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5 Jan, 2020 13:14

‘Conditions are a health concern for players’: Novak Djokovic worried about bushfires ahead of Australian Open

‘Conditions are a health concern for players’: Novak Djokovic worried about bushfires ahead of Australian Open

Serbian tennis icon Novak Djokovic has expressed concern over the air quality in Australia following devastating wildfires, adding that the season-opening Grand Slam event in Melbourne might be delayed.

The 32-year-old, who won his ATP Cup opener against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson on Saturday, said Australian Open organizers might consider delaying the start of the major tournament due to "extreme weather conditions."

READ MORE: Kyrgios leads the way: Tennis ace inspires Australian sport to unite to raise funds for bushfire victims

The defending Australian Open champion, who is also president of the ATP Player Council, stressed that players’ health should be the number one priority - even if it requires changes to the tournament schedule.

You have to consider it [delaying the start] because of some extreme weather or conditions,” Djokovic said.

That’s probably the very, very last option. (But) if it comes down to... the conditions affecting the health of players, you have to consider it.”

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It is tough for them because the schedule has to be respected, the Australian Open starts at a certain time so there are a lot of things involved. But a health concern is a health concern for anybody,” he added.

Terrifying large-scale bushfires have swept Australia, burning around five million hectares of land and causing incalculable damage to the continent’s wildlife.

Tennis stars, including five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty, are donating money to help fight the horrific consequences of the apocalyptic fires.

Barty said she will transfer her prize money from the Brisbane International to the bushfire relief fund, while Sharapova announced she will donate $25,000, asking Djokovic to match her donation.