Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have set a record for tennis after 51,954 people turned out to watch the pair’s exhibition match at South Africa’s Cape Town Stadium.

The attendance is the highest ever for a tennis match. Federer defeated Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the match, which raised more than $3m (£2.3m/€2.7m) for the Roger Federer Foundation’s programmes in Africa.

Before competing against each other, Federer and Nadal took part in a doubles match with Bill Gates and South African comedian Trevor Noah.

Plans for the match were first announced last July. The event was presented in partnership with Rolex and Credit Suisse.

Federer said: “It was such a privilege to be here tonight. Of course we want to try to play the best tennis we can, that’s what we’re world-famous for. It was an absolute pleasure to share the court with Rafa again, but the first time here in beautiful Cape Town in South Africa means so much more. It really is very, very special on so many levels.

“This is so much more than just tennis. I really hope we can do it again. I hope Rafa can do it again one day, come back to this beautiful country. I’m so proud to have roots down here and thank you very much for coming everybody. It really is so, so special.”

The previous attendance record at a tennis match of 35,681 was set at an exhibition game in Brussels between Belgian Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams in 2010.

Cape Town Stadium was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and now serves as home to Premier Soccer League clubs Ajax Cape Town (since 2010) and Cape Town City (since 2016). It has also hosted the South Africa Sevens rugby tournament since 2015.

Image: Jitesh Jagadish