Tennis aces have lots of fun in Haiti charity match

MELBOURNE - A charity match to raise money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake provided Roger Federer, Serena Williams and a handful of the world's top players some light relief on the eve of the Australian Open.

The two world number ones abandoned their normal training routines to team up with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic for a fund-raising exhibition.

"I was following it on TV and saw the devastation and I thought we should do something," said Federer, the brainchild of the idea. "It's a great thing and I'm happy the players were also in such good spirits."

The hastily-arranged match at a packed Rod Laver Arena raised more than $184700 (R1,3-million) in aid for the victims.

There were more wisecracks than aces as the players all joined in the irreverent mood of the mixed doubles match, hamming it up for the packed crowd at the Rod Laver Arena centre court.

When a line judge called Roddick for a foot-fault, the American could not resist a verbal volley: "I can't believe you called me in a charity match, you do realise Serena's playing."

Normal service will resume on today when the first grand slam of 2010 gets under way at Melbourne Park.

Maria Sharapova, who made a personal donation of $10000 (R74000) to the relief fund, will open proceedings on centre court against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko. - Reuters