It will go down as the greatest exhibition match ever with a record of 51,954 spectators cramming into the Cape Town Stadium to witness the exhibition match between two of the living All Time Greats and long-time rivals Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, battling it out in South Africa’s legislative capital.
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 Rafa Nadal
The event, labelled ‘Match in Africa’ was a sell-out and the organisers believe some 200,000 application for tickets were made ever since the match was announced last year.
“It was an absolute pleasure to share the court with Rafa (Nadal) again, but the first time here in beautiful Cape Town in South Africa. It means so much more and … it really is very, very special on so many levels,” the Swiss player, whose mother is South African, said after the match organised to raise funds for his Foundation in support of early childhood education in six southern African counties.
“We tried our best as always,” Nadal, who dropped to world number two after the Australian Open, said following his 6-4 3-6 6-3 loss. “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 previous attendance record, 42,517, also set by Federer when he played Alexander Zverev in Mexico City last November, was smashed, as was the long-standing one of 30, 472 set by the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in 1973.
Helping out were the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the local Daily Show host Trevor Noah who played a one-set doubles with the tennis superstars – Federer partnered Gates to defeat Nadal and Noah 6-3.