Elite players rally for 'Hit for Haiti'
By JOCELYN GECKER
MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer played the role of master of ceremonies. Andy Roddick doubled as a standup comic. Serena Williams was laughing all the way.
The fundraiser for earthquake victims yesterday — a brainchild of Federer and dubbed "Hit for Haiti" — came on the eve of the Australian Open and raised more than $185,000, an amount that organizers expected would increase.
Federer, who has a record 15 Grand Slam titles, teamed with Williams, the reigning Australian Open champion, and Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Their opponents were 2009 winner Rafael Nadal, 2008 winner Novak Djokovic, Roddick and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters.
The players wore microphones on the court, adding to the entertainment of a mixed-doubles match featuring player substitutions. They provided commentary as they lunged, lobbed and smashed.
There was the eloquent and debonair Federer, the MC for the match he conceived and helpedorganize a day earlier. There wasthe good-natured Clijsters crack-ing jokes, the playful Nadal with his sideways grin and the wisecracking Roddick.
To the delight of the crowd, Roddick mocked Williams' infamous meltdown at the U.S. Open, when a line judge called her for a foot fault during a crucial point in her semifinal loss to Clijsters.
"Did you really call a foot fault on me in a charity match?" Roddick reprimanded a line judge. "You realize Serena's over there, right?"
Williams sat on the sidelines shaking her head and laughing, as the packed 15,000-seat stadium roared in laughter. Seats cost about $9.25.
Federer's so-called Red Team beat the rival Blue Team, 7-6, in their one-set match that lasted 90 minutes.