World No. 103 Brayden Schnur has described the legendary Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as ‘selfish’, calling for the pair to use their platform to protest about the playing conditions during Australian Open qualifying.
Schnur, the third seed in qualifying, was fuming after being forced to play his first round against Sebastian Ofner in the smoky haze that engulfed Melbourne Park on Wednesday.
Despite conditions being more bearable than Tuesday – when Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was forced to retire due to a coughing fit – Schnur still struggled for over two hours on court before earning the win over Ofner.
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) January 14, 2020
A bunch of players have blasted Australian Open tournament officials and director Craig Tiley for making them take to court in conditions branded as hazardous to health by the official air quality index, but Schnur has taken a different approach, calling out Federer and Nadal for not using their influence to make a difference.
“It’s got to come from the top guys – Roger and Rafa are a little bit selfish in thinking about themselves and their careers,” Schnur told AAP.
“Because they’re near the end and all they’re thinking about is their legacy and they’re not thinking about the sport itself and trying to do what’s good for the sport – so those guys need to step up.”
Organisers delayed play by three hours on Wednesday, but the air quality index at 1.00pm was still being displayed as ‘unhealthy’ due to the smoke from the Victorian bushfires.
Schnur said playing tennis in these conditions was like smoking a cigarette.
“You feel super dryness in your throat,” he said. “That’s 100 per cent not normal and players who have asthma are at a huge disadvantage right now.”
Many other players have expressed their concerns about playing qualifying in the smoky conditions.
Noah Rubin has asked whether Federer or Nadal would be made to compete in the same conditions, while Nicole Gibbs – who overcame a battle with salivary gland cancer last year – tweeted her understandable discomfort about playing without professional advice from doctors.
— Nicole Gibbs (@Gibbsyyyy) January 15, 2020
Thankfully, a huge thunderstorm flooded Melbourne with rain on Wednesday, causing qualifying to be suspended for the day. Conditions are expected to be much better for the next couple of days.