British tennis player Liam Broady has blasted Australian Open officials over their decision to force players to compete in hazardous smoky conditions during qualifying at Melbourne Park this week.
Calls for a players union continue to grow, with Broady – the World No. 234 – taking to social media to let rip at Australian Open officials, saying their choice to make players compete in qualifying earlier in the week made his ‘blood boil’.
— Liam Broady (@Liambroady) January 15, 2020
Broady, who prides himself on his fitness, lost in the opening round of qualifying, declaring he was struggling to breathe after five games.
“The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago the more it boils my blood. We can’t let this slide,” Broady wrote on Twitter.
“The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face.
“Citizens of Melbourne were warned to keep their animals indoors the day I played qualifying, and yet were were expected to go outside for high intensity physical competition?
“What do we have to do to create a players union? Where is the protection for players, both male and female? When multiple players need asthma spray on court and they don’t even have asthma? When a player collapses and has to retire due to respiratory issues?
“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.”
Broady has been supported by numerous players on social media, including German veteran Dustin Brown, who tweeted it was the first time in his career that he was forced to use an asthma spray to restore his breathing.
Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia was forced to retire in a fit of coughing while on the brink of victory in her first round qualifying match on Tuesday, while Bernard Tomic also needed medical treatment.
Vasek Pospisil, a vocal member of the player’s council, labelled the situation as ‘absurd’ and echoed the call for a player’s union, while French player Alize Cornet also supported the movement.
I agree. We have to stick together and stop this nonsense #playersunion
— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 15, 2020
The social media outcry came after Canadian tennis player Brayden Schnur branded Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as ‘selfish’, saying the pair needed to use their influence to stick up for lower-ranked players.
The smoke in Melbourne has cleared for the time being, with qualifying due to be completed on Saturday, before main draw action commences from Monday.