Australia raises bush-fire relief fund

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are among a number of players who will feature in an exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open to raise funds for bushfire relief efforts, organizers announced on Wednesday.

Hundreds of fires have scorched more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres) of land an area the size of South Korea, killing 26 people and an estimated 500 million animals, and destroying over 1,000 homes.

All funds raised from the two-and-a-half hour event on January 15 at Rod Laver Arena called AO Rally for Relief, will be donated to the relief cause with tickets priced at A$54 ($37.09).

“This unprecedented bush-fire crisis is devastating as people, properties, communities, livestock and animals across the country and our hearts go out to all those affected.

“We felt it was vital we use all our events across the summer to make a meaningful contribution to help these people and communities rebuild their lives.

“The response from the tennis community… has been overwhelming. The world’s top players, boasting many Grand Slam titles between them, have committed to AO Rally for Relief,”  Tennis Australia CEO and tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement.

The event is part of the Aces for Bushfire Relief program, in which Tennis Australia is donating $A100 for every ace served at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Many players have also pledged individually, with French Open champion Ash Barty donating her Brisbane International prize money to the cause.

Nick Kyrgios promised to donate A$200 for every ace he serves this month while NBA great Dirk Nowitzki said he would match the Australian’s donation.

The Australian Open begins on January 20.

Amaka E. Nliam