They both came up short at this year’s Australian Open, but Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have turned their attention to The Match in Africa Cape Town as they have set their sights on a record of a different kind.
Federer failed to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles as he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park while Nadal exited at the quarter-final stage as he went down to finalist Dominic Thiem.
But with the season-opening Grand Slam done and dusted, the duo can now concentrate on their attempt to break the attendance world record for a tennis match.
Fedal will square off in The Match in Africa Cape Town, the sixth edition of the Match for Africa series organised by the Roger Federer Foundation to raise funds for educational and athletic programs for children in Africa.
For Federer it is a special match as his mother, Lynette, was born in South Africa.
“I don’t know what took me so long, to be quite honest,” the 38-year-old said. “I said, ‘It’s not possible that I’m on the tour for 20 years, I’ve become the player that I have been, and I’ve never played in South Africa. It’s just not OK.’ I couldn’t live with myself if that happened.”
His long-time rival Nadal also took part in the first two Match for Africa exhibition events in Switzerland and Spain respectively in 2010.
Federer, who might not be 100% after picking up a groin injury during the Australian Open, added: “You know how it is. Life on tour sometimes is what it is. I couldn’t be more excited now that it’s actually really happening. I hope I’m going to be really fine to play. I believe I am, but we’ll see.
“Also, that Rafa is willing to do it is exciting, of course, to say the least. I know my parents are very happy, very proud, as well. I’m sure it’s going to be very, very special for me on many levels to play there.”
The Fedal match will be preceded by a doubles match-up featuring Federer and American business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates against Nadal and comedian Trevor Noah.
I’m excited to team up with @rogerfederer again for the Match in Africa Friday in Cape Town. Playing alongside Roger is always a thrill, and I can’t wait to face off against @RafaelNadal and @Trevornoah. pic.twitter.com/WMlbBtZwVC
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) February 4, 2020
Federer teamed up with Alexander Zverev in November 2019 to set a new attendance record of 42,517 at Plaza de Toros México in Mexico City, beating the previous record of 35,681 set when Kim Clijsters took on Serena Williams in an exhibition match in Brussels, Belgium.
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