'I Don't Want To Risk My Life': World No. 13 To Forfeit Australian Open If Air Quality Is Poor

World No.13 Denis Shapovalov says he will refuse to play at the Australian Open if forced to compete in poor air.

The Canadian also expects other leading players at the grand slam tournament would do the same if their health is at risk.

I don't want to risk my life, risk my health being out there playing in this condition when I can (play) for the next 10-15 years.



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Melbourne residents awoke to a thick blanket of smoke smothering their city on Tuesday after air quality dropped to hazardous levels overnight.

Shapovalov, who plays in the first round on Monday, said he would have little hesitation defaulting if scheduled to play in the conditions that plagued qualifying on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada plays a backhand during his singles match against Vasek Pospisil of Canada on day three of the 2020 Men's ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. Image: Getty

"I wouldn't play. I'm 20 years old, it's a grand slam, it's a big opportunity but I'm 20 years old," he told reporters at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

Organisers have been criticised by players and the media for ploughing ahead with qualifying this week despite authorities warning residents to stay indoors and restrict physical activity as air quality plunged due to bushfire smoke.

"I think everyone's kind of on the same page in terms of how it is. I don't think anyone's happy with the way things are being dealt with."

"I'm sure the top guys aren't going to want to come out in this condition either," Shapovalov said.

Denis Shapovalov at the 2020 ATP Cup in Sydney. Image: Getty

Luke McManus


If Tennis Players Can't Breathe, Don't Make Them Play

No matter your viewpoint or political motivations, there is no denying the fact Australia is in the grip of an unprecedented disaster.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley released its air quality policy on Saturday and both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - who were accused during the week of being "selfish" by not trying to stop qualifying on Tuesday - endorsed it.

"I don't have concerns," Nadal said, echoing Federer's sentiments that stopping play when the poor air quality reading reached 200 was good enough for him.

Rafael Nadal practices ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Image: Getty

"I really cannot believe that the most important committee in the world wants bad health for the competitors so that answer convince me." Nadal said.



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