An emotional Nick Kyrgios has paid tribute to firefighters and families battling Australia’s bushfire disaster after winning Australia’s opening ATP Cup match on Friday night.
Kyrgios was clinical as he defeated Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 7-6, but it was in his post-match interview on the court that the Canberra-born star’s emotions bubbled to the surface.
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Asked about his pledge to donate $200 for every ace he hits this summer to firefighting and bushfire recovery efforts, Kyrgios said the ups and downs of tennis paled in comparison to what other parts of the country were enduring.
“I don't really care about the praise too much,” Kyrgios said, briefly apologising as he teared up.
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 3, 2020
“We've got the ability and the platform to do something.
“My home town is Canberra and we've got the most toxic air in the world at the moment, that's pretty sad. It's tough.
“It's all going to all the families, firefighters, animals, everyone who is losing homes, losing families… it's a real thing.
“It's bigger than tennis."
Tennis fans were similarly moved by Kyrgios’ show of emotion.
Many took to social media to praise the Australian firebrand’s efforts to support the firefighters and families affected by the crisis.
Has actually changed my opinion of him with this hope it continues
— Rick (@Swanniedog) January 3, 2020
Tough for some to love who he is on the court, but off the court it is undeniable how sincere and good-hearted he is.
— RF(19)97 (@RF19975) January 3, 2020
👍👍👏👏Hats off the Nick for all he is doing to support the fire fighters, people and animals suffering through these devastating and heartbreaking fires!😪 Top guy ❤
— Monica Macdonald (@monicamacdonald) January 3, 2020
Kyrgios kicks off flood of athlete donations
Kyrgios called on Tennis Australia to dig deep in the nations’s time of need, as bushfires devastate livelihoods and communities around the country.
On Friday, the governing body of Australian Tennis answered the call.
Krygios' plans for a massive fundraising effort for bushfire victims has resulted in a tennis exhibition match set to feature some of the world's top players.
The 24-year-old kicked off a flood of donations to the fundraising campaign from sporting names around Australia, including American NBL star LaMelo Ball.
Kyrgios floated the idea of a charity tennis match and Tennis Australia on Friday responded by announcing a "Rally for Relief" exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday Jan 15.