I heard the players having issues, asking questions, [as a] player, the only thing I can do is go to the tournament director office, ask what's going on, because I have been practising that days, too," Nadal said in comments echoed by Federer.
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic has meanwhile been vocal about his concerns but expressed hope that the weather would take care of the situation.
"To be honest, I was concerned [on Tuesday and Wednesday] ... It was sad to see some players collapsing and ball kids collapsing on the court," the world number two said, adding "I had faith in Melbourne, 'four seasons city' as they call it."
"[The] last three days [it] has been really good, fresh air, it's like nothing happened," he said. "Let's hope that the worst is behind us."
Seventh seed Petra Kvitova, who suffers from asthma, said the situation was hard but she has faith in the plan in place.
"I've been a bit worried about it ... I [wouldn't be] really happy about that if the air is still bad," Kvitova said.
"It's same for everybody," the Czech said, adding that she is "very comfortable" with the measures laid out by organizers.
Whilst most other top players also sounded positive about the air quality policy, others said they would be ready to go to extremes if they felt their health was at risk.
"I wouldn't play," 13th seed Denis Shapovalov said on Saturday.
"Obviously it's a grand slam, it's a big opportunity, but I'm 20 years old ... I don't want to risk my life, risk my health, being out there playing out there in these conditions, when I can for the next 10, 15 years."
"You see the effects on players it has right now, the last couple of days, but also you don't know what it's going to do later in our lives and how it could affect us if we're breathing this air in for two weeks," the Canadian added.

Sunday, January 19th 2020
Chiara Palazzo,

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