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Legends Old and New Star in World Tennis Day Exhibitions

Mar 2nd 2014

On Monday, March 3, a series of exhibition matches featuring past and current tennis superstars will unfold around the world as part of the World Tennis Day celebrations.  Hosting these BNP Paribas Showdowns are Hong Kong, London, and New York City.  Here is a summary of what to expect from each of them.

Li Na

Hong Kong:

Li Na vs. Samantha Stosur:  The first woman from Asia to win a major title, world No. 2 Li Na faces the 2011 US Open champion.  Li claimed the Australian Open last month in memorable fashion, saving match point in the first week and not dropping a set thereafter.  Stosur has struggled over the last several months, but she has won all six of her WTA meetings with Li for the loss of just one set.

Tomas Berdych vs. Lleyton Hewitt:  Overshadowed by Stanislas Wawrinka’s breakthrough, Berdych has compiled a quietly impressive start to 2014.  After he reached the final four of the Australian Open, he owns at least one semifinal appearance at every major as well as a Wimbledon final in 2010.  Those achievements still leave the world No. 7 a few notches below two-time major champion Hewitt, an indefatigable competitor who just passed his 33rd birthday.  Still in the top 50, Hewitt defeated Roger Federer earlier this year.


Ivan Lendl vs. Pat Cash:  Seven-time major champion Ivan Lendl has grown familiar to younger generations of fans for calmly overseeing Andy Murray’s ascent.  The coach of the reigning Wimbledon champion claimed the No. 1 ranking in 1983 and won every major except Roland Garros.  Lendl faced Cash six times at majors during the 1980s, splitting that series at three wins apiece.  Six years Lendl’s junior, Cash won just seven career titles, but one of them came at Wimbledon in 1987.

Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi:  Two more Wimbledon champions clash in this battle of occasionally bitter rivals.  Sampras ended his career with no fewer than seven titles at the All England Club, half of his total trophy haul from majors.  Agassi’s lone Wimbledon title among his seven overall majors came in 1992.  Sampras won when the two men met in the 2011 BNP Paribas Showdown in New York City, as he did in 20 of their 34 career meetings.  Arguably the forerunner to the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry, this matchup pits the best serve (Sampras) against the best return (Agassi) of their eras.

Bob and Mike Bryan

New York City:

John McEnroe/Patrick McEnroe vs. Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan:  Regular ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe might feel a bit out of place in Madison Square Garden among three men who have combined to win 22 major titles in doubles.  (Of course, John McEnroe produced plenty of memorable memories in singles as well.)  This matchup added a bit of spice when John harshly criticized the current men’s doubles game, of which the top-ranked Bryans are the symbol.  Entertainment will take center stage, but McEnroe and the Bryans are all deeply competitive and may want to win more than many exhibition participants.  ESPN3 will cover this match at 7:00 P. M. Eastern time.

Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray:  In a rematch of the five-set final at the 2012 US Open, the reigning Wimbledon champion meets a man who won every major except Roland Garros by the age of 24.  World No. 2 Djokovic has faced Murray in four major finals, winning two at the Australian Open and losing the other two.  Each man will be arriving tired but with momentum from strong performances at Dubai (Djokovic) and Acapulco (Murray).  If Sampras-Agassi was the forerunner to Federer-Nadal, Djokovic-Murray is probably its successor.  Djokovic leads the overall matchup 11-8, but they have split their last eight meetings and their last 16 in a rivalry of constant twists and turns.  ESPN2 will cover this match at about 9:00 P. M. Eastern time.