Tennis Australia says plans are in place to support those affected by the country’s bushfires after star Nick Kyrgios’s proposal for a charity exhibition match to raise funds ahead of this month’s Australian Open gained rapid support.
The world No.30 posted his idea to Twitter late on Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon the concept was gathering pace.
“The more exposure it gets I think we have the potential to do something pretty special there,” Kyrgios told media ahead of the inaugural ATP Cup, where he’ll represent Australia in Brisbane from Friday.
“All the heartbreak this summer; it’s pretty tragic what’s going on, especially with my hometown, Canberra, being under a bit of smoke, the most hazardous smoke in the world at the moment.
“To see Canberra like that, it’s pretty tough to see.”
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 2, 2020
Kyrgios later tweeted that he would donate $200 for every ace he hit this summer, while Australian teammate Alex de Minaur responded saying he’d go to $250 per ace, because: “I don’t think I’ll be hitting as many aces as you mate.”
The big-serving Canberran nailed 597 aces in 2019, and while he’s not expected to match that figure in a single summer, he is certainly likely to fetch a healthy sum for donations.
— alex de minaur (@alexdeminaur) January 2, 2020
The ATP Cup, which will be played between Sydney, Perth and Brisbane from Friday, announced in a tweet that every ace served in its inaugural competition will see the tournament donate $100 to the Red Cross.
With more than 1500 aces expected to be served, the tournament contribution is expected to exceed $150,000.
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 2, 2020
Many of the game’s headline acts, including world number one Rafael Nadal and number two Novak Djokovic, are in Australia to play in the newly minted teams event ahead of the year’s first grand slam at Melbourne Park.
Last year Kyrgios, John Millman, Nadal and Milos Raonic played an exhibition match in Sydney in a Team Australia vs Team World Fast4 format.
Australian ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said the Australian Open’s status as one of the country’s biggest events meant they had a platform to provide significant support.
“Christmas and the new year should be a happy time for these families and lots of these people are doing it pretty tough out there,” he said.
“So I think all of us feel like we would like to help in some way.”
The deadly fires continue to burn across the country and Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia “wanted to help these communities in a meaningful way”.
“For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts,” he said.
“We … will announce a number of fundraising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks.
“Stay tuned for further announcements.”
Meanwhile, Tennis Australia is set to announce next week’s Canberra International Challenger event will be moved to Bendigo.
The move is being made due to the ongoing smoke over Canberra and the bushfire crisis.