LI NA, WOZNIACKI HEADLINE BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN IN HONG KONG
McEnroe, Lendl Also Part of Inaugural World Tennis Day Event on March 4
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 21 November 2012
HONG KONG – World class tennis returns to Hong Kong after a two-year absence as a pair of Top 10 stars of women’s tennis will be joined by two legends of the men’s game for the BNP Paribas Showdown on March 4 at the AsiaWorld-Arena.
Li Na, Asia’s first Grand Slam champion, will take on two-time year-end world No. 1 and Grand Slam finalist Caroline Wozniacki while eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl will renew his rivalry with John McEnroe, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, during the event in Hong Kong.
Tickets will go on sale Monday, November 26, at 10:00 a.m. at HK Ticketing Outlets located at AsiaWorld-Expo, all Tom Lee Stores, HKCEC, HKAPA and Fringe Club. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.hkticketing.com or by calling the HK Ticketing Ticket Purchase Hotline at 31 288 288 from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily.
The BNP Paribas Showdown will be produced by StarGames, Inc., in conjunction with the Hong Kong Tennis Association. It marks the first time the AsiaWorld-Arena has played host to such an international tennis event. BNP Paribas, a leader in banking and financial services and the world No. 1 tennis partner, will support this event as title sponsor. Additional event sponsors include Fiji Water, Getty Images, Wilson and PURE Fitness and Yoga.
“Once more, BNP Paribas is proud to bring the best of tennis to Asia by supporting this outstanding sporting event, as it does with the same acclaimed tennis event in New York. We are excited to share our passion and enthusiasm for tennis with the fans in Hong Kong” said Paul Yang, Chief Executive Officer for BNP Paribas Hong Kong. “The BNP Paribas Showdown gives the bank a perfect opportunity to accelerate the growing awareness of our brand in Asia and it reaffirms our commitment and loyalty to this region and to this sport”.
The matches will take place the same night as an event with the same name is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the first annual “World Tennis Day.” Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka in the first match in New York, followed by Rafael Nadal against Juan Martin del Potro.
“With five successful years of the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York, the time is right to expand this to a global event with the World Tennis Day platform,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames. “The popularity of tennis in Asia made it natural for us to pursue an event in this region. Hong Kong is proving to be a fantastic partner, and BNP Paribas, as the world’s biggest sponsor of tennis, is the perfect title sponsor.
“I am excited to see this group of four players who will put on a great show. Lendl, McEnroe and Wozniacki have each played for us at the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York in front of crowds of over 17,000 at Madison Square Garden and we now welcome Li Na to the group for the first time. The AsiaWorld-Arena will be the place to be on March 4.”
Li finished 2012 ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour. The 30-year-old from China owns six career titles, highlighted by her historic victory at the 2011 French Open. She reached the final at four WTA Premier events in 2012, winning the title in Cincinnati.
“For me it is always exciting to play in Asia,” said Li. “I hope to have the crowd support in this match. It will be a great night for tennis, and hopefully it gets more people playing the game.”
Wozniacki is second among active players for weeks ranked No. 1 with 67, including year-end finishes as No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. She finished 2012 ranked No. 10, her fourth straight Top 10 season. The 22-year-old from Denmark is fourth among active players with 20 career titles, including 2012 wins in Seoul and Moscow.
“It’s great to have the chance to play in Hong Kong again,” said Wozniacki. “It’s also exciting to be part of the first World Tennis Day. I hope it’s successful in getting more kids playing around the world.”
Li has a 3-2 head-to-head edge in their series, though Wozniacki won their only 2012 meeting, which came in Tokyo in October. In 2011, Wozniacki was a straight set winner over Li in the Hong Kong Tennis Classic. They will play a best-of-three set match at the BNP Paribas Showdown.
Lendl won 94 titles in his career and was the No. 1 ranked ATP player for 270 weeks. He reached the final at 19 Grand Slam tournaments in his career, winning a total of eight titles. He had 13 Top 10 seasons. At the ATP tournament in Hong Kong, Lendl won the title in 1980. He then won consecutive Marlboro Championship titles from 1990-92.
"I have always enjoyed playing in Hong Kong. It is a place with a lot of good memories including one of my first ever wins on the pro tour. I will look forward to playing John in the BNP Paribas Showdown which has been a great event in New York and I am sure will be just as popular in Hong Kong."
McEnroe, who played in the 2011 Hong Kong Tennis Classic, spent 170 weeks ranked No. 1 while winning 77 career singles titles. He reached the final at 11 Grand Slam tournaments, winning seven titles. In his career, he had 10 seasons with Top 10 finishes.
“I’m happy be a part of an event like World Tennis Day that gets juniors playing our sport,” McEnroe said. “The Tennis 10s programmes with 10-and-under rules that are now in place make it easier than ever for kids to participate.”
Lendl and McEnroe played 36 times over 12 years on the ATP circuit, with Lendl holding a 21-15 advantage in the series. Both Lendl and McEnroe have been enshrined at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. They will play an eight-game pro-set at the BNP Paribas Showdown.
World Tennis Day is held in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to its youngest players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring. The cornerstones of World Tennis Day are grassroots opportunities for young players to participate in the sport at the local level. The day is highlighted by the BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York and Hong Kong.
“World Tennis Day and the BNP Paribas Showdown will bring more attention to Tennis Play and Stay and Tennis10s, two programmes with proven success in growing participation,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. "World Tennis Day will give the ITF and our member nations an opportunity to showcase their efforts to grow tennis, while fans can also enjoy some of the game’s brightest stars playing in events like the BNP Paribas Showdown.”
The BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong will be broadcast internationally. Details of the telecasts will be announced at a later date.
StarGames, LLC (www.stargamesinc.com) is a fully integrated sports marketing, management and entertainment company based outside of Boston, MA. Now in its 18th 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. In 2008, StarGames orchestrated the return of tennis to Madison Square Garden with the NetJets Showdown and has turned that into an annual celebration for the sport including two competitions for the Billie Jean King Cup. More recently, StarGames has launched the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy in Hilton Head Island, in conjunction with Junior Sports Corporation, for elite junior athletes, produced the second season of World of Tennis presented by BNP Paribas and turned the Caesars Tribute figure skating show into an annual salute to the world’s most popular winter sport.
BNP Paribas has been operating in Hong Kong since 1958. A well-established platform with about 2,000 employees, Hong Kong is the regional hub of the Group’s core business activities in Asia Pacific (14,000 employees, 14 markets). In Corporate & Investment Banking, the bank has leading expertise in the provision of tailor-made financing, advisory, and capital market services; while its Investment Solutions arm is a prominent player in its products and service offerings in the realm of wealth management, asset management, securities services and insurance products. Client base includes Hong Kong’s large corporates, financial institutions, institutional investors and high net worth clients. BNP Paribas (www.bnpparibas.com) has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees worldwide.
Long-standing partner to the sport of tennis since 1973, BNP Paribas is actively involved in the game at both local and international level, and in club, schools and social tennis as well as professional events. BNP Paribas has gradually become the number one sponsor in world tennis: official sponsor of Roland Garros since 1973 and sponsor of four ATP Masters 1000 events. The Group is also title sponsor of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas since 2001 and 2005, as well as being actively involved in many other international competitions. As part of its creative sports sponsorship policy, BNP Paribas launched its website “ wearetennis.com “ entirely dedicated to tennis news. This unique initiative provides tennis fans with a constant flow of information on tennis events all over the world, reporting on both the professional game, the amateur game and wheelchair tennis competitions with coverage of all the annual tournaments on the ATP, WTA and ITF circuits.The Group’s sponsorship slogan ‘We are tennis’ underlines the fact that BNP Paribas promotes tennis for all, at all levels.