Djokovic/Sampras & McEnroe/Haas Thrill In Doubles Exhibition
It’s not every day that you get more than one Top 5 player in the ATP Rankings on the same court. It’s certainly rare to have multiple players who have held top spot across the net. But on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open, three current or former World No. 1s took to Stadium 1 in Indian Wells.
After second seed Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to right knee pain ahead of his semi-final against five-time champion Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras took on John McEnroe and Tournament Director Tommy Haas, who climbed as high as World No. 2, in a special doubles exhibition.
While Haas and McEnroe defeated Djokovic and Sampras 4-3(4), the real winners were the fans in the California desert. This was not a scheduled exhibition, but after Federer spoke to the crowd, fans were promised a surprise and the tournament delivered.
“After we heard Rafa wasn’t going to be able to play, we wanted to make sure our fans got something fun,” Haas said in a statement. “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. “
Those in attendance cheered after every point, as guest chair umpire Jon Lovitz, an American comedian, provided commentary throughout. Actor Ben Stiller was also in the stands and was asked who he was rooting for.
“The old guys,” Stiller joked, because according to him, he’s also “an old guy”.
Did You Know?
Djokovic lost in the third round of singles at the BNP Paribas Open, but the Serbian advanced to the semi-finals of the doubles draw with Italian Fabio Fognini.