Kyrgios to make donations to Australian bushfire relief efforts

Nick Kyrgios led the way as tennis pledged financial support to help victims of the Australian bushfires.

The ongoing disaster has seen lives and homes lost and vast areas of land ravaged by fire, with no end yet in sight.

The new tennis season will begin in Australia on Friday as the inaugural ATP Cup gets under way in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, with the Australian Open starting on January 20.

Kyrgios tweeted on Wednesday: “C’mon @TennisAustralia surely we can do a pre @AustralianOpen exho (exhibition) to raise funds for those affected by the fires?”

On Thursday, he pledged to donate 200 Australian dollars (approximately £106) for every ace he serves over the next month, and fellow Australian players Alex De Minaur, John Millman, John Peers and Sam Stosur quickly followed suit with similar promises.

A subsequent announcement came from the ATP Cup that 100 dollars (approximately £53) for every ace served in the competition will be donated to the Australian Red Cross bushfire relief efforts, with the total expected to exceed 150,000 dollars (approximately £79,000).

In a message on Twitter on Thursday, Australian Open tournament director and Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley revealed that plans were afoot.

Large areas of Australia have been devastated by fire
Large areas of Australia have been devastated by fire

He wrote: “For weeks we’ve been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts.

“We want to help these communities in a meaningful way and 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.”

Cricket Australia has also announced plans to auction off players’ shirts from the Boxing Day Test win against New Zealand, with funds going to the Australian Red Cross.

Sydney, where Great Britain play their opening match against Bulgaria on Friday, is the closest ATP Cup venue to the fires.

There have been concerns over air quality, but GB captain Tim Henman said his team will not be complaining.

He told reporters in Sydney: “In the context of what this country is going through with the bushfires and for us having to deal with perhaps slightly poor air quality, I think right there is the perspective. I don’t envisage it being a problem at all.

“Our thoughts and hearts go out to the people that have been so badly affected because it’s horrific. When you see the impact that the fires are having on communities, on lives, it’s tragic. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the guys when I say that we will be available to do what we can.”

Meanwhile, players due to compete in the Challenger event in Canberra, where air quality is currently very poor, were waiting to hear whether the tournament would go ahead.

In the absence of Andy Murray, who has pulled out of the ATP Cup and the Australian Open because of a lingering pelvic injury, Britain will be led by world number 42 Dan Evans.

"We're capable of winning any match out there!"#TeamGreatBritain ready for action at the @ATPCup#BackTheBrits 🇬🇧

— LTA (@the_LTA) January 1, 2020

Evans will take on Bulgarian number one Grigor Dimitrov, while Cameron Norrie should get Britain off to a winning start against 423rd-ranked Dimitar Kuzmanov.

The tie will be concluded with a doubles match between the scratch pairing of Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury and Alexandar Lazarov and Adrian Andreev.

The ATP has thrown a lot of money at this new flagship event, which comes only six weeks after the first edition of the new-look Davis Cup was played using a very similar format.

Most of the biggest names in the sport have turned out, including Kyrgios, who will play in Australia’s opening clash against Germany.