After 22-year-old tennis star Alexander Zverev won his first round match at the Australian Open last Tuesday, he pledged to donate $10,000 for every match he wins at the tournament to help victims of the Australia wildfires.
"I know I'm not the favorite to win this event," the No. 7 seed told the crowd in his post-match interview, "but if I win this event, I'll donate every single cent to the bushfires."
A week later, after dismantling former champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, Zverev is through to his first ever Grand Slam semifinal. It was his fifth win of the tournament, meaning his donations are up to $50,000. He's two wins away from capturing the title — and a check for 4.12 million Australian dollars (about $2.78 million USD), the amount awarded to both the male and female champions this year.
"I think that the $4 million will be in much better use in hands that know what to do with it, and know how to help others," said the German tennis player. "Obviously $4 million is a lot of money. … I just think we, as the fortunate people, should try to help in any way possible."
The wildfires have burned millions of acres in southeastern Australia, destroyed thousands of homes and killed an estimated half a billion mammals, birds and reptiles.
Zverev isn't the only player competing at the Melbourne-based tournament who has donated to the relief effort. John Isner pledged 25% of his prize money to support victims. He earned $121,400 for reaching the third round of the tournament and contributed $30,350. Plus, Isner vowed $100 for every ace he hit over the course of the tournament. The 6′ 10″ big server delivered 78 aces in his three matches, upping his total support to $38,150.
Australian Nick Kyrgios kick-started the movement when he announced in early January that he'd give $200 for every ace he serves at all events during this Australian summer. That's about $140 in U.S. dollars.
Aussie tennis players Alex De Minaur, John Millman, John Peers and Sam Stosur quickly followed his lead and made donations.
If Zverev brings home the Australian Open title, his contribution would be the biggest. But the rising star still has a lot of work to do: In the semifinals, he has to beat No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem, who upset top-seeded Rafael Nadal. If Zverev survives that round, he'd face either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, who have a combined 36 Grand Slam titles, in the finals.
Don't miss: How to help victims of the Australia bushfires
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