Federer, Nadal raise $3.5 million in South African exhibition in front of nearly 52,000 people

Roger Federer and Bill Gates take on Rafael Nadal and Trevor Noah in the exhibition match held at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday. (AP/Halden Krog)

Roger Federer got the win on Friday, however that wasn’t the biggest part of the night for the tennis great.

Federer, in front of nearly 52,000 fans in his first-ever match in South Africa, beat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in an exhibition while raising $3.5 million for his foundation. Federer, whose mom was born in South Africa, called the night “magical.”

“We tried our best as always,” Nadal said, via the Associated Press. “It's a lifetime experience playing in front of such an amazing crowd in an amazing stadium. It was a big pleasure for me to be part of it.”

The Roger Federer Foundation had a goal to raise $1 million from the exhibition match, which it would use to support early childhood education in six southern African countries, per the Associated Press. Yet, with a crowd of 51,954 people in Cape Town Stadium — which is the largest crowd on record for a tennis match, and organizers said they had 200,000 more ticket requests they couldn’t fill — they easily surpassed the mark.

Federer and Nadal weren’t alone, either. Comedian and South African native Trevor Noah and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were in attendance, and even paired up with the tennis stars for a quick, one-set doubles match.

“Roger’s at a disadvantage,” said Noah, who was paired up with Nadal, via the Associated Press. “We’re both half-Swiss, half-South African, so I’m in his head. I know what he’s going to do.”

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