Novak Djokovic concerned about bushfire smoke at Australian Open

Friday, 10 Jan, 2020

The fundraising exhibition will go to helping those affected by the devastating fires, which have claimed 25 lives and destroyed more than 1,800 homes.

Teams from 24 countries battle through the group stage - versing each country in their pool in two singles and a doubles match - to reach the final eight, in a format similar to that of the football World Cup.

"We love playing for our country", Djokovic said in an on-court TV interview before sending a message in his native tongue to Serbia, where Christmas was being celebrated on January 7.

"I don't know what the decision will be from Tennis Australia and its director Craig Tiley, who I'm going to send a message of support, but they have to face, like all Australians, things much more serious than the good progress of a tennis tournament".

"Tennis is a sport, it's a game that we play, and there are certainly a lot of bigger things going on in Australia right now that we need to take of", said Barty, who also donated $20,850 ($30,000 AUSD) to the RSPCA to support wildlife affected by the fires at the end of a year ago.

"The qualifying matches are due to start next week and we now have information that the weather forecast is good", he said.

Tiley is certain tennis can go ahead, although play on outside courts may have to be stopped if smoke affects the area and impinges on air quality.

According to Tiley, the tournament will work with the Bureau of Meteorology and medical experts to ensure the safety of the players, staff and fans.

Tennis world champions, including Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, and Roger Federer will make their own contribution to raise funds for Australia's bushfire relief.

Any smoke hazards would be treated in a similar way to extreme heat and rain, with umpires able to stop play if air monitoring shows it is too risky to continue.

"We do have three stadiums with roofs so play will always continue".

There have so far been no smoke-related delays at the inaugural ATP Cup team event, which is taking place in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The tournament's organizers have come up with the idea amid fears that the prestigious tennis event might be delayed or even canceled due to heavily polluted air caused by extreme bushfires.

The Australian Open will host an exhibition event next Wednesday on their Centre Court to raise money for the relief.

Every ace hit at the tournament will see Aus$100 (Aus$69) donated to victims, while several players have individually pledged more.