June 18, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Vid: Open stadium for Federer practice in Miami

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Most often, in the leadup to big tournaments when the bigger stars are practicing on the stadium court, they do so in near-anonymity.

The stadiums are closed to the public. And they’re often closed in general. At Indian Wells, the players have to access the Stadium 1 court through the stands, climbing back up to exit once they’re done.

But on Monday at the Miami Open, with the qualifying going on outside on the smaller courts, the tournament announced over the public-address system that anyone could come in and see Roger Federer practice on the main stadium at 6 p.m.

There were already fans in place in the cushy recliners that line the big court. They were joined by some additional happy Federer fans.

(We were told that the privilege of watching the best players practice in those pre-tournament days is part of the VIP luxury packages. Those  include those comfy seats – plus tables for their Moët et Chandon, and plugs for all their devices).

Federer played the Indian Wells final late Sunday afternoon against Dominic Thiem, losing in three tough sets.

Barely 24 hours later, he was on the court in Miami. It takes some time getting adjusted to the challengers you incur making transition from the desert to the tropical Miami humidity. So the early the better.

But that was early.

Here’s some video of it.

Fucsovics the sparring partner

Practicing with Federer was the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who is playing the best tennis of his career at age 27, and is currently ranked No. 36.

That means Fucsovics is seeded No. 29 in Miami. It’s his third time playing the Sunshine Double, which has 96-player draws. Fucsovics played other Masters 1000 events (with smaller draws, thus with a more stringent cutoff) for the first time in 2018. 

It was interesting to see them exchange crosscourt groundies and be pretty even-steven. Just another reminder that the difference between the champions and the contenders primarily isn’t how they well hit the ball.

But when the two would sit down for a water break, Fucsovics needed to wipe off the perspiration coming down his face and neck. Federer looked like he didn’t even break a sweat. 

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