Rafa Nadal, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff raise over $1m for Ukraine in charity match

A host of top tennis stars joined a charity match to benefit humanitarian efforts in Ukraine on Wednesday night, with over $1.2million being raised.

World number three Rafael Nadal and women's world number one Iga Swiatek were among those in attendance along with Coco Gauff for the Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition at Flushing Meadows.

Gauff, who wore shoes carrying the message 'Play for Peace', teamed up with former player John McEnroe in a mixed doubles match against Nadal and Swiatek.

Nadal and Swiatek came out on top in the 10-point tiebreaker but it was all in good fun.

"On the last point [Nadal] told me that John is going to serve wide and he was wrong. He's wrong sometimes, wow!" Swiatek joked after the match.

"You guys all know me: I like to speak out when it's right," Gauff added.

The US Tennis Association said 100% of proceeds from ticket sales for the event at Louis Armstrong Stadium will go to an international nonprofit organization.

Other players to participate included 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, Carlos Alcarez, Maria Sakkari, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jessica Pegula.

Several Ukrainian pros were also in attendance, including Dayana Yastremska and Katarina Zavatska.

"It really means a lot to see so many people supporting Ukraine," Zavatska told the crowd. "I really hope and I wish that next year we will celebrate this day in freedom."

There was some controversy earlier in the day when two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka was dropped from the exhibition at the last moment.

Azarenka is from Belarus, which helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February.

It is believed at least one of the Ukrainian players, Marta Kostyuk, questioned having her in attendance.

"In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating," the WTA said in a statement.

"Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us."

Other exhibition matches on the night saw Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime lose to Jessica Pegula and Ben Shelton, while Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe came off second best against Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul.

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