Rain delays Miami Open start at new Hard Rock home

Reuters, MIAMI

Thu, Mar 21, 2019 - Page 16

Rain on Tuesday wiped out the opening day’s play at the Miami Open, delaying the start of the tournament at its new Hard Rock Stadium home.

Having outgrown the cramped quarters of Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park, and unable to secure the necessary approvals to renovate and expand, the Miami Open has moved to the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, but the day-long rain spoiled the moment.

With a 25 percent jump in ticket sales, tournament director James Blake, a former world No. 4, had been expecting a record crowd, but instead the 14,000-seat temporary show court inside the stadium stood empty and the luxury boxes were silent.

Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the US were scheduled to christen the action on the main show court with Mari Osaka, the sister of Japanese world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, taking on Whitney Osuigwe in the nightcap.

“When we get through the first day or two, and see what we are in store for I have a feeling we will be announcing a lot of [attendance] records broken,” Blake said.

Fans can expect a wide open tournament if the season follows the current trend. There have been 19 ATP Tour events this season and 13 WTA events, each producing a different winner.

Bianca Andreescu, the 18-year-old Canadian who stunned the field at Indian Wells last week to claim her first career win, is on that list, as well as Sloane Stephens, the reigning Miami champion, who can count on having the US crowd in her corner.

The men’s draw is also thick with former champions, led by six-time winner and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and three-time winner Roger Federer, who will be on alert after crashing out in the first round a year ago.

World No. 1 Naomi Osaka will also be wary, with in-form German Angelique Kerber lurking in her quarter of the draw.