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.
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 â€“ 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.”
McIlroyÂ 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.”
The men also had some fun of their own.Â During the Americanâ€™sÂ win over the Swiss, a few fans yelled, â€œLetâ€™s go, Rafa!â€ 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 Spaniardâ€™s vintage â€œvamosâ€ 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