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.

the next tennis event at msg is set for 3/5/12

Mark your calendars: The next BNP Paribas Showdown, the annual tennis event at New York’s Madison Square Garden, will feature two best-of-three exhibition matches for its fifth iteration: up first will be three-time major winner Maria Sharapova against World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki; the men’s match will be an exo between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. This will be the first time that Maria and Roddick are playing in the Garden.

This event also celebrates “Tennis Night in America” (can they play this on the jumbotron, please?), a nationwide campaign to raise awareness for the sport in the U.S.

Info: Tickets start at $50 and go on sale Monday, October 3 via Ticketmaster. Sign up for pre-sale alerts at tennisshowdown.com.

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.

outside winter, inside spring

Serena Williams captured the inaugural BNP Paribas Billie Jean King Cup on Monday night at the Madison Square Garden, beating her sister Venus in the final 6-4, 6-3.

While it may have been winter outside in the middle of Manhattan, spring was in full bloom inside the arena. Even President Bill Clinton and Billie Jean joined in the color brigade, sporting patterned purple and soft mint, respectively, on a snowy night.

The color wheel keeps spinning after the cut…

powder park views

City digs: The women competing in tonight’s Billie Jean King Cup are staying warm and cozy during New York City’s March blizzard at the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South. The Essex House, which overlooks Central Park, is an iconic New York landmark, and has rooms from $299 and up per night.

essex-house-bjkcup09
At the press conference this morning at the Jumeirah, Ana Ivanovic was giddy to see snow, saying the warm weather gets a little old. “Everywhere we travel is always so hot, it’s fun to wake up to snow!” 

Coming from a pratice session, Ivanovic was dressed most casually of the four women, wearing a gray wide-shouldered tee and bright-pink adidas warm-ups. Serena, Venus and Jelena all wore more business-y attire, as did Billie Jean King, who will be honored tonight by President Bill Clinton along with a host of former great athletes, including my personal fav Nancy Kerrigan.

Comedian Dave Hill even got his shoe in the door, shooting a hilarious promotional video with the gals of the cup. 

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attack of the 500-foot women

bjkcup-advert-timessquare09

We’re not quite done with NYC phone photos: Nick McCarvel snapped this pic of a billboard that just went up in Times Square to promote the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup.

Venus, Serena, Ana, and Jelena will compete for $1.2 million in prize money in one-set single-elimination semis before a three-set final.

Oops: Let’s hope ANTA is okay with Jelena still wearing her U.S. Open ’08 Reebok dress for the promo…

More: Get more info about the exo here.

sightings in the stands: sampras and federer’s netjets showdown

A few celebrities spent their Monday night at the NetJets Showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Robert, Lynettee, Mirka

Roger Federer‘s parents, Robert and Lynettee, sit next to longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec.

Tiger Woods and Elin

Roger’s besty Tiger Woods watches the match with Elin Nordegren.

Rupert Murdoch, Anna Wintour

Heavyweights: Rupert Murdoch and Anna Wintour.

Not shown: Barry Diller, Donald Trump, Ivan Lendl, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Chloe Sevigny, etc.

sampras and federer duke it out at the garden

Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Billie Jean King

Mano a mono: It’s already in the running for Most Overanalyzed Meaningless Tennis Match in History, but Bonnie D. Ford makes no apologies for chiming in. Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6).

Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, both in Nike

Fashion: We enjoyed the revival of Roger’s tuxedo look (from last year’s U.S. Open), and we were ecstatic that Pete finally came out with a new look. As of Saturday, while playing an exo against Todd Martin in Columbus, he was still wearing a style from 10 months ago.

Tick tock: How appropriate that Roger came out wearing a Rolex (which he has endorsed since 2006). Is he counting down his time at the top?

In case you missed it: Roger’s lackluster play in 2008 (no titles for him so far) was attributed to some food poisoning before Kooyong, and also to mono. He keeps himself relatively injury-free, but you can’t really escape the microscopic things, I guess. (Read a letter from Roger to his fans addressing his illness.)

And perhaps we’re all just suffering from a little too much Roger. (Even fan club prez Anna Wintour was seen with another athlete — gasp! — LeBron James.)

The rest push back: He wasn’t even doing so well with the media, who’ve tried to bait his peers to comment on his observation of Andy Murray‘s game after losing to the Scot in Dubai.

Murray wouldn’t get into it. Nole: “Murray has a great style and talent and knows how to play at any one moment… Roger doesn’t like it when you get a lot of balls back against him.” Nadal:: Murray “is getting very good results with his style and if you are doing well why do you have to change?”

Junior Ore, Dennis Kudla

Warm-up: Jordan and I had a talk the other day about who would be picked to play the warm-up match before the NetJets Showdown. Jordan was hoping Donald Young or someone like that. Instead, the audience got treated to Denis Kudla and Junior Ore. Ore says Marcelo Rios is his idol. That’s pretty awesome; you don’t hear Rios mentioned that much anymore. (Tennis Week via Zoo Tennis)

Pete Sampras - Roger Federer - Press Conference

Another: Here’s a photo from the press conference for the exhibition.