Federer consults Laver over Queensland flood benefit

Saturday, January 15, 2011

MELBOURNE - Tennis legend Rod Laver was the first name that came to Roger Federer’s mind when he learned of the floods which have devastated vast regions of the Australian state of Queensland.

“When I heard it hit the city of Rockhampton, I right away thought of Rod Laver,” defending Australian Open champion Federer said as he prepared for Sunday’s Rally for Relief benefit in aid of the flood-ravaged state.

California-based Laver was known in his heyday as the “Rockhampton Rocket”, with the showcase court at Melbourne park named in his honour.

“I tried to reach out to him and see if he wanted to do anything, if he needed my help,” the 29-year-old Swiss said. “He said he couldn’t come to Australia this year, but he was very happy if I did something.”

“We didn’t really know then how big the devastation was going to be,” he added.

Federer, training this week in Melbourne after starting his ATP season last weekend with the Doha title, said he rang Laver later. “I told him, ‘Look, I’m really trying to get something going like we had here going last year (Haiti earthquake)’.”

“I think it’s very appropriate and a must for us to do something as a tennis family really.”

Federer was mainly responsible for the 2010 Haiti effort which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The flood day tickets sold out quickly, with the Swiss, world number one Rafael Nadal, women’s third seed Kim Clijsters, Brisbane-born Sam Stosur and Adelaide’s Lleyton Hewitt, world number three Novak Djokovic, and Queenslander Pat Rafter all participating.

“I’m really happy we’ve been able to do it again, I always knew it was going to be possible,” said Federer. “The question was, did all the people want to do it, as well.

“I’m really excited that it’s happening tomorrow, will be able to really raise a significant amount, which is going to be fantastic to help all those people who lost so much.”

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