Stars to help Australia''s flood victims

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Sydney, Jan 13 (AFP) Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal areamong the big names in tennis to take part in a specialexhibition on the eve of the Australian Open to raise moneyfor the victims of Australia''s flood disaster.

All-time Grand Slam champion Federer, world number oneNadal, Kim Clijsters, Lleyton Hewitt, Novak Djokovic and PatRafter are among the elite players who will play in the Rallyfor Relief match at Melbourne''s Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The heart-rending scenes of Queensland''s floods whichhave left 15 people dead and inundated Australia''sthird-largest city Brisbane have shaken the internationaltennis fraternity, gathering in Melbourne for Monday''sseason-opening Grand Slam.

"Along with many of the other players I was moved by thedevastation caused by the floods in Australia," Federer saidin a statement.

"We just wanted to do something to help aid the recoverybecause we know there are thousands of Australians who willcontinue to suffer as a result of this disaster."

Nadal said he was delighted to be able to contribute insome way to the flood victims.

"This is a terrible tragedy, not only the loss of lifebut the destruction of people''s homes," Nadal said.

"I am pleased to be able to contribute in some way tohelp bring it to the attention of the world and raise somemoney for the victims in the process."

Hewitt, Australia''s two-time Grand Slam champion, said itwas time for the tennis community to do their bit for thoseaffected.

"As an Australian I cannot help but be touched by such anawful turn of events. It is a disaster on a massive scale,"Hewitt said.

"If the tennis community can also help play a role in therecovery then we should, both in Australia andinternationally. I just think at a time like this it is a caseof getting all hands on deck."

Australians Pat Rafter and Sam Stosur officiallyannounced the Rally for Relief at the Sydney Internationaltournament in a major fundraising campaign by theinternational tennis community.

"The plight of the flood victims has struck a chord withthe entire tennis fraternity," Rafter said.

"As a Queenslander I am really heartened by the concernand the keenness from our sport to get in and do something toease the suffering."

Fellow Queenslander Stosur is already donating Australiandollar 100 for every ace she serves in Australian tournamentsthis summer. (MORE) AFP SNK

Former Australian Test cricketer Shane Warne is also trying to organise a Twenty20 game to aid the flood relief.

Warne said via his social network site Twitter that hewas planning a charity match between his XI and a team led byformer England captain Michael Vaughan at the MelbourneCricket Ground featuring ex-cricketers and celebrities.

England''s cricketers have also donated a slice of theirmatch fee from Wednesday''s T20 international against Australiaand star batsman Kevin Pietersen is auctioning bats and shirtshe used in the recent Ashes series.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, inAustralia for next week''s Tour Down Under, said on his Twittersite that he would be pledging50,000 to the relief efforts.

(AFP) SNK

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