New York, New York â€“ February 3, 2011 â€” With only weeks remaining before the much anticipated BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden, tennis legends Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl are in preparations for their respective match ups at The Worldâ€™s Most Famous Arena on February 28, 2011.
The 2011 BNP Paribas Showdown will renew classic rivalries of the 80â€™s and 90â€™s, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl will compete in a one set pro match (first player to win eight games), followed by a best of three set match between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
The official â€˜Countdown to The Showdownâ€™ begins Sunday, and will mark the 22 days leading up to the event. The number 22 is significant as it represents the number of Grand Slam titles of Sampras (14) and Agassi (8) combined. The Countdown will be marked on the event website (www.tennisshowdown.com), as well as the event’s Twitter and Facebook pages, with a daily dose of information highlighting the four legendary players in the BNP Paribas Showdown.
Agassi, who will face Sampras in the featured match, recently returned from Taiwan where he was fine tuning his return of serve and overall game during a couple of matches with Marat Safin.Â Agassi won both matches in third-set match tie-breaks.Â After an emotional final appearance at the 2006 US Open, Agassi returns to New York to face his long-time rival, before joining him in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, where Agassi will be inducted this coming summer.
Sampras, who took Roger Federer to three sets in 2008 at Madison Square Garden is accustomed to these settings and is preparing for a grudge match against Agassi.Â Before making his way to New York, Sampras will play in a featured exhibition against Gael Monfils, who is currently ranked No. 12 in the World, on February 7 in San Jose, CA.Â Sampras debuted in 1988 and played his last professional tournament in 2002, when he captured the US Open, defeating his rival Agassi in the final.
New York native, John McEnroe is no stranger to Madison Square Garden where he captured the Masters title three times, twice beating his rival Ivan Lendl.Â Â McEnroe will head south to the Delray Beach International Tennis Championship where he will face Jimmy Arias on Feb. 19, Todd Martin on Feb. 20 and Aaron Krickstein on Feb. 21, before heading home to show off his shot making artistry against Lendl on The Garden court one last time.
Lendl, who advanced to the Masterâ€™s final at Madison Square Garden a record eight times with winning five titles, has been gearing up for his showdown against McEnroe.Â The two legends have history at MSG with Lendl beating McEnroe in the 1983 Masters Final (6-4, 6-4, 6-2), and McEnroe winning back to back titles against Lendl in 1984 (6-3, 6-4, 6-4) and again in 1985 (7-5, 6-0, 6-4).Â Recently, McEnroe beat his old foe during a round robin tournament in Adelaide prior to the Australian Open.Â Lendl recently was in Berlin, Germany where he beat Carl Uwe Steeb (6-3 5-7 10-7) (tiebreak for the 3rd set) in an exhibition match.
The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by StarGames and MSG Sports. Tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
The BNP Paribas Showdown, in partnership with the United States Tennis Association, will continue their efforts to grow youth participation in the sport of tennis through â€œTennis Night in Americaâ€, a national program which is among the largest grass roots initiatives the sport has ever seen. To find a sign-up location please go to www.tennisnight.com.
After an eight year hiatus professional tennis returned to The Worldâ€™s Most Famous Arena on March 10, 2008 with the sold-out NetJets Showdown between World No. 1 Roger Federer and former Grand Slam record holder Pete Sampras.
The following year womenâ€™s tennis returned to The Garden with the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup in 2009 and 2010.Â Players who have participated include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic.
About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas (www.bnpparibas.com) is the Eurozoneâ€™s leading bank in terms of deposits, and one of the 10 most important banks in the world in terms of net banking income, equity capital and market value. Furthermore, it is one of the 6 strongest banks in the world according to Standard & Poor’s. With a presence in 85 countries and more than 205,000 employees, 165,200 of which in Europe and 15,000 in the United States, BNP Paribas is a global-scale European leader in financial services. It holds key positions in its three activities: Retail banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. BNP Paribas also has a significant presence in the United States and strong positions in Asia and the emerging markets. This year, BNP Paribas celebrates its 37th anniversary of its partnership with tennis. Since 1973, BNP Paribas has been actively involved with the sport and has consistently strengthened its commitment since then to support it both locally and worldwide.Â BNP Paribas has historically been a privileged partner in all aspects of tennis: as an Official Sponsor of the French Open for 37 years, and a sponsor of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas since 2001, of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas since 2005, and of the BNP Paribas Masters since 1986, as well as other major international tournaments including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, WTA Bank of the West Classic in California, Master Series Monte Carlo, BNP Paribas Womenâ€™s Open in Strasbourg and Grand Prix de Lyon.
MSG Sports owns and operates several premier sports franchises, including the NBAâ€™s New York Knicks, NHLâ€™s New York Rangers, WNBAâ€™s New York Liberty, and the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL). As well as promotes, produces and/or partners on a broad array of world class live sporting events, including world championship boxing, college and high school basketball, track and field, mixed martial arts, gymnastics, tennis, professional bull riding and others. Madison Square Garden is a fully-integrated sports, entertainment and media business. The company is comprised of three business segments: MSG Sports, MSG Entertainment and MSG Media, which are strategically aligned to work together to drive its overall business, and built on a foundation of iconic venues and compelling content that MSG creates, produces, presents and/or distributes through its programming networks and other media assets. MSG Sports consists of the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Liberty (WNBA), and the Hartford Whale (American Hockey League). MSG Entertainment is a leader in managing and creating concerts and events at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Beacon Theatre, the legendary Chicago Theatre, the Wang Theatre in Boston, and produces the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes. MSG Media is comprised of leading television networks MSG, MSG Plus, MSG HD and MSG Plus HD, as well as MSG Interactive, which oversees all company wireless and online initiatives, and Fuse and Fuse HD, the national television network dedicated exclusively to music. The company owns and operates the Madison Square Garden arena complex located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area.Â More information is available at www.thegarden.com.
StarGames, LLC (www.stargamesinc.com) is a fully integrated sports marketing, management and entertainment company based outside of Boston, MA. Now in its 16th year, StarGames represents current and former professional athletes, produces original content for mass media distribution, operates its own broadband television channels and produces live and made for television events. StarGames orchestrated the return of tennis to Madison Square Garden with the 2008 NetJets Showdown and the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup; with tennis legend Ivan Lendl, launched the Champions Academy in Florida for elite junior athletes and most recently produced the Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating for NBC in Atlantic City, NJ.Â StarGames partners on various projects with Lagardere Unlimited which represents the international television rights for the BNP Paribas Showdown.