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BNP Paribas Showdown Debuts in Hong Kong with Wozniacki, Radwanska, McEnroe and Lendl

Wozniacki Radwanska at BNP Paribas Showdown Hong Kong

By Natalie Ho

(March 4, 2013) HONG KONG – The BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition matches held at Madison Square Garden has a new sister event this year, held 13 time zones away in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong has the same amount of sky scrapers to match the Big Apple, Hong Kong’s tennis development is a long way behind, especially after losing the city’s men’s tour event some years ago. It is therefore to local tennis lovers’ great delight that a star-studded lineup had been confirmed to play the BNP Paribas Showdown Hong Kong that is part of a marathon of tennis events held across the world today to celebrate World Tennis Day.

 

World Tennis Day is an ambitious ITF grassroots campaign aimed at popularizing tennis. The main event here in Hong Kong was the exhibition between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, followed by Agniezka Radwanska taking on Caroline Wozniacki. Still sidelined Li Na was originally slated to play, but World No. 4  Radwanska is an equaly matched replacement in rankings. The two close friends Waozniacki and Radwanska said in the pre-match news conference that they hadn’t had a chance to see the city. Shame that the media couldn’t get in their favorite shopping question!

 

As for the matches, they were fun, lighthearted, and an opportunity for the players to try some flashy shot making.  Old rivals Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe met on court again after 17 years, with Lendl leading their head-t0-head record 21-15. This time it was McEnroe who won the pro set match 8-5. As usual he’s good money for any exhibitions, throwing his famous tantrums, questioning line calls, complaining about bad ball bounces that got the crowd into the match. Lendl responded in kind and the two together showed off some volleys, passes, dropshots and huge forehands that earned oohs and ahhhs from the audience.

Radwanska versus Wozniacki had more intense rallies but the mood was equally flamboyant. The good friends were uninhibited when it came to trying out fancy shots. A long groundstrokes and volley exchange in practice mode drew huge applause, and the ladies offered great entertainment with their exchange, dancing and inviting an former Hong Kong  player to play. In the final game Wozniacki requested coaching from her dad. It turned out to be futile as Radwanska closed it out 6-4, 6-4.

 

Again it was all smiles at the post-match news conference. McEnroe joked that this was the most memorable match in his rivalry with Lendl, who said he hoped his pupil  Andy Murray didn’t watch this match as it was 3:30am in California. The ladies were happy to be in Hong Kong despite their short stay. So that wrapped up the Hong Kong leg of World Tennis Day’s BNP Paribas Showdown, only to be continued immediately with the activities in New York City!

This is an exhibition but it’s still interesting to hear what the ladies had to say about playing friends on court as this pretty much happens week in, week out. To this Wozniacki said, “once you’re on court it’s a fight, and you fight for your life basically, and then when you’re off the court you’re friends agains and probably an hour or two after the match you just want to cool down, but then it’s a toss.”

 

Radwanska agreed, “We’re good friends because I think we can separate our private life and tennis and when we go on court, we both focus and we both want to win and then we shake hands and we’re friends again. We’ve been friends for 15 years!”

 

Naturally there were a lot of questions for Lendl about coaching strategies for Andy Murray. In typical Lendl manner he kept it tight-lipped. “My job is to coach Andy not to assess him in public. If I have something we need to work on, or I think Andy needs to work on, we do that. I never discuss it with anyone other than Andy.”

 

World Tennis Day is about helping tennis reach a bigger audience so as to ultimately benefit the sport. On trying to find the next big thing in America, McEnroe said, “Everyone in America, as well as many other countries, are looking for that next great player and the more that the game becomes accessible to youngsters and hopefully sexy in the way for kids to want to play in America. I can’t speak for every country, but it’s not that affordable.”

 

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Azarenka is Ready for Melbourne, Looking Forward to Madison Square Garden

Victoria Azarenka serving china Open

( January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE/NEW YORK –  Prior to her participation in the Australian Open draw in Melbourne on Friday morning, No. 1 Victoria Azarenka took time out for an international conference call to promote taking part in the BNP Paribas Showdown on March 4, 2013 in Madison Square Garden where she’ll take on Serena Williams.

Azarenka who pulled out of the Brisbane International last week due to a big toe injury says she ready to go in Melbourne: “I’m feeling really good. If you’re asking about my foot, it’s feeling much better … the last couple of days. The scary part is in the past as it happened in Brisbane. I’m really glad … I can practice full time right now.”

This will be the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown as part of Tennis Night in America on World Tennis Day. In the opening match, Victoria Azarenka will take on Serena Williams followed by Rafael Nadal’s return to action in the US after an injury layoff as he plays Juan Martin del Potro.

For Azarenka this will be her first time playing in “the world’s most famous arena. ” I’m very excited and once I heard about this opportunity I said yes right away, Said Azarenka. “It’s something really magical to be a part of this event and play at such an amazing facility.”

Coming into the Australian Open as the defending champion and into the 2013 season in general, is she under the pressure of expectation?

“My approach to this year is the same as every year,” said Azarenka.  “I try to do my best; you set up priorities and goals for the tournaments. I don’t really want to defend anything I’m here to try and win another title. That’s how I look at it…and at the end of the year try and get to the championships because that is the point we all know that you we are being pretty consistent throughout the whole year. My main focus and attention will be on the Grand Slams.”

“The season has started already and the Grand Slam season starts here right now. I think women’s tennis is great, competitive atmosphere right now… There are a lot of girls who can show some great tennis. For me personally, I’m very excited to be a part of this competition. As for who I have my eyes on, I’m not sure. I’ll have my eyes on the ball (laughs) and on me. The top ten and the rest of the players are the ones to watch for. I’ll be looking forward to whoever I play.

The most I’m looking forward to is having a great match and I hope the crowd enjoys it and I can’t wait to be a part of this match, Azarenka said about he future BNP Paribas Showdown match versus Serena Williams. “I visited Madison Square Garden during the US Open and it was under construction and I was absolutely amazed. As a kid you watch all those events coming up – concerts and the games and you dream about it. I have it locked in my mind and for me to actually be there will be an honor.”

The BNP Paribas Showdown is part of Tennis Night in America and the inaugural World Tennis Day.  More information about World Tennis Day events and the BNP Paribas Showdown matches in New York and Hong Kong can be found online at www.WorldTennisDay.com. The Hong Kong event will feature John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl and Caroline Wozniacki against Li Na.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Third Season of “World of Tennis” to Debut on Tennis Channel December 5

(November 29, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. – StarGames and MSG Sports have announced that the third season of “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” will debut next week. The first of seven episodes of the bi-weekly series will premiere on Tennis Channel at 7:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 5.

The 30-minute show will feature “Holding Court,” a profile segment hosted by Justin Gimelstob that this year will include interviews with tennis legends Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker as well as Olympic gold medal skier and tennis fan Lindsay Vonn. In the first two years of the show, Gimelstob’s guests included Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick and “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson.

The hot topics of tennis will also be covered on each episode during a round table discussion with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Jon Wertheim and the editorial staff at Tennis.com.

Tennis Channel will debut a new episode of the magazine show every other Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. EST, until February 27. Each show will then re-air on Tennis Channel.

“We’re happy to have the new season of World of Tennis back on Tennis Channel again,” said David Scott, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel. “Since its inception the series has allowed our viewers to get an insider’s look at some of the most exciting players and pressing issues in the sport today.”

The season finale on February 27 will be a preview of World Tennis Day, which includes BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York City and Hong Kong on March 4. The sixth annual event in New York at Madison Square Garden is part of Tennis Night in America (TNIA) and will feature Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal. TNIA is an annual celebration of the sport in the United States which encourages 10-and-under tennis.

The BNP Paribas Showdown at AsiaWorld-Arena will mark the event’s first year in Hong Kong and will feature Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.

“There is a lot of tennis on television, but I think ‘World of Tennis’ separates itself as a unique look at the personalities and stories in the game,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames. “It is only possible to present this show with the help of our partners at MSG and BNP Paribas. Collectively, we want to present tennis to the widest possible audience, and this show is a chance to not only showcase tennis but also to give fans a real inside look at the stories and personalities that make the game so compelling.”

Long-time tennis producer Jennie Silverstein will produce “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” for StarGames and MSG Sports. BNP Paribas, a leader in banking and financial services and the world No. 1 tennis partner, will be presenting sponsor, with additional support being provided by Tennis Magazine, Wilson, Getty Images, USTA, Tennis Night in America and the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Video highlights and uncut versions of the interviews from “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” are found on www.stargamesinc.com.

More information on the BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York and Hong Kong can be found on www.worldtennisday.com.

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Serena Williams, Azarenka, Del Potro Celebrate Next Year’s BNP Paribas Showdown

New York, NY – On Wednesday the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden was announced. The event which is scheduled for Monday, March 4, 2013 will feature World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, facing off against Serena Williams. Following the ladies will be Juan Martin del Potro, versus Rafael Nadal.

Friday early evening Azarenka, Williams and Del Potro met a select group of media at a small party to celebrate the Showdown.

Tennis Panorama News asked Del Potro about playing in the “World’s most famous arena.”

“I’m very proud to be part of this big, big show with big players, Rafa also playing, said the 2009 US Open winner. “It’s nice, I will enjoy it.”

Azarenka also spoke to Tennis Panorama on playing for the first time in Madison Square Garden: “I’m really excited to be part of this event and playing against Serena I think will be a great show. I always have been watching it on TV, so it’s definitely a great honor to be a part of and to play in Madison Square Garden, you know it’s extra special. I’ve never been here so, I’m really, really excited as well.

Rafael Nadal out of the US Open with a knee injury, was unable to attend.

Azarenka is the top women’s seed at the US Open which begins on August 27, with Williams at No. 4. Del Potro comes in to the tournament as the No. 7 seed.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama

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Sharapova and Roddick Win with Laughs and Quality Tennis at the BNP Paribas Showdown

Caroline Wozniacki watches boyfriend and PGA Professional Rory McIlroy walk on the tennis court in her match against Maria Sharapova at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 5, 2012. UPI/John Angelillo

 

 

NEW YORK, NY (March 5, 2012) – On Monday night in Madison Square Garden 18,079 people attended the BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition which saw World No. 2 Maria Sharapova defeat No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-4, while No. 31 Andy Roddick topped No. 3 Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (7).

This was all a part of Tennis Night in America an annual celebration of tennis in collaboration with the USTA since 2008, with over 1,400 facilities hosting youth tennis events featuring 10 and Under Tennis throughout March all in an effort to get more children involved in playing tennis. Before the matches there was a demonstration of of 10 and under tennis with smaller racquets, foam balls played on the court with blended lines showing the shorter court lines within.

Maria Sharapova hits a backhand in the second set of her match against Caroline Wozniacki at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 5, 2012. UPI/John Angelillo

In the first match Demark’s Wozniacki was broken in the opening game of the match and in the ninth game to give Russia’s Sharapova the first set 6-3.

The second set opened with Sharapova broken at love and Wozniacki headed for a 4-2 lead and lost the next four games – game, set, match Sharapova 6-3, 6-4.

The match was not without its lighter moments despite mostly intense tennis- Wozniacki and Sharapova danced with spectators. With Wozniacki a game away from losing she invited her boyfriend the No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy to pay a point against Sharapova which he won when Sharapova hit a lob wide on the sideline.

 

Wozniacki said, ”He was not too pleased with me but at least he can say he played tennis at Madison Square Garden.

“Not a lot of people can say that, so he got an experience out of it and he got to play against Maria.”

McIlroy also noted that ”I’ve won a few (points) off Caroline.”

 

In jest, Sharapova told Patrick McEnroe covering the event for ESPN “He (McIlroy) won more points than Caroline did.”

Andy Roddick shakes hands with Roger Federer after their match at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 5, 2012. UPI/John Angelillo

The men also had some fun of their own.  During the American’s  win over the Swiss, a few fans yelled, “Let’s go, Rafa!” So Roddick obliged them by pushing up his sleeves and placing his racquet in his left hand, but ended up playing the point right-handed and grunting with each strike of the ball like Rafael Nadal. After Roddick won the point, he celebrated Nadal-style with by copying the Spaniard’s vintage “vamos” fist pump.

The men also exchanged between-the-leg shots (aka “tweeners”) in one rally, Federer made it, Roddick hit his into the net.

 

The first set saw both men exchange breaks, Roddick with the ultimate break for the set to go up 6-5 and he closed it out on his serve. Both men held serve in the second set and forced a tie break. Roddick saved a Federer set point at 5-6 and took the tiebreak 9-7 and the match in straight sets.

“It’s pretty clear tonight. . . I’m in Roger’s head.”

“I was real excited when I got the invite to play here” Roddick said. “I grew up an avid sports fan and the things I remember most vividly are Jordan playing here, him coming back here, and the first time he came back after that, Reggie Miller and Spike Lee talking trash to each other- all that great stuff. To be able to play here, where so much history has happened in every area of entertainment, was a real special experience for me.

“Tonight it felt good. Honestly I really enjoyed myself and that lead to me playing well. So hopefully I can use this a little bit. I had a great time.”

 

Federer added: “lt was a chance to build great momentum but it was a tough trip and was a tough day today. Andy played great. I was really happy to see him playing so well. I have been around the globe playing tennis myself. I heard Andy was struggling a little bit so it is good to see him play so well and hopefully he can make another run at the top-10. I really enjoyed myself tonight and hope to be back some day.”

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

Morning “Showtime” for BNP Paribas Showdown For Federer, Roddick, Sharapova and WozniackiTennis Night in America Spokesman McEnroe Says There is “Work to Be Done” To Get Kids into Tennis

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Morning “Showtime” for BNP Paribas Showdown For Federer, Roddick, Sharapova and Wozniacki

NEW YORK, NY – Jumeirah Essex House (March 5, 2012) – In a Monday morning news conference preceding Monday night’s BNP Paribas Showdown featuring Maria Sharapova taking on Caroline Wozniacki and Roger Federer playing Andy Roddick at Madison Square Garden, the participants enjoyed a little “hit and giggle” banter.

Raw audio of  news conference – warning low audio levels.

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames, Inc.

The BNP Paribas Showdown is part of Tennis Night in America, an annual celebration of tennis that includes youth registration events at facilities around the country throughout March. Tennis Night in America is a joint effort between the BNP Paribas Showdown and the United States Tennis Association.

Tennis Panorama News will media for the event, follow us here and on our twitter account for live updates.

The Showdown is being broadcast live on ESPN3.com  and ESPN International beginning at 7 p.m. ET. It will re-air at 11:30pm on ESPN2. MSG Networks will re-broadcast the BNP Paribas Showdown beginning on March 16 at 8:00 p.m. on MSG Plus and again on March 18at 10:00 p.m. on MSG.

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Photo-Op and News Conference for BNP Paribas Showdown

Photo-Op and News Conference for “BNP Paribas Showdown for The Bilie Jean King Cup held at the Petite Salon, Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South

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The combatants-Venus and Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic along with Bilie Jean King and the PNB Paribas President pose before the news conference.

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From left to right:Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic.

Listen to the News Conference raw and unedited:

Players News Conference Runs 15:39

You should be able to listen to this on  Windows Media Player.


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Kirk Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis USTA and Billie Jean King.

Listen to the News Conference:

King and Kamperman Runs 19:31

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