Tennis and cricket stars rally behind Australia bushfire relief04 January 2020
Tennis and cricket stars spearheaded by Nick Kyrgios and Chris Lynn on Friday pledged support for victims of bushfires raging around Australia, donating cash for every ace or six they hit.
The blazes have claimed 18 lives and forced mass evacuations, with the country bracing for a weekend heatwave expected to fan the deadly infernos.
Tennis Australia also announced a "Rally for Relief" exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 15 ahead of the Australian Open, with "the world's top players" taking part.
It also made a Aus$1.0 million (US$690,000) donation to help communities repair and rebuild tennis facilities damaged or lost in the bushfires.
Kyrgios, a controversial figure with a bad boy reputation, has been at the forefront of building support and pledged Aus$200 for each ace he serves in the Australian summer of tennis, starting with the ATP Cup, which began Friday.
"I'm kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I'll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer," tweeted the 24-year-old, who was handed a 16-week suspended ban in September after a series of outbursts.
His Australian teammate at the inaugural ATP Cup Alex de Minaur went one better.
"I like this, I will go $250 per ace, just because I don't think I'll be hitting as many aces as you mate," he replied, with Australian veteran Samantha Stosur also pledging $200 per ace.
Kyrgios, who will also play the upcoming Kooyong Classic and the Australian Open, on Thursday issued a call for fundraisers for victims of the blazes, which have been a big talking point at the 24-team ATP Cup being staged in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
Tournament director Tom Larner announced that each ace served at the 10-day event would deliver Aus$100 to bushfire relief.
The initiative is forecast to raise around Aus$150,000, with more than 1,500 aces expected to be sent down over the duration of the January 3-12 tournament.
"Most of the players are already keen to score aces and win a quick point, and having the chance to raise money for the bushfire appeal will give them that extra bit of motivation," he said.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said he was working with the ATP and WTA to extend the move to all tournaments in Australia this month, including at Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart.