Saturday, March 16, 2019 - Novak Djokovic & Pete Sampras play Tournament Director Tommy Haas & John McEnroe in an exhibition match at the BNP Paribas Open in Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
Fedal-seeking Stadium 1 fans may have been disappointed by today’s news but spirits were soon lifted as fans were treated instead to an entertaining doubles exhibition, featuring four tennis greats. BNP Paribas Open tournament director Tommy Haas, along with tennis legends Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, took the court and actor/comedian Jon Lovitz assumed the role of chair umpire, to the amusement of the crowd.
“After we heard Rafa wasn’t going to be able to play, we wanted to make sure our fans got something fun,” said Haas. “We started making some calls and Novak was willing to come over. Pete was here for the Raonic and Thiem match, and John is in town because he is making an announcement with BNP Paribas tomorrow. They all just said, how can I help? And that shows what incredible people they are. “
Decades after retiring, McEnroe dazzled fans with his touch at the net, while Sampras rekindled memories of what was once the best serve in the game. Add a dash of Djokovic showmanship (the Serb brought down the house as he sank into the splits) and you’ve got nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime tennis event.
“We can’t thank them enough for stepping up, their passion for our event and going above and beyond for us and our fans.”