Australian Open: Liam Broady says his 'blood boils' after playing in poor air quality in Melbourne
"What do we have to do to create a players' union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female?"
By Tejas Kotecha
Last Updated: 16/01/20 11:45am
Britain's Liam Broady says his "blood boils" after playing in poor air quality at the Australian Open qualifiers.
Broady has called on his fellow players to "make a stand" and questioned whether the playing conditions in Melbourne were healthy after the devastating impact of the bushfires.
Australian Open organisers have defended letting the qualifiers go ahead on Tuesday and Wednesday as a thick haze enveloped the city.
Play on Tuesday was delayed for only an hour despite readings showing wildfire smoke blowing across the city had made Melbourne one of the worst cities in the world for air quality.
A number of players sought treatment including taking asthma inhalers while Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic retired from her match after having a coughing fit on court.
Broady played his first-round match on Tuesday, losing to Ilya Ivashka, and is determined that the issue is not forgotten after much clearer air returned to the city on Thursday.
In a message on Twitter, Broady said: "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 26-year-old from Stockport hopes it could be the catalyst for further discussion of a players' union, something that ATP player council president Novak Djokovic has pushed in the past.
"The email we received yesterday from the ATP and Australian Open 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? When multiple players need asthma spray on court and they don't even have asthma? When a player collapses and has to retire due to respiratory issues?
"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."
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told reporters that he was confident in the systems they had in place to protect the players from harm.
"Our medical team were satisfied with the conditions that the players were competing in, per all of the research and the data and the science that they have," Tiley said.
"But they also make an assessment. You could have been two hours into those matches and have 25 people presenting themselves with a medical condition that may be related to the pollutants.
"If that's the case, inform me and we stop."
After Tuesday's delays, play was delayed for longer on Wednesday despite very similar conditions.
Although air quality was much better on Thursday, there remains the distinct possibility the smoke could return during the tournament.
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