Photo: Nir KeidarAgnieszka Radwanska (POL)
World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska will compete at the BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong as part of the World Tennis Day celebrations on Monday.
Last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, who has started 2013 with a bang by winning two Tour-level titles and helping Poland reach the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II play-offs, has come in to replace China’s Li Na.
Radwanska will play a one-off match against former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Asia-World Arena in Hong Kong after Li was forced to withdraw due to an ankle injury she sustained at the Australian Open.
“It is very unfortunate that [Li] Na has to pull out of the event and I know no one is more disappointed than she is, but I am very pleased to be able to welcome Agnieszka [Radwanska] to the BNP Paribas Showdown line-up,” said Jerry Solomon, promoter of the event. “The very painful injury [Li] Na incurred in the final of the Australian Open last month has not responded enough to intense treatment.”
The Chinese star expressed her disappointment and said she would be back in Hong Kong to play the 2014 BNP Paribas Showdown.
“I am very sad to announce that I won't be able to play in the BNP Showdown in Hong Kong,” said Li. “Unfortunately, the ankle injury I had in the Australian Open final is still not ready for me to compete. I know I have some of the best fans who live in Hong Kong and I was looking forward to playing for them. I promise I will be back next year.”
Radwanska owns 12 career titles, including wins already this season in Auckland and Sydney as well as a quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open.
“Li Na is a great ambassador for our sport in Asia and across the world so I’m very honoured to be invited to Hong Kong to be her replacement,” Radwanska said. “We are both very evenly matched in the world rankings right now so I’m confident the standard of tennis will be just as high.
“Caroline and I are great friends but also long-standing rivals, so I expect a hard fought contest. I’m also looking forward to catching up with my Asian fans who are always good to me. I am really excited to get to Hong Kong and take part in the BNP Paribas Showdown.”
Wozniacki has a 5-4 edge in the nine career meetings between the two players, however Radwanska has won their last three matches, including earlier this month in the quarterfinals in Doha.
On the same night tennis legends and Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl will rekindle their historic rivalry which will no doubt provide fans with plenty more thrilling tennis. Lendl won 21 of their 36 meetings during their pro careers.
The BNP Paribas Showdown in Hong Kong is the first of two special events being played on World Tennis Day. There will also be another BNP Paribas Showdown in New York’s Madison Square Garden featuring Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro and Serena Williams v Victoria Azarenka.
World Tennis Day is being held in conjunction with the ITF in a bid to promote tennis and increase participation among young players around the globe.