Sports stars pledge money for fire victims

Sports stars across Australia have followed the lead of Nick Kyrgios and pledged money towards fundraising efforts for bushfire victims.

NICK KYRGIOS.
NICK KYRGIOS. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios admits it's tough to focus on tennis as the bushfires devastating Australia and his hometown of Canberra remain front of mind.

But he is comforted by the "powerful" feeling that came with every one of his 20 valuable aces in Friday's ATP Cup-opening defeat of Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff.

The world No.30's impressive 6-4 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Struff helped Australia to a 1-0 lead in Brisbane.

Each ace meant $200 out of the Kyrgios pocket in an initiative he announced after originally proposing an exhibition fundraiser via Twitter on Wednesday.

That led to Tennis Australia on Friday announcing a "Rally for Relief" event on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 15.

Struff's 15 aces meant a total of $7500 was raised in just over 70 minutes at Pat Rafter Arena, with the ATP Cup also contributing $100 for every ace to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief fund.

"Seeing my home town being on alert and having the worst air quality in the world, it's tough to go out here and concentrate on tennis," Kyrgios said.

"Every ace I was hitting that's all I was thinking about ... and the crowd would be louder than usual (after an ace).

"It was on everyone's minds; it was powerful."

Tennis Australia will also donate proceeds from a Jessica Mauboy concert on January 19 to the Red Cross appeal and grant $1m for communities to rebuild tennis facilities.

TA chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the players to take part in the exhibition would be announced in coming days.

The world's top two players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are currently in Australia, preparing for the grand slam tournament.

"I'm glad the tennis world has taken the initiative and hopefully we can do whatever we can," Kyrgios said.

"We all earn a lot of money and at this stage a bottle of water can save a life."

NBA-bound LaMelo Ball, who plays for Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, pledged to donate one month of his NBL salary to help victims of the devastating fires.

"People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out," he said.

Big Bash League captains, Brisbane Heat's Chris Lynn and Melbourne Stars' Glenn Maxwell as well as Hurricanes batsman D'Arcy Short, have all pledged $250 for each six they hit in the competition.

As a mark of respect there will be no fireworks at Saturday's Melbourne BBL derby, where Renegades jerseys will be auctioned off.

Former Australian baseballer Simone Wearne kickstarted a campaign to donate for every home run hit in the Australian softball championships and a number of WNBL players have also got in on the act.

Australia's cricketers will auction off signed shirts from the Boxing Day Test while Cricket Australia will throw open the gates to firefighters during two SCG one-dayers against New Zealand in March, also using the trans-Tasman series as a fundraising drive.

Melbourne A-League clubs - Victory, City and Western United - will also donate $2 from every ticket sold at their matches this weekend.