Tennis stars raise millions for Australian wildfire victims

Djokovic recorded a ninth consecutive hard-court win over world number one Rafa Nadal on Sunday as Serbia were crowned champions at the inaugural ATP Cup team event in Sydney

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Within two seasons in 2016 and 2017, super talented Swiss Belinda Bencic passed a long way from a teenager in the top-10 towards the top-150 exit, bouncing back in 2018 and showing her full potential in the season behind us to return into the elite.

As soon as the scale of the bushfire crisis became apparent, he was one of the first prominent tennis talents in Australia to ask the organizers of the Australian Open to do more for those affected by the disaster.

The ill will spilled over into Wednesday, with Canadian world number 103 Brayden Schnur taking aim at 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and world number one Rafael Nadal for not taking a vocal stand for the lower-profile players in qualifying.

"What I wanted to do was raise awareness, raise money and tell people to still come and travel to Australia because people probably think around the world that you can't right now", Federer said.

Tennis Australia said the night helped raise almost A$5m ($3.5m) for the victims of recent and ongoing fires in Australia that have killed 28 people and destroyed several thousands homes, majority in New South Wales and Victoria states.

That has included personal pledges and Aus$100 for each ace hit during the Australian tennis swing. Some of the big names also donated merchandise for an online auction Wednesday.

Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Stefanos Tsitsipas also took part.

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Williams led a team in Fast4 doubles, a shortened version of the game, boosting Thiem and Kvitova, along with Nadal and Djokovic playing together on the same side of the net.

But the evening's star turn saw Federer play a set against Australian bad boy Kyrgios, who has been driving force behind the fundraising effort. "It was emotional", Kyrgios, an Australian native, said.

Australia's devastating bushfires have claimed at least 28 lives, destroying over 2,000 homes and razed millions of hectares of wilderness.

Australian Open's qualifiers were disrupted for the second successive day because of the thick grey hazy in the morning due to the smoke of the bushfire. This was followed by smog-clearing rain.

Tennis chiefs have insisted any delays to the Grand Slam's scheduled start on Monday were unlikely given Melbourne Park has three roofed stadiums and eight other indoor courts which could be used in an emergency.

Fans in the crowd show their support during the Rally For Relief at Rod Laver Arena.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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