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Broady condemns Australian Open organisers' 'slap in the face' over air quality email

Broady condemns Australian Open organisers' 'slap in the face' over air quality email

16/01/2020 at 09:49Updated 16/01/2020 at 09:59

Liam Broady has called for tennis to "create a players" union' after an email was sent by organisers of the Australian Open that defended the decision to hold play as normal despite poor air quality.

The 26-year-old complained he was left "gasping for breath" during his first-round qualifying match against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka on Tuesday, which went ahead despite officials in Melbourne issuing warnings for local residents to take extra precautions as the Australian bush fires continue to burn.

Play was suspended for an hour as the air became thick with smoke from the disaster, and Broady condemned the decision to hold play in spite of the warnings as "a slap in the face".

Video - Distressing scenes in Melbourne as player retires after smoke brings on coughing fit

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"The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago, the more it boils my blood," he said in a post on Twitter. "We can't let this slide.

" "The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face. Conditions were 'playable'. Were they 'healthy'?"

"Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet we were expected to go outside for high-intensity physical competition?

Watch all courts and all matches of the Australian Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player

"What do we have to do to create a players' union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? On tour we let so many things go that aren't right but at some point we have to make a stand. ALL players need protection not just a select few."

Dispite the worsening crisis, the email sent by organisers concludes the "conditions are challenging, but the medical experts say they are acceptable for play".

Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire from her qualifying match after a coughing fit and says other players she spoke to reported breathing difficulties and headaches.