Smoke Gets in Your Eyes but Your Lungs are the Larger Concern

If you are ever in a survival situation, say the experts, hopefully experts that are survivors, the first priority is shelter, followed by water and food.

Exposed to extremes of heat or cold, many people will not last a day, while three to five days can be managed without water and two weeks or more without food is possible.

Such expert advice leaves out an element without which most humans would perish in less than three minutes.

A breathable atmosphere.

While that sounds like something space explorers might need to consider after landing on a new planet, tennis players in Australia are struggling to find breathable atmosphere in order to do their jobs.

Qualifying matches for the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne found players struggling to catch their breaths.

Bushfire smoke is blanketing the city to an extent that Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire due to a fit of coughing.

“I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore,” Jakupovic later said.

At the Kooyang Classic, an exhibition singles-only tournament, Maria Sharapova and Laura Siegemund had their match abandoned after they both agreed that the combination of smoke and heat was too intense to risk further exposure.

The 2020 Australian Open starts in less than a week and qualifying was delayed by an hour because of the hazy sky.

It does not seem a case of super-sensitivity on the parts of the players.

Jakupovic reported that she has never had any sort of respiratory problems and that the scorching heat was to her liking.

Sharapova suspected that a recent bout with illness was behind her breathing issues in her match with Siegemund, but when Sharapova saw Siegemund calling attention to the breathing difficulty with the umpire, she realised that she was not alone in finding the breathing uneasy.

It was definitely not an instance of unnecessary player whinging. Recent air quality readings in Melbourne dropped to the worst of anywhere in the world.

The conditions found us reminiscing about our tennis playing days, when a mate of ours routinely walked onto the court with a cigarette dangling from his lips.

We were glad of the advantage and the bloke never once beat us.