It feels like the tennis universe has a new controversy quite often nowadays. Whether it be wild cards, or the ridiculous best-of-three “debate” for the men at Slams, there’s seemingly always something making waves among tennis fans and pundits.
Lately, that topic has been the quality of players in the men’s and women’s main draws at the Miami Open.
The Miami Open is a Masters 1000 event for the men and a WTA 1000 tournament for the women. Yet, with Indian Wells postponed, the stand-alone event in the Sunshine State got middling attention from the top players.
On the women’s side, 23-time Grand Slam champion and World No. 7 Serena Williams pulled out of the main draw due to mouth surgery. Yet, she was the only “big name” on the women’s side to withdraw, as the rest of the Top 10 is in the main draw.
Not every player that could be in the women’s field is in it, but the draw is far from decimated.
The men’s draw, on its face, seems to be much less intact. The “Big 3” (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic) and defending US Open champion Dominic Thiem all withdrew from the field for various reasons. World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini also will not be playing the event.
This means that only five of the top 10 male players in the World will be battling for the trophy. Many more male players have pulled the plug on the tournament, and the men’s field is objectively weaker than it has been in the past.
The weaker fields, especially on the men’s side, has led the event to be the butt of many jokes.
Yet, the jokes got old. And, quite frankly, when a prominent tennis journalists such as Stuart Fraser got in on the act, it seemed to cross the line into disrespect.
The top of the women’s field is almost completely normal, and the men’s field is not nearly as bad as it seems. We have arguably four of the six best hard court players since the hiatus competing–in Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev (Djokovic and Thiem being the other two). Not to mention other top players in Roberto Bautista Agut, Denis Shapovalov, Diego Schwartzman, and the red-hot recent Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev.
At the Australian Open, the quarterfinals of the men’s event featured Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Aslan Karatsev, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Rafael Nadal. Six of those eight will be competing in Miami.
Yet, you’d think that I was next up on the entry list from the way social media has reacted.
And with every withdrawal comes an opportunity for other players to shine. For instance, when John Millman and Albert Ramos withdrew, this allowed recent ATP 500 Acapulco semifinalist Lorenzo Musetti and recent ATP 250 Santiago semifinalist Daniel Galan to gain entry into the main draw.
This even trickles down to qualifying where, due to the withdrawals, recent Cleveland Challenger winner Bjorn Fratangelo gained entry into qualifying. Jenson Brooksby, a recent Challenger champion and Cleveland finalist also got into the qualifying draw via the withdrawals.
And anyways, the depth of the WTA Tour and ATP Tour are always talked about as such a positive thing, yet when we have the opportunity to showcase this depth on one of the biggest stages of the sport, there’s an uproar.
Finally, I want to address more directly the journalists that are posting such derogatory things about the players competing in Miami, such as the previously mentioned Stuart Fraser.
Journalists aren’t supposed to be cheerleaders for the sport, but there certainly is room to advocate for the sport they supposedly enjoy (since they made a career surrounding tennis).
Yet, it is certainly a bit disrespectful to see players like Musetti and Galan to be compared to “anyone with a tennis racket available…” or be told by another journalist, Tumaini Carayol, that the men’s Miami draw is “…soon to be reclassified as a Masters 100 event.”
And the focus on the “poor” men’s draw is taking attention away from the awesome women’s field we have in Miami. The women’s draw has been released and the tournament is set to be one of the most competitive of the year.
Yet, instead of highlighting the good, many seem set on putting down the men’s field. And it’s bordering on becoming disrespectful.
So, with qualifying matches beginning and the main draws set to start soon, let’s focus on the incredible players at the Miami Open, instead of who’s not there.
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