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'Players were very disappointed' | Australian Open air quality issues

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

22:10 21 Jan 2020

Many lower-ranked tennis players at the Australian Open feel as though they are being poorly treated in regards to air quality, according to Conor Niland.

The former professional tennis player was speaking on Off The Ball and spoke about the tournament taking place during the massive Australian wildfires.

While there are being precautions taken due to the air quality issues, Niland revealed that many are unhappy with the conditions they are playing in.

“I think the air quality was at its worst around seven or eight days ago when qualifying was due to start.

“I think the perception that the players had was, ‘We’re kind of treated as second class citizens, outside the top 100, during the year with our prize money, etc.’

“Then, ‘We’re kind of the afterthought here sure go out and play, it’s only the qualifying.’

“They have a couple of days to play within qualifying where they like to qualify guys on the Friday so they have a couple of days before the main draw starts. They didn’t use them.

“They just put them out on the first day as scheduled. So there was a lot of disappointment from the players. They felt that they weren’t getting looked after the same way,” Niland said.

While there have always been restrictions for the temperature that play is allowed at, the acceptable level of air quality is a new issue for tournament organisers.

The Limerick native explained that there may have been some confusion surrounding acceptable air quality levels and some frustration may have come from this.

“I think there was a communication break down as well. I don’t think the players understood how that air quality thing works.

“We know the heat rule is there when it’s X degrees. Whereas air quality is something new.

“So everybody was scrambling around trying to understand what was going on,” Niland said.

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