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Australian Open women’s draw: Coco Gauff faces Venus Williams in first-round Wimbledon rematch


The first round of the Australian Open will feature a rematch of last year’s most impressive Grand Slam upset. Coco Gauff, a 15-year-old Tennis wunderkind and the tournament’s youngest female competitor, will face off against Venus Williams, the tournament’s oldest at 39 years old.

The last time these two faced off was in the first round at Wimbledon, where Gauff’s 6-4, 6-4 upset over Williams gave the teenager her first-ever victory at a major. Beyond the fact that this kid was beating one of the most accomplished names in tennis in the sport’s most famous tournament, this was upset was completed on a surface where Venus was supposed to be at her best, and at a venue where she has won five of her seven major titles. Gauff would go on to become the youngest person to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis in 1996.

The big-name matchups don’t stop there for the tournament. Provided they make it to the third round, the winner of Gauff-Williams could very well be facing another young star in the sport: Naomi Osaka, the winner of last year’s Australian Open. Whoever survives that test, will likely see Serena Williams, who has been desperately searching for her 24th Grand Slam title since giving birth to her daughter, in the quarterfinals. 

The first round of the tournament begins on Jan. 19 in Melbourne, Australia.





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Alexander Zverev Endures Week Of Prep Like No Other For Australian Open | ATP Tour


Alexander Zverev has had a week of preparation before a Grand Slam unlike any other in his career this week in Melbourne.

Two-a-days? The 22-year-old has been enduring three practices a day and logging five to seven hours on court ahead of the season’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, which starts Monday.

The week before a Grand Slam is typically a lighter week of practice for players, especially those in the Top 10. But Zverev was disappointed with his ATP Cup showing for Germany in Brisbane – he went 0-3 against Aussie Alex de Minaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Canadian Denis Shapovalov – and wanted to fix on the practice courts what troubled him.

“I need to get my tennis back because how I was playing at the ATP Cup was just not going to be good enough to do well at a Grand Slam. I know that, my team knows that, my coaching staff knows that. The hours are in now. Now it’s just about getting the final preparations right,” Zverev said on Friday in Melbourne.

The seventh seed is looking to reach past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time. Zverev has twice reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals (2018, 2019). His best showing in Melbourne came last year when he made the fourth round before falling to Milos Raonic of Canada.

This was more like a training block for me really than a preparation for a Grand Slam. But it’s also different: I’ve never been past a quarter-final at a Grand Slam. Maybe this will also be something new and something different and maybe it will work as well,” Zverev said.

Zverev said, in particular, he worked on his serve, which had troubled him in Brisbane and at times last year. His serve was working well in practice, he said, which typically bodes well for his matches.

“I’m also not a player that gets too nervous or too emotionally down when I play matches. When something doesn’t work in practice, that’s when it doesn’t work in matches,” he said.

“For example, at ATP Cup, I was not able to serve in practice as well. It was just bad with the timing. It was just off. Normally when it gets better in practice, it also will automatically get better on the match court. Maybe not in the first match or the first set, but I think gradually it will improve as well on the match court.”

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Zverev isn’t counting himself as a favourite to win the season’s first major championship, but he’s not counting himself out, either, as he expects the usual flurry of upsets Down Under during the first month of the season.

Other players are playing better than me. So this is also a process. I’m happy to know that I can go out there and feel comfortable. Maybe go through a few matches, and then, normally what happens with me is the further I can go in the tournament, the better I start playing,” he said.

I think a lot of young guys have a chance this year, maybe more than the last few years. It’s going to be interesting to see. I think there will be some upsets during the week, I think some young guys maybe will lose earlier than we think they will. But I also think some young guys maybe will do better than we think they will.”

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And although the three-time ATP Masters 1000 titlist doesn’t arrive in Melbourne with heaps of momentum, he’s prepared to fight his way through the draw.

I will still try my best. I will still work my butt off to win every single point that I play out there. If it works, great, if it doesn’t, I will do the same and train again,” Zverev said.

As he knows, practice is great but it’s not match play.

The day when you’re on court everything changes,” he said, “and nobody really cares what you’ve done the weeks before.”





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Australian Open qualifier calls Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ‘selfish’ for not speaking about air quality


The Australian bushfires have already impacted the Australian Open, causing a two-hour delay in Wednesday’s qualifying round and causing many players to complain about not being able to breathe well. Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic withdrew from a qualifying match on Tuesday for fear she would collapse after suffering a coughing fit. 

With the air quality a concern, one qualifier in particular is calling out two stars for not standing up to the issue. Canadian Brayden Schnur is calling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal “selfish” for not speaking up about potentially hazardous playing conditions, and claimed their objectives were not in the right place. 

The Canadian, seeded third in the qualifying tournament, commented that the conditions are not what they should be and it is impacting the athletes. 

He went on saying:

“It’s got to come from the top guys — Roger and Rafa are a little bit selfish in thinking about themselves and their careers. Because they’re near the end and all they’re thinking about is their legacy and they’re not thinking about the sport itself and trying to do what’s good for the sport. So those guys need to step up.”

The 24-year-old says the air quality is setting back some athletes more than others. 

“You feel super dryness in your throat. That’s 100% not normal and players who have asthma are at a huge disadvantage right now,” he said. He also compared the air to smoking a cigarette. 

Despite the two-hour delay on Wednesday, the air was still deemed “unhealthy” when play began. 

Schnur says it is the bigger names in the tournament who need to speak up so the organizers pay attention to the issue at hand. He wants them to be a voice for those who are not household names and is not afraid to call them out on it. 

The Australian Open main draw is currently scheduled to begin on Monday.





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Dennis Novak Advances In Australian Open Qualifying | ATP Tour


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Top seed Dennis Novak seeks his second main draw appearance at the Australian Open.


Schnur advances on Wednesday

Top-seeded Austrian Dennis Novak wasted no time getting down to business on Wednesday in the opening round of Australian Open qualifying, sprinting past German Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-2 in 57 minutes.

Concerns around the air quality in Melbourne affected Wednesday’s schedule, with many matches being pushed to Thursday. Only 12 matches were completed during the day.

Third-seeded Canadian Brayden Schnur rallied to defeat Austrian Sebastian Ofner 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. Fellow Canadian Steven Diez, the No. 23 seed, moved through Barbadian Darian King 6-2, 6-2.

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Lorenzi Begins Chase For Australian Open Main Draw

Ernesto Escobedo produced the comeback of the day in his 2-6, 7-6(8), 7-6(7) win over fellow American Mitchell Krueger. Escobedo saved three match points in the second-set tie-break before going on to prevail in two hours and 17 minutes.

Click here to view all the results from Day 2 of qualifying.

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Serena Williams ends title drought in New Zealand, but will the momentum lead to a 24th Grand Slam title?


For the first time in 1,079 days, Serena Williams has hoisted a championship trophy. The 38-year-old defeated unseeded Jessica Pegula — daughter of Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula — 6-3, 6-4, to win the ASB Classic on Sunday in Auckland, New Zealand. 

The victory ended a titleless drought that stretched back to the Australian Open in 2017, and included the period she gave birth to her daughter. Here’s what that clearly special moment looked like:

If her expression wasn’t clear enough, she solidified her happiness in her postmatch comments.

“It feels good. It’s been a long time,” Williams said. “I think you can see the relief on my face. I played an incredible opponent today in Jessica, and honestly, it was a great match, and I couldn’t have played anyone better in the final.”

Williams even became the latest tennis start to pledge money to relief funds for victims of the ongoing Australian wildfires, donating her winner’s check of $43,000. Others who have donated include Ashleigh Barty, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios and Maria Sharapova.

While a drought of any capacity for a former champion is unpleasant, Williams found herself in the unfortunate position of often getting as close as possible to a title before ultimately falling short. Since returning to the sport after giving birth, she’s made five tournament finals and lost every single one. At Wimbledon, her losses came against Angelique Kerber (2018) and Simona Halep (2019). At the U.S. Open, it was Naomi Osaka (2018) and Bianca Andreescu (2019), with the Andreescu also beating Williams in the Canadian Open just a few weeks prior.

Despite the fact that she’s still making these finals in her late thirties, the belief in her chances to win 24th Grand Slam title has begun to wane a fair amount. But this win in Auckland might very well put a stop to the bleeding as the tournament serves as a tune-up of sorts prior to the Australian Open — a tournament she’s won seven times — that begins on January 20.





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Team Serbia Triumphs; ATP Cup By The Numbers | ATP Tour


Team Serbia defeated Team Spain 2-1 in a blockbuster final to win the first ATP Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney. 

Roberto Bautista Agut gave Spain the early advantage with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Dusan Lajovic before Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6(4) in the battle of the No.1 players. Djokovic and Viktor Troicki then clinched the live doubles rubber over Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 to seal the title.

BY THE NUMBERS

For the past 10 days, the world’s top 24 countries have excited and delighted fans across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney for the love of country.

In total, 220,319 fans attended the first ATP Cup.

By the numbers brings you all the facts, stats and need-to-know details of ATP Cup 2020. 

On-court action
118 players, including eight of the Top 10 featuring world No. 1 Rafael Nadal (ESP) and No. 2 Novak Djokovic (SRB), 16 of the Top 20, 23 of the Top 30 and 35 of the Top 50 singles players starred in the inaugural edition
Group Stages saw two groups of four teams play at Pat Rafter Arena (Brisbane), RAC Arena (Perth) and Ken Rosewall Arena (Sydney) for a spot in the Final Eight
Australia, Great Britain, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Argentina won through to the Final Eight courtesy of winning their group
Belgium and Canada were the two best second-placed teams
A total of AUD $22 million / USD $15 million in prize money was awarded
Up to 750 FedEx ATP Rankings points were up for grabs with points awarded for match wins in each round, with the number of points depending on the ranking of the opponent and the round of the result. In doubles, an undefeated player who played and won all possible doubles matches earnt up to 250 FedEx ATP Rankings points 
Three of the four semifinals captains were former world No.1s: Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) (singles), Marat Safin (RUS) (singles) and Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) (doubles)
There were three playing captains among the 118 playing group: Gilles Simon (FRA), Steve Darcis (BEL) and Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 
At 41 years of age (19-04-1978), doubles player Toshihide Matsui (JPN) was the oldest of the 118 player field
At 17 years of age (20-11-2002), singles player Khololwam Montsi (RSA) was the youngest of the 118 player field  
Australia was the only team in the Final Eight to feature five players who competed in Group Stage play
129 matches and 304 sets were contested across the 10 days of competition 
Four countries progressed to the Final Eight without losing a tie – Australia, Russia, Serbia, Spain 
Australia and Spain were the only countries to advance to the Final Eight without losing a match 
Spain won 90 percent of their sets in the Group Stage – the most of any country
Spain won 65.8 percent of their games in the Group Stage – the most of any country
At 204 minutes, Dan Evans (GBR) and Alex de Minaur’s (AUS) quarterfinal clash was the longest of the tournament.

Attendance
220,319 fans shared in the excitement of the ATP Cup across the three host cities 
Day 2 (4 January) was the busiest day of the tournament attracting 31,631 spectators across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney
The final between Serbia and Spain attracted a sell-out 10,223 crowd at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena
Perth hosted the highest attended session during the Group Stages with 8,139 fans turning up for Spain vs. Japan.

Innovation 
Team Zones in the corners of the court brought players closer to fans than ever before 
o Captains, players and coaches were equipped with access to real time statistics, data, insights and match vision and had the ability to bring up any points played according to specific match statistics at the touch of a button, as well as bookmark specific points for post-match analysis
o The Team Zone offered access to ATP’s Second Screen, an advanced platform providing player and ball tracking data in real time
Strategy Rooms gave unprecedented access to match analysis and debriefing tools to captains and their teams
Video Review (VR) enabled communication between Chair Umpires and VR operators and greater review capacity with six new and dedicated foot fault cameras. VR is designed to assist with contentious officiating decisions such as double bounces, foul shots, touches or invasion. Following a previous trial at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, the ATP Cup became the first FedEx ATP Rankings event in history to use VR
On court coaching was allowed for the team captain and competing players’ individual coaches, while fellow team members were permitted to assist with input during changeovers and set breaks.

Accolades
Australian tennis great Ken Rosewall unveiled the new canopy roof of the $50.5 million upgrade to Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre
Aussie tennis legend Tony Roche was presented with ATP’s Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award for excellence, leadership, respect, and true love for the sport of tennis and the art of coaching.

Aces for Bushfire Relief Initiative 

A total of 1,322 aces were served and AUD $132,200 donated to Tennis Australia’s Aces for Bushfire Relief initiative 
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) served the most aces of any player with 69 aces to his name
ATP players donated AUD $725,000 to WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund.

Partners
The ATP Cup attracted a strong cohort of premium brands for the first edition of the tournament
Host city partners Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Marketing, Tourism WA and Destination NSW hosted the tournament across Australia 
Luxury watchmaker Rolex was the official timekeeper of the ATP Cup 
Marriott Bonvoy accommodated the playing group, coaches, VIPs and tournament staff at participating properties in each city 
ANZ continued its support of Tennis Australia’s grassroots program ANZ Tennis Hot Shots with a number of participation initiatives taking place during the tournament 
Players across the three cities were transported by a fleet of 90 Kia cars during the tournament 
Dunlop supplied the official tennis balls 
Carlton & United Breweries (CUB)’s Stella Artois and Pure Blonde Organic Cider, Schweppes, Canadian Club, Aperol and Treasury Wines kept spectators refreshed
La Roche-Posay provided spectators with sunscreen 
Toshiba provided onsite technology support
BLK Sport outfitted staff, ball kids, officials and volunteers in technical apparel. 

Tournament operations 
235 ball kids aged between 12 and 16 years of age participated in the ATP Cup across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney 
694 volunteers gave their time, supporting ATP Cup activations, accreditation, court services, media operations, patron services, player services, locker room and transport
There was a total of nine chair and 145 line umpires officiating at the tournament including 32 from overseas representing 18 countries and 22 from interstate

Trophy 
The ATP Cup trophy was made in Australia from locally sourced materials
Made from sterling silver, the stunning symmetrical design of the ATP Cup consists of 24 shards, with each representing one of the 24 countries in competition. The shards support a silver stem adorned with a hand-blown glass silver sphere, replicating both a traditional tennis ball and the hemisphere logo of the event
A team of six dedicated more than 320 hours to designing and producing the ATP Cup
It stands 50 centimetres tall
As well as the ATP Cup, ABC Bullion are responsible for producing the Australian Open men’s singles trophy, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup and the Melbourne Cup.

Media
239 media representatives including 150 local and 89 international media provided detailed coverage of the ATP Cup Group Stages and Final Eight 
More than 125 press conferences took place during the tournament. 

Production 
Full court LED screens surrounded centre court in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney and heightened the in-stadium experience, providing a dynamic platform for entertainment, replays, reviews and stats
State-of-the-art production captured behind-the-scenes footage and rare player access, players’ team dynamics and unique content across social media and broadcast throughout the event
The Veronicas raised the roof at Ken Rosewall Arena as part of the prelude to the ATP Cup final. The Aussie pop duo performed two of their hit songs – In My Blood and Untouched. 

Broadcast
The ATP Cup was broadcast in more than 180 territories worldwide 
More than 15,000 broadcast hours in 40+ languages was expected
Domestically, the ATP Cup was broadcast on Channel Nine 
The ATP Cup host broadcast was produced by Tennis Australia and featured 100 cameras across the three cities utilising world leading broadcast technology 
Live cameras included NetCams in all stadiums, GCams in all stadiums, RF beauty cameras in each city and Spidercam for the Final Eight 
Camera and audio design specifically developed with the unique court set up in mind – taking in the team zones in the corners of the court where players and their team mates sat side-by-side during matches  
Electronic Line Calling as well as the all-new Video Review and endless coverage of key areas behind the scenes put viewers in every gym and strategy room
A contribution ring of 32 feeds between Brisbane, Perth and Sydney and up to 16 feeds were distributed off shore with live action for more than 17 hours a day
Hundreds of pieces of post-produced event content were created
Almost 300 broadcast crew and talent from all over the world worked on the coverage including a group of 21 of the world’s leading tennis experts – amongst them Jim Courier, Tim Henman, Samantha Smith, Mark Petchey, Roger Rasheed, Sam Groth, Casey Dellacqua, Joshua Eagle, Todd Woodbridge, Robbie Koenig and John Fitzgerald
A newly developed scoring graphics package plus a suite of virtual and augmented reality graphics and some exclusive court surface chroma key graphics also featured throughout the coverage
Up to five cameras with augmented reality capabilities were in use throughout the tournament.

Social media 
The most popular post on Instagram: “It’s pretty sad, it’s tough” Nick Kyrgios’ post match interview  
The most popular post on Facebook: Team Spain painting challenge 
The most popular post on Twitter: Aces for bushfire 

ATPCup.com
The top five countries to visit ATPCup.com were Australia, United States, Canada, United Kingdom and India
The top three articles were: Learn More About 2020 ATP Cup Teams, Final Eight Qualification Scenarios, Learn More About Team Australia
The most popular three videos were: Spain Breaks Serve After Successful Challenge, De Minaur/Kyrgios Clinch Tie In Dramatic Fashion, Hot Shot: Nadal Clinches Double Break After Marathon Point
Throughout the tournament period there were 331 videos uploaded to the ATP Cup website. 

The ATP Cup is supported by official Host City partners, Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane Marketing, Tourism WA and Destination NSW.





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Roberto Bautista Agut Leads Dusan Lajovic In ATP Cup Final | ATP Tour


Roberto Bautista Agut is one set away from giving Spain a 1-0 lead against Serbia in the ATP Cup final on Sunday night in Sydney.

Spain’s No. 2 singles player and the World No. 10 broke Lajovic in the 12th game to claim the opener 7-5. The Spaniard’s consistent deep groundstrokes and aggressive mindset troubled Lajovic as the Serbian sliced a backhand into net on set point.

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Bautista Agut broke and jumped to a 3-0 lead, baiting Lajovic in side-to-side rallies. But Lajovic began injecting more pace into his forehand and dictating whenever the opportunity arose. He broke back in the fifth game, cuing the trumpets and flag waving from the overwhelmingly pro-Serbia crowd.

The Spaniard leads their head-to-head 3-0, with their last meeting coming at the 2018 Swiss Indoors Basel.

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Rafa v Novak Blockbuster In ATP Cup Final!


World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will play next for an Open Era record 55th time. Djokovic leads their head-to-head 28-26 (19-7 on hard courts).

The Serbian is 8-0 in matches and 17-0 in sets against Nadal on hard courts since the 2013 US Open final. Twelve months ago, at the 2019 Australian Open, Djokovic gave Nadal his only straight-sets loss in 27 Grand Slam finals.

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WATCH: Coco Gauff reminds her dad not to curse on television during pep talk at Auckland Open


During 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s Round of 16 match up with Laura Siegemund at the Auckland Open, Corey Gauff, Coco’s father and coach, took some time to give his daughter some words of encouragement about her performance. Like any good coach, Gauff complimented her effort, talked about what she was doing well and gave his perspective on how her opponent was trying to beat her. But the pep talk turned into a teaching moment that went both ways when Coco had to give her dad a lesson on television etiquette. 

At one point in his message, Corey says to Coco, “There’s one thing you did the last three games: you ain’t give up no free points on her damn serve, her serve is weak.” This prompted the quick look of embarrassment from Coco that teenagers are all-too-familiar with when it comes to dealing with parents. It’s hard to decide what was the funniest part of the interaction: Corey’s apology that went directly into his microphone, or his attempt to explain that “damn” really isn’t a curse word.

Unfortunately for Coco, this was where her run in the tournament ended. After capturing the opening set 7-5, she dropped the next two which delayed what would have been the first-ever professional meeting between Gauff and Serena Williams. Gauff’s rise to stardom began last summer in Wimbledon when she upset Venus Williams in the first round.





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Roberto Bautista Agut Wins To Nudge Spain Closer To ATP Cup SF | ATP Tour


© Peter Staples/ATP Tour


Roberto Bautista Agut dominates to push Spain closer to the ATP Cup semi-finals on Friday.


Nadal to try to clinch against Goffin

Roberto Bautista Agut has still not dropped a set at the ATP Cup, and Spain is one win away from facing the host country Australia in the ATP Cup semi-finals.

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Bautista Agut, the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in the tournament (No. 10), beat Belgium’s Kimmer Coppejans, who replaced Steve Darcis, 6-1, 6-4 on Friday night in Sydney. Bautista Agut broke four times and won 67 per cent (10/15) of his second-serve return points.

Rafael Nadal will face David Goffin for a chance to clinch the ATP Cup Final 8 matchup. Nadal leads his ATP Head2Head series 4-1 against Goffin.

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Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to play in charity event for Australian bushfire relief


Australia has been suffering from bushfires that have gone through over 20 million acres and killed an estimated 1 billion animals and 25 people, according to CBS News. Many have reached out to help, including athletes and celebrities. A tennis event, called the Australian Open Rally for Relief, is set to raise funds for the fire efforts and it was announced Wednesday that superstars including Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have agreed to participate. 

Those three tennis greats will take part along with Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the event scheduled to take place on Jan. 15 at Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena.

The money from the tickets, which are being sold for between $24-$27, will be donated to the cause.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley commented on the events that have transpired and how grateful he is to see people coming together to help. 

“This unprecedented bushfire crisis is devastating people, properties, communities, livestock and animals across the country and our hearts go out to all those affected,” he said. “The response from the tennis community — our players, clubs, partners and international tennis bodies — has been overwhelming and it’s wonderful to see everyone pull together.

He also added that the players have been quick to help and want to do what they can. “The players are keen to be involved — we’ve had a tremendous response from them and they are keen to help.”

Many in the tennis community have been giving back on their own, on top of the commitment to the relief rally. Kygrios pledged $140 for every ace he hit in future tournaments. 

For every ace across the upcoming six tournaments, Tennis Australia is going to donate $69. They also are giving $700,000 to help with the rebuilding of the tennis facilities impacted by the fires.

Maria Sharapova donated $17,400 and also left 10 pairs of signed tennis shoes at a hotel and is asking that anyone who wants them gives $206.

Novak Djokovic agreed to match her donation and the world’s No. 2-ranked men’s player is giving $17,400.





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