I wasn't expecting to see any tennis today. I was going to fly down from Sydney and spend the day leisurely poking around Melbourne shopping and buying far too many clothes, which I usually do the second I set foot in Melbourne. I also intended to spend at least three hours drinking coffee on Degraves St.
But Roger Federer had a little something to say about that.
I can honestly say that the Hit for Haiti was the most fun you could ever dream of seeing on a tennis court, and that it was the best fundraiser I could possibly imagine. Federer and his team of stars amassed more than $200K for the people of Haiti - $10 entry fee for a sell out Rod Laver Arena and then additional donation. And boy did these guys deliver.
The exhibition featured two teams - Team Red, which was Roger, Serena, Sam Stosur and Lleyton, and Team Blue, which was Rafa, Djoko, Kimmie and A-Rod. They started off with the four guys playing, and then subbed in the women (which, as anyone who was there can tell you, included Nole) and kept subbing throughout. Bernard Tomic made a late appearance for Team Blue, which was kind of... random. But fun.
All the players were miked up, and - with the possible exception of Sam Stosur, who I think was a little intimidated - all of them had a lot to say. Whoever would have thought that Roger Federer was an undiscovered comic genius? Djokovic tried to steal the show, of course, and despite my dislike of him, I warmed to him a lot. Rafa was also totally hilarious - I loved his mock crises of confidence! And Kim was great, and Serena and Nole had a great rapport, and...
This was SO MUCH FUN. My previous tennis fun benchmark was set up the mixed doubles proset played by Dmitry Tursunov, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Tommy Robredo and Nadia Petrova at Hopman Cup a few years back - but Hit For Haiti totally had it covered. I would competely give up real tennis for these awesome exos... not that these exos would exist without tennis.
All credit to the players - especially Federer, who pulled this whole event together in a day. It's a testament to his personality and to tennis in general that this exhibition was able to fill, and fill easily, a massive stadium like Rod Laver Arena. I don't think anyone begrudged a single dollar. It's lovely to see the players having fun and getting a sense of their personality. "Serena's got her serve, and I have a massive smash," quoth Roger. "Is easy for us!" Nadal declared after he made some ridiculous shot.
I can't imagine a better way to spend the annual Boring Sunday, on which there is no tennis. Hey Roger, how do you feel about making this an annual charity event...?
4 weeks ago