September 21, 2023

Open Court


Djokovic the last of the “Big Three” to eschew Miami



It’s official now, although word had been circulating for weeks that Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic would not be playing the Miami Open.

On Friday, days before the event is to begin, he made it official on his social media.

Djokovic didn’t even use an injury as an excuse to beg off and join a large group of players who won’t be going to South Florida this year.

Roger Federer’s agent told the Associated Press nearly three weeks ago that his client would not go to Miami, saying he was opting to use the time for a training block after his brief return in the Middle East.

Rafael Nadal confirmed what most expected just three days ago.

A long list of Miami withdrawals on the men’s side

While Andy Murray will be playing, on a wild card, there are so many others who also have decided not to make the trip.

Here’s a list of those confirmed out so far

  • Pablo Andujar
  • Pablo Carreño Busta
  • Borna Coric
  • Pablo Cuevas (broken toe)
  • Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Kyle Edmund (ongoing, knee)
  • Roger Federer
  • Richard Gasquet (various injuries)
  • Filip Krajinovic
  • Nick Kyrgios
  • John Millman
  • Gaël Monfils
  • Corentin Moutet
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Guido Pella
  • Albert Ramos-Viñolas
  • Gilles Simon (ongoing ennui)
  • Dominic Thiem
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
  • Stan Wawrinka

And that was just from the original entry deadline cutoff.

More withdrawals

In addition to those players, here are others who would have gotten in because of their withdrawals, but also pulled out.

  • Lucas Pouille
  • Egor Gerasimov
  • Marco Cecchinato
  • Juan Ignacio Londero
  • Norbert Gombos
  • Roberto Carballes Baena
  • Attila Balasz
  • Gianluca Mager
  • Andrej Martin
  • Dennis Novak
  • Philipp Kohlschrieiber (is he even still playing?)
  • Jaume Munar
  • Andreas Seppi
  • Yuichi Sugita
  • Kamil Majchrzak
  • Hugo Dellien
  • Grégoire Barrere

At the present time, the last player into the main draw is Ilya Ivashka, ranked No. 111 at the deadline.

Multiple factors involved

There may well be more to come. But it’s worth remembering that IMG owns half the Miami Open.

And so, in the interest of selling its very expensive ducats this year, its clients may well wait until as late as possible to announce.

Djokovic would fall into that category.

The women’s singles draw isn’t until Sunday; the men’s draw will be Monday.

As well, players must arrive at least three days before their scheduled first match, for COVID testing. Which means Friday for the qualifying players, and Saturday for the main draw players.

The prize money, notably, is down 60 per cent from a year ago despite the ATP’s announcement recently that the downgrade in prize money would be at least partially rectified.

It affects the lower-ranked players less. But the winner’s and finalist’s cuts are down nearly 80 per cent.

Djokovic would also fall into that category. Not that he couldn’t live just fine with a Miami Open champion’s cheque. But at the level it is this year, as the old saying goes, it’s not even worth getting out of bed for a fellow with his income.

No point in a one-off hard court event

As you can see by the list, a lot of the players who took part in the South American clay-court swing have opted out.

With the usual “Sunshine Double”, it might make sense (especially for the money) to play both Indian Wells and Miami, if you can get straight in.

But for one event – only to return immediately to clay at least through to June – it doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Especially, as many players have pointed out, because of the restrictions and the wearying caused by yet another bubble.

The Miami women? So far, so good

On the WTA side, there have been very few withdrawals thus far.

That’s especially true at the very top. But there is still time.

So far, there are only six.

  • Karolina Muchova
  • Donna Vekic (knee surgery)
  • Barbora Strycova
  • Hsieh Su-Wei
  • Polona Hercog
  • Patricia Maria Tig

One reason is that there are two more tournaments available to the women after Miami, within a short plane flight.

Both are at the same site as well, in Charleston. First a 500-level tournament, then a 250-level event the following week on the Har-Tru.

It appears world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is making the trip.

If she were unsure, she likely wouldn’t have signed up for doubles both in Miami (with Jennifer Brady) and in Charleston (with Storm Sanders).

But stay tuned.

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