April 15, 2021

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U.S. Miami Open “sweep” first since 1985

The last time there was an American sweep at the Miami Open, it wasn’t even the Miami Open.

It was the first-ever edition of the tournament, then called the Lipton International Players Championship, and played north up Interstate 95 at the Laver resort in Delray Beach Fla.

That was 33 years ago, back in 1985. 

Now, a caveat: the 2018 Miami Open champions’ roster wasn’t 100 per cent American.

John Isner won the men’s singles, Sloane Stephens the women’s singles. The Bryan brothers won the men’s doubles. And Coco Vandeweghe teamed up with the one outlier, Aussie Ashleigh Barty, to take the women’s doubles.

Back in 1985, the Americans did even better. All the singles finalists were American, as well as three of the four women’s doubles finalists.

And, there was a bonus trophy.

In 1985, the Lipton was part of the “Grand Prix Tour”. It wasn’t even the ATP Tour yet, although the ATP itself, as a players’ association, was formed in 1973.

The women’s event was part of the “Virginia Slims World Championship Series” which didn’t run on the regular calendar year, but March to March. Back then, it was the WITA (Women’s International Tennis Association).

That was back when cigarette sponsorship was something that helped women’s tennis to become what it is today – probably saved it – not the evil thing it is now.

Total prize money for all five events was $1.8 million.

This year, the singles champions took home $1.34 million – each.

Two weeks, full fields, best-of-five

From the Miami Open website:

1985: Field at Laver’s International Tennis Resort includes 128 men and women in singles, 64 doubles teams for men and women, and mixed doubles. Tournament format is the same as the four Grand Slams. It is the first time in 56 years that a new, two-week tournament is launched. Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte capture singles titles before ABC-TV cameras. Navratilova-Evert women’s final is first sellout. Attendance for two weeks: 125,817, exceeding any golf or tennis event ever held in Florida.

Men’s singles

 Tim Mayotte defeated  Scott Davis 4–6, 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4

The win by Mayotte was the the first of 12 titles, and the biggest of his career, no doubt.

Women’s singles

 Martina Navratilova defeated  Chris Evert-Lloyd 6–2, 6–4

Evert was Lloyd then, still married to first husband John Lloyd.

It was the 101st title of Navratilova’s career. And it was the 63rd meeting between the two, out of 80. Embed from Getty Images

Evert had just broken a streak of 13 consecutive Navratilova victories at the Virginia Slims of Florida (ironically, held at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne that year). Navratilova put that right, and went 11-6 for the last part of their rivalry.

Men’s doubles

 Paul Annacone /  Christo van Rensburg defeated  Sherwood Stewart /  Kim Warwick 7–5, 7–5, 6–4

It was only the second title of Annacone’s stellar doubles career. He went on to win 14 – including his only major, the Australian Open, at the end of that season.

Note that the final was best-of-five sets.

Women’s doubles

 Gigi Fernández /  Martina Navratilova defeated  Kathy Jordan /  Hana Mandlíková 7-6 (4), 6–2

It was the first title of Fernández’s career. She was still just 20, and would go on to win 69, including 17 majors (all but one of them in the 1990s).

For Navratilova, it was the 202nd career combined title. 

And that wasn’t all.

The 1985 Lipton Championships also featured … mixed doubles.

Wouldn’t it be the greatest if they brought it back – particularly at Indian Wells, where the schedule after Monday seems bereft and where a lot of players willingly stick around to practice before they head to Miami?

Mixed doubles

 Heinz Günthardt /  Martina Navratilova defeated  Mike Bauer /  Catherine Tanvier 6–2, 6–2

So Navratilova pulled off the triple: singles, women’s doubles and mixed.

There’s almost a 100 per cent chance that no one will ever pull this off at a joint WTA/ATP Tour event. Ever again.

(Information from Wikipedia)