Roger Federer d. Pete Sampras 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(6)
Since the introduction of professional tennis over eighty years ago, Madison Square Garden has been host to some of the greatest matches and biggest names in the sport. Most notably, from 1979-1999, the Garden served as the site for the men’s and women’s year-end tour championships, featuring legendary players including John McEnroe, Billie Jean King, Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova and Stefanie Graf.
After an eight year hiatus, StarGames orchestrated the return of professional tennis to the World's Most Famous Arena on March 10, 2008 with the sold-out NetJets Showdown between then World No. 1 Roger Federer and Grand Slam record holder Pete Sampras. The two champions battled live for nearly 2.5 hours with New York’s finest watching, such as Donald Trump and Regis Philbin. One of the highlights of the evening’s match was after a winning shot in the second set, Sampras mimicked Tiger Woods famous fist pump right in front of the golfer’s seat. After losing the first set, Sampras captured the second set in a close tiebreak. It was Federer who closed out the match in a tiebreak 8-6 to clinch the win.
The passion and entertainment that the two champions brought to the crowd solidified the fact that this event needed to become an annual endeavor. Since 2008, the Showdown in Madison Square Garden has given spectators a glimpse at some of the most incredible matchups in tennis history and has continued to grow year after year.