2014/04/17

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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BNP Paribas Showdown on World Tennis Day

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New York, NY (January 3, 2013) – The BNP Paribas Showdown brings tennis back to Madison Square Garden for the sixth time on March 4, 2013 featuring Grand Slam champions Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal. Once again, the event will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America, but in 2013, the BNP Paribas Showdown will also be part of a global tennis participation effort on the inaugural World Tennis Day.

 

World Tennis Day will be held with the support of 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 BNP Paribas Showdown events in Hong Kong as well as the annual event at Madison Square Garden in New York. The World Tennis Day effort complements the ongoing Tennis Night in America initiative to promote 10-and-under tennis by the United States Tennis Association that has been held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Showdown for five years.

 

“World Tennis Day is an opportunity for us to take the template of what has worked so well here with the USTA and Tennis Night in America to a global stage,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and President of StarGames, Inc. “Last year more than 2,000 clubs participated in Tennis Night in America activities around the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden. Youth participation in tennis is something we strongly believe in, so it seemed natural to try to build upon the success we’ve had in the US by partnering with the ITF in a global effort with World Tennis Day.”

 

Once again the BNP Paribas Showdown exclusively features players who have either won Grand Slams or ranked No. 1 in the World, if not both. Entering the 2013 season, the 17 all-time participants of the event at Madison Square Garden boast a combined 100 Grand Slam singles titles, 694 titles overall and a total of 1,561 weeks ranked No. 1.

 

Azarenka and Williams won three of the four  majors last year. The current World No. 1, Azarenka won the 2012 Australian Open to assume the top spot in the rankings. Williams was victorious at Wimbledon and the US Open while also bringing home gold medals in singles and doubles at the London Olympics. The two played each other in the final of the US Open in 2012, and will renew their rivalry on Friday (overnight Thursday in the US) in the semifinals of the WTA event in Brisbane, Australia.

 

Nadal will be making his first appearance in the US after a long injury layoff when he takes on del Potro in the BNP Paribas Showdown. In 2012, Nadal won a record seventh French Open title, but a knee injury prevented him from playing after Wimbledon. The start of the Spaniard’s 2013 season has been delayed by a stomach virus. The 11-time Grand Slam champion joins Andre Agassi as the only players to have completed a career Golden Slam. In 2009, Argentina’s del Potro broke through to win the US Open title. After wrist surgery in 2010, he returned to his top form in 2012, winning four titles and reaching the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slams.

 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. For more information www.thegarden.com. 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.

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World Tennis Day Launched by ITF and StarGames

(November 18, 2012) The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced that it has entered into an agreement with StarGames to launch World Tennis Day to help promote tennis participation around the world. The inaugural World Tennis Day will be held on Monday March 4, 2013 as part of the 2013 ITF Centenary activities.

 

World Tennis Day will be centered around a series of high profile exhibition events around the world, including the well-established BNP Paribas Showdown in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Each of the events, organised by the promoter StarGames, will feature current and former professionals together with demonstrations of the ITF’s Tennis10s programme aimed at increasing participation among young players around the world.

 

Alongside these events, the ITF will be encouraging its 210 National Associations to support World Tennis Day with their own grassroots and club activities to attract new participants to the sport.

 

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has already established the successful Tennis Night in America in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Showdown in which clubs are asked to open their doors as part of a month-long drive to get children playing the sport. Over 2,200 clubs in the United States took part in this initiative in 2012.

 

Several other National Associations have already pledged their support to join the USTA in World Tennis Day activities in 2013, including Davis Cup finalists Czech Republic and Spain, plus Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Norway, Portugal and South Africa. Announcements about further exhibition events will be made soon.

 

The ITF’s Tennis10s programme, which promotes the use of slower and lower bouncing balls, shorter and lighter rackets, and smaller courts to make it easier for children to take up the game. Tennis10s is a supporting programme of the Tennis Play and Stay campaign, the ITF’s global initiative launched in 2007 aimed at increasing tennis participation worldwide. Tennis Play and Stay centres around the slogan of ‘Serve, Rally and Score’ and seeks to promote tennis as an easy, fun and healthy sport.

 

“We look forward to World Tennis Day as a way to put a spotlight on tennis participation,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The very successful Tennis Night in America, staged by the USTA in association with StarGames, is an example of how special events and participation activities can be combined successfully. We look forward to events around the world over the next few years, and to see our 210 member national associations get behind World Tennis Day with activities in their own countries on that day.”

 

Ivo Kaderka, president of the Czech Tennis Association (CTA), said: “We think World Tennis Day will be very good for tennis worldwide and the CTA looks forward to getting involved in this initiative.” Anil Khanna, President of the Asian Tennis Federation and All India Tennis Association, said: “We will be delighted to support World Tennis Day.”

 

Jerry Solomon, President and CEO of StarGames, said: “Our partnerships with the USTA on Tennis Night in America and BNP Paribas on the Showdown have proven successful so to be able to expand this to World Tennis Day in partnership with the ITF and its 210 member nations is a unique opportunity. I want to thank the ITF leadership for sharing our vision and look forward to the day when World Tennis Day brings focus to the sport through multiple special events combined with the Tennis10s programme across the globe.”

 

Tennis Play and Stay and Tennis10s are programmes with proven success in growing participation,” said Dave Miley, ITF Executive Director of Development. “This initiative will give both the ITF and our member nations a great opportunity to showcase and draw extra attention to what they are doing to grow tennis in their countries through World Tennis Day.”

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Rafter Rallies Past McEnroe To Win NASDAQ Indexes Cup in Madison Square Garden

(November 5, 2012) NEW YORK, NY– Two-time US Open Champion, Australia’s Patrick Rafter won his second PowerShares Series title in four days by defeating hometown boy John McEnroe, 8-3 in the championship match of the NASDAQ Indexes Cup Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Rafter won last Friday’s event I Philadelphia. Rafter, down 1-3 in the final, won the next seven games to take the match.

 

“It’s just a thrill for me to be back out here competing in front of the fans again,” said Rafter. “I had never played in this building, so what an added thrill, and a dream come true for me. I can’t thank the fans enough for coming out tonight to watch us play, in light of what this part of the country has been through lately. I hope we were able to provide some good entertainment.”

Rafter who promised before the match that he would serve and volley on every chance he could, used his aggressiveness to take down Pete Sampras 6-3 in the first semifinal of the night. Sampras was sporting knee-high socks due to a calf strain.

 

In the second semifinal, New York’s own John McEnroe, zoomed out to a 4-0 lead over Andre Agassi. Agassi eventually gained back the two service breaks to draw even on serve at 4-5, but McEnroe broke him to seal the match 6-4.

 

For Rafter, this was his first time playing in Madison Square Garden. “I’m excited,” he said before the matches began. He said that had attended the Knicks game on Sunday and it made him very nervous. He said that he’d hope to play well and that he did.

The win moves Rafter into a tie for third in the 2012 PowerShares Series rankings with Jim Courier.

Monday Night Scores
Semifinal 1: Rafter def. Sampras, 6-3
Semifinal 2: McEnroe def. Agassi, 6-4
Final: Rafter def. McEnroe, 8-3

UPDATED 2012 POWERSHARES SERIES RANKINGS
1.            McEnroe              1200
2.            Sampras               1100
3.            Courier                 800
Rafter                   800
5.            Lendl                     400
6.            Chang                   200
7.            Agassi                   100
Martin                    100

More to follow

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Madison Square Garden’s “Garden 366” Visual Retrospective and “Defining Moments” Exhibits Debut when Arena Reopens in November 2012

New York, NY, October 11, 2012 – Madison Square Garden announced on Thursday the greatest moments in the Arena’s more than 130 year history that will be celebrated and commemorated through two unique exhibits  – “Garden 366” and “Defining Moments” – that will be unveiled as part of Phase II of The Garden’s historic three-year, top-to-bottom Transformation this Fall. Since 1879, The Garden’s four Arena complexes have played host to some of the greatest moments in the history of sports, music, entertainment and politics. With the “Garden 366” visual retrospective and “Defining Moments” special exhibits, the Garden will showcase through amazing photos and artifacts, the moments that have solidified its position as The World’s Most Famous Arena.

 

“Over the last 133 years, The Garden has played host to some of the most memorable moments in sports, entertainment and politics, and it was important to us that we celebrate and honor this unparalleled history by capturing these incredible moments as part of the transformed Garden,” said Hank Ratner, president and CEO, The Madison Square Garden Company. “Whether a fan wants to discover what happened on their birthday, recall events they attended over the years or learn about all of the magical Garden moments, we believe – with the ‘Garden 366’ and ‘Defining Moments’ exhibits – that we have successfully created what will become a special destination for all fans who visit The Garden. Over time, as more memorable moments continue to occur, these exhibits will be updated to include the next great moment that happens at The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

 

When fans return to The Garden in November, the Madison Concourse (6th Floor) will be completed with the addition of “Garden 366,” a visual retrospective that brings to life one moment in Garden history for every day of the year. The retrospective will wrap the entire circumference of the Arena, creating a visual calendar of The Garden’s rich history spanning sports, music, entertainment and politics. In addition, this fall, the first 10 of 20 of The Garden’s “Defining Moments” will be commemorated on the Madison Concourse through special exhibits that feature photos, memorabilia and additional artifacts, representing each of these amazing moments in Garden history. The remaining 10 “Defining Moments” will be integrated into the Garden Concourse (8th Floor) for debut in fall 2013.

 

Also part of Phase II of the Garden Transformation, the seating configuration in the upper bowl of the Arena will be completely transformed, offering larger, more comfortable seats and significantly improved sightlines as the incline for the upper bowl will increase 17 degrees, moving fans seven to 10 feet, or nearly three rows, closer to the action. The new, expanded Garden Concourse will include city views, additional restrooms and retail locations, and new first-class food and beverage options. Additional new elements will include 58 new Madison Level Suites, which will open throughout the 2012-13 season, and the Madison Club, both located as close as 23 rows away from the Arena floor. The Madison Club will be a new all-inclusive, exclusive membership-only club that will include tickets to Knicks, Rangers, college basketball, boxing, tennis and all other sports events held at The Garden.

 

The first phase of the Transformation debuted in fall 2011 and included a completely transformed lower bowl of the Arena, with new larger, more comfortable seating and the expanded Madison Concourse with new amenities for fans. New open areas on the east and west side of the 8th floor and the West Balcony (10th floor) provide fans with direct views into the Arena bowl, as well as new seating, walkways and concession stands. The new Event Level Suites, Delta Sky360 Club and 1879 Club Presented by J.P. Morgan also debuted during the 2011-12 seasons. The third and final phase of the Transformation will be unveiled in fall 2013 when the two spectacular new Chase Bridges and the new expanded Chase Square entrance off 7th Avenue will debut. In addition, the final phase will include the new Budweiser Fan Deck (10th floor), state-of-the-art GardenVision center-hung scoreboard, 18 completely remodeled Garden Suites (9th floor) and a restoration of the iconic Garden ceiling.

 

Work on the Transformation will continue to be a year-round project, sequenced to maximize construction efforts during the remaining offseason shutdown in 2013. For more information on the MSG Transformation, visit www.msg.com/transformation to see a complete timeline of the project and receive construction updates.

 

Some of Madison Square Garden ‘s  Tennis Moments

January 8, 1978:                Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg, wins the Grand Prix Masters.

January 14, 1979:              John McEnroe outlasts Arthur Ashe to win the Grand Prix Masters just six months after turning pro.

January 19, 1986:              Ivan Lendl defeats Boris Becker, wins Nabisco Masters.

March 2, 2009:                   Serena Williams defeats sister Venus, wins inaugural Billie Jean King Cup.

March 27, 1977:                Chris Evert beats Sue Barker in first Virginia Slims tournament at The Garden.

March 30, 1968:                Arthur Ashe beats Roy Emerson in finals of The Madison Square Garden Challenge Trophy

October 9, 1926:               Suzanna Lenglen defeats Mary Browne in the first professional tennis event in the U.S.

December 26, 1947:        Bobby Riggs beats Jack Kramer in pro debut; 15,115 brave snowstorm.

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“On The Call”- Nadal Encouraged by Recovery and Hopes to Practice Soon

Rafael Nadal spoke to media on a conference call from his home in Mallorca to promote his participation in the BNP Paribas Showdown scheduled for Monday, March 4 at Madison Square Garden as part of Tennis Night in America. Nadal will play Juan Martin Del Potro in the second match of the evening while Serena Williams will face Victoria Azarenka in the first.

Nadal has been off of the tour with a partially torn patella tendon since a second round loss at Wimbledon.

Nadal who has been swimming as part of his rehabilitation, said that he was encouraged with his progress and hopes to be able to practice soon.

“I don’t want to put any goals to play a tournament,” Nadal said. “I want to go day by day. I go every day to the gym and the swimming pool to continue with my recovery. I am trying to not think that far.”

“I am feeling a little bit better now than the first couple of months.

“It has been very, very tough for me because I feel my knee didn’t improve in the right direction, but today is something different. The last couple of weeks the improvement of my knee is something I really can feel.”

Hopeful of returning to the tour before the end of the year, Nadal is uncertain of how long it will take him to get back into playing shape.

“I will need a period of time of practice,” he said. “I don’t know if that will take a few weeks or one month and a half.”

 Conference Call Transcript

Nadal: I want to tell everybody thank you very much for inviting me to play in this great event. Roger told me it was a great event and I’m looking forward to being there especially not having the chance to play in New York at the US Open … I am excited to be there.

 

Q: You missed the U.S. Open. How do you feel about coming back into New York with the atmosphere that we have here with the exhibition match?

 

Nadal: As I said before, I’m very excited it’s something different it’s something special to play, it’s very special. All the exhibitions in every place are important to me … Playing at Madison Square Garden will be something very, very special, especially after not being in New York this year. That’s something bad for me that I didn’t play in the U.S. Open. It’s something that I felt really, really bad about when I had to take this position, but having the invitation to play in this fantastic event next year will be great. I’m very excited. As I said before, playing at Madison Square Garden is something that I’m very excited to do it. This is a special opportunity and I want to enjoy it.

 

Q: How do your preparations for an exhibition differ from when you’re preparing for a tournament like a grand slam?

 

Nadal: Well, it’s difficult to compare. When I play in exhibition, I want to go out, I want to play my best, I want to have fun, to create a very good show for the spectators and for MSG…All the things that I can provide…I try my best in every moment.

 

Q: Can you please tell us how you are feeling, and what is the status and state of your knee’s rehab?

 

Nadal: I’m working hard every day to recover as quick as possible…I am …feeling a little bit better now than the first couple of months. I’ve been very, very tough for me…because I feel that my knee didn’t move in the right way, right direction. But today is something different now. I feel the last couple of weeks I can feel the improvement in my knee…It feels very different now. The groove on my knee is something that I really can feel and it’s something that helped a lot of me to keep working hard, to keep doing everyday what I have to do. Today, at the moment, I am working to try to come back to practice in the tennis court for not very long periods of time.

 

Q: Do you have thoughts on the debate about prize money, and do you expect the players to be united as this moves forward next of course with the French Open?

 

Nadal: Well, the last couple of months I have been out of the competition, so I really have no idea about all of these discussions about the rights of the players…Today they have more information than me…In anything, the prize money, anything that can improve hours for the players…

 

Q: Do you think the players deserve more of the money from the grand slams?

 

Nadal: You know the thing is not what I think. What I think is nothing because I’m one player that… what is best for the Grand Slams, what is best for the players …It has nothing to do…we have a great and powerful ATP…I think they are doing the job for us…they are working hard to create a better tour…Improve the relationship with the Grand Slams…It would work with the support of the players. I really have no right to say it’s…it’s not fair, who’s upset, how much they have to put…I can say that they’re happy about our sport and they continue moving in a very good direction. I am happy to be part of this sport …Things that can improve? Always things can improve…

 

Q: Were there some deeper concerns that you weren’t going to be able to come back from this as well as you could in the past?

 

Nadal: That’s not an issue today. I never thought about that and the doctors never thought about that…I never really tired nobody so that’s something good for me…right direction…The only thing we tried to make conservative treatment…nothing serious…it feels that is working well…that’s what we tried and it seems like it’s working well…

 

Q: How soon do you expect to return to competitive tennis?

 

Nadal: I wouldn’t know. That’s something I will know when my knee is completely without pain. When I start to practice and I am … at long periods of time outside of the tennis court without competitions. I can imagine that when I come back on the tennis court, I will make period of time at practice to start slow and to improve and do more and more everyday … It could take 3 weeks, it could take one month and a half, I don’t know. Today what I think is continue with the treatment, continue with the…and when I don’t feel nothing, I’m hoping that will happen soon, I will come back on the tennis court…I will have a period of time to…and ready to compete.

 

Q: You’re seven and three against Del Potro, I know it’s an exhibition, but does the competitive nature in you really wants to win this or is just more for the fans?

 

Nadal: Well, whenever you are in an exhibition you want to do the right show for the fans. You want the fans to have the best time possible watching the match, but sure I want to win … I think everyone will try their best. At the end of the day to play an exhibition match you want to have the best show for the fans … I will do my best possible to have the fans enjoy the match.

 

Q: Did you watch any of the U.S. Open at all, and how hard was it not to be there considering it’s the first one you’ve missed since you played your first one back in 2003?

 

Nadal: I watched a few matches. Sure, it was tough to take a position like them playing in one of the most important tournaments of the year to know I played in the finals the last three years it’s something bad … It’s hard…I had success the first part of the season … I have to work hard every day to be back as soon as possible on the tennis court and back to competition …

 

Q: Novak said after Andy Murray won the US Open that tennis would be more interesting in 2013 because now you have four guys who won majors. Do you agree with that and how much more interesting can it get with all four of you having won a major?

 

Nadal: I really don’t see a big difference. Even if Andy doesn’t win a Grand Slam before this US Open Andy was ready to win a Grand Slam … The level was no difference. Now that he won a Grand Slam that is not going to change my thoughts…when I go on a tennis court with Andy Murray … hopefully I will have the feeling that I can win. Even he doesn’t win the Grand Slam I think he is a fantastic player and his chances to win Grand Slams … are always high. He is a fantastic tennis player.

 

Q: To clarify – you’re not hitting on a tennis court but you hope to hit soon? And do you expect to play in London or Davis Cup or is that now impossible?

 

Nadal: Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes. Let’s go day-by-day. After missing the Olympics and after missing the US Open I don’t want to make goals to play a tournament. I want to go day-by-day in the gym and in the swimming pool … to continue with my recovery. I’m trying not to think that far and take it day-by-day … after not going to the Olympics and after not going to the US Open that was two important goals for me … I wish today the situation was different, but I’m going to go day-by-day …

 

Q: You’ve had a long time now since you’ve been resting your knee to think about this. Is there any chance because your knees have been a problem for quite some time that you will make a serious adjustment or change in your schedule for when you come back?


Nadal: My feeling is that the hard court is probably the most … frustrating to play for my knee and for my ankles. Today the hard court is probably one of the most important surfaces on the tennis tour. I really do not have too many chances to change my schedule. If I want to keep having chances to be in the top position in the rankings I really have to follow the ATP Tour schedule. I can make a few adjustments, but not much …


Q: Have you spoken to other athletes who have had the same injury and talk to them about how they felt after they came back or the time table?


Nadal: I have the right people I think and they are really confident about my recovery. There is no information on the different athletes … my recovery has been very satisfactory …


Q: Spain has drawn Canada in February on the vote. Does Canada have any chance at all against the powerful Spain under those circumstances?


Nadal: I’m sure. Yes, Spain has a great team….it’s going to be a difficult confrontation for the Spain team …

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an inside view into the world of tennis news.

 

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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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2013 BNP Paribas Showdown to feature Nadal, Del Potro, Serena Williams and Azarenka

6th ANNUAL BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN RETURNS TO MADISON SQUARE GARDEN ON MARCH 4, 2013

RAFAEL NADAL, JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO, SERENA WILLIAMS AND VICTORIA AZARENKA TO CONTINUE THE TRADITION OF TENNIS AT THE GARDEN

New York, NY (August 22, 2012) – New York area tennis fans are in for another great night of tennis  with some of the world’s top players scheduled to appear for the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 4, 2013.   World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and Olympic bronze medalist, will get the night started against Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams. Following the women will be Argentine Davis Cup star, 2009 US Open champion and Olympic bronze medalist Juan Martin del Potro, who will step onto The Garden court against one of the game’s all-time greats, former World No. 1 and eleven time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal.

 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets will start at $50.00 and will go on sale October 9 @ 10:00 a.m. and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.  For more information and an opportunity to sign up for pre-sale alerts prior to tickets going on sale, fans can visit www.tennisshowdown.com.

 

“While I am disappointed to be missing a trip to New York for the US Open I am happy to announce that I will be coming to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on March 4,” said Nadal.  “New York has many great memories for me and I am really looking forward to playing against Juan Martin in front of all of the New York tennis fans that night.”

 

“New York and the New York fans represent something special for me as I had my first Grand Slam win here,” said del Potro.  “So it will be great to come to Madison Square Garden and play in a world famous arena against Rafa which should bring out a lot of flags from Spain and Argentina, making it an exciting night of entertaining tennis. I am really looking forward to playing in the Showdown.”

 

“I always love playing in New York and at Madison Square Garden,” said Williams.  “The last time I played there I won the Billie Jean King Cup which was a huge honor for me. It will be exciting to be back at the Showdown with the other great players. I am sure it will be another fantastic night.”

 

Azarenka added: “I have heard from some of the other players how exciting it is to play in the Showdown at Madison Square Garden so I am really looking forward to being part of the event. It should be a great night for tennis.”

 

“We have had tremendous success with The BNP Paribas Showdown, building on the storied tennis history at The Garden that spans more than 80 years. The annual event continually attracts the biggest names in the sport, garners support from industry leading brands as marketing partners and fills The World’s Most Famous Arena with a sold-out crowd that includes the who’s who of New York,” said Scott O’Neil, president, MSG Sports. “The Garden is the place where legends come to perform, and we are thrilled to have Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka perform on the world’s biggest stage on March 4.”

 

“It is hard to believe that this is the sixth year of the BNP Paribas Showdown which has now established itself on the tennis calendar as one of the most entertaining nights of the year,” said Jerry Solomon, Executive Producer and President of StarGames.  “We are honored to have Rafa, Serena, Juan Martin and Victoria join a list of only the very best in tennis who have played at the Showdown. It promises to be another ‘must see’ event for New York tennis fans.”

 

“We at BNP Paribas are delighted to be the title sponsor of this terrific event in the heart of NYC for the fifth consecutive year,” said Michele Sicard, BNP Paribas Managing Director of Corporate Communications.  “It keeps getting better every year and we look forward to another fantastic BNP Paribas Showdown featuring some of the best tennis players in the world.”

 

“Tennis Night in America” has annually marked the start of the tennis season in the United States and begins a month of professional events that include the BNP Paribas Open and Sony Ericsson Open.

 

One of the most exciting players of all-time, Rafael “Rafa” Nadal, is currently ranked No. 3 in the world and is a former World No.1 player.   Nadal, “The King of Clay,” has won a total of eleven Grand Slam singles titles, including an all-time record seven French Open championships; the 2008 Olympic gold medal; and a record 21 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments; and was also part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

 

The Spaniard is the seventh player in history to complete the Career Grand Slam by winning the 2010 US Open and only the second male player to complete the Career Golden Slam (winner of the Career Grand Slam and the Olympic gold medal) after Andre Agassi. He has at least two Grand Slam titles on each of the three surfaces and is the second male player to win any Grand Slam tournament seven times, matching Pete Sampras’ and Roger Federer’s seven Wimbledon titles.

 

Juan Martin del Potro, is currently the eighth ranked player in the world and the highest ranked Argentine player on the tour.  He broke the top-10 ranking in 2008 and reached his career-high ranking or No. 4 in 2010.  He was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 2011 after rising from a low of No. 485 to finish the season at World No. 11.

 

In 2008, del Potro became the first player in ATP history to win his first four career titles in as many tournaments. Del Potro captured his first Grand Slam title at the 2009 US Open, defeating Nadal in the semifinal and Roger Federer in the final becoming the first man to defeat both heavyweights in the same Grand Slam tournament. Del Potro is the only player other than Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to have won a grand slam singles title since 2005. He became the second Argentine and the fifth-youngest man to win the US Open title in the Open Era. Del Potro recently captured the bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

 

Serena Williams, currently ranked No. 4, has held the World No. 1 ranking on five separate occasions, dating back to 2002 and is considered one of the greatest players of all-time.  She has recorded 29 Grand Slam titles (14 singles, 13 women’s doubles, 2 mixed doubles), making her ninth on the all-time list and is only the fifth woman to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles.  The 14 Grand Slam singles titles is sixth on the all-time list and among all active players she holds the most Major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

 

Additionally, Serena has won four Olympic gold medals, one in women’s singles and three in women’s doubles.  During the London Olympics  she became the second player after Steffi Graf to win a career Golden Grand Slam after winning the gold medal and the first player in history, male or female, to win the Golden Grand Slam in both singles and doubles (with Venus Williams).

 

Williams captured the inaugural “BNP Paribas Showdown” held on March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over sister Venus Williams. The field also included 2008 French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic, as well as year ending No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

 

Victoria Azarenka is the current World No. 1 female player in the world.   She won the 2012 Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam in singles. Her other achievements include winning the Bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, the 2007 US Open (Max Mirnyi), the 2008 French Open (Bob Bryan) and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics (Max Mirnyi).

 

Back in January of this year Azarenka won her ninth WTA title at Sydney and won first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open becoming No.1 on January 30 (rose from No.3 to No.1 – first player ever to skip No.2 en route to No.1).

 

With the exception of Serena Williams, this will be the Madison Square Garden debut for the players.

 

The Madison Square Garden Arena has been host to some of the greatest matches and biggest names in the sport for more than 80 years.  The men’s and women’s year-end tour championships took place at The Garden from 1977-1989 and 1979 – 2000 respectively and featured the likes of Björn Borg and Martina Navratilova.

 

After an eight year hiatus professional tennis returned to The World’s Most Famous Arena on March 10, 2008 with the sold-out NetJets Showdown between World No. 1 Roger Federer
and former Grand Slam record holder Pete Sampras.

 

The following year women’s tennis returned to The Garden with the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup in 2009 and 2010.  Players who have participated include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic.  In 2011, four legends of the game took to the court when Ivan Lendl squared off against John McEnroe followed by Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

 

As part of the second phase of The Garden’s three-year top-to-bottom Transformation, the upper bowl of the Arena will be completely transformed, including significantly improved sightlines, an expanded Garden Concourse (eighth Floor) with city views and new first-class food and beverage options, new Madison Suites and an all-inclusive Madison Club. Final work will also be completed on the Madison Concourse (sixth Floor), including the addition of an homage to The Garden’s more than 130-year history. Work on the Madison Square Garden Transformation will continue to be a year-round project, with the majority of construction taking place during the offseason when the building will be shutdown. For more information on the MSG Transformation, visit www.msg.com/transformation.

 

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS LOCATED BELOW

 

###

 

 

WILLIAMS VS. AZARENKA

YEAR       EVENT                                                     SURFACE                 ROUND                   WINNER                  SCORE    

2008        AUSTRALIAN OPEN                                HARD                      R32                          WILLIAMS               6-3 6-4

2009        AUSTRALIAN OPEN                                HARD                      R16                          WILLIAMS               3-6 4-2

2009        MIAMI                                                     HARD                      F                              AZARENKA              6-3 6-1

2009        WIMBLEDON                                          GRASS                     Q                             WILLIAMS               6-2 6-3

2010        AUSTRALIAN OPEN                                HARD                      Q                             WILLIAMS               4-6 7-6(4)

2011        TORONTO                                               HARD                      S                              WILLIAMS               6-3 6-3

2011        US OPEN                                                 HARD                      R32                          WILLIAMS               6-1 7-6(5)

2012        MADRID                                                  CLAY                        F                              WILLIAMS               6-1 6-3

2012        WIMBLEDON                                          GRASS                     S                              WILLIAMS               6-3 7-6(6)

2012        OLYMPICS                                               GRASS                     S                              WILLIAMS               6-1 6-2

 

 

NADAL VS. DEL POTRO

YEAR       EVENT                                                     SURFACE                 ROUND                   WINNER                  SCORE

2011        ESP vs. ARG DC Final                              CLAY                        RR                           NADAL                     1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(0)

2011        WIMBLEDON                                          GRASS                     R16                          NADAL                     7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4

2011        ATP WORLD TOUR – MADRID                CLAY                        R16                          NADAL                     W/O

2011        ATP WORLD TOUR – INDIAN WELLS     HARD                      S                              NADAL                     6-4, 6-4

2009        US OPEN                                                 HARD                      S                              DEL POTRO             6-2, 6-2, 6-2

2009        ATP WORLD TOUR – CANADA               HARD                      Q                             DEL POTRO             7-6(5), 6-1

2009        ATP WORLD TOUR – MIAMI                  HARD                      Q                             DEL POTRO             6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3)

2009        ATP WORLD TOUR – INDIAN WELLS     HARD                      Q                             NADAL                     6-2, 6-4

2007        LONDON / QUEEN’S CLUB                     GRASS                     R32                          NADAL                     6-4, 6-4

2007        ROLAND GARROS                                   CLAY                        R128                        NADAL                     7-5, 6-3, 6-2

2007        ATP MASTERS – MIAMI                          HARD                      R16                          NADAL                     6-0, 6-4

 

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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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Notes and Quotes from the BNP Paribas Showdown

 

NEW YORK, NY – Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki participated in the BNP Parbas Showdown at Madison Square Garden. Here are a few quotes from both the morning news conference and post-match news conference.

From the Morning news conference:

TPN: What do you want fans to get out of this night?

Caroline Wozniacki: lt’s going to be in amazing spirits for all of us, I think, to play in the Madison Square Garden. lt’s a very special arena, it has a lot of history to it, besides the US Open I think it’s great, but the tennis fans in general probably can get a close view to some of the stars around here. I mean sitting next to Andy, Rog and Maria it’s gonna be an amazing night and I hope the crowd will enjoy it.

Maria Sharapova: You know it’s one of those unique opportunities you don’t get to experience very often, and we usually know our schedules very well, we know the place we’re going to, cities we’re going to visit, stadiums. And to be part of that, it’s personally a first for me at Madison Square Garden in front of an incredible crowd. And hopefully full of energy like it always is, it’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Roger Federer: I think coming back to a different period of the year, when tennis, you know, maybe not dominating the headlines here, I think this is really nice because it is an exhibition. Potentially, at times it is a bit more laid back for us as well, and we really try to make the most of it and promote enough, you know, see as many fans as we can, and so forth, as Andy mentioned. On a personal note, it’s just one of those things you look back on later in your career and say “lt was an amazing achievement, or feeling to be playing at Madison Square Garden.” And me also more on a personal note, the history of Madison Square Garden and tennis has always existed as well. lvan Lendl And McEnroe and all of the great legends of the game playing there in the past, it’s an opportunity for us to maybe be there as well a bit ourselves and who knows maybe the future pay back big tournament to the Garden.

 

Andy Roddick who referred to Roger Federer as the Dos Equis man was asked to comment on what this second-most respected person on the planet (Federer) has been doing lately on the tennis court?

Roddick: He’s been playing great. Obviously he played well in Australia but played seemingly better in Rotterdam and Dubai. lt’s amazing to see the level he’s still playing at, you know. A lot of the guys that we started with have kinda been done for 5 or 6 years now so it’s been fun to kind of I guess play during the same time, at times. And then um, it’s not surprising to see Roger winning the tennis tournament.

How much do you really enioy playing exhibitions, especially with the intense part of the schedule coming up the next few weeks, Indian Wells as well as Miami sort of take a break, and like you mentioned have some fun, interact with the fans l’m sure hopefully some kids?

 

Sharapova: lt’s great in a way where there’s no pressure feeling of going into the match. lt doesn’t count for anything in terms of points and rankings but you’re still, you’re going out there and you can’t hide the fact that you’re playing in front of ten thousands of people in an incredible environment. And you’re doing what you love and you’re competing and ultimately the reason why people go out to see an exhibition match, even if it’s an exhibition, is to see why you play the game of tennis and how you play it. So they do want that competitive side of yours and to see the great tennis. But it also gives us a chance to just enjoy it a little bit more and a few days from a big tournament coming up in Palm Springs it’s also a great warm-up for us’

 

Wozniacki: Yeah definitely. You know an exhibitions always good fun, it’s good to interact with the fans, and hopefully they enjoy us. I tend to think so anyways. lt’s just great to play with a player like Maria you know it’s a big tournaments coming up, and she’s a great player. lt’s a good test for both of us as well and for a big tournament and to play here like she said in front of thousands of people. lt’s a special arena; it’s definitely going to be fun.

 

Roddick: As far as where it lies in the schedule, I don’t think its…l think a lot of the reason why the four of us are here is because of venue, the prestige of playing at a place like Madison Square Garden. You know I don’t think normally when you have 5 or 6 days in between tournaments, you’re not looking to fill those days with exhibitions too often, but you know I think special circumstances require special decisions and so for me it wasa pretty easy one.

 

Federer: For me, I like the change of the regular tournaments. After a year you just go for exhibitions sometimes. Exhibitions are usually held at different places than regular tournaments we go to. I also use it as a tool to promote tennis in different part of the regions of the world. Such as Asia, the Peking in particular and then obviously I start playoffs and more exhibitions in Europe and then US over 5 years ago. That was something very special and the big … should happen, but you get here in the states. Then I played here so that was sort of the pinnacle of my exhibitions l’ve played in over the years, and I’ve really enjoyed them, yes.

 

When questioned in the post-match news conference about why some downplay exhibitions:

Roddick: ‘l’m not sure how 18,000 in the most famous venue in the world watching our sport can be a bad thing. I think it’s a great thing. There are a lot of people in here who don’t cover tennis on a regular basis and it’ll be out there tomorrow. I think it’s a huge positive for our sport.”

Federer: “We hardly ever play but when we do play it’s promoting the game in different parts of the world. lt is something that is different and fun…sometime as a player you want to do something maybe for charity.

“Sometimes it’s a good situation and the timing is good to get some matches in before a big tournament.

“I think it all depends on the player. This one is nice and I thought it was worth it to play in.”

Sharapova: “That’s (entertainment) something that’s really good about exhibitions; giving that sense of entertainment and variety to the crowd. Obviously the reason people buy the ticket to see you play is because of what you’ve done on the court and ultimately at the end of the day that’s what they want to see. To see a bit of personality in the athletes, it’s like an open door for that, especially in an arena like this.”

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

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

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