July 28, 2015

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


Tennis Night in America Spokesman McEnroe Says There is “Work to Be Done” To Get Kids into Tennis

Seven-time major champion and native New Yorker John McEnroe will serve as the spokesman for Tennis Night in America. Tennis Night in America is an annual celebration of tennis since 2009 that includes youth registration events at facilities around the country and is highlighted by the fifth annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 5 featuring former number ones Caroline Wozniacki against Maria Sharapova followed by Andy Roddick taking on Roger Federer. It’s a team effort between the United States Tennis Association (USTA), StarGames, Inc., and MSG Sports to celebrate of tennis.


The evening’s events will begin with local children in a 10 and Under Tennis demonstration. Similar to other children’s sports where equipment and playing fields are scaled down to size for kids, 10 and Under Tennis gives the younger players the chance to be successful initially by playing tennis on smaller courts, using smaller and lighter racquets and slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls.


As part of his duties as spokesman this year, McEnroe lead a youth tennis clinic with children from the New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) on Wednesday afternoon February 29, 2012 at the Sportime facility on Randalls Island. McEnroe who runs his own tennis academy at the same facility talked about encouraging children to take up tennis:”I have been long in trying to get as many kids as possible to play this sport. A lot of people are trying to think out of the box that the game has been inaccessible and not affordable enough so it’s nice to see kids get an opportunity to play. The more that we can do that the better chance we’ll have with success in the future. Maybe kids thinking that they actually want to play tennis perhaps before other sports.”


“We need to find some of the kids that have turned to the other sports – football’s an obvious one, even soccer, basketball and try to get these kids to look at tennis, that’s something I want to do and obviously could afford to do it.”


In terms of player development, I asked McEnroe about what he and his academy are doing to help get children into the sport of tennis. He admits there is a lot of work to be done. “We are still trying to figure it out, McEnroe said.  And I believe it’s going to be an ongoing thing for the coming years.”


“You know we are right next to Harlem and I have been trying, and I’ve met with met with charter schools or schools that maybe have a different curriculum or public schools, but obviously my whole idea was to do things in the New York area close because it logistically gets to be a bigger and bigger problem the farther away you get. But we have this gold mine as far as I’m concerned, close by you know and a resource and we owe it to ourselves I think what we are trying to accomplish in the sport to try to do a better job of reaching out..that’s easier said than done.”


“I try to drum up enough corporate sponsorship so that I can afford to give as many kids as possible who can’t afford to play the chance to play, that cost money. The people that started this academy spent 19 million dollars building the facility. So my guess is that they don’t want to lose that money. So there is this fine line.


“You’ve got a ride, this is a business. This is owned by the city. The city benefits from it. (The) Randalls Island Sports foundation benefits. They are getting a significant sum of money every year, more than anyone else is getting here. So again it’s the way you look at things.


“When I came into tennis – was the sport too expensive – yes. Is it still too expensive now – yes.


“I think that my goal since I’ve been fortunate to get a lot from the sport through the years would be to try make this sport sort of thought in the same what that some kid maybe the next Michael Jordan, maybe, that he might say ‘you know something I think I want to play tennis instead of basketball.’ That’s sort of like my goal that we could have kids that think ‘hey this is cool’ not like ‘oh god tennis.’ So this is a battle, you know fighting for ever since I was a kid and will continue to fight.


“So certainly we all could do more and we want to do more. When you get into specifics, it’s easier said than done. But were definitely out there, you know looking for ways to get the buzz back. My goal at the very beginning was to get the buzz back to the sport. It’s a sport that’s given me a lot,


“Athletics is getting shortchanged in school, even in private schools, even where I went. I can only imagine how bad it is in public if private is as bad as it is. You know they don’t give the time for kids, there’s so much stress. Kids need a release to me. They need to get out there, and whether it may be art, they might love that, they may love music, but to me sports is a great way to have a great release and hopefully we can provide that too.”


Continuing to promote junior tennis and 10 and under tennis across America is a key to the future of the sport noted McEnroe. “Tennis Night in America brings focus to all of this so I am excited to be a part of it.”


©Kourtin’ Karen’s MSG Scoreboard for the 2010 BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup

©Kourtin’ Karen’s Madison Square Garden Scoreboard for the 2010 BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup

15 – 0

Tennis is back again in Madison Square Garden

Year two for the BNP Paribas Showdown. Let’s hope it continues.

15 – 15
No Serena

Serena Williams’ leg injury forced her out of the exhibition but she was replaced 2008 French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic.

15 – 30

Note to Self: Avoid taking the Tower C elevator

The Tower C elevator at Madison Square Garden must be the busiest elevator on earth. It almost took me the length of the Wilson Future Stars match to get where I was going. By the way, Sachia Vickery defeated Nicole Gibbs in a super tiebreaker to win the Wilson Stars Exo.

(Wilson Presents America’s Future Stars Vickery and Gibbs at BNP Paribas Showdown)

30 – 30

Strike a Pose

Competitors Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic meet the media.

30 – 40

No Billie Jean King

Recovering from double knee replacement surgery prevented her from attending the Showdown.  King released the following statement :

“I wish I could be with you for this year’s BNP Paribas Showdown and another exciting night of tennis at Madison Square Garden. While my heart and mind are with you for this great event, my body is still recovering from the double knee replacement surgery I underwent just a few weeks ago. The BNP Paribas Showdown is an excellent showcase of tennis, the perfect kick-off for the USTA’s Tennis Night in America and this year I am honored a portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the programs and mission of the Women’s Sports Foundation. I plan on being back on the tennis court in the very near future and I hope this year’s BNP Paribas Showdown will inspire you to get active and stay fit.”


Shared laugh of the night

When Ana Ivanovic was introduced prior to her semifinal match with Kim Clijsters as a French Open Champion and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model both Clijsters and Ivanovic chuckled.

Advantage International Tennis Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame Class of 2010 was honored during the Showdown. The incoming class includes Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde, Gigi Fernandez, Natasha Zvereva, Owen Davidson,Brad Parks,  and Derek Hardwick.

A special salute for me to Brad Parks who is the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis who will be the first ever wheelchair tennis inductee.

On being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame Parks said: “It is a tremendous honor for wheelchair tennis. It is a great thing for wheelchair tennis. when we first started playing, people were afraid of us going  on a tennis court. We really weren’t accepted on the wheelchair community or the tennis community. Back in the late 70’s, it was so new, just getting started. To have wheelchair tennis played now in the Grand Slam Tournaments and now to have it part of the Hall of Fame, it kind of completes the original goals of being a part of tennis.”


Semi final losers

Despite losing both Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kusnetsova were upbeat about their participation in the event..

After her 6-4 loss to Venus Williams, Kuznetsova spoke about the match” It’s a great experience for me. It was fun. The match was close and I enjoyed the experience.” She thought that the crowd was really “great.”

Ana Ivanovic fell to Kim Clijsters in the first semifinal 7-6, despite having a match point. Hear Ivanovic’s post match news conference:
GVTNews Podcast – Ana Ivanovic News Conference at the BNP Paribas Showdown

Advantage Twitter

Follow GVTennisNews on Twitter

From the feedback we have received about tweeting during the Showdown, we will continue this practice during our on site coverage of events.  Next stop  for a few days will be at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Seems as though last night some of our international followers could not find a livestream which is why we gave scoring updates on twitter.

In all honesty, I had a blast chatting with followers and other members of the press corps, tweeting updates and photos. Of course you can guess which photos received the highest traffic – Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams.

In case you do not know already our twitter acount is GVTennisNews.


Tweet of the night

Tennis Magazine’s Pete Bodo

@PTBodo Champagne Kimmy and Ana “SI swinsuit model” Ivanovic playing senseless tennis at its best

Second Set Exodus

After the second set of the final match, a number of patrons made their exit from MSG. I’m guessing they were trying to catch the 10:40 train to Babylon on the Long Island Railroad or some Metro North train. Full disclosure, I am a former resident of Long Island.


Official attendance for the evening – 11,702. MSG can hold 19 thousand. The fans sure made enough noise for 19,000.

Advantage Finalist Clijsters

Game, Set, Match – Three continents in three weeks and three event wins – Venus Williams

Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters put on a show at the showdown. The three-set battle which feature some intense tennis was won by Williams 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

A nice new trophy and a very nice check for $400,000 dollars for one night’s work.

Venus Williams Winner’s News Conference – BNP Paribas showdown