Monday night, players, young and older, came out to light up Madison Square Garden with some tennis. It was the 10–year anniversary of the BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG. The annual event that celebrates World Tennis Day usually has highlights four tennis players, however this year the format was changed, incorporating eight professional tennis players. Another change was had the two sides be divided by world versus the Americas.
The Americas included players Jack Sock, Juan Martin Del Potro, Venus Williams and captain Andy Roddick. The World team consisted of Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori, Garbine Muguruza, and captain Lleyton Hewitt.
As is always the case at the BNP Paribas Showdown, junior players are put on display to show their talents in front of millions. The President of BNP Paribas praised the integration of kids into the tournament. To show their commitment to junior tennis, funds from the Showdown are donated to local tennis communities in the tristate area.
The event consisted of six matches, that was a combination of men doubles, mixed doubles, male and female singles. Each match was the first to five games, with seven-point tiebreaker for matches that went 4-4. The games won by the respected teams counted as points for the overall score of the team. The team with the most games at the end of the six sets was to be the winner.
The first three matches (men’s doubles, men’s singles and mixed doubles) all went to team world. For the men’s doubles, Jack Sock teamed with Andy Roddick to face Aussies Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt. The match consisted of flashy forehands and drop shot battles but the serving was key. It all boiled down to a tiebreaker where the Aussie held strong to win 5-4. The singles match between captains Hewitt and Roddick was pretty much the same with Hewitt taking the tiebreaker to win 5-4
In mixed doubles, the world team represented by Garbine Muguruza and Kei Nishikori jumped to a 3-0 lead against Venus Williams and Juan Martin del Potro. Venus and del Potro did manage to fight back, using their long limbs to extend rallies and reach impossible shots. But in the end the play of Kei and Garbine was too good and they closed out the set 5-3.
Up next was the ladies match that put Venus Williams against Garbine Muguruza. The match was filled with service breaks, with each player struggling to hold. This was in large part due to the hard hitting both ladies were displaying. Muguruza gained the upper hand and led 4-3, with the ability to serve out the match. But Venus used both her defense and offense to force a tiebreaker, where she closed out the set handily. It’s also worth noting that both Venus and Garbine took breaks to let some of the junior players in attendance hit against their opponent.
The most competitive match of the day was between young guns and close friends Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios. Both displayed their booming serves, formidable forehands and explosive movement. At one point in the match Jack and Nick showed their ability to hit tweeners. Like the doubles match the men earlier participated, serving was key in the match. In a rarity both men got broken but in the end, it all came down to a tiebreaker. Kyrgios serve and hitting was too consistent and took home the set 5-4.
The final match of the evening had crowd favorite Juan Martin del Potro against Kei Nishikori. It was forehand versus the movement. The movement and groundstrokes of Kei was just too much for del Potro. Kei had the upper hand the entire match and although del Potro fought back, Kei took the match 5-4. Team world walked won the match with a total of 29 games to team Americas 23 games.
All in all, it was a great night of tennis in the Garden. Andy Roddick reiterated what he said in a press conference the day before that “playing in the Garden transcends any event (played there)”. It was clear from smiles both on and off the court, everyone was enjoying tennis at the Garden.
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