The qualifying event at the Australian Open is slated to begin Tuesday in Melbourne, but has been pushed back from it's original 10am start by an hour due to mounting concerns this morning Down Under regarding the safety of court conditions with the current air quality index.
Three hours and 20 minutes until Australian Open qualifying is due to start... pic.twitter.com/MWUE0zr9EN— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) January 13, 2020
Start of the #AusOpen qualifying now delayed till 11am local.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 13, 2020
Images and videos shared across social media depicted the effects of smog from the widespread bush fires, as the index registered at "hazardous levels", before dropping back down to "very unhealthy". Noah Rubin, scheduled to face Hiroki Moriya on Wednesday, voiced his displeasure in the lack of communication provided between organizers and tournament entrants.
"Not even a single email has been received about air quality. Maybe an over reaction but the lack of information on how to proceed is scary," the American tweeted.
Morning of first round of qualies here in Melbourne and not even a single email has been received about air quality. Maybe an over reaction but the lack of information on how to proceed is scary. pic.twitter.com/00M8jV59gc— Noah Rubin (@Noahrubin33) January 13, 2020
Rubin later added that the smell is "strong and thick", though countrywoman Bethanie Mattek-Sands was quick to point out this isn't uncharted territory for players.
"That’s an average day in Beijing and no one seems to notify us about playing there," the 2016 Olympic mixed doubles champion tweeted.
#AusOpen practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 13, 2020
Qualifying matches will begin at 11am.
Conditions onsite are improving and we are monitoring them constantly.
Australian Open officials later posted an update that despite the delay, conditions looked to be on an upward swing. The event hasn't announced a potential contingency plan if the issue escalates this week, though Melbourne Park does have an option to go indoors if needed.