Whereas the primary occasion of the standard “Sunshine Double” was canceled (or postponed) at Indian Wells for the second straight 12 months, the primary draw on the Miami Open is ready to get underway Tuesday. After not being held in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, gamers are desirous to get again to South Florida and take part in one of many largest hard-court occasions of the season.
Who’s taking part in and who’re the gamers to maintain an in depth eye on? What are the most important storylines to observe? Is it nonetheless cool to reference Will Smith’s 1998 masterpiece “Miami” when speaking about this event?
We reply all that and extra.
Who’s in and who’s out?
Whereas Miami all the time attracts a star-studded lineup, this 12 months it may be simply as notable who will not be there, notably on the lads’s aspect. On Friday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic turned the most recent participant to announce he can be skipping the occasion, citing restrictions associated to the virus and a want to remain house together with his household. He joined an already substantial absentee record that features reigning champion Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka.
So, who precisely is taking part in?
Daniil Medvedev, who just lately turned the primary man exterior of the Massive 4 to enter the highest two within the rankings since 2005, would be the prime seed and is now the favourite. Coming off a closing look in Melbourne and having simply gained his tenth profession title on the Open 13 in Marseille, France, Medvedev will look to additional cement his standing as the younger participant to observe.
In fact, there are various different up-and-comers hoping to win one of many largest titles of their careers. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev will all attempt to capitalize on the slightly-weakened draw.
The ladies’s aspect stays largely intact with all however one of many prime 20 within the draw. Nonetheless, the lacking participant is substantial.
Eight-time Miami champion Serena Williams, who had been set to play for the primary time since her emotional exit in Melbourne when she fell to Naomi Osaka within the semifinals, withdrew Sunday, citing current oral surgical procedure. With questions and hypothesis swirling about her future within the sport, the 23-time main champion undoubtedly would have been very a lot within the highlight throughout her run on the event. Alas, followers will now have to attend and see when and the place Williams performs subsequent.
A restricted variety of followers — roughly 15% of the Grandstand Courtroom capability, or 750 in complete — will likely be allowed onsite this 12 months. In the course of the event’s inaugural 12 months at Onerous Rock Stadium in 2019, after shifting from its longtime house in Key Biscayne, heart courtroom was featured contained in the Dolphins’ house stadium itself — however that will not be the case this time and the 5,000-seat grandstand would be the major courtroom.
Whereas the event will likely be anticipating nowhere close to the turnout permitted on the Australian Open, it is going to be the primary North American tennis occasion to have any followers because the pandemic started, so it’s going to undeniably be a welcome sight (and sound) for gamers — though there was criticism over the steep costs for the restricted variety of tickets.
American Reilly Opelka, at the moment ranked No. 38, expressed his frustration and empathy to followers on Twitter final week in a sequence of tweets. He known as the state of affairs “unhappy” and emphasised the massive drop in prize cash on the occasion (general winnings decreased on the event from $16.7 million in 2019 to $6.68 million).
That is unhappy.. gamers are actually not taking part in for cash at this level. We’re taking part in for the larger good of the game. If there are die onerous tennis followers that need to come and are keen to pay 3k to observe tennis however cant afford it. Theres one thing incorrect. https://t.co/tyEHfApfrN
— Reilly Opelka (@ReillyOpelka) March 18, 2021
Getting a contemporary begin in 2021
For a lot of gamers, the Miami Open affords a hard-court redemption of kinds following disappointing begins to the season on the Australian Open. Listed below are 4 whose morale and confidence might actually use the enhance from a profitable run:
Victoria Azarenka, who was coming off a resurgent 2020 which noticed her attain the US Open closing and win the Western & Southern Open, needed to endure the “onerous quarantine” protocol in Melbourne and isolate in her resort room for 14 days following a optimistic take a look at on her constitution flight. The 2-time Australian Open champion then misplaced within the first spherical. She reached the semifinals in Qatar quickly after however needed to withdraw following a again damage. A 3-time winner in Miami, together with whereas pregnant together with her son Leo in 2016, and now a resident of Florida, a victory can be additional candy for Azarenka.
Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, made her return to competitors in Melbourne after a 15-month layoff in Melbourne and in addition having been caught within the onerous quarantine. She misplaced within the second spherical of her much-hyped comeback after which injured her leg the next week on the Phillip Island Trophy and needed to withdraw from her subsequent three occasions.
She’s anticipated to make her newest return this week and will likely be searching for wins — and to remain wholesome.
Prime-ranked American Sofia Kenin hoped to repeat her title on the Australian Open however was upset within the second spherical by Kaia Kanepi. Then, additionally taking part in within the subsequent Phillip Island Trophy, she was shocked by an unranked 18-year outdated wild card in her opener. Two days later she started experiencing belly ache and required rapid surgical procedure to take away her appendix. Miami marks her first event since and she or he will certainly look to neglect the primary few months of 2021.
Diego Schwartzman reached his first main semifinal in 2020 on the French Open and cracked the highest 10 for the primary time in his profession. And whereas he gained his house Argentina Open, the remainder of the brand new 12 months hasn’t precisely adopted the identical trajectory — he misplaced in straight units within the third spherical on the Australian Open (to qualifier and eventual semifinalist Aslan Karatsev) and within the first spherical eventually week’s Mexican Open. With so many absences on the lads’s aspect of the draw, Miami may simply be the proper place for Schwartzman to press the restart button.
Andy Murray’s comeback continues
The previous World No. 1 will proceed his comeback from 2019 hip surgical procedure this week after receiving a wild card from the event. At present ranked No. 118, Murray was unable to play on the Australian Open final month resulting from testing optimistic for COVID-19 after which missed the Dubai Championships after his spouse gave delivery to their fourth baby. He final performed in Rotterdam earlier this month earlier than falling within the second spherical.
As a consequence of his damage, associated setbacks and the pandemic, it has been a troublesome and inconsistent stretch for the three-time main winner however he stated he’s lastly feeling wholesome and able to play as a lot as potential.
“Over the subsequent few months, I need to play matches — particularly in opposition to the highest gamers — work on my sport and climb the rankings,” he informed Individuals journal. “I need to get again taking part in a sport I really like.”
Murray has gained the Miami title twice, and will likely be taking part in on the event for the primary time since 2016.
You promised to reply that Will Smith query!
It’s cool? Probably not.
Is it acceptable? Positively. He’s taking part in Richard Williams in that new biopic, in spite of everything.
Barty Celebration within the metropolis the place the warmth is on
Ashleigh Barty gained the then-biggest title of her profession on the 2019 Miami Open as she knocked off three top-10 seeds en path to hoisting the trophy. The victory propelled her into the highest 10 within the rankings for the primary time and weeks later, she gained her maiden Slam title on the French Open.
Two years later, Barty is ranked No. 1 on the earth and is getting ready to play her first occasion exterior her house nation of Australia in 13 months, having opted to skip the restart of the 2020 season. Whereas she remained within the prime spot resulting from momentary modifications within the rating system, she’s going to see factors begin dropping in Miami and onward if she is unable to duplicate her success. No. 2 Osaka might actually achieve some floor with a profitable run on the occasion.
Evidently, there’s a lot on the road for Barty, 24, in Florida, and it hasn’t precisely been the smoothest comeback to this point. She began the 2021 season with a victory on the Yarra Valley Traditional in February however then misplaced within the quarterfinals on the Australian Open and fell in her opening-round match on the Adelaide Worldwide. She then withdrew from Qatar and Dubai resulting from a lingering left leg damage. How she’s going to fare in Miami — and past — stays to be seen, however she sounded enthusiastic in an interview final week with 9 Information.
“I am trying ahead to competing once more, initially,” she stated. “I am excited to get again on the market and take a look at myself in opposition to the most effective.”