For one night, tennis legends of the 1980s and 1990s were on hand in New York City's Madison Square Garden for the 2011 BNP Paribas Showdown. Legendary rivalries between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, and John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl were re-kindled for one night at The World's Most Famous Arena to a near sell-out crowd on New York City tennis fans.
Kicking off the night was the exhibition between Sampras and Agassi, the first meeting between the two legends from the 90s after last year's controversial exhibition at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. to benefit victims of the Hatian earthquake, where Sampras and Agassi took part in an exhibition doubles match. Equipped with a wireless mic before the live crowd, Agassi mocked Sampras for being cheap when tipping, as Sampras responded with a hard serve uncharacteristic in a friendly exhibition match.
This night, the victory went to Sampras, 6-3, 7-5, as the two patched things up and put on a show before the crowd of 17,000-plus.
"In my eyes, it's over," Sampras said. "It's unfortunate what happened. Andre apologized. It's just one of those things that sort of got blown out of proportion over the last six months. We're still here. He's a rival and a friend."
The nightcap featured legends of the 1980s as Lendl defeated McEnroe as the hometown favorite McEnroe was forced to bow out due to an ankle injury suffered during a warmup for the match. McEnroe, who was leading 6-3 in the one-set, first-to-eight exhibition, was hobbled and forced to retire.
Lendl had been inactive for 14 years because due to back issues, but returned to the court and has started taking part in senior events as he plans to soon open a tennis academy.
Pete Sampras and John McEnroe field questions prior to the BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG