A tennis player withdrew from the Australian Open qualifying in protest on Tuesday after being forced to her knees by the still devastating bushfire down under.
Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was just about to play a crucial point in her qualifier when she landed in the back of Melbourne Park due to an uncontrollable coughing fit.
The 28-year-old player was finally helped to return to a court in tears and with apparent breathing difficulties – however, she ultimately pulled out of the tennis competition and said that she was "very afraid" of the conditions.
"We are all nervous and a little disappointed because we thought they would take better care of us," Jakupovic told CNN.
"I just couldn't breathe," she said. "I had a panic attack because I couldn't breathe … it was one of my hardest matches."
Training sessions had to be temporarily suspended on Tuesday due to poor air quality, and at least one other player – former Wimbledon semi-finalist Eugenie Bouchard – needed medical attention.
Air quality was at a standstill as "dangerous" The environmental protection agency advises people to stay away from smoke.
Jakupovic, who led their first-round qualifier when they collapsed, complained that it was "not fair" that they had to play in such bad conditions.
"I was really afraid that I would collapse," she told the Associated Press. "I have no asthma and have never had breathing problems. I actually like heat."
She first tried to continue after a physiotherapist helped her, but "couldn't breathe" and "just fell to the floor," she said.
"It is not healthy for us," she complained. "I was surprised. I thought we weren't going to play today, but we don't have a lot of choice."
The organizers are now consulting the Open medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology, and scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency to make decisions about how to schedule the Open said on Twitter, "As always, the health and safety of our players, employees and fans is a priority," the organization insisted.
With post wires