11/23/12 5:56 AM | Johan Lindahl
Hong Kong will gets its first elite tennis in more than a decade since the ATP circuit left town, when the city hosts one of a series of exhibitions around the world next March 4 on the inaugural World Tennis Day.
Lining up on court at the AsiaWorld convention complex not far from the Special Administrative Region's island Chep Lap Kok airport will be current WTA players Li Na, China's former Roland Garros champion, and ex-No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
The men's program will pit veterans Ivan Lendl against John McEnroe in a revival of an ATP rivallry from three decades ago.
The Asian matches will take place the same night as a similar event at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of the first annual “World Tennis Day." In that event, Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka and Rafael Nadal will take on Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.
American organizers of the initiative have hopes of adding other exhibitions on the day in other parts of the world.
"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 global event producer Jerry Solomon, Lendl's former manager.
"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. I'm excited to see this group of four players who will put on a great show.
"Lendl, McEnroe and Wozniacki have each played for us 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."
"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."
The women's participants will have to sprint across the Pacific when their match is done, with the Indian Wells Masters beginning that same week in the Californian desert.
Lendl, winner of 94 titles ATP titles and the world's top-ranked player for 270 weeks, currently coaches Andy Murray. He also won a Hong Kong ATP title 32 years ago and three straight exhibition events in the city from 1990-92.
"I've always enjoyed playing in Hong Kong. It's 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.
That pair met 36 times over 12 years on the ATP, with Lendl holding a 21-15 advantage.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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