All-American Sweep Marks Last Miami Open for Key Biscayne
American men and women shined in the last Miami Open on Key Biscayne over the weekend.
By Jane Voigt
Updated: April 3, 2018 • 7:24 PM ET
Alexander Zverev (left) and John Isner had an superb match in the Miami final over the weekend.
The Miami Open is moving. And for the owners’ sake, it’s for the best.
“This has been a long, arduous journey of highs and lows, but the bottom line is that the Miami Open is staying in Miami, and we couldn’t be more excited about our new home,” I.M.G. president Mark Shapiro said on Tuesday, according to the Miami Herald.
The tournament will head north to Miami Gardens and home of the Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium, for the 2019 tournament, after 38 years on Key Biscayne.
“Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, this tournament has so much history,” John Isner said after capturing his first Masters 1000 singles championship on Sunday via ASAP Sports. “I mean, all the best players have played here throughout the years.”
For the final American hard-court tournament of the season to herald a new American winner isn’t normal. In fact, the last man outside of the so-called Big Four — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic — to win Miami was Andy Roddick eight years ago.
At 32 years old, Isner, a North Carolina native and Georgia Bulldog graduate, may have won three doubles crowns at this level tournament, which is one step below a Grand Slam, but he struggled to put the icing on the cake in singles. He had played in four finals, yet couldn’t quite bring home the hardware.
“For me to come out the winner in the last men's singles match ever here is pretty unique,” Isner continued. “I mean, I of course watched this tournament, and I think I maybe played the Orange Bowl one time down here and never -- this is crazy.”
Here’s the other part of crazy: It was an all-American sweep in Key Biscayne, the irony of which was not lost on anyone with keen tennis antenna.
Sloane Stephens also won her first Miami singles title. Bob and Mike Bryan won their fifth Miami doubles crown and 37th ATP Masters 1000 overall. And the women’s doubles team of American CoCo Vandeweghe and Aussie Ashleigh Barty won their first Miami doubles title.
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Bob and Mike Bryan hold their fifth Miami Open doubles trophy.
“Sloane, as she showed yesterday that she steps up in the big stage with the U.S. Open and here,” Isner said. “I think she had gone through a losing streak [after winning the U.S. Open last fall], and she was telling everyone to relax. She was absolutely right about that.
“Then Bob and Mike winning yesterday, I think the real credit goes to -- I share a coach with Bob and Mike, David Macpherson, and that's a clean sweep right there.”
Talk about a losing streak. Isner entered Miami with a 2-6 record. He left with an 8-6 record and a return to the top 10 in the ATP rankings. The American, seeded No. 14, defeated 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. The German was the highest seed, No. 4, left in the draw after early losses by defending champion Roger Federer, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov.
Sloane Stephens is becoming one of the biggest stars in tennis.
Florida native Stephens has an abundance of memories gathered from her junior tennis days.
“Obviously this place is pretty special to me,” Stephens said after the match. “I grew up playing tennis here. When the USTA was here, we played Orange Bowl and all sorts of tournaments here.
“I'm definitely happy that I could be the last person to win here. I have had some amazing experiences here, and I'll definitely miss it, but I think -- yeah, I just feel fortunate that I was able to do that here in South Florida with all my friends and family watching.”
For years, Stephens has carried the weight of expectations. She came on the scene like blockbusters, upsetting Serena Williams during the 2013 quarterfinals of the Australian Open. But her career faltered. Her attitude plateaued. She had foot surgery early last year. And she changed coaches several times, finally settling on Kamau Murray. Her reward for persevering: A top 10 debut in the rankings.
“Yeah, I'm super excited,” she said. “It's something that I have wanted for a really long time. I think that it took a really long time to get there, just to get to that 10, because I was at 11, and I'm so tired of them saying career-high ranking No. 11.
“So I'm super excited that on Monday I will be inside the top 10. It's something I really look forward to. It's really exciting. And then obviously winning the tournament is just cherry on top.”
Stephens called Key Biscayne a “hidden gem.” She’ll miss “the iguanas, the massive iguanas, Sir Pizza, seeing the Moet signs on site, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream…Like, there is such good food here.”
For all the players and fans and tournament staff that will relocate up the road next year, be happy. Although the tropical feel of island life will vanish, the amenities of a big-sporting-event will rise. More courts. More parking. More player and fan amenities. More entertainment.
The main takeaway? The Miami Open stays in Miami.