Australian Open qualifying was delayed on Tuesday due to poor air quality as smoke from bushfires in Australia impacted Melbourne.

Play was due to get underway at 10:00 local time (23:00 GMT), but thick smoke blanketed Melbourne, leading to it being pushed back by an hour.

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months and there have been concerns over player and spectator welfare at the year’s first grand slam, with the main draw beginning on Monday.

The poor air quality has already impacted the event, with the Australian Open announcing practice had also been suspended during the morning on Tuesday.

“Practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality,” a statement read.

“Qualifying matches will begin at 11am. Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored.

“Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria.

“As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority.”

Air quality in Melbourne has been in the ‘hazardous’ and ‘very poor’ range since midnight local time (13:00 GMT) in readings provided by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.