NEW YORK, NY, USA - The second BNP Paribas Showdown of World Tennis Day took place on Monday night at one of the most revered venues in the world, Madison Square Garden, and it was quite a draw - the Top 2 players in the world, No.1 Serena Williams and No.2 Victoria Azarenka.
Williams dominates their career head-to-head, 11-2, but Azarenka did win their only 2013 meeting, a three set victory in the final of Doha a few weeks ago. But on this stage it swung towards history, as Williams won in straight sets, 64 63. It wasn't all serious, though - at one point in the second set Azarenka invited Redfoo onto the court, the music star serving a few times and eventually playing a point out against Williams - Williams and Azarenka even played lefty for a couple of points.
But in the end it was Williams who won, and she praised the world famous venue afterwards: "Usually there are exhibitions in places I don't normally play, so it's always fun to go to different places. So this is special - who would turn down the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden?"
"You go to places you don't normally go for tournaments and see how excited people are, and they're getting involved in tennis more and more," Azarenka said. "So it's a good thing to play here, and to get a match against such a great player is always fun. Like Serena said, to pass up an opportunity to play in such an historic place is impossible. When I heard about it I said, "Yes, yes and yes.'"
"I think it's great for World Tennis Day to have an exhibition in Hong Kong and one here in New York," Williams said of the inaugural World Tennis Day. "It doesn't really matter who wins, it's just about us being here to promote the game of tennis, which has made all of our lives very happy and just fun."
"It's just incredible to see we are in one part of the world and they're in another part of the world," Azarenka said. "To make this day happen and to make this magic happen, it's just incredible."
There was another piece of big news on Monday, that Martina Hingis was to be among the next class of players inducted into the International Tennis Hall Of Fame - both players commented on it.
"Well she definitely deserves it," Azarenka said. "She's an incredible player and she has done so much for the sport, coming up so young and achieving so much in her tennis career. It was incredible."
"Martina is a champion and did things at an age that you never know if they can be repeated again, and if they can it will be a little while," Williams commented. "We really had a good rivalry. She brought so much to the game. She had such a beautiful game to watch, and now she's a hall of famer."
There was also a men's match afterwards featuring ATP World Tour greats Rafael Nadal and Juan Martín del Potro, with the big-hitting del Potro squeaking out a very close straight set victory, 76(4) 64.