It is time to witness greatness yet again. The Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association have descended upon Crandon Park in Key Biscayne for the annual Miami Open, which is a top-tier tournament that attracts the most prolific stars in the sport. With about $7 million available in both the men and the women’s draws, along with 1,000 ranking points at stake for the winners, competition on the slow purple hard courts under the South Florida sun is guaranteed to excite.
After a BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California that saw Switzerland’s pride and passion Roger Federer continue his unheralded comeback following knee surgery by beating nemesis Rafael Nadal and fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka en route to his 25th Masters 1000 tournament victory—and first win in the California desert in five years—the male’s draw offers a throwback appeal. Federer, considered the unrivaled greatest ATP player of all time, won the Australian Open in January to capture a coveted 18th Grand Slam title, which widened the gap between him and Nadal’s 14. With the world’s number one (Andy Murray) and number two (Novak Djokovic) withdrawn from the tournament due to health-related issues, another Federer-Nadal matchup, in the finals this time, looks like a realistic possibility.
In the women’s draw, there are similar absences. World number two and greatest WTA athlete of all time Serena Williams was forced to withdraw from her home tournament—which she she has won a record eight times—due to an injured knee that has sidelined her since she captured an unprecedented 23rd major title Down Under. Defending champion Victoria Azarenka, along with established Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova will not have a chance to add to their resume either in Key Biscayne. The pressure will now be on world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany and Serena’s older sister, Venus, as favorites. Like March Madness though, Cinderella stories and upsets of veteran tour players may steal the show.