Slovenia’s Dalila Jakupovic was leading 6-4 5-6 against Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele, but was unable to finish her service game at the end of the second set.
“I never experienced something like this and I was really scared,” Jakupovic told reporters.
“I was scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went on the floor (of the court) because I couldn’t walk any more. When I was on the ground it was easier to get some air.”
Jakupovic wasn’t the only player to comment on the hazardous conditions ahead of the year’s first grand slam.
Frenchman Gilles Simon was also critical of tournament organizers.
Australian Open organizers said conditions were improving and “constantly being monitored.”
“As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority,” said a statement, which added that further decisions would be made using on-site data, consultation with the medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria.
The Kooyong Classic in Melbourne’s suburbs, one of a number of warmup tournaments ahead of the Australian Open, was also affected by the smoke.
Maria Sharapova’s match against Germany’s Laura Siegemund was cut short with the players tied at 5-5 in the second set.
“After two-and-a-half hours that was the right call for me. I think both of us felt it,” Sharapova told reporters.
“In the unlikely case of extreme smoke conditions, the roofs will be closed on the three stadium courts and play will continue in their air-conditioned, air-filtered environment,” the official account tweeted.
“If smoke infiltrates the three stadium courts the air conditioning system will filter it out.”
Three of the Australian Open’s show courts at Melbourne Park — Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena — have retractable roofs that are closed in the case of rain or extreme heat, and the site also hosts the National Tennis Center, which has eight further indoor courts.
Players and organizations across the sport have committed to supporting bushfire relief efforts.
The Australian Open is also set to host a rally for relief exhibition in Melbourne Park on Wednesday, which will feature Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The grand slam gets under way next week and runs from January 20 to February 2.