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Sharapova’s exhibition match in Australia stopped due to smoke

Catastrophic bushfires have been raging in Australia since last October

TASS, January 14. Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova’s match at the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament against German Laura Siegemund has had to be called off in the second set because of heavy smoke that engulfed Melbourne on Tuesday, Herald Sun reports.

The match was stopped with Sharapova trailing 6-7 (4-7), 5-5 after two hours and 38 minutes of play. The Kooyong Classic is traditionally played as a warm-up tournament on the eve of the Australian Open - the first Grand Slam in the tennis calendar.

"I started feeling a cough coming toward the end of the second set but I've been sick for a few weeks so I thought that had something to do with it," the Russian said. "But then I heard Laura speak to the umpire and she said she was struggling with it as well."

Sharapova lauded the decision to call off the exhibition match as "the right call from officials" from a health standpoint.

Catastrophic bushfires have been raging in Australia since last October, starting from the country’s east coast. Fires overran large territories in southeast in New South Wales and Victoria and a few regions on the south coast.

The wildfires killed 26 people including five fire officers, destroyed more than 8.5 million hectares of forests, around 3,000 residential buildings and more than 6,000 other facilities. Australian scientists’ data suggests that more than a billion animals were killed by the disaster.

The 2020 Australian Open is held between January 20 and February 2, the tournament might be played this year on indoor courts due to the bushfires and heavy smoke pollution resulting from them.