Liveblogging MSG World Tennis Day Exhibition – Nadal, Del Potro, Serena, Azarenka

Greetings from New York! I made the trip up from Philadelphia, and have been crashing with Lindsay to cover the BNP Paribas Madison Square Garden exhibition with Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka. I even managed to ride the subway by myself without ending up on Coney Island accidentally, so the trip has been a success so far!

As a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, walking into Madison Square Garden feels like entering enemy territory (it’s where the New York Rangers play). I have to get over my skin-crawling reaction to seeing these banners hanging from the rafters!

Yeah, that’s painful.

This morning, Lindsay and I attended a press conference with all the players. As expected, the vast majority of questions were to Rafa about his knee. Delpo said about five words.

The highlight of the press conference was Serena Williams describing tennis as “almost like a workout.”

Anyway, throughout tonight’s exhibition, I’ll be updating this liveblog with my thoughts from the press box, with an assist from Lindsay.

7:17 p.m. – Vika comes out. No hoodie over her head! And I haven’t seen Redfoo yet, but I have been advised that he’s in the vicinity, so I’ll be keeping a lookout.

Delpo comes out, dressed in a polo shirt and jeans. I guess the ladies are up first, unless this is Delpo’s new Nike kit.

The packed house goes absolutely insane as Rafa comes out in neon-colored Nike gear.

7:35 p.m. – Redfoo alert! I look around the arena for all of two seconds before spotting Redfoo engulfed in neon green, carrying a tennis racquet for some reason. He is courtside, of course.


7:41 p.m. – Serena opens with a break, but Vika breaks back straight away. The crowd is not pleased with that turn of events.



7:50 p.m. – The crowd gives Vika her first begrudging ovation as she saves break point with stellar net skills. But Serena breaks on her second try.

Meanwhile, the TV cameras have found Redfoo. He stands up and does some form of “dancing” to the Party Rock Anthem in the changeover. The tennis world cringes watching at home, I assume. I’m not sure the crowd here knew what was going on, which is definitely for the best.




Here we go:


8:11 p.m. – Serena takes the first set, 6-4. She’s playing a lot better than she usually does in exos. Maybe she’s enjoying the home crowd support/Vika effect.



8:35 p.m. – Redfoo has taken the court, because we knew he would. His form is a bit better than Rory’s, but he is a tennis coach, after all.


After he exits the court, Vika and Serena play a little bit left-handed. They do pretty well!

8:46 p.m. – Someone in the crowd yells, “We love you, Venus!”

8:53 p.m. – Serena takes the set 6-3, and the match.


Some dispatches from Serena and Vika in press:

  • Serena on Vika: “When she plays, I always watch, not to study, but because she’s fun to watch.”
  • Vika says she and Serena are about to come out with a karaoke duet, Vika playing piano and Serena singing “Stay” by Rihanna.
  • Serena on balancing on and off court relationships: “If I can balance it with my sister, I can balance it with anyone.”
  • When asked about rumors that Rafa is being paid 1.5 million to play the MSG exhibition, Serena jokingly says she’s getting paid 3 million, and that Vika’s getting 3.5.
  • Vika on Redfoo: “He needs to practice before his exhibition.” Also, she calls him “crazy in a good way.”
  • Serena: “Sometimes I don’t know why I tweet things.”
  • “A lot of people play me and only me tough. I like Vika because she plays everyone tough.” -Serena
  • “There’s just a few people who I would really associate with.” -Serena on Vika, apparently saying she’s one of them, I think.

Meanwhile, Delpo and Rafa are on court already, having already played (just?) four games. At the pace these two play, I must’ve missed at least an hour of the match.




10:20 p.m. – Delpo takes the first set in a tiebreak. Partying like it’s 2009. He has to be enjoying all the clips of himself winning the US Open that keep playing on the big screen.

Our friend Romi of Tennis Grandstand captured the cutest moment of the night on video, with Delpo and Rafa playing mixed doubles with Ben Stiller and a little girl:


Delpo takes the match, 7-6(4), 6-4. Some nice shotmaking from both guys, and it was great to see Rafa having fun playing on a hard court. The crowd was pumped to see Rafa, after such a long period of being deprived of his talents, and the match didn’t disappoint.

Dispatches from the presser with Delpo and Rafa:

  • Rafa: “Novak is No. 1. I don’t know … is Andy or Roger No. 2? I don’t check the rankings a lot.”
  • Rafa, on biting the Acapulco trophy: “It was a little bit more difficult than usual, but we find in the end how to do it.”
  • Delpo: “I wish to win a big tournament, but there are many other players that are better than me today. I will try for sure.”
  • Delpo on Rafa: “I know what feelings he has. He deserves to be safe, to be healthy, and to be fighting for the first positions very soon.”
  • Rafa: “Today, my only goal is to recover the knee 100%. I feel better and better every week. If things go well, I’ll try to keep playing.”

With that, I will bid you farewell from New York. Thanks for following along!

Amy can be spotted on a tennis court in the Philadelphia area, shanking backhand volleys.

7 Responses

  1. Aube
    Aube March 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm |

    really number 1 and number 2 or actually 2 number ones:) can we see you guys hold? I’m liking Azarenka’s finesse so far!

  2. Tennisfan
    Tennisfan March 5, 2013 at 12:44 am |

    Delpo and Rafa are such nice guys, looks like they gave NY a show worth their money. That little girl was very lucky, got a hug from Juan and a kiss from Rafa-I’m jealous to say the least haha!

  3. toot
    toot March 5, 2013 at 3:15 am |

    It was so great to see Rafa having so much fun on the court. He has such a beautiful smile.

    That little girl was terrific! What an experience for her.

  4. Master Ace
    Master Ace March 5, 2013 at 7:53 am |

    The winner of the exo was the girl playing doubles with Del Potro. By the way, are you hanging around to watch the Flyers vs Rangers tonight?

  5. What a week for Rafa fans!
    What a week for Rafa fans! March 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

    […] Here are a few pics with thanks to and I enjoyed this live blog by The Changeover from the event. […]

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