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Tennis Australia promise to support bushfire victims

Tennis Australia promise to support bushfire victims
© Reuters
Nick Kyrgios took to social media to call for an exhibition match to be played ahead of the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia has responded to Nick Kyrgios' call for the sport to raise money to help people affected by the devastating bushfires in the country.

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?"

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

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 fund-raising and support initiatives that will be rolled out across the ATP Cup, Australian Open and our other events over the coming weeks.

Large areas of Australia have been devastated by fire
Large areas of Australia have been devastated by fire (Glen Morey/AP)

"Stay tuned for further announcements."

Kyrgios has already pledged to do his bit individually, tweeting: "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."

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.

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.

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