'Forced to play': Federer and Djokovic dragged into Australian Open scandal

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

A budding qualifier has come out and slammed the organisers of the Australian Open claiming Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have played in the thick smoke that wreaked havoc at qualifiers on Tuesday.

The tennis world reacted with shock and anger after a number of players were affected by the hazardous smoke on Tuesday.

EXPLAINER: How will the Australian Open be affected by the bushfires?

Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic feared she would pass out with the smoky conditions the worst she's experienced.

Following the horrible conditions, American player Noah Rubin has come and said it would be unlikely tennis royalty Federer and Djokovic would play under such conditions.

"If this was Federer or Djokovic playing in the finals, would we have done things differently?” Rubin said on Wednesday. 

“That's always the question, and you'd have to think they would not be playing in these conditions.

"To force qualifiers to play, it's a tough place to be in."

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic during men's singles Final match of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)

Rubin said the incentive for players to take part in the qualifying was high because of the amount of money on offer, which is a lot for a player outside the top 50.

The US star said he doesn’t have the luxury of pulling out of the qualifiers, but said the fact ball kids were out on the court was ridiculous.

Player forced to retire

Conditions at Melbourne Park weren’t forecast to improve until late on Wednesday, after it plagued the opening day's play when organisers were heavily criticised for allowing matches to proceed.

Jakupovic said feared she would pass out with the smoky conditions the worst she's experienced.

The world no.180 was forced to retire mid-match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday due to the hazardous smoke lingering from bushfires in Victoria's east.

Jakupovic was leading her round one Open qualifying match against Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele when she collapsed to her knees with a coughing fit.

Smoke haze is seen across the Melbourne skyline ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 15, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"I was really scared that I would collapse. That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk anymore," Jakupovic said.

"I don't have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat.

"The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn't breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor."