6th Annual BNP Paribas Showdown Returns To Madison Square Garden On March 4, 2013

New York, NY (August 22, 2012) - New York area tennis fans are in for another great night of tennis  with some of the world’s top players scheduled to appear for the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 4, 2013.   World No. 1, Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, will get the night started against Wimbledon champion and Olympic Gold medalist, Serena Williams. Following the women will be Argentine Davis Cup star, 2009 US Open champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Juan Martin del Potro stepping onto The Garden court against one of the game’s all-time greats, former World No. 1 and eleven time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal.   

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets starting at $50.00 will go on sale October 9 @ 10:00 a.m. and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.  For more information and an opportunity to sign up for pre-sale alerts prior to tickets going on sale fans can visit www.tennisshowdown.com.

"While I am disappointed to be missing a trip to New York for the US Open I am happy to announce that I will be coming to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on March 4,” said Nadal.  “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,” said del Potro.  “So 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."

“I always love playing in New York and at Madison Square Garden,” said Williams.  “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."

Azarenka added: "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."

 “We have had tremendous success with The BNP Paribas Showdown, building on the storied tennis history at The Garden that spans more than 80 years. The annual event continually attracts the biggest names in the sport, garners support from industry leading brands as marketing partners and fills The World’s Most Famous Arena with a sold-out crowd that includes the who’s who of New York,” said Scott O’Neil, president, MSG Sports. “The Garden is the place where legends come to perform, and we are thrilled to have Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka perform on the world’s biggest stage on March 4.”

 “It is hard to believe that this is the sixth year of the BNP Paribas Showdown which has now established itself on the tennis calendar as one of the most entertaining nights of the year,” said Jerry Solomon, Executive Producer and President of StarGames.  “We are honored to have Rafa, Serena, Juan Martin and Victoria join a list of only the very best in tennis who have played at the Showdown. It promises to be another ‘must see’ event for New York tennis fans.”

"We at BNP Paribas are delighted to be the title sponsor of this terrific event in the heart of NYC for the 5th consecutive year,” said Michele Sicard, BNP Paribas Managing Director of Corporate Communications.  “It keeps getting better every year and we look forward to another fantastic BNP Paribas Showdown featuring some of the best tennis players in the world.”

“Tennis Night in America” has annually marked the start of the tennis season in the United States and begins a month of professional events that include the BNP Paribas Open and Sony Ericsson Open.

One of the most exciting players of all-time Rafael "Rafa" Nadal is currently ranked No. 3 in the world and is a former World No.1 player.   Nadal, “The King of Clay”, has won a total of eleven Grand Slam singles titles, including an all-time record seven French Open championships, the 2008 Olympic gold medal, a record 21 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, and was also part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The Spaniard is the seventh player in history to complete the Career Grand Slam by winning the 2010 US Open and only the second male player to complete the Career Golden Slam (winner of the Career Grand Slam and the Olympic gold medal) after Andre Agassi. He has at least two Grand Slam titles on each of the three surfaces and is the second male player to win any Grand Slam tournament seven times, matching Pete Sampras' and Roger Federer's seven Wimbledon titles.

Juan Martin del Potro, is currently the eighth ranked player in the world and the highest ranked Argentine player on the tour.  He broke the top-10 ranking in 2008 and reached his career-high ranking or No. 4 in 2010.  He was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 2011 after rising from a low of No. 485 to finish the season at World No. 11.

In 2008, del Potro became the first player in ATP history to win his first four career titles in as many tournaments. Del Potro captured his first Grand Slam title at the 2009 US Open, defeating Nadal in the semifinal and Roger Federer in the final becoming the first man to defeat both heavyweights in the same Grand Slam tournament. Del Potro is the only player other than Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Federer to have won a grand slam singles title since 2005. He became the second Argentine and the fifth-youngest man to win the US Open title in the Open Era. Del Potro recently captured the bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

Serena Williams, currently ranked No. 4, has held the world No. 1 ranking on five separate occasions dating back to 2002 and is considered one of the greatest players of all-time.  She has recorded 29 Grand Slam titles (14 singles, 13 women's doubles, 2 mixed doubles) making her ninth on the all-time list and is only the fifth woman to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles.  The 14 Grand Slam singles titles is sixth on the all-time list and among all active players she holds the most Major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

Additionally, Serena has won four Olympic gold medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles.  During the London Olympics  she became the second player after Steffi Graf to win a career Golden Grand Slam after winning the gold medal and the first player in history, male or female, to win the Golden Grand Slam in both singles and doubles (with Venus Williams).

Williams captured the inaugural “BNP Paribas Showdown” held on March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over sister Venus Williams. The field also included 2008 French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic, as well as year ending No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

Victoria Azarenka is the current World No. 1 female player in the world.   She 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 US Open (Max Mirnyi), the 2008 French Open (Bob Bryan) and the gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics (Max Mirnyi).

Back in January of this year Azarenka won her ninth WTA title at Sydney and won first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open becoming No.1 on January 30 (rose from No.3 to No.1 - first player ever to skip No.2 en route to No.1).

With the exception of Serena Williams, this will be the Madison Square Garden debut for the players.

The Madison Square Garden Arena has been host to some of the greatest matches and biggest names in the sport for more than 80 years.  The men’s and women’s year-end tour championships took place at The Garden from 1977-1989 and 1979 - 2000 respectively and featured the likes of Björn Borg and Martina Navratilova.

After an eight year hiatus professional tennis returned to The World’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 women’s tennis returned to The Garden with the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup in 2009 and 2010.  Players who have participated include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic.  In 2011, four legends of the game took to the court when Ivan Lendl squared off against John McEnroe followed by Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

As part of the second phase of The Garden's three-year top-to-bottom Transformation, the upper bowl of the Arena will be completely transformed, including significantly improved sightlines, an expanded Garden Concourse (eighth Floor) with city views and new first-class food and beverage options, new Madison Suites and an all-inclusive Madison Club. Final work will also be completed on the Madison Concourse (sixth Floor), including the addition of an homage to The Garden's more than 130-year history. Work on the Madison Square Garden Transformation will continue to be a year-round project, with the majority of construction taking place during the offseason when the building will be shutdown. For more information on the MSG Transformation, visit www.msg.com/transformation.