If you close your eyes, you can picture it. It's Monday night, March 4. Madison Square Garden goes dark, and an ominous buzz inhabits the "World's Most Famous Arena." You know what's coming next, but you're still giddy to see your fantasy manifest into reality.
While this event doesn't impact tour standings, Rafael "Mallorcan muscle" Nadal will be making his Garden debut as well as his first appearance on hard court in 2013, and he is sure to benefit the most from Monday night's exhibition for a few reasons.
New Yorkers haven't seen Nadal play live since the 2011 U.S. Open, and the capacity crowd at MSG will unquestionably shower him with love and support.
The chance for Nadal to test his movement on the hard Garden surface against former world No. 4 and 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro—in spite of there being nothing at stake—will be invaluable to him.
Nadal should come away from this exhibition with a clearer indication of whether he'll go on to play hard-court tournaments or opt to protect his knees until his highly anticipated return for the European clay-court season, culminating with the French Open.
In recent days, the Spaniard has expressed the possibility of pulling out of the upcoming hard-court tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., next week and in Key Biscayne, Fla., the following week.
My intention is to go to Indian Wells. This is the truth because I love this tournament and the priority is to play. But if I don't feel comfortable playing and decide to wait to play on the hard courts, that's how it will be, and I'll rest for the clay-court season (in Europe). But today, I can't answer.
Regardless, fans at the Garden Monday night are sure to be filled with euphoria just to be watching Nadal move around on a hard court, plus, they will get to see a rematch of the 2012 U.S. Open final between Williams and Azarenka.
Executive Vice President of MSG Sports Joel Fisher captures how unique and special this event is to everyone involved.
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.
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.
You still have the chance to be one of the those people who can say, "I was there to see Nadal's 2013 hard-court comeback, albeit an exhibition, and the rematch of the 2012 U.S. Open women's final."