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Australian Open Hit For Haiti A Huge Success

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You know you are part of something special when eight of the world’s top tennis stars are under the same roof.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Aussies Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur united as a tennis family today by taking part in the Hit for Haiti fundraiser at Rod Laver Arena.

The 90-minute exhibition match was organised in less than 24 hours. The charity event proved to be a huge success, with a sell-out crowd. Representing the colours of the Haiti flag, Team Red (Federer, Williams, Hewitt and Stosur) defeated Team Blue (Roddick, Nadal, Djokovic, Clijsters, and late substitute Bernard Tomic) 7-6. Former Grand Slam champion turned tennis analyst Jim Courier was the chair umpire for the afternoon.

Spectators over the age of 12 paid $10 to watch the entertaining match, buying their tickets on the door. Russian star Maria Sharapova donated $10,000, while $20,000 was also collected in tin cans around the arena and around the grounds at a packed Garden Square. Today, $159,000 was raised through ticket sales and public donations alone.

It is very rare that you are given an opportunity to see Williams and Djokovic exchange banter from across the court or see Federer doing push-ups during a match, and the crowd lapped up every minute.

As soon as the gates to Melbourne Park opened on Sunday, thousands of excited tennis fans flocked into Rod Laver Arena for the charity event. From the moment the players stepped onto court, the crowd knew they were in for a special treat. The players were wearing microphone headsets, which meant the crowd were able to hear them joke amongst themselves and tease each other during the match.

After the opening game, Djokovic gave Roddick a shoulder rub when he sat down. It’s also not very often that you see defending Australian Open champion Nadal playing the role of a ballkid, handing out water bottles and towels.

Tournament Director Craig Tiley was delighted with the outcome of the charity event.

“It’s fantastic to see the tennis family from around the globe band together to help make a difference in this time of need” Tiley said.

“I would like to thank the players, staff and everyone involved in pulling off this event in such a short amount of time.”

Haiti was decimated by a devastating earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale last Tuesday. The United Nations has launched an appeal for hundreds of millions of dollars to try to help around three million people in need.

Donations can be made online to Partners in Health: www.pih.org

Posted by Shelia

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