New York area tennis fans are in for another great night of tennis with some of the world’s top players scheduled to appear at the Sixth Annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 4. Current world number two-ranked Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 Australian Open champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, will get the night started against Wimbledon champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Serena Williams. Following the women, Argentine Davis Cup star, 2009 U.S. Open champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist Juan Martin del Potro will step onto the Garden court against one of the game’s all-time greats, former world number one and 11-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal.
Here are what the starts are feeling as they head to the Big Apple for a night of tennis in the World’s Most Famous Arena …
"While I am disappointed to have missed the trip to New York for the U.S. Open, I am happy to announce that I will be coming to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on March 4. New York has many great memories for me and I am really looking forward to playing against Juan Martin in front of all of the New York tennis fans that night."
"New York and the New York fans represent something special for me as I had my first Grand Slam win here. It will be great to come to Madison Square Garden and play in a world famous arena against Rafa which should bring out a lot of flags from Spain and Argentina, making it an exciting night of entertaining tennis. I am really looking forward to playing in the Showdown."
—Juan Martin del Potro
“I always love playing in New York and at Madison Square Garden. The last time I played there, I won the Billie Jean King Cup which was a huge honor for me. It will be exciting to be back at the Showdown with the other great players. I am sure it will be another fantastic night."
"I have heard from some of the other players how exciting it is to play in the Showdown at Madison Square Garden so I am really looking forward to being part of the event. It should be a great night for tennis."
Tale of the Tape: Nadal vs. Del Potro
Former world number one, Rafael Nadal is currently ranked fourth in the world. "The King of Clay," Nadal has won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, including an all-time record seven French Open titles, the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal in Singles, a record 21 ATP World Master 1000 tournaments and was also part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011. He completed the career Grand Slam by winning the 2010 U.S. Open, being the seventh player in history, and the youngest of four in the Open era, to achieve it. He is the second male player to complete the Career Golden Slam (winner of the Career Grand Slam and the Olympic gold medal) after Andre Agassi. Nadal has at least two Grand Slam titles on each of the three surfaces (hard court, grass, and clay), the second player to achieve this feat after Mats Wilander. By winning the 2012 French Open, he became the second male player and is one of three to win any Grand Slam tournament seven times (Pete Sampras's and Roger Federer's seven Wimbledon titles). Nadal was ranked world number two, behind Federer, for a record 160 consecutive weeks before earning the top spot, which he held from Aug. 18, 2008-July 5, 2009. He regained the world number one ranking on June 7, 2010, after winning his fifth French Open title. He held it until July 3, 2011, when Novak Djokovic replaced him as world number one. Nadal has held the number two ranking for an ATP record 241 weeks (as of July 9, 2012).
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro is currently the highest-ranked Argentine and the seventh-ranked player in the world. Del Potro achieved a top-10 ranking for the first time on Oct. 6, 2008. In January 2010, he reached a career-high ranking of number four in the world. Soon after attaining this ranking, del Potro had to withdraw from most tournaments in 2010 due to a wrist injury. In 2008, he became the first player in ATP history to win his first four career titles in as many tournaments. He also completed the second-longest winning streak in 2008, and the second longest by a teenager in the Open Era, behind Nadal—with his winning streak spanning 23 matches over five tournaments. Del Potro captured his first Grand Slam title at the 2009 U.S. Open, defeating Nadal in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the finals—the first man to defeat them both in the same Grand Slam tournament. Del Potro is the only player other than the “Big Four” of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to have won a men's Grand Slam singles title since 2005. He became the second Argentine and the fifth-youngest man to win the U.S. Open title in the Open Era. Del Potro also won the bronze medal in men's singles at the London Olympics in 2012.
Nadal vs. Del Potro: Head to Head
|Rafael Nadal||Vs.||Juan Martin del Potro|
|26 (06.03.86)||Age||24 (09.23.88)|
|Manacor, Mallorca, Spain||Birthplace||Tandil, Argentina|
|Manacor, Mallorca, Spain||Residence||Tandil, Argentina|
|188 lbs.||Weight||214 lbs.|
|$50,061,827||Career Prize Money||$10,853,349|
Tale of the Tape: Azarenka vs. Serena
The 23-year-old is the current world number two. Victoria Azarenka won the 2012 Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam in singles. Her other achievements include winning the Bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles—the 2007 U.S. Open with Max Mirnyi, the 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan—and the Gold Medal in mixed-doubles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Max Mirnyi.
Serena Williams has been the world number one in singles on five separate occasions. She became world number one for the first time on July 8, 2002, and regained this ranking for the fifth time on Nov. 2, 2009. She is the only female player to have won over $40 million in prize money. Already regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, her 30 Grand Slam titles ties her for eighth on the all-time list: 15 in singles, 13 in women's doubles, and two in mixed-doubles. She is the most recent player, male or female, to have held all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously (2002-2003) and only the fifth woman ever to do so. Her total of 15 Grand Slam singles titles is sixth on the all-time list, and fourth in the Open Era, behind Steffi Graf (22 titles) and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 titles each). Among active players, male or female, she holds the most major titles amid singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles. She won her 13 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus Williams and the pair is unbeaten in Grand Slam finals. Serena is also a three-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships. Williams has won four Olympic Gold Medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles.
Azarenka vs. Serena: Head to Head
Serena and Azarenka have met a total of 12 times, including seven times in Grand Slams, with Serena leading their head-to-head series with an overwhelming 11–1 record and is a perfect 7-0 in Grand Slams. Their first meeting was at the 2008 Australian Open, with Serena winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Their next meeting would also be at the Australian Open, in the fourth round in 2009, and again, Serena was victorious when Azarenka was forced to retire due to illness, having won the first set 6-3, but was trailing 2-4 in the second. Two-and-a-half months later, Azarenka would achieve her first victory over Serena, defeating the American in straight sets in the final of the Miami Masters. Serena later won a quarterfinal match between the pair at Wimbledon on her way to winning that championship.
Once again, the pair met at the Australian Open, in the 2010 quarterfinals. Azarenka had won the first set 6-4 and was leading 4-0 in the second set before Serena came back to win the three-set match, 4-6, 7-6(7-4), 6-2, once again on her way to winning the title for the second consecutive year. Serena’s dominance over the Belarusian continued at the 2011 U.S. Open, when the 28th seed, whose ranking plummeted to 175th after Wimbledon, defeated the fourth-seeded Azarenka in the third round in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6(7-5), on her way to reaching the final. The rivalry reached its peak in 2012 with the pair meeting five times, as Serena was victorious on each occasion.