Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal attracted a record breaking crowd for a tennis match when they played an exhibition event in Cape Town on Friday organisers announced.
The ‘Match in Africa’ raised $3.5 million for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports educational and athletic programmes for children in Africa.
Approximately 51,954 attended the match, which beat the 42,517 who watched Federer play Germany's Alexander Zverev in Mexico City last November.
Federer, who was accompanied by his mother Lynette, a native South Africa said his first appearance in South Africa was a special occasion.
“The first time here in Cape Town, means so much more than just tennis,” he said.
Federer beat Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-3.
“It’s an amazing crowd, an amazing stadium,” said Nadal, who was making his first appearance in South Africa since playing in the country as a junior.
He said that it was an unforgettable evening and that the atmosphere was unforgettable and electric.
Earlier in the day, Federer and his doubles partner billionaire Bill Gates beat Nadal and South-African born comedian Trevor Noah in a match with more flexible rules.
The ceremonial coin toss was performed by World Cup-winning Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who presented Federer with a Springbok jersey. The coin was one of the commemorative 20 Swiss Francs pieces with Federer’s face. He gave it to Kolisi.
Other high-profile South African sports stars in attendance included former Springbok captains John Smit and Jean de Villiers, as well as Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling. The match is the sixth edition of the event organised by the Roger Federer Foundation and is the first to take place in Africa.
“The time spent here as a kid was amazing,” Federer said.
“You would go on the road and you never come back for some reason because you’ve gotta chase that little tennis ball and you’ve gotta chase your dreams.”
About the Roger Federer Foundation
The Roger Federer Foundation was founded in 2004 and supports educational projects located in southern Africa and Switzerland.
The programmes on the African continent focus on the improvement of the quality of early learning and basic education and in Switzerland on the promotion of extra-curricular activities for children affected by poverty. All activities are implemented by local non-governmental authorities in close collaboration with the local communities.