Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been forced to defend themselves after receiving criticism for what was perceived as their lack of concern for the welfare of the players who have been playing in the Australian Open qualifiers.
Several low-ranked players commented that the top seeds have not been publicly vocal about the health risks that are being posed by the conditions during last week's qualifiers. The raging Australian bushfires have caused air pollution issues and players complained about Tennis Australia's decision to let the qualifiers push through in the unhealthy environment.
On Tuesday, while Melbourne residents and their pets were advised to stay indoors, the Australian Open qualifiers were given the green light to proceed. Several players have spoken out about the breathing difficulties they have had to endure. Because of this, all eyes were on the top stars. Despite not posting on social media, Federer said that he feels he had done as much as he could under the circumstances.
"Can I go on court and say, Everybody stop play? I can try. I don't think that's going to do much," Federer said, as quoted by the BBC. "So what can I do? I can go to the office, speak to them. I went to them the first day when it was bad on Tuesday, the next day on Wednesday when it was still bad," he added.
Meanwhile, World Number 1 Rafael Nadal also spoke up about the issue. He said that he spoke to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and he received what he perceived to be an "acceptable" answer regarding the situation.
"They told me that they have the right specialists here analysing and monitoring the air every four minutes. There are parameters, if it is over 200, we don't play, and if it is under 200 we normally play," he said.
Nadal is speaking about the level of particulate matter (PM) in the air, which is being used by the Australian Open organisers to determine air quality. The Olympics and other major sporting events normally push through with a PM limit of 300.