January 16, 2020 15:01:48
Tennis players have lashed out at officials after being asked to play in smoky conditions during qualifying for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and Wednesday.
British player Liam Broady led the condemnation after describing an email from the ATP and the Australian Open as “a slap in the face”.
The 26-year-old world number 234 said the email described conditions as “playable”, but Broady questioned whether they were “healthy”.
Broady, who was beaten by Belarus’s Ilya Ivashka in straight sets on Tuesday in the first round of qualifying, tweeted his grievance in a message with the heading, “We can’t let this go” and called for the establishment of a players’ union.
“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?” Broady wrote.
The Brit cited examples of “multiple” players needing asthma medication, despite never having suffered from asthma, and women’s player Dalila Jakupovic being forced to retire.
German player Dustin Brown appeared to confirm Broady’s claims after he was knocked out by top seed Dennis Novak in qualifying on Wednesday.
“In 35 years, its the first time I had to use an asthma spray to help me breathe better …” Brown wrote, quoting Broady’s tweet.
Brown, currently ranked 203 in the world and in his 19th year on the tour, said that the doctor on court told him that he had “a virus coming on” before adding the hashtag “well said, Liam”.
Broady’s 21-year-old compatriot Jay Clarke said his “body literally failed” on Tuesday when he lost in three sets to Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.
“I pride myself on being one of the fittest players on the circuit I play,” Clarke said.
“My body literally failed me on that day and I wasn’t the only one. 25 seconds between points felt like five!”
Broady says lower-ranked players not treated equally
Broady also alluded to the inequality between players outside the top level of the sport, saying that players are not being treated equally.
“On tour, we let so many things go that aren’t right, but at some point, we have to make a stand,” Broady wrote.
“All players need protection, not just a select few.”
Despite playing in Tennis Australia’s bushfire fundraising match on Wednesday night, the game’s leading players have not commented on the conditions for players in the qualification tournament, aside from Novak Djokovic, who proposed delaying the tournament last week.
World number 23 Lucas Pouille said in French on Twitter that players had the option to not play.
“I keep reading that it is dangerous to play, reading messages from players saying that it is scandalous to play,” Pouille wrote in French.
“My question is this, why are you going on court?”
Tennis Australia has been contacted for comment.
January 16, 2020 12:33:34