After successfully defending her Australian Open title Victoria Azarenka remains atop the world rankings as number one in the WTA Women's Singles Rankings as Rafael Nadal is set to make his first U.S. appearance at the annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 4. The upcoming event featuring Azarenka v. Serena Williams and Nadal v. Juan Martin del Potro will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America, as well as the inaugural World Tennis Day.
Azarenka closed out the two-week tournament by proudly defending her Australian Open title against Li Na (4-6, 6-4, 6-3) to capture the first Grand Slam of 2013. Her victory placed her in a rare group with past BNP Paribas Showdown participants including Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova as the only active women's players with two or more grand slam titles. With only weeks remaining, Azarenka will face 15-time Grand Slam champion and current world number two Serena Williams in a rematch of the 2012 US Open final at Madison Square Garden on March 4.
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 number one 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 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.
The BNP Paribas Showdown exclusively features players who have either won Grand Slams or ranked number one 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.
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.