Getty Images

Miami Open says new site has more space, better amenities

1 Comment

MIAMI (AP) While the Miami Open is giving up its picturesque island setting for suburban sprawl, the tennis tournament’s new home will include a 13,800-seat showcase court in the Miami Dolphins’ stadium and 29 permanent outer courts, with the largest seating 5,042 spectators.

IMG, which owns the event, said Wednesday the new site will include more space for players, fans and parking, along with better infrastructure and amenities. The tournament won permission Tuesday from the Miami-Dade County commission to move 18 miles north in 2019 from its longtime home of Key Biscayne.

Construction of the new tennis complex will begin soon and cost more than $50 million, with much of the work done on grounds that had been used for football parking. Total seating capacity will increase to 32,474 from 25,062, including 5,660 at practice courts. Lighting will allow for more night matches than in the past.

The stadium court will use both permanent and temporary seats, with the net located over the 50-yard line. Screens will hide unused football seats.

There will be double the number of parking spaces and suites at the new site. The grounds will feature a “tennis oasis” for fans with the largest video screen of any tournament.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who also owns the stadium, said last spring he was willing to invest in a tennis complex on stadium grounds because he wanted to keep the tournament in South Florida. The Dolphins then reached an agreement with IMG and the county.

“We are extremely excited that the Miami Open, a global entertainment event, will remain in our community,” Ross said in a statement.

“The Miami Open belongs in Miami,” IMG co-president Mark Shapiro said.

A 2015 appeals court decision preventing upgrades to the Key Biscayne complex had left the event’s future in question. There had been speculation the tournament might leave South Florida, with potential sites ranging from South America to China.

“The Miami Open has been a part of Miami’s culture for as long as I can remember,” eight-time Key Biscayne champion Serena Williams said in a statement. “I am thrilled the Miami Open is staying in Miami where it belongs.”

The tournament will be held on Key Biscayne for the 32nd and final time beginning March 19.

Victoria Azarenka misses direct entry for U.S. Open

Getty Image
Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Two-time U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is ranked just below the cutoff for direct entry into the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Azarenka, a former No. 1 and twice the champion at the Australian Open, is No. 108 this week, seven spots outside of an automatic spot in the main draw.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Wednesday that defending champion and top-ranked Rafael Nadal is one of six past male singles champions in the U.S. Open field, along with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic. Another past title winner at Flushing Meadows, Stan Wawrinka, is ranked 199th this week.

The women’s winners with direct entry based on this week’s rankings are six-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champ Venus Williams, defending champ Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur.

Nadal-Djokovic semifinal suspended after 3rd set

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) It was the kind of tennis that Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd would gladly have watched all night long.

The show being put on by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was so good it could have been an instant classic had they been able to finish their semifinal before the tournament’s 11 p.m. curfew.

Instead, the two players – and a disappointed audience – were sent home after the third set on Friday with Djokovic leading 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) following a tense tiebreaker that had more entertaining rallies than some entire matches.

The two players didn’t even get onto the court until after 8 p.m. because of an earlier marathon semifinal won by Kevin Anderson and when Djokovic converted his second set point in the tiebreaker – having saved three of Nadal’s – the clock had ticked a couple of minutes past 11. That left organizers no choice but to call it a night, although the announcement from the chair umpire led to a scattering of boos from some fans who clearly wanted more.

Most of them will have to watch the rest on TV.

The match will resume at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday, before the women’s final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber. At stake is a place in Sunday’s men’s final against the man who was partly at fault for keeping Nadal and Djokovic out there so late. Anderson’s win over John Isner lasted 6 + hours and went to 26-24 in the fifth set.

Djokovic-Nadal had clearly been the headline act of the day – they have five Wimbledon titles between them and met in the 2011 final while Anderson and Isner had never made the semifinals before – and their tennis was at another level from the earlier match. Even Anderson said he could feel during his match that the crowd would rather be watching the next one.

“They’ve paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match,” Anderson said. “I can feel the crowd (get) pretty antsy for us to get off the court. They’ve been watching us for over six hours.”

While Anderson-Isner was mostly a serving duel with a few longer rallies thrown in, Djokovic and Nadal repeatedly slugged it out from the baseline, chasing each other around the court and coming up with spectacular winners from every corner.

Many of the best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point.

It was one of three successful drop shots from the Spaniard in the tiebreaker alone, but Djokovic answered with one of his own to save the second set point at 7-6.

He eventually went up 10-9 with the help of a backhand passing shot and an errant shot into the net by Nadal brought the entertainment to an end – for now.

It led to the unusual situation of both players leaving the court to a huge ovation – and applauding the fans in return – but without there being a clear winner or loser.

To be continued.