Australian Open: Players Not In Harm's Way Amid Bushfire Smoke
It means more than just tennis.— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 21, 2020
Talking to @NickKyrgios, John McEnroe says he will donate $1,000 towards Bushfire Relief for every set NK wins during the tournament.#AusOpen | #Aces4BushfireReliefpic.twitter.com/dWruH7I7t9
Australian Open Tournament Dir Craig Tiley said the event will "never put a player in an unsafe environment," adding the tournament has been "very consistent on that" as concerns continue over the impact that smoke from the bushfires has had on the event. Tiley said, "Learning very quickly on what (air quality) rating to use, what's the most consistent rating. ... And then deciding on a threshold and at what point on that threshold do you make decisions. That all had to happen leading in. We weren't expecting smoke, but we had two smoke haze days during qualifying." Tiley explained the tournament had to learn the difference between air quality and visibility. He said, "On those two (qualifying) days, we had poor visibility, so the perception from the players and everyone was really bad, but the actual air quality when the players went on was fairly low and was fairly good." It was a "very difficult thing for the players to understand," but "everyone's got their head around it now." Tiley called the Rally for Relief efforts, led by players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Australian-born Nick Kyrgios "magnificent." Tiley: "You go to the top players and you ask them, 'Would you spend time in the evening and fund raise as much money as we can?' and we did. It was the tennis community coming together from around the world" ("Tennis Channel Live at the Australian Open," Tennis Channel, 1/20).
DOING THEIR PART: Rafael Nadal, who also participated in the Rally for Relief event, said he was "super happy" at the amount of money raised. Nadal: "Money is not everything, but in some way I think that can help to recover from the disaster that we are going through a little bit faster" ("Australian Open," ESPN2, 1/21). Tennis player Alexander Zverev "vowed to donate his prize money to bushfire relief if he picks up" the Australian Open's $2.83M winner's check, following his first-round win earlier today. Zverev added, "I will donate $10,000 for every match I win" (AFP, 1/21). ESPN.com's Jake Michaels noted Kyrgios pledged to donate $137.44 toward Australian bushfire relief efforts for "every ace he hits" during the Australian Open, as well as the lead-up events. John McEnroe also "made a generous donation of his own, announcing a pledge of $1,000 for every set Kyrgios wins for the remainder of the tournament" (ESPN.com, 1/20).