An important tennis tournament is starting in the Miami area this week. It is one of the most important annual events in the game, attracting hundreds of players from all over the world, including several Grand Slam event winners, who compete for one of the biggest prizes of the year.
So why not think so?
Perhaps this is because one of the biggest names in the game – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s Grand Troika, which also includes plus Serena Williams in the men’s game, is leaving the event. Or because 2019 will limit attendance to a maximum of 1,000 spectators a day, compared to about 400,000 in two weeks, despite state regulations in Florida that would allow far more.
Perhaps this is because the Miami Open March is taking place without the opening act of the Winter Hardcourt Swing, BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Southern California.
Or perhaps it’s because the Miami Open is a microcosm of tennis in 2021 – an unexpected puzzle of player scheduling, travel advice and health precautions in a season that forced players to set priorities in a way they never had before Have done Many, especially the biggest stars, now see the tournament not only as a chance for competition or for a paycheck, but also for whether the event fits into their wider lives.
“It’s a lot of different reasons,” said James Blake, the tournament director of the Miami Open. “As a former tour player, I can tell you that you want to compete against the best players in the world. He is always your main inspiration. “
Except when it is not. Williams withdrew on Sunday, announcing that she had not fully recovered from recent oral surgery. Djokovic, Who is the top-ranked player in men and recovered from a torn abdominal muscle, was ejected on Friday afternoon. Djokovic’s management agency, sports and entertainment group, WME-IMG, owns the Miami Open, but it was not enough for him to travel. He announced on Twitter that he decided to use this precious time at home to be with my family. With all the restrictions, I need to find a balance in my time on tour and at home. “
Daniel Medvedev, the world No 2 and a 2021 Australian Open finalist, is playing, as are rising stars Stephanos Tsitipas and Alexander Zverev. But the women’s draw, which includes Naomi Osaka, Ashley Barty and Simona Halep, can provide a lot of heat.
Nadal announced earlier this month that he was skipping Miami to continue his traumatic rig and to prepare for the spring clay-court season during which he usually excels.
Defending champion Federer in Miami, Joe Return to professional tennis After two knee surgeries and a 14-month hiatus this month, his goal was to recover for Wimbledon in late June. A two-week peatant was no mean feat for the United States for a hardcourt incident. He too has not committed to playing much on clay this season.
Dominic Thiem of Austria, the 2020 United States Open champion, is slipping and taking a pass. Three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland said he was very tired. Nick Kyrgios lives in Australia, which has strict quarantine rules for travelers, and has yet to figure out how much tennis he wants to play this year.
This is the new normal way of tennis. Whether to play or not to play is a tricky question, and one of its unexpected consequences is what tennis will ultimately look like. No Big Three. No Serena Williams.
“It’s good to have two of the biggest names in sports on your air, but there’s a lot of talent and that gives a chance to tell different stories,” said Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. Broadcasting 125 hours of live coverage of the event in the United States. “We found 128 unprecedented athletes competing in this case, you don’t want to think about who isn’t.”
For months in the United States, many sports have progressed more or less, even as most people faced significant limitations on travel and contact outside their homes. The NFL hosted a Super Bowl with 22,000 fans, the NCAA started two Division I basketball tournaments with 132 teams from around the country landing in the Indianapolis and San Antonio areas, and hockey players cheek-to-jewel on the ice every night Let’s scrap
However, with Florida Essentially get rid of most epidemic-related restrictionsThe roles of have been flipped. Players came together in Florida during the last few days Spring break revelers Which are filling Florida’s beaches, bars and nightclubs. Players who are used to indulging in Miami’s culture, restaurants and nightlife when they are not playing tennis are living under strict guidelines that allow men’s and women’s tennis trips to keep them as safe as possible Made for
During the tournament, they must stay in one of the two hotels for the players and officials. If she had played, Williams could not have moved at least 75 minutes away from her home. Player movement is limited to tournaments and hotels. Which they have lost until Joe is no venture to Stone Crab, South Beach or Coconut Grove.
Legendary American player Lauren Davis said, “It gets tough when you’re part of the bubble.” “The experience is more dry. There is no outlet for tension. “
Miami Open organizers did not build a temporary 14,000-seater court inside the Miami Dolphins’ stadium this year. The most important matches will be on three small courts.
The prize money has been reduced to $ 6.7 million from $ 16.7 million in 2019, although it is the largest prize outside of Grand Slam events and tour finals. Nearly everyone at the tournament venue must wear a mask at all times, except for the players only when they are on the court.
Tennis will look like this for some time. The host of the All England Club, Wimbledon, announced last week that players would have to stay in designated hotels for the tournament, despite starting in late June. UK success with its vaccine program. The crowd size will be reduced and viewers will not be able to line up during the day to search for tickets.
Tsitsipas, who finished 5th on the men’s tour, said during last week’s tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, that he missed the tour of Indian Wells this year badly because it was in front of so many Rabid and casual tennis fans in the United States Collects top players. First half of the year. The opportunity to play in front of a crowd of any size – Acapulco allowed around 3,000 spectators for each season – greatly enhanced the experience.
“I feel really connected,” he said of his experience playing in front of fans. “I think I can enjoy the game.”
But epidemic challenges have forced Tsitsipas and other players to focus almost entirely on big tournaments at the moment, and the biggest stars to focus almost exclusively on Grand Slam tournaments. Events like the Miami Open can provide a lot of money and ranking points, but this year everything is a bit different.