It wasn't quite Hit For Haiti. I don't know if anything could match the glorious spontaneity of that Sunday afternoon last year. But Rally For Relief this afternoon was big fun, and the cause was extremely important. (If you haven't already, please donate - you can do so here.)
It was only a short event but it felt longer - probably because of the masses of time we spent queueing and then sitting in the arena, waiting for the players to come on. (Though there was a Federer practice session going on, so who was complaining? NOT ME.) There were a lot more players than last year - the event opened with ten players walking on.
The Gold Team: Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Justine Henin, Lleyton Hewitt (c)
The Green Team: Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka, Pat Rafter (c)
All ten of the players were micced up, and they were hilarious. I can't really convey the humour of events like these in words - perhaps you can try and YouTube it, if you weren't lucky enough to be there! - but it was in great spirit, great fun, and was great tennis. Honorable mentions have to go to Andy Roddick for taking on linesman duties and Novak Djokovic for both conducting a rally while sitting down and getting into the press pit. Dishonorable mention goes to Andy Murray for substituting grunting for humour and Lleyton Hewitt for trying to bring his son Cruz onto court (Cruz promptly burst into tears!) even if it was epically cute!
And then this lot went off and four more came on for a match of doubles - Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters against Roger Federer and Sam Stosur. These four weren't micced and I feel like this was a bit of a failing - all four of them were micced up last year and were good value for money (though Stosur was a bit quiet). However, you have nothing to complain about when you have seen... drumroll... FEDAL DOUBLES.
Yes, it's true. Yes, it happened. The players pretty soon switched sides and we had girls against boys. I'm sure I'm not the only tennis fan who thinks it would be legendary for these two to play some matches together, and this may be the closest we ever get to it! And they're not a bad team, either... even though they were holding back a bit... but not so much that the girls didn't beat them fair and square!
All in all, I cannot overstate the value of events like these, both for tennis and the wider community. This kind of exhbition allows the players to cut loose and put their personalities on show - something we don't see enough of - which really does attract new fans to the sport. And much more importantly, it was a major contribution to alleviating the crisis currently felt in Queensland. Over $1.5 million was raised by Rally For Relief, and that total is still rising. Please donate - support tennis and support Australia.
(Sidebar: Nicolas Mahut plays Brian Dabul third match up on Court 14 tomorrow. I will be there. Anyone else?)
1 month ago