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Federer, Nadal Play 'Match For Africa' In Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal and Roger Federer play for a good cause in Zurich.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal competed in the first of two charity exhibitions Tuesday night in Zurich, the ‘Match For Africa’ to benefit the Roger Federer Foundation, won by the Swiss 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The match raised $2.6 million.

“This is a special match for me, which I’ll remember forever, not just only for a long, long time,” Federer said afterward. “I thought obviously of doing a match like this for a long time, but I felt comfortable doing it this year and Rafa was so supportive and coming over and helping… I’ll look back on this with very fond memories forever and that I was able to pull off this event here in Switzerland for the first time so nicely and with such hype, it was just amazing.”

The ATP World Tour’s top two players put on a competitive show at Hallenstadion Arena, which had sold out in a record two minutes, in their first meeting since last month’s title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Nadal, who had lost to Federer at the circuit finale, capitalised on double break point in the ninth game before serving out the opening set at love.

Federer had joked in a promotional video after Nadal accepted his invitation to play in Switzerland, “As a present, I’ll give you the first set,” but responded when asked whether it was a Christmas present, “It looks like it, but it wasn’t. It’s really difficult to play today. We haven’t had any practice on this court – they build it up, tear it down – but it was for a great cause. I’m so happy Rafa came here today. We tried our best to put in a good effort and I thought the crowds were amazing.”

Federer quickly turned the tide by rolling out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, allowing him to draw level at one-set all, and served his way out of trouble in the third with aces on Nadal’s two break chances. He won the final four games of the match, closing out the victory with a winner on return of serve.

“The atmosphere is quite different; it’s not a tournament really, it’s just one particular match, which honestly I’m not quite used to doing,” said Federer. “The focus is just solely on two players and one match. There was quite a pressure going into a match like this, but at the end of the day, it’s so not important who won the match tonight. It was a match for Africa, this money is going to go to a good cause, for my Foundation, for kids in Africa, so I’m so proud and so happy that we all made it work, so thanks again to everybody.”
 
Nadal, who joked that he liked Federer “a little bit less,” after two straight losses, echoed many of the Swiss’ sentiments. “It wasn’t an easy match with new conditions, no days of preparation… The important thing is what he said is the money for the Foundation, for very good causes, for the kids, for the people that really need help, so I’m very happy to be part of this event. Thank you to Roger who invited me here. It was an unforgettable experience. “

The pair will make the quick trip to Spain for the “Joining Forces for the Benefit of Children” exhibition Wednesday night at the Caja Magica, home of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, with proceeds from the evening to benefit the Rafa Nadal Foundation. The match will be streamed live online and will also be broadcast internationally.

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Though Nadal anticipates a similar atmosphere to Tuesday’s exhibition, he added about playing in front of his home country fans, “It’ll be very exciting for me, and very emotional for me also. Thanks to Roger for coming tomorrow. We never played together in Switzerland before, but in Madrid it’s going to be the third time I think. We’re going to be 1-1, he beat me in 2009, I beat him in 2010, so it’s going to be a decisive moment.”

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Rafael Nadal, Charity, Roger Federer

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