Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia led 6-4 5-6 against the Swiss Stefanie Vogele, but could not finish her service game at the end of the second set.
“It was very difficult for me to breathe throughout the game. After 20 minutes I already had difficulties,” Jakupovic told Amanda Davies of CNN.
“I couldn’t make more than three shots running from left to right because I was already suffering from an asthma attack. Normally I don’t have asthma.”
Jakupovic said a physio gave him a breathing apparatus in the first set, but he began to feel worse at the end of the second.
“I just couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I couldn’t walk, so I just fell (to the floor) because I couldn’t stand up straight.”
“After that I had a panic attack because I couldn’t breathe. I must say it was very difficult. It was one of my most difficult games.”
Jakupovic was not the only player to comment on dangerous conditions before the first Grand Slam of the year.
Frenchman Gilles Simon was also critical of the tournament organizers.
The organizers of the Australian Open said conditions were improving and “constantly being monitored.”
“As always, the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans are our priority,” said a statement, adding that more decisions would be made using data on the site, consultations with the medical team, the Meteorology Office and EPA Victoria scientists.
The Kooyong Classic in the suburbs of Melbourne, one of several warm-up tournaments before the Australian Open, was also affected by smoke.
Maria Sharapova’s game against Germany’s Laura Siegemund was interrupted with the players tied at 5-5 in the second set.
“After two and a half hours that was the right decision for me. I think we are both sorry,” Sharapova told reporters.
“In the unlikely event of extreme smoke conditions, the roofs will close on the three stadium courts and the game will continue in its air-conditioned and air-filtered environment,” the official account tweeted.
“If the smoke infiltrates the three stadium courts, the air conditioning system will filter it.”
Three of the Australian Open exhibition grounds in Melbourne Park – Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena – have retractable roofs that are closed in case of rain or extreme heat, and the site also houses the National Tennis Center, which has eight more covered courts.
Players and organizations throughout the sport are committed to supporting relief efforts for forest fires.
The Australian Open will also organize a rally rally for help in Melbourne Park on Wednesday, which will feature Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Grand Slam starts next week and runs from January 20 to February 2.