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Federer, friends stage Haiti fundraiser

MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer played the role of master of ceremonies. Andy Roddick doubled as a standup comic. Serena Williams was laughing all the way.

The fundraiser for earthquake victims Sunday — a brainchild of Federer and dubbed “Hit for Haiti” — came on the eve of the Australian Open and raised more than $185,000, an amount that organizers expected would increase.

Federer, who has a record 15 Grand Slam titles, teamed with Williams, the reigning Australian Open champion, and Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Their opponents were 2009 winner Rafael Nadal, 2008 winner Novak Djokovic, Roddick and U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters.

The players wore microphones on the court, adding to the entertainment of a mixed-doubles match with player substitutions. They provided commentary as they lunged, lobbed and smashed.

There was the eloquent and debonair Federer, the MC for the match he conceived and helped organize a day earlier. There was the good-natured Clijsters cracking jokes, the playful Nadal with his sideways grin and the wisecracking Roddick.

“It was a fun afternoon for all of us. But most important is that we can help Haiti,” Federer told the center court crowd after the match.

Some players made separate contributions, organizers said, including 2008 Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova ($10,000), American John Isner ($5,000) — after he won the Auckland tournament — and Marcos Baghadits ($5,000) — after he won in Sydney.