Novak Djokovic, winner of 16 singles Grand Slam titles, feels the authorities should postpone the scheduling of the Australian Open if the smoke caused due to the catastrophic bushfire in the country could prove hazardous.
The 108th Australian Open – the opening major of 2020 – is set to take place at the Melbourne Park from January 20, but the city has been covered by a blanket of smoke due to the burning and has resulted in deteriorating air quality. Djokovic, who also is part of the ATP Players Council, on Sunday, kept the option of delaying the event open.
“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… because of some extreme weather and conditions, you just have to consider it.
“But I think that’s probably the very, very last option for anything. I think they’re going to try to do anything to not delay in terms of days and when it starts. I mean, and I understand why, but if it comes down to those conditions affecting the health of players, I think we should definitely consider it.”
Last week, tennis officials decided to relocate the Canberra International and 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, shed light on the matter, saying people from the council have spoken to Tennis Australia Chief Craig Tiley about the matter.
“They’re obviously tracking the situation every single day as it’s evolving and hopefully calming down with the 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 for anybody.”