Maria beats Woz, but Rory makes a point
Maria Sharapova beat Caroline Wozniacki but lost the one point she played against Rory McIlroy. Roger Federer dropped the one point he played against a Rafael Nadal-impersonating Andy Roddick and also lost the match to Roddick.
Four of tennis’ biggest names took the court at Madison Square Garden on Monday for the mix of playfulness and intense play that comes with exhibitions.
With Wozniacki a game away from losing 6-3, 6-4 to Sharapova, she invited her boyfriend onto the court a day after the golfer won the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to ascend to No. 1 in the world for the first time.
”He wasn’t too pleased with me,” Wozniacki said later.
In jeans and a sweater, McIlroy showed off a one-handed backhand, and Sharapova hit his lob wide.
Asked if he was surprised to win the point, McIlroy said with a smile: ”I’ve won a few off Caroline.”
Early in Roddick’s 7-5, 7-6 (7) win over Federer, some smart-aleck fans yelled, ”Let’s go, Rafa!” So Roddick played along by pushing up his sleeves and switching his racket to his left hand. He wound up playing the point right-handed, but grunted with every shot and celebrated winning the point with an exuberant fist pump that would have made Nadal proud.
Roddick, a self-described ”massive” sports fan, was playing in the Garden for the first time during the BNP Paribas Showdown. He remembers Michael Jordan’s big games there, Reggie Miller trash-talking with Spike Lee.
”To be able to play here where so much history has happened, so many events have happened in every area of entertainment, it was a real special experience for me,” he said.
Coming back from a right hamstring and right ankle injury, Roddick has fallen to No. 31 in the world.
”It was a great atmosphere,” he said. ”I really enjoyed myself and that led to me playing well. Hopefully I can use this a little bit.”
When Roddick failed to match Federer’s between-the-legs shot on one point, he threw his racket then winced when it almost hit a ball girl. Roddick was 2-21 in his career against Federer.
”I heard Andy was struggling a little bit so it’s good see him play so well and hopefully make a run again into the top 10,” the third-ranked Federer said.
Wozniacki has been ranked No. 1 for 67 weeks in her career, though she’s currently down to No. 4. McIlroy knows he’ll need to stay on top for ”another couple of years” to catch his girlfriend in that stat.
In between taking photos with fans after the match, McIlroy said, ”It’s nice to take a little break from golf.” The couple plans to meet up in Miami before he plays a World Golf Championship event there and she heads to Indian Wells, Calif.
McIlroy stopped signing autographs for a moment to listen to Wozniacki’s on-court interview. ”He’s 100 percent against Maria,” she told the crowd.
Asked earlier Monday whether she sent him flowers after his win Sunday, Wozniacki said, ”Well, I don’t want his head to become too big, so, um, no.”
Sharapova and Wozniacki got into the spirit of the exhibition at times: exchanging smiles after a well-played rally, surrendering a point to make up for a missed call, dancing with fans before the final game.
The second-ranked Sharapova wasn’t conserving energy, though. After breaking back to 4-4 in the second set, she chased down a drop shot and then a lob, throwing her hands up in frustration when her shot ricocheted off the scoreboard.