Australian Open qualifying delayed as smoke blankets Melbourne

Sporting News

Australian Open qualifying was delayed Tuesday due to poor air quality as smoke from bushfires in Australia impacted Melbourne.

Play was due to get underway at 10 a.m. local time (6 p.m. ET Monday), but thick smoke blanketed Melbourne, leading to it being pushed back by an hour.

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months and there have been concerns over player and spectator welfare at the year's first grand slam tournament, with the main draw beginning Monday, Jan. 20 (Sunday in the U.S.).

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The poor air quality has already impacted the event, with the Australian Open announcing practice had also been suspended during the morning Tuesday.

"Practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality," a statement read.

Air quality in Melbourne has been in the "hazardous" and "very poor" range since midnight local time (8 a.m. ET Monday) in readings provided by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

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