epa03629889 Rafael Nadal from Spain in action against Juan Martin Del Potro from Argentina at the BNP Paribas Open tennis Men's Final in Indian Wells, California, USA, 17 March 2013. Nadal won the final. EPA/MICHAEL NELSON |
It wasn’t that long ago that the annual tennis convention of the top men’s and women’s players on Key Biscayne was universally regarded as the ‘unofficial’ fifth Grand Slam. Now with both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal opting to miss Miami’s Sony Open, there is a distinctly second rate feel to the event when compared to last week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The Californian event has had its own no-show problems, with Serena and Venus Williams refusing to play in Indian Wells since 2002. But the absence of Federer and Nadal, who can muster 28 Grand Slam singles titles between them, is hitting the Miami box office.
While stressing the Miami field is still ‘world class’ Sony Open tournament director Adam Barrett admitted ticket sales have dipped because of the absence of the Swiss and the Spaniard. “Roger and Rafa, it’s a bad break,” Barrett said.
“Two storms came together for two completely different reasons for them both not to be here. We still have the top eight men and top nine women.
“You miss those guys; they’re great ambassadors of the game. You play with the field you have and we have a great field. Ticket sales are slightly down, but we’re talking percentages after three record years in a row.”
Former US Open champion Guillermo Vilas has asked the ATP to review his historical ranking and according to AFP the organization says that it will not recognize him for as having legitimately held the No. 1 ranking in 1977.
The health problems of Mardy Fish have been extensively documented over the last 18 months but this time it wasn’t concerns about the 31 year-old Minnesotan’s heart but a simple case of heat stroke that forced him to retire from his second round match at the Winston-Salem Open.