TENNIS

Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff lead Ukraine’s support at US Open | ATP tour

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The world’s best tennis players will compete over the next fortnight with the US Open trophy on the line. On Wednesday night, however, they came together for a Tennis Plays For Peace exhibition in support of humanitarian aid Ukrainian.

Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, John McEnroe and more rocked a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium for two hours of tennis to raise money for those suffering in Ukraine, with recently retired Ukrainian players Sergiy in attendance Stakhovsky and Olga Savchuk.

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“[It has been a] some very difficult years in terms of [the] pandemic, now with war,” Nadal said. “Excited to be back of course, always a pleasure to play in New York and in front of probably the best crowd in the world.”

After an opening ceremony featuring Stakhovsky, Savchuk and host Patrick McEnroe, the Ukrainian national anthem was performed and Nadal took to the court for a mixed doubles match alongside Swiatek against Gauff and McEnroe.

“To be on the pitch with John, Rafa and Iga, the world number one, it’s really crazy here in New York,” Gauff said. “I’m glad I can do it for this cause and you all know me, I like to speak up when it’s right. I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”

Sergiy Stakhovsky, Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek” />
Savchuk and Stakhovsky chat with Nadal and Swiatek during the exhibition.
Swiatek slipped a joke on ‘Coach Rafa’: “On the last point [he] told me John was going to serve wide and he was wrong. He is sometimes wrong, wow! she said as Nadal laughed. Swiatek has already organized its own charity event for Ukrainian children. The world No. 1 was happy to spend her time again for the cause.

“I am quite happy that we are united and that we, as public figures and athletes, do the same. Of course, the event I organized in Poland was a great experience for me. It was the first event that got so much attention in tennis in Poland,” Swiatek said. “I’m quite happy that we raised so much money for children in Ukraine, mainly because their life has changed and it’s right next to my country, so I was quite moved and quite happy to be able to use my sport this way and that we’re doing this today. It’s good.”

McEnroe, who ironically also spent time as a chair umpire later in the event, grew 15 minutes from Flushing Meadows. The former world number 1 thanked the crowd for their support.

“I just want to say for this event, we are all a brotherhood, the tennis players. We shoot for each other,” McEnroe said. “Obviously we all want peace and I hope that will help improve the situation in Ukraine.”

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All matches at the event were tie-breaks, with the winning team being first to 10. Americans Jessica Pegula and Ben Shelton faced Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez (with John McEnroe in the chair), Italian Matteo Berrettini and Ukrainian Katarina Zavatsksa. played Greeks Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and American Frances Tiafoe faced Americans Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul, and Tiafoe stayed on the pitch to partner Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska against the American Sebastian Korda and Ukrainian Daria Snigur.

While these were exhibition matches – at one point Paul used a giant tennis racket, drawing roars from the crowd – the stakes were raised. Before Sakkari served Berrettini, Tsitsipas said he would donate $10,000 if the Italian missed the return. Berrettini missed it and Tsitsipas happily reaffirmed his gift.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Global Giving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. The USTA has already announced plans to raise at least $2 million for the cause at the US Open.

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