Miami Open 2019 Review: Federer's dominance continues, NextGen stars arrive, and more
Following a scintillating BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in the desert of California, the action moved to the second event of the ‘Sunshine Double’ at Miami in Florida.
The Miami Open, which was relocated to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the home of the NFL Dolphins starting this year, was nothing short of spectacular as we not only came across a few familiar storylines but also witnessed a few rather unusual moments in the heat of Miami.
From Serena Williams pulling out of the tournament due to injury for the second time in as many weeks to David Ferrer’s swansong at Miami to Novak Djokovic’s shock exit and the rise of the NextGen stars in the men’s draw, the Miami Open, being played on aqua-coloured courts at its new venue, certainly made a lot of headlines.
But just as Bianca Andreescu wrote history at Indian Wells, winning the title at BNP Paribas Open, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty’s triumph at Miami was by far the most sensational story of this year’s tournament.
The 22-year-old Australian, who had defeated Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open this year, went the distance at Miami, defeating her formidable Czech opponents Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova en route her journey towards glory.
On the other hand, Andreescu’s dream run had to end on an unfortunate note as she had to retire mid-match owing to a shoulder injury in her Round of 16 encounter with Anett Kontaveit. However, that was only after she handed Angelique Kerber an agonizing defeat for the second time in two weeks.
On the men’s side of the draw, except during his first match against Radu Albot, where Roger Federer lost his only set in the tournament, the Swiss maestro looked serene, composed and lethal, winning his 4th Miami Open crown and 101st Career title.
Right from the quarter-final where he served big-serving, tall South African Kevin Anderson a bagel in the first set, Roger looked like a man on a mission as he ended his hard-court season on a winning note. He is now in the best possible frame of mind for the upcoming clay season which he is going to be a part of this year.
While Federer is back to his winning ways, his nemesis Novak Djokovic’s woes continued as the 15-time Grand Slam Champion was shown the door following his unexpected loss to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in their Round of 16 match.
Following his triumph at the Australian Open earlier this year, Novak couldn’t capitalize on his form as he looked completely out of sorts at the ‘Sunshine Double’, casting doubts over his status for the upcoming clay season.
This year’s event at Miami also featured an inspiring story of the rise of the NextGen stars as American Frances Tiafoe and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov were exceptional in their quest for glory.
But, for one teenager, this was a coming-of-age tournament. Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime found himself in the semi-finals, only to go down to the runner-up John Isner in two tie-break sets.
The Miami Open concludes the hard-court season for the first half of 2019 as we look forward to the clay-court season. Even though the dynamics of playing on clay are different from hard courts, Federer’s resurgence, Djokovic’s dip in form and the rise of Next Gen stars are storylines we can expect to see more of during the clay swing.
Can the defending champions at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep, continue their supreme reign on the red dirt or will we be in for a few interesting surprises? Only time can answer these questions, but, for now, the hard court season which concluded at the Miami Open has enthralled and entertained us with lots of stories to remember.