Rally for Relief raises over $4 million for bushfire relief

Hannah Wilks:

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal jointly donated 250,000 Australian dollars and were joined by Serena Williams, Nick Kyrgios, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka and more in a charity exhibition match to raise funds for bushfire relief.

Although qualifying at the Australian Open was rained out on Wednesday, the Rally for Relief took place as planned under the closed roof of Rod Laver Arena.

The idea for an exhibition match to raise money to help communities and wildlife in the wake of ongoing fires in Australia, which have so far killed 28 people and destroyed an estimated 100,000 square kilometres of land, originated with Nick Kyrgios, who tweeted encouraging Tennis Australia to act at the beginning of the month.

The Australian Open has hosted exhibition matches before, most notably the Hit for Haiti in 2010, which was organised at Federer’s urging.

Twelve of the world’s top players ultimately took part in the Rally for Relief. Kyrgios and Federer played a one-set singles match with Federer won 7-6(4), while the remaining ten divided into teams headed by 23-time major champion Serena Williams and 2018 Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, who will shortly retire.

‘Team Williams’ comprised the American, supported by Nadal, French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, 2019 Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova and seven-time champion Djokovic.

On ‘Team Wozniacki’, the Dane was joined by Alexander Zverev, ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka and teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff.

World no. 1 Nadal announced that he and Federer had agreed to donate 250,000 Australian dollars to bushfire relief.

‘Hopefully that keeps inspiring the people to support this terrible disaster that we are going through,’ Nadal said.

Federer said:

‘It’s been difficult [to watch]. You wish that this doesn’t happen in your country. In Switzerland we don’t have these kind of extreme situations. I’m always happy to help. I wanted to raise awareness and raise money. And tell the people to still travel to Australia.’

The match ultimately raised over $4 million for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Firefighters were courtside for the match, with one – Deb Borg – even joining her favourite player, Nadal, to play a couple of points.

Nadal and Deb Borg, a firefighter from the Stuart Mill fire brigade, celebrate a point (Credit Image: © Sydney Low/CSM/Sipa USA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyrgios was one of the first to pledge $200 for every ace hit during January’s Australian tennis tournaments, with many other players joining in. Donations have been matched by tournaments including the ATP Cup, Brisbane International, Hobart International and Adelaide International.

World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty donated all her prize money from the Brisbane International to bushfire relief.

Kyrgios said:

‘It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. It’s so hard, I just wanted to send a message. That was an opportunity for me to use my platform.

‘I woke up the next day and it kind of exploded. It was so emotional.’

Here are some of the best photos, player reactions and videos from the Rally for Relief.

Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Petra Kvitova, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)
Nadal, Williams and Djokovic (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nadal and Djokovic during the doubles (Credit Image: © Sydney Low/CSM/Sipa USA)

Nadal and Djokovic played doubles together for Team Williams, and Nadal could not resist the opportunity to turn the traditional behind-the-back finger signals for doubles into a rude gesture aimed at Djokovic:

Nadal and Djokovic teamed up to tease ‘Next Gen’ opponents Tsitsipas and Zverev, first by making fun of how slowly the younger players moved at the change of ends:

Djokovic continued to play up the age angle, telling Tsitsipas and Zverev that the combined age of himself and Nadal was over 60, to which Zverev riposted: ‘We’ve got a combined age of 12 over here.’

Djokovic also told Tsitsipas he was ‘still in [his] nappies’ when Djokovic first played an underarm serve:

Petra Kvitova showed just how good she is at following instructions as she played alongside Nadal:

Reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka couldn’t resist getting a video of herself with the other members of Team Wozniacki:

Osaka also shared an extremely awkward hug with Tsitsipas, confirming her ‘adorkable’ persona (Zverev’s teasing did not help):

Djokovic served drinks to the other members of Team Williams:

Nadal announces a $250,000 donation from himself and Federer:

Coco Gauff, the youngest participant, tweeted a photo of all 12 player participants:

Nadal was extremely puzzled when asked to ‘throw back’ to presenters in the studio, much to the amusement of the other players:

Djokovic said it was the ‘greatest feeling’ to be involved: