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Miami Masters

Miami Masters/

Often dubbed the “fifth slam”, the ATP Masters/WTA Premier Mandatory event in Miami takes place in the final two weeks of March. 

Officially known as the Sony Open Tennis, the 12-day competition is held at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park and is one of the most highly anticipated and well-attended tournaments in the sport.


Background

Miami’s first major tennis tournament began in 1985, and was the brainchild of former American player Butch Buchholz. Until 1987, when the Australian Open was moved from December to January, Miami was the first big event in the tennis calendar, nicknamed the “Winter Wimbledon”. It attracted attention not only for the record prize money on offer - only Wimbledon and the US Open awarded more cash to the champions - but also because there were very few combined men’s and women’s tournaments at the time. 

Initially known as the Lipton International Players Championships, the event was first staged at Delray Beach, Florida. It moved to Boca West the following year, before settling on a permanent location in Key Biscayne in 1987. Attendance has risen year-on-year ever since, and the tournament facilities have continued to expand and improve. A new 14,000-seater stadium was opened in 1994, making the Tennis Center at Crandon Park one of the most extensive tennis venues in the world.

Like the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the Sony Open Tennis sees 96 men and women contest the singles draws, with the champions earning 1000 ranking points.


Past Champions

Andre Agassi stands head and shoulders above any other multiple champion in Miami. The Las Vegan won an astonishing six titles in Key Biscayne, including three in a row from 2001 - 2003. His reign included final victories over Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Sampras is joint second on the roll of honour with Novak Djokovic: each man has won a hat-trick of titles.

Serena Williams has won a record six titles in Miami. Steffi Graf, another of the all-time greats, won five times. Other notable champions are Venus Williams, with three titles to her name, as well as Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez and Martina Hingis, each of whom lifted the trophy on two occasions. 


Classic Matches

Pete Sampras def. Gustavo Kuerten, 2000 final:
This match was a highly entertaining contrast in styles, with Sampras, the greatest serve-volleyer of his generation, taking on the tireless clay court expert Gustavo Kuerten. The Brazilian proved that he was a match for the elite on hard courts with a superb performance that pushed Sampras to his considerable limits. The seven-time Wimbledon champion eventually came through in four sets, 6-1, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.

Video: Sampras v Kuerten, 2000

Roger Federer def. Rafael Nadal, 2003 final:
Federer had lost his first ever match with Nadal the previous year in Miami, and the Swiss, the most dominant world number one in decades at the time, looked set for a second straight defeat when the young Spaniard clinched the first two sets. But Federer showed his mettle by coming back from the brink to win 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1. It was the first classic match of what would become one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport. 

Video: Federer v Nadal, 2005

Venus Williams def. Jennifer Capriati, 2001 final:
Two of tennis’ biggest hitters played an uneven but gripping showpiece match in 2001. Capriati, who had won the Australian Open two months earlier, edged the opening set before Venus charged through the second. As both women battled courageously in the deciding set, Williams’s astonishing fighting spirit came to the fore: she survived soaring temperatures and eight match points to finally come through 4-6, 6-1, 7-6.

Video: Venus v Capriati, 2001

Serena Williams def. Justine Henin, 2007 final:
This was a highly anticipated match between two arch rivals who hadn’t played each other in four years. Serena had looked to be back to her best when she won the Australian Open at the beginning of 2007, but she was demolished by Henin in the opening set, and looked down and out when the Belgian held two match points in the second. But this contest would become yet another Serena Williams comeback classic. Her legendary will to win at full throttle, she mounted a superb recovery to secure a memorable 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Video: Serena v Henin, 2007 


Trivia

  • A mixed doubles competition was held in Miami in 1985 and 1987: the winners were Martina Navratilova/Heinz Gunthardt and Jana Novotna/Miloslav Mecir respectively.
  • In 1994, during a third round match with Andre Agassi, Boris Becker handed his racket to a ball girl, who duly won the next point.
  • The men’s final was played as a best-of-five sets match from 1985 - 1990, 1996 - 2002 and again from 2005 - 2007.
  • Jana Novotna won the women’s doubles title seven times.
  • Maria Sharapova has never won in Miami, but is a five-time runner-up.
  • Miami is one of the few Masters events Rafael Nadal has never won.

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