Australian fires: Nick Kyrgios to donate money and cricket stars to pay tribute to firefighters

Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios was part of the Australian team that reached the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup in November

Nick Kyrgios will donate 200 Australian dollars (£106) for each ace he hits in events held in Australia in January to help those affected by the bushfires.

The Australian, 24, earlier called on Tennis Australia to host a fund-raising exhibition, with chief executive Craig Tiley confirming plans are being made.

Fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and John Millman pledged their own support, donating money for every ace they hit.

Meanwhile Australia's cricketers are planning tributes and fund-raising.

They and opponents New Zealand will wear black armbands in tribute to those affected by widespread bushfires in Australia when the teams meet in Friday's third Test in Sydney.

There will also be a minute's applause to honour the country's firefighters.

And it was announced on Thursday that ATP Challenger event the Apis Canberra International, which was set to begin in Canberra on 6 January, will relocate to Bendigo due to ongoing bushfire activity in the region.

Justin Langer and Tim Paine
Justin Langer and Tim Paine released a joint letter to local media to express their sympathy and solidarity with the country's firefighters

"We pray conditions improve, the fires ease and the rains come," said Australia coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine in a joint letter.

"And, above all else, we hope all Australians pull together and help each other through this incredibly difficult time."

The pair also said the firefighters were the "true heroes of every summer".

At least 18 people have died in blazes across the country.

Cricket Australia also announced there will be a fund-raising drive for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund during one-day matches between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney in March, while the team's shirts from the Boxing Day Test win over the Black Caps are being auctioned off.

Australia head into the final match of the three-Test series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.

The match may be hampered by the smoke from fires that have spread to the outskirts of Sydney and umpires have the option to suspend play if smoke affects air quality or visibility.

"Like rain, the rules are in place to add time, to suspend play. But what we're finding is smoke comes in quick but also goes quick," Cricket Australia's head of operations Peter Roach said.

"We might see some challenges across that day, but we'll play it like rain or adverse weather. Time can be added on."

A Big Bash match was abandoned in Canberra in December because of poor air quality, while players at golf's Australian Open in Sydney complained of stinging eyes and trouble breathing.

Tennis stars to join fund-raising drive

Kyrgios, Australia's number two tennis player, suggested on social media on Wednesday that Tennis Australia should use the presence of the world's best players in the country in the build-up to the Australian Open to raise funds.

Tiley, the governing body's chief, responded on Thursday, announcing that fund-raisers would be held at the inaugural ATP Cup, which begins on Friday, the Australian Open, which starts on 20 January, and warm-up events held between the two.

"For weeks we've been watching the devastation caused by bushfires across Australia and the people affected are constantly in our thoughts," said Tiley.

"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 coming weeks."

Kyrgios' decision to donate an amount based on his ace count over the Australian summer was followed by De Minaur and Millman pledging $250 and $100 per ace themselves.

Kyrgios is one of the leading servers on the ATP Tour, averaging 16.6 aces per match in 2019.

British team at the ATP Cup
The British ATP Cup team - which does not contain an injured Andy Murray - are captained by Tim Henman (far left).

Tim Henman who is captaining the British team at the ATP Cup in Sydney said he was confident that the air quality will not be a problem at the tournament.

"I think 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 there is the perspective," he said.

"I don't envisage it being a problem at all."

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