Australian Open delay valid if the smoke fog gets worse: Novak Djokovic
BRISBANE Novak Djokovic said Australian Open The organizers should consider delaying the first Grand Slam of the year if the mist of forest fires that ravages the country threatens the health of the players.
The main opening of 2020 will begin in Melbourne Park on January 20 and the city was covered by smoke from the flames that burned east on Saturday, compromising air quality.
Djokovic, president of the ATP players council, said in the early hours of Sunday that any delay would be a last resort, but it needed to be discussed.
"I mean, it's fair from you to say that (ask the question)," he said when pressed on the matter in Brisbane, where he is playing for Serbia in the inaugural ATP Cup team event.
Obviously, you have to ... always due to weather conditions and extreme conditions, you just have to consider it.
But I think that is probably the last, very last option for anything. I think they will try to do anything so as not to delay in terms of days and when it starts.
I mean, and I understand why, but if it's those conditions that affect the health of the players, I think we should definitely consider it.
Catastrophic forest fires have been unleashed in Australia for weeks, leaving 24 dead and hundreds of properties destroyed.
Tennis officials last week took the unprecedented decision to relocate the Canberra International -- an ATP Challenger 125 event and on the women's ITF World Tennis Tour, which serves as a stepping stone to the full tour.
They said play would not have been possible in the Australian capital which has been choked by smoke, with the tournament now due to start Monday at Bendigo in Victoria state.
Djokovic said he had experienced air quality issues at tournaments in China, but the bushfires had created an unprecedented situation.
The Serbian superstar said he not spoken to Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley "but people from my team have".
They are obviously tracking the situation every day as it evolves and, hopefully, they calm down with smoke and fires, he said.
"I think they will, if it continues the same way and if the quality of air is affected... I think Tennis Australia probably will be forced to, I think, create some rules about it.
"I mean, it's tough for them because scheduling has to be respected in terms of play and the Australian Open starts at a certain time, so there's a lot of different things involved.
But health is a concern for me and anyone.
He said the ATP players' council was due to meet before the Australian Open and the issue would be on the agenda.