Miami Open

Tournament Level: ATP1000/WTA Premier Mandatory
Date Attended: March 24, 2012 (Day and Night Sessions)
Seats: Section 314, Row B, Seats 19-20 (Day Session) and Section 318, Row F, Seats 07-08 (Night Session)

Miami Open – The Tennis Fan Experience

The Miami Open, then called the Sony Ericsson Open, was the first tournament, other than our hometown Rogers Cup, that we attended together.   It was really the one that kicked things off for us in terms of watching live tennis.  Although not in any formal way, we’re slowly working our way through the top echelon of tournaments, and one day hope to have attended every Grand Slam event, as well as all ATP 1000, WTA Premier Mandatory and WTA Premier 5 events.

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Roger Federer vs Ryan Harrison, 2nd Round, Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

For us, Miami was a great excuse to leave the cold of Canada for a weekend break in a warmer location.  We didn’t need much convincing.  We booked our tickets and hotel through the tournament website, and were on our way.

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Andy Roddick vs Gilles Muller, Miami Open (then then Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

 

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Gilles Muller vs Andy Roddick, 2nd Round, Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

 

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Roger Federer vs Ryan Harrison, 2nd Round, Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

We love combined ATP-WTA tournaments.  Being able to watch both Men’s and Women’s tennis gives a much more varied experience, and the different styles makes for a much more exciting day as a fan.  The fact there are twice as many matches going on also means you are more likely to see good matches on outside/non-reserved seating courts or be able to watch a favorite player practice up close.

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Vika Azarenka practicing at the Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

Our tickets were for the first Saturday, which was Men’s 2nd round and Women’s 3rd round.  It’s really the first day that the Men’s top seeds started playing.  It was also the first day of the tournament to be televised, so there was a great line-up on center court including Federer-Harrison, Roddick-Muller and in the evening session Djokovic-Baghdatis.  On outside courts, we were able to watch Caroline Wozniaki play from a front row seat, and see Li Na and Vika Azarenka practice from only a few feet away.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Cetkovska, 3rd Round, Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), 2012

We mentioned we booked everything, including hotels, through the tournament website.  The benefit of booking hotels through the tournament were shuttle buses to/from the grounds.  The only complaint we have from our time at the Sony Ericsson Open was that the shuttle buses were very disorganized, especially on the return.  If we were to do it again, we’d stay in a better location (South Beach), then just rent a car for the day or pay for a private transfer.  The cost may be a bit more, but the frustration would be considerably less.  And we’d get to avoid the Ultra Music Festival that takes up much of downtown Miami the same weekend as the tournament, and instead chill out in South Beach.

djokovic baghdatis miami tennis
Djokovic vs Baghdatis, 2nd Round, Miami Open (then the Sony Ericsson Open), Night Match, 2012

The Sony Ericsson Open / Miami Open was a fun event to attend.  Although there was definitely some room for improvements, it was a great introduction for us to attending bigger events and just encouraged us to make the effort to attend more tournaments.

Facilities

The Crandon Park grounds are clearly a bit dated.  It’s a big area, and it’s fun to walk around exploring the outside and practice courts.  However, walkways are narrow so the grounds can feel a bit claustrophobic by the middle of the day.

There is plenty of open seating on the smaller courts, so if you’re there early in the tournament, that is a great way to get up close for a match rather than paying the big bucks for a lower bowl seat on Centre Court.

There is a large parking lot across from the grounds, but many people take shuttle buses from the city.  We stayed at a tournament hotel so that we could take advantage of the shuttles.  Getting to the grounds in the morning was easy, but there were nowhere near enough buses running to get back from the tournament.  By then we were exhausted, and we felt it could definitely have been better organized.

Washroom facilities were also surprisingly limited for such a big tournament.  They basically amounted to a few port-a-potties (granted, those trailer ones, not the blue plastic ones) spaced around the grounds.  That meant there was always a line-up, whether you were a guy or girl.

Food

Food options were basic, burgers, pizza slices etc., and there was limited seating.  Drinks were good (and strong), but expensive. 

Tips

  • Don’t depend on the shuttle buses back into the city late at night. We purposely stayed near one of the tournament hotels in Miami to use the shuttle service, but after the night session they only ran 1 bus on each route, and it’s a 1-1.5hr roundtrip.  There were massive lineups of people waiting, at the end of a very long day.  There were no taxis around, so the best option is either to drive, if you have a car, or arrange a private transfer.  Or at least take this into consideration when deciding whether to attend a day or evening session.
  • The tournament overlaps the huge Ultra EDM festival, which also occurs in late March. Downtown Miami is crammed with scantily clad, glow-stick wearing ravers.  This might be your thing, but it makes for even more hassle getting through the city to/from the tournament
  • Key Biscayne is nice, but it’s a good distance from Miami down a primarily 2-lane road. There are stories of players being late for matches/practices because of the traffic delays getting to the grounds. In 2013, one of the best headlines was of superstar Serena Williams having to borrow a bicycle from her hotel to make it to her match on time!! Plan ahead, and give yourself plenty of time
  • We bought tickets for the day and night session on the same day, and regretted it. It makes for a very very long day, especially considering the commuting time required.  Doing it again, we’d only go to one or the other (day session is better value)
  • Miami can be very hot that time of year, so drink lots of water and bring a hat. In the afternoon, the west side of center court gets some shade, so keep that in mind when booking tickets
  • We sat in the upper bowl for both sessions. It’s a big stadium, so we weren’t very close to the action.  The rows are also very long, so we were often having to get up to let people in or out.  However there is a significant cost difference to get into the lower bowl

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