(November 21, 2012) HONG KONG – Li Na, Asia’s first Grand Slam champion, will take on two-time year-end world No. 1 and Grand Slam finalist Caroline Wozniacki while eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl will renew his rivalry with John McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, during the BNP Paribas Showdown on March 4 at the AsiaWorld-Arena in Hong Kong.
The BNP Paribas Showdown will be produced by StarGames, Inc., in conjunction with the Hong Kong Tennis Association. It marks the first time the AsiaWorld-Arena has played host to such an international tennis event.
“Once more, BNP Paribas is proud to bring the best of tennis to Asia by supporting this outstanding sporting event, as it does with the same acclaimed tennis event in New York. We are excited to share our passion and enthusiasm for tennis with the fans in Hong Kong” said Paul Yang, Chief Executive Officer for BNP Paribas Hong Kong. “The BNP Paribas Showdown gives the bank a perfect opportunity to accelerate the growing awareness of our brand in Asia and it reaffirms our commitment and loyalty to this region and to this sport”.
The matches will take place the same night as an event with the same name is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the first annual “World Tennis Day.” Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka in the first match in New York, followed by Rafael Nadal against Juan Martin del Potro.
“With five successful years of the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York, the time is right to expand this to a global event with the World Tennis Day platform,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames. “The popularity of tennis in Asia made it natural for us to pursue an event in this region. Hong Kong is proving to be a fantastic partner, and BNP Paribas, as the world’s biggest sponsor of tennis, is the perfect title sponsor.
“I am excited to see this group of four players who will put on a great show. Lendl, McEnroe and Wozniacki have each played for us at the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York in front of crowds of over 17,000 at Madison Square Garden and we now welcome Li Na to the group for the first time. The AsiaWorld-Arena will be the place to be on March 4.”
Li finished 2012 ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour. The 30-year-old from China owns six career titles, highlighted by her historic victory at the 2011 French Open. She reached the final at four WTA Premier events in 2012, winning the title in Cincinnati.
“For me it is always exciting to play in Asia,” said Li. “I hope to have the crowd support in this match. It will be a great night for tennis, and hopefully it gets more people playing the game.”
Wozniacki is second among active players for weeks ranked No. 1 with 67, including year-end finishes as No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. She finished 2012 ranked No. 10, her fourth straight Top 10 season. The 22-year-old from Denmark is fourth among active players with 20 career titles, including 2012 wins in Seoul and Moscow.
“It’s great to have the chance to play in Hong Kong again,” said Wozniacki. “It’s also exciting to be part of the first World Tennis Day. I hope it’s successful in getting more kids playing around the world.”
Li has a 3-2 head-to-head edge in their series, though Wozniacki won their only 2012 meeting, which came in Tokyo in October. In 2011, Wozniacki was a straight set winner over Li in the Hong Kong Tennis Classic. They will play a best-of-three set match at the BNP Paribas Showdown.
Lendl won 94 titles in his career and was the No. 1 ranked ATP player for 270 weeks. He reached the final at 19 Grand Slam tournaments in his career, winning a total of eight titles. He had 13 Top 10 seasons. At the ATP tournament in Hong Kong, Lendl won the title in 1980. He then won consecutive Marlboro Championship titles from 1990-92.
“I have always enjoyed playing in Hong Kong. It is a place with a lot of good memories including one of my first ever wins on the pro tour. I will look forward to playing John in the BNP Paribas Showdown which has been a great event in New York and I am sure will be just as popular in Hong Kong.”
McEnroe, who played in the 2011 Hong Kong Tennis Classic, spent 170 weeks ranked No. 1 while winning 77 career singles titles. He reached the final at 11 Grand Slam tournaments, winning seven titles. In his career, he had 10 seasons with Top 10 finishes.
“I’m happy be a part of an event like World Tennis Day that gets juniors playing our sport,” McEnroe said. “The Tennis 10s programmes with 10-and-under rules that are now in place make it easier than ever for kids to participate.”
Lendl and McEnroe played 36 times over 12 years on the ATP circuit, with Lendl holding a 21-15 advantage in the series. Both Lendl and McEnroe have been enshrined at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. They will play an eight-game pro-set at the BNP Paribas Showdown.
World Tennis Day is held in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to its youngest players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring. The cornerstones of World Tennis Day are grassroots opportunities for young players to participate in the sport at the local level. The day is highlighted by the BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York and Hong Kong.
“World Tennis Day and the BNP Paribas Showdown will bring more attention to Tennis Play and Stay and Tennis10s, two programmes with proven success in growing participation,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “World Tennis Day will give the ITF and our member nations an opportunity to showcase their efforts to grow tennis, while fans can also enjoy some of the game’s brightest stars playing in events like the BNP Paribas Showdown.”
The BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong will be broadcast internationally. Details of the telecasts will be announced at a later date.