adding a hall of fame layer to world tennis day



Tennis Hall of Fame logo

Packing It In: Since all eyes (in theory) will be on tennis on March 4 — that’s World Tennis Day — it couldn’t hurt to highlight just one more facet of our sport. At the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York City, the 2013 inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame will be honored in a Center Celebration on the night of the exhibition. This year’s nominees: Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova, Thelma Coyne Long, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac.

WTD at MSG? BNP. And apart from the parade of vets will be a two-match line-up that will pit Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka (they’ve now played two three-setters in a row!) and Juan Martin del Potro against Rafael Nadal. This will be Nadal’s first American appearance since returning from his 8-month absence dating back from last year’s Wimbledon. Info: Tickets and other info on the BNP Paribas Showdown available at their website.

HOF: The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be inducted on July 13, 2013.

rafael nadal’s first u.s. appearance will be in nyc



All eyes on NYC: The 2013 edition of the annual tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden — the BNP Paribas Showdown — will feature Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka squaring off against Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro playing Rafael Nadal. This event on March 4 will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America as well as the inaugural World Tennis Day.

Nadal will be making his first appearance in the U.S. after a long injury layoff when he takes on del Potro in the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown. Rafa is scheduled to participate in three events in the month of February including his return to the tour next week at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile followed by the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.

In 2012 the former World No. 1 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 was 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.

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.

BNP Paribas Showdown: 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 101 Grand Slam singles titles, 696 titles overall and a total of 1,565 weeks ranked No. 1.

Info: The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets start at $50.00 and are on sale now at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. 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.

flashback: who wears short shorts?



It may have been just three weeks ago, but probably our favorite moment from the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden was John McEnroe dropping his pants to reveal short shorts. Who woulda thought?? (Getty images)

he said, he said: delray tourney director & andre agassi



Above, a previously unshared photo of Douglas Hoekzema‘s work at the Delray Beach ITC. Check out that wall, y’all. (photo by Peter Vahan via primaryflight.com)

“We do this to embrace community and show off the talent this town has. It’s the smallest city of any on the ATP Tour, but has the most flavor block for block for sure. It’s all about creating a lasting positive memory that people can leave with whether they’re a core tennis fan or someone seeing our space and athletes for the first time. Amazing art, VolleyGirls, killer local bands, on-court seats, convertible Porsches on-court that fans watch matches in… it’s all groovy at ‘the beach.’” -John Butler, Executive Director of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships

Agassi arrives yesterday in DC to shoot a USTA promo with First Lady Michelle Obama. (Max Blodgett)

Andre Agassi today gave a teleconference in preparation for the BNP Paribas Showdown. When asked about Pete Sampras and the two stars’ awkward moment at last year’s Hit for Haiti, Andre had this to say: ”Our relationship is strictly platonic, I’ll say that.” [Laughter] “Hit for Haiti was an unfortunate night that was of my doing. I had a microphone at my mouth for too long… I just called him and apologized. No one regretted it more than me.”

bury the hatchet or fuel the flame?



It has just been announced that this coming February’s BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden — in 2010 an event contested by Venus, Ana Ivanovic, Kim Clijsters, and Sveta Kuznetsova — will this time feature Agassi, Sampras, Lendl, and McEnroe in a renewal of their classic rivalries.

John and Ivan will play a one-set pro match (first to eight) and the Agassi/Sampras matchup will be a best-of-three. TSF’s curious to see how the latter will pan out, especially in light of Andre’s malfunction at Indian Wells this year. (Hey, if Kournikova and Hingis can kiss and make up, why can’t these two?)

But not to take away from the event’s a noble cause: to bring awareness to our sport through the “Tennis Night in America” initiative, a collaboration between BNP Paribas and the USTA.

Info: For more info about the event, to be held on February 28, 2011, visit tennisshowdown.com.