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Greatest Miami Champions

andrewhendrie in Features 25 Mar 2020
Greatest Miami Champions
Serena Williams won Miami in 2015 (PA Images)


From Andre Agassi to Novak Djokovic and Steffi Graf to Serena Williams, we take a look at the greatest champions from the Miami Open.

One of the biggest tournaments on the stacked tennis calendar, the Miami Open – also known as the Miami Masters – has crowned an illustrious list of champions since it was established in 1985.

See also: Desert Domination: Greatest Indian Wells champions

First played in Delray Beach, the Miami Open has undergone various name and location changes throughout its history, but one thing has remained the same – and that’s the calibre of players that converge in Florida annually in the hunt of one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes.

Now staged at the iconic Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the Miami Open is only getting stronger and more popular as time goes on.

Read on below as we go through the greatest Miami Open champions of the last 35 years.

Inaugural champions – Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova

Both the men’s and women’s singles finals in 1985 were all-American showdowns as Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova were crowned champions in the first ever edition of the Miami Open.

Played in Delray Beach, Mayotte made a miraculous recovery in the men’s final, coming back from two sets down to edge countryman Scott Davis 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4. ATP Masters Series finals were traditionally best-of-five sets up until 2007.

Meanwhile Navratilova was a dominant 6-2 6-4 winner over Chris Evert, who went on to capture the title the following year before three consecutive runner-up finishes from 1987-89.

Mayotte and Navratilova didn’t win any more Miami Open titles after their maiden triumphs.

First to win successfully defend titles: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf

Before they would marry in 2001, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf would become the first players on the ATP and WTA Tours to win back-to-back Miami Open titles.

Graf first defended her Miami title in 1987-88 with consecutive straight sets victories over Chris Evert in the final, while the German would go on to compile a magnificent three-peat from 1994-96 – something only Serena Williams (from 2013-15) has been able to achieve since.

Agassi, a joint-record six-time Miami Masters champion, was the first man to defend the title when he edged great rival Pete Sampras in a deciding set tiebreak in the 1995 final, before benefitting from a Goran Ivanisevic retirement in the 1996 showpiece.

Like his wife, Agassi would also go on to secure three Miami Open titles in a row later in his career, prevailing from 2001-03. Novak Djokovic, who has also won six Miami Masters crowns, is the only other man to have won three straight trophies at the tournament.

Roger Federer (2005-06) is the only other man to have defended the Miami Open. Monica Seles (1990-91), Venus Williams (1998-99) and Serena Williams (2002-04, 07-08, 13-14) are the only other woman to go back-to-back in Miami.

Most Miami titles: Serena Williams; Novak Djokovic & Andre Agassi

The legendary Serena Williams holds the distinction for being the undisputed Queen of Miami, winning a record eight titles throughout her decorated career.

Following in the footsteps of her elder sister Venus, who triumphed in 1998, 1999 and 2001, Serena took over the reigns from 2002 when she put together a three-year title streak until 2004, twice beating Jennifer Capriati in back-to-back finals before crushing Elena Dementieva 6-1 6-1 in the 2004 final.

Serena would compile a successful title defence and win Miami Open titles No. 4 and No. 5 in 2007-08 with three-set final victories over Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic, before claiming a second three-peat from 2013-15, beating Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Carla Suarez Navarro in the finals respectively.

Agassi after defeating Federer in 2005 (PA Images)

Agassi captured six Miami Masters titles between 1990 and 2003, starting with a four-set final win over Stefan Edberg and finishing with a straight sets dispatch of Carlos Moya. Other players to feel Agassi’s wrath in Miami Open finals included Roger Federer (2002) and Pete Sampras (1995).

Djokovic equalled Agassi’s record of six Miami titles in 2016 when he beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets in the final, but the Serbian so far has been unable to break it over the last three years, while the 2020 tournament was of course cancelled due to the coronavirus health pandemic.

Greatest Miami Champions: Djokovic and Agassi hit Miami for six

Djokovic:

  • 2007 – def. Guillermo Canas 6-3 6-2 6-4
  • 2011 – def. Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 7-6(4)
  • 2012 – def. Andy Murray 6-1 7-6(4)
  • 2014 – def. Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-3
  • 2015 – def. Andy Murray 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0
  • 2016 – def. Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-3

Agassi

  • 1990 – def. Stefan Edberg 6-1 6-4 0-6 6-2
  • 1995 – def. Pete Sampras 3-6 6-2 7-6(3)
  • 1996 – def. Goran Ivanisevic 3-0 RET
  • 2001 – def. Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6(4) 6-1 6-0
  • 2002 – def. Roger Federer 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-4
  • 2003 – def. Carlos Moya 6-3 6-3

Serena’s eight Miami titles

  • 2002 – def. Jennifer Capriati 7-5 7-6(4)
  • 2003 – def. Jennifer Capriati 4-6 6-4 6-1
  • 2004 – def. Elena Dementieva 6-1 6-1
  • 2007 – def. Justine Henin 0-6 7-5 6-3
  • 2008 – def. Jelena Jankovic 6-1 5-7 6-3
  • 2013 – def. Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0
  • 2014 – def. Li Na 7-5 6-1
  • 2015 – def. Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-0

Most doubles titles – Bryan Bros and Jana Novotna

Legendary twins Bob and Mike Bryan broke the previous record of four Miami Open doubles titles held by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in 2015 and have since ended two more trophies to their cabinet, winning back-to-back tournaments in 2018 and 2019 to increase their haul to six.

Unfortunately the Bryan Brothers won’t get the chance to make it a three-peat in Miami with the 2020 tournament cancelled and the twins set to retire at the end of the year.

On the women’s side, Jana Novotna – who tragically passed away from cancer in 2017 – won a record seven doubles titles throughout her career with the following partners

  • 1989 – with Helena Sukova
  • 1990 – with Helena Sukova
  • 1993 – with Larisa Savchenko Neiland
  • 1995 – with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
  • 1996 – with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
  • 1998 – with Martina Hingis
  • 1999 – with Martina Hingis

Bryan Brothers Miami Open titles

  • 2007 – def. Martin Damm/Leander Paes
  • 2008 – def. Mahesh Bhupathi/Mark Knowles
  • 2014 – def. Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah
  • 2015 – def. Vasek Pospisil/Jack Sock
  • 2018 – def. Karen Khachanov/Andrey Rublev
  • 2019 – def. Wesley Koolhof/Stefanos Tsitsipas

Summary of greatest Miami Open champions

Novak Djokovic after winning Miami in 2016 (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Most singles titles

Men: Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic (6)
Women: Serena Williams (8)

Most consecutive singles titles

Men: Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic (3)
Women: Serena Williams, Steffi Graf (3)

Most consecutive matches won

Men: Andre Agassi (19)
Women: Serena Williams, Steffi Graf (22)

Youngest champion

Men: Novak Djokovic (19 years, 316 days, 2007)
Women: Monica Seles (16 years, 111 days, 1990)

Oldest champion

Men: Roger Federer (37 years, 235 days, 2019)
Women: Serena Williams (33 years, 190 days, 2015)

Most doubles titles

Men: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (6)
Women: Jana Novotna (7)