Wozniacki among stars serving volleys of humour

Wozniacki, Radwanska, Lendl as well as 'bad boy' McEnroe share laughs, banter and fun

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 5:30am

Hong Kong was served a madcap appetiser to the city's re-entry into the world of professional tennis next year, as two starlets, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki last night entertained fans with more than just a match at the BNP Paribas Showdown at AsiaWorld-Expo.

But next September's WTA tournament will be a far cry from last night's antics for the pair had the 4,869 fans in the bleachers clapping their hands as they danced in-between games to Everybody Dance Now. They even invited chair umpire Celine Wong and a ball boy to boogie.

And if this was not enough, Wozniacki dragged former Hong Kong Davis Cup star Colin Grant onto the court to take her place as she trailed one set down to Poland's Radwanska, a last-minute replacement for Li Na. Perhaps it might not be a bad idea for the Danish girlfriend of Rory McIlroy to make use of others at this stage in her career - facing a mini-slump having slipped from world No1 to 10 in the past 12 months.

But world rankings were the last thing on the players' minds, as they let their hair down and had some fun. And they had the perfect opening act with two legends, both 50-somethings, showing they can still turn on the style.

The flamboyant and emotional "Mr Smartass" aka John McEnroe faced Ivan Lendl, who during his illustrious playing career was "Mr Self-discipline", impassive and stern. The eight-time grand slam winner from the former Czechoslovakia was anything but stern, as he showed he has a funny bone, too, matching McEnroe word for word.

They exchanged banter. McEnroe's repartee was met with sublime return shots from Lendl. McEnroe's theatrical rage drew applause from the fans yearning for more bad-boy antics. They shouted, "Come on John." He did not need any urging.

After 17 years, I think he [Lendl] is doing a great job coaching, that's for sure

"After 17 years, I think he [Lendl] is doing a great job coaching, that's for sure," said McEnroe impudently after winning the pro-set match 8-5.

He can afford to laugh now. In the 1980s, Lendl was an implacable foe winning the head-to-head battle 21-15.

"So is the head-to-head count 21-16 now John?" McEnroe replied: "Let's say it is".

And in a more serious vein: "But it is not the same as before. What hair I have now, I can let it down. It is easier to show your personality [in these types of events]. When I was playing, I didn't do a good job of showing I had a sense of humour, but now that I commentate, it gives me the chance to show I have one, and events like this also help."

Lendl added: "If you want the real thing, then you should go and watch the top-ranked players in the world. But events like this are important for it helps a promoter bring tennis to places where international tournaments are not held."

Not any more, for Hong Kong will have its own showpiece having bought a WTA licence with the government's US$2 million.

But last night's licence to thrill was left to world No 4 Radwanska who defeated Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4. It was all in good fun though.