Historic scare at the Miami Masters

Benoit Paire, during a recent game in Acapulco.

Considered a few years ago something like the big fifth In tennis, the Miami Masters looks back and feels a deep sense of nostalgia. There are the flashy posters and envies, before their brother Indian Wells gave another stretch and was gaining ground – things of money and geography, the emergence of tycoon Larry Ellison and the possibility of growing up in the Californian desert – and especially the fact that the pandemic broke out a year ago. Then the tournament was canceled and now, it is no small thing, the blind will be raised again from March 24 to April 4. It will do so, however, conditioned by the new reality and circumstances that have caused the fright of the main figures of the circuit.

Day by day, the organizers have been fitting weight losses for this edition. Male references have been dropping from the program and Serena Williams (39 years old) announced that she will not finally be able to participate, due to an oral operation. Three weeks ago, Roger Federer (39) announced that he would not travel to Florida and then Rafael Nadal (34) and Novak Djokovic (33) followed suit. The Spaniard, who still has problems in the lumbar area, prioritizes the dirt tour and the number one, historical leader of the tournament together with Andre Agassi, with six titles, also bets on the direct jump to clay, although in his message he introduced a nuance: “I have decided to use this precious time to be at home with my family.”

Nole summarizes the general feeling of many professionals, grateful for the effort that the rectors and the events are carrying out so that a sport as global as tennis can continue underway; tired, also, of abiding by the restrictions of the protocols and the measures imposed by each country to be able to play many tournaments. “I need to find a balance between my home and the circuit,” transmitted the Belgrade, one of the 20 players who have so far announced their resignation. Along with him, Nadal and Federer appear other illustrious names such as Dominic Thiem (four in the world) or Matteo Berrettini (ten). However, most of the female referents will attend the appointment.

Last year, when they perceived that the break was going to be long, both the ATP and the WTA determined that they would freeze their respective lists with the aim of rewarding those who played and not penalizing those others who decided to stop due to circumstances. In this way, the variations in both rankings They have been minimal and there have been cases like Federer, who despite not having competed for practically a year has only lost two positions. “The system is a disaster,” criticized the German Alexander Zverev, recent winner in Acapulco. “I am the oldest fan Roger, but this is all a bit absurd. He has been away for a year … ”, he lamented Sascha Before the list was renewed this Monday and the Swiss was unseated in sixth place, since Federer will lose 500 of the 1000 points he obtained by winning in Miami in 2019.

To the restrictions and protection of the ranking another factor is added, the economic one. As a result of the impact of the pandemic, the prizes awarded by tournaments have been drastically reduced and Miami’s total purse, without going any further, will drop from the $ 16.7 million it distributed two years ago (13.9 euros) to 6.6 (5.5) for this year. If Federer and Ashleigh Barty then pocketed € 850,000 respectively, this time the winners will get around € 250,000.

“If I lose I take 10,000 euros, why try harder if to earn only 30,000 income, a little more?” French Benoit Paire told the newspaper last weekend L’Èquipe, after falling in the first round of Acapulco. “I arrive, play, take the money and leave,” he continued. “The circuit has gotten sad. I know they will tell me that I am privileged, but playing in closed stadiums, without people, having to be permanently locked up in the hotel… For those of us who like life and freedom, eating and enjoying themselves, this is very hard. I don’t play for this ”, resolved the wayward Frenchman, who a week ago in Buenos Aires had offered an unpleasant spectacle by spitting on the court when a judge validated a direct point from the rival on a serve.

In the midst of this anomalous scenario, it will be the first time in 17 years that neither Nadal, nor Federer, nor Djokovic will attend a Masters 1000. Due to the presence of one, the other or the third, among the three there were 138 tournaments of this category since Paris-Bercy 2004. The last few days have also brought another exotic note: Aslan Karatsev, 27 years old and who until this season had only won three matches on the ATP circuit, he raised the Dubai trophy and added 15 victories in 2021 in which he became known by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open; In three months, the Russian has billed more (600,000 euros) than what he had achieved in his entire career (460,000).

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