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No Key Biscayne, No Problem; New Site, Same Great Miami Open Tennis Event

Photo by @MiamiOpen via Twitter

By Ricky Dimon

 

It was the end of an era at Crandon Park for the Miami Open last year. From the Lipton, to the Nasdaq 100, to the Sony Ericsson, to the Sony, to the Miami Open presented by Itau, Key Biscayne saw it all.

 

Now this Masters 1000 has moved to the mainland, staged in 2019 for the first time at Dolphins Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

 

There were understandable reservations about moving away from what was basically paradise on Key Biscayne to an NFL stadium and its surrounding parking lots. But after less than a week of qualifying and main-draw action, there are reservations no more. The new site is an absolute touchdown.

 

The practice courts are massive upgrade, with all of them right next to each other in two long, adjacent rows. You can see just about every practice court at the same time. By contrast, practice courts at Crandon Park were a jumbled mess scattered throughout the grounds. On Friday, I was simultaneously watching Federer-Copil, Tsitsipas-Koolhof, Shapovalov-Bopanna, Cilic-Tiafoe, Goffin-Khachanov, Johnson-Medvedev, and the Bryan Brothers. You can’t make that stuff up. Tennis heaven for the true diehards who love practices and simply appreciate pro tennis players hitting a tennis ball even if it isn’t in a match situation (note: since seeded players get byes at Masters 1000, they spend the first few days holding quite intense practices).

 

As for the rest of the grounds, they are much more spacious than at Crandon Park and generally nicer, with plenty of green space, palm trees, and far more eating areas and food selections. There are five food trucks in between the two rows of practice courts, and those are just a few of many options.

 

The Grandstand is similar to the old one on Key Biscayne. There is some reserved seating, but fortunately for the common tennis fan the entirety of one side behind the baseline is general admission. It’s also not miles removed from the rest of the match courts like it was at Crandon Park; now the Grandstand is centrally located, with all of the other match courts to its left and the practice courts to its right. Court 1 is also similar to the old one, with seating on all four sides and a nice view of Court 2 from the top row of one sideline so you can watch two matches at once if you find the right viewing spots.

 

It isn’t perfect. The main stadium just looks weird–and that can’t be helped. When you construct a tennis stadium in the middle of a football field, it’s not going to look normal. But it’s certainly not bad. The outer courts aren’t big enough to handle the record number of attendees. Court 2, Court 3, and Court Butch Buchholz  need to be as big as Court 1. There was also a glare problem on a couple of courts when the sun was reflection off the main stadium.

 

As expected, year one at a new site is a work in progress. But it’s better than I expected and basically everyone I’ve spoken to feels the same way. The nostalgia of Key Biscayne is still there, but at the same time this venue won’t make us long for the past.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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