Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Tennis stars take to soccer pitch for Japan earthquake relief charity game

AFP, MIAMI

Some of the world’s best tennis players, including world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic, traded in their rackets for soccer boots on Wednesday on behalf of Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims.

About 15 ATP stars, in Miami for the Masters 1000 hardcourt tournament that started this week, joined with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the second-level North American Soccer League in a light-hearted match that ended in a 4-2 victory for the Strikers.

The tennis stars received enthusiastic backing from a crowd that included a host of children.

The ATP players delivered a relaxed and entertaining performance, displaying an easy teamwork that belied their more usual duels across the net.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis and Scotland’s Andy Murray both scored for the tennis team captained by Djokovic, who has won all 18 of his tennis matches this season.

The ATP starting 11 included Japan’s Kei Nishikori. Despite Spain’s status as World Cup champions, Nadal and compatriots David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco were among the reserves.

The match, featuring two halves of 20 minutes each, was followed by a gala dinner and proceeds from the two events were to benefit American Red Cross relief efforts in Japan.

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