Tennis

Alexander Zverev pledges to give any Australian Open prize money to bushfire disaster relief

Alexander Zverev will donate $10,000 for every match he wins at the Australian Open to go toward the bushfire recovery effort. If he wins the Australian Open title, the seventh-seeded Zverev is promising to donate all his prize money.

Nadal cruises past unseeded Dellien; Former No. 1 Sharapova ousted by Vekic

Germany's Alexander Zverev is considered one of the rising stars of men's tennis but has been unable to break through with a Grand Slam title. If Zverev is successful in Australia, he's promised to donate his entire prize money to the bushfire relief effort. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev will donate $10,000 for every match he wins at the Australian Open to go toward the bushfire recovery effort. If he wins the Australian Open title, the seventh-seeded Zverev is promising to donate all his prize money.

He is already committed to $10,000 after overcoming a frustrating buildup to the decade's first major to win his first-round match against Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

After the match, he told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena about his pledge, starting with the promise per match and then adding: "I know I'm not the favourite to win this event, but if I win this event, I'll donate every single cent to the bushfires."

The singles champions earn more than $4 million Australian dollars, and have to win seven consecutive matches to clinch the title.

Zverev hasn't won a major title — his best run so far is to the quarter-finals at the French Open in the last two years. But he is considered one of the rising stars of men's tennis, has a career-high ranking of No. 3 and won the season-ending ATP Finals in 2018.

"Thank you very much. I hope I'll get a lot of support," he said.

The devastating wildfires in Australia have claimed at least 28 lives since September, destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 10.4 million hectares (25.7 million acres). The area burned is larger than the U.S. state of Indiana.

Zverev struggled with his serve at the ATP Cup earlier this month in losses to Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas. It worked better at Melbourne Park, where he served only four double-faults in his opening match.

Sharapova ousted

Former No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova's run of first-round exits at the majors continued with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to 19th-seeded Donna Vekic at the Australian Open.

The 32-year-old Russian has had a series of right shoulder injuries and also served a 15-month suspension for a positive doping test to meldonium. Since her return from the suspension, her best showing at a major has been the quarterfinals at the 2018 French Open.

She wasn't making any excuses.

"I mean, I think I'm not the only one — I can speak about my struggles and the things that I've gone through with my shoulder, but it's not really in my character to," Sharapova said.

Since returning from a 15-month suspension for a positive doping test, Maria Sharapova's best showing at a major has been the quarter-finals at the 2018 French Open. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-1, 7-5 and sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced 6-3, 7-5 over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

In a men's match suspended from Monday, 18-year-old Jannik Sinner completed a 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Max Purcell, 2018 Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic beat Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The Next Gen ATP Finals champion won the last two games of the match on Tuesday. It was Sinner's first Grand Slam victory after losing to three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets at last year's U.S. Open.

"I was up in the score, so it was a little bit easier for me," Sinner said of his brief appearance on Day 2. "Obviously I wanted to finish yesterday. We waited here till 8 p.m., so it's been a long day yesterday for me, for every player."

Nadal hammers unseeded Dellien

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal hit the ground running by hammering unseeded Bolivian Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-3 6-0 to reach the second round.

The top seeded Spaniard has never lost to a player ranked as low as world No. 72 Dellien at the year's first Grand Slam and was never in danger on a sunbathed afternoon at Rod Laver Arena.

"It's a positive start," Nadal said. "What you want in the first round is to win, and straight sets is better."

Bidding for his second title at Melbourne Park, and 20th Grand Slam trophy to match his great rival Roger Federer, Nadal was broken twice by the hard-working Dellien.

But the 33-year-old Mallorcan was virtually flawless in the final set and sealed the match with a crushing forehand winner to set up a second-round clash with either Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa.

'I'm proud of you'

John McEnroe told Nick Kyrgios he was proud of him and promised to donate $1,000 to the bush fire recovery effort for every set the Aussie player wins at the Australian Open.

Kyrgios beat Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) in his first-round match at Melbourne Arena, which was delayed for a couple of minutes in the second set when the lights went out.

Kyrgios kick-started the tennis fundraising campaign that has raised millions of dollars for victims of the devastating wildfires by promising at the ATP Cup to donate $200 for every ace he serves this month. He served 20 aces that night to get the fundraising going.

Nick Kyrgios's on-court antics have been criticized by former tennis great and now broadcaster John McEnroe, but in an on-court TV interview, McEnroe recognized Kyrgios's good deeds. ( Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Against Sonego, he served 14.

McEnroe has been critical of the temperamental Kyrgios at times, but recognized the good deeds in an on-court TV interview.

"I'm proud of you," McEnroe said near the end over the interview. Kyrgios, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2014 and at the Australian Open a year later, thanked the seven-time major winner for the praise.

"I appreciate that," Kyrgios said. "I'm going to tear up again!"

Robert Farah suspended after positive test

Top-ranked doubles player Robert Farah was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation on Tuesday pending a disciplinary hearing into his positive doping test.

The ITF formally imposed the suspension hours after the Australian Open began.

Farah had been due to play in Melbourne with long-time doubles partner Juan Sebastian Cabal until announcing his doping case last week. The pair won the last two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Farah denies wrongdoing and blamed his positive test for the steroid Boldenone on eating contaminated meat in his native Colombia.

The ITF said Farah did not challenge the provisional suspension from playing. No timetable was given to process the case.

The 32-year-old Farah and Cabal were the ATP's doubles team of the year in 2019.

Cabal has been playing with Jaume Munar of Spain at the Australian Open.

 

With files from Reuters

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