Australian Open qualifying delayed due to bushfire smoke

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Pedro Sousa, however, still condemns the decision to keep the inaugural qualifying day for the main board of the Australian Open and even showed some concern.

The smoke haze in Melbourne caused organisers to delay the start of qualifying by an hour, but the conditions proved to still be hazardous for some players.

The six-time Australian Open champion and world No.3 moved well, ahead of his 20th assault on the season-opening grand slam at Melbourne Park.

The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives while raising awareness about the type of disasters that scientists say the world will face due to global warming.

Melbourne started the day with hazardous air pollution as smoke from wildfires in Victoria's east and in southern New South Wales state drifted through.

"They do have a heat policy, I think they need to plan out an air quality policy in the same way", he told local media.

On Wednesday, the organisers of the year's first Grand Slam said that practice sessions had been suspended at Melbourne Park until 11 AM (0000 GMT) and the qualifiers would not get underway until 1 PM. It's not ideal to play in these conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology said Victoria was expected to experience thunderstorms and wind changes later Wednesday that could clear the air. There were also hopes that the rain would extend to other parts of southern and eastern Australia where dozens of fires are still raging out of control and threatening to devastate many more rural towns.

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The deteriorating conditions followed months of deadly bushfires that have engulfed huge swathes of the Australian countryside, leaving at least 27 people dead and more than 2,000 homes destroyed.

The fires have prompted an outpouring of donations from around the world to help communities and devastated animal populations.

But a competitive hit-out wasn't really his goal, he said.

Open officials are reportedly hopeful that the smoke haze will fully lift in time for the tournament proper, which begins next Monday.

A number of players complained, including Bernard Tomic, who sought medical treatment during his first-round loss when he struggled to breathe.

"When we find doctors who say that playing at 45 degrees is not unsafe at the AO and referees who say that the wet grass is not slippery at Wimbledon, we must be able to find an expert who certifies that the air quality is sufficient right?"

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