Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Rafael Nadal - Nike Clash of The Champions

Perhaps the best rivalry in the history of men’s tennis will grace Matthew Knight Arena this evening during Nike’s Clash of the Champions tennis exhibition.

A set between top international players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will cap off the festivities this evening. The event begins with a fan festival hosted by the USTA at 3:30 p.m. on the practice courts adjacent to the arena, and moves inside the new building for the exhibition matches at 5:30 p.m.

Women’s stars Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will play a set to kick off the exhibition, then join Federer and Nadal for a set of mixed doubles before the men’s matchup.

Serena Williams was originally scheduled to face Sharapova but had to withdraw due to injury. She had still planned to attend the fan festival, but a hematoma last week related to an earlier blood clot that forced her hospitalization will keep her from attending, Nike announced Monday evening, wishing her “a speedy recovery.”

The primary batch of tickets for the event sold out in an hour the day they went on sale. A handful more — something around 100 — might be available for release at the arena before the event, officials said.

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the athletes’ charitable foundations.

Organizers are promising an entertaining exhibition. Players will wear microphones for the mixed doubles set, and several other details — including the identity of the chair umpire, for instance — were being withheld Monday for the sake of surprising the fans in attendance.

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