There will be no shortage of tennis glitterati around Miami for
the next fortnight with 19 of the top 20 men's and women's players
in action at Crandon Park but perhaps none more welcome than Federer
and Nadal as their absence last year left a hole that could not be
Nadal and Federer are box office gold for any tournament and with
the Spaniard missing due to a knee injury and the Swiss maestro on
an extended break last year's attendance dropped 5.5 percent to
"Anytime you have two stars the size of Roger and Rafa, guys who are
bigger than the sport, bigger than tennis, missing it hurts,"
tournament director Adam Barrett told Reuters on Monday.
"These guys are superstars, they draw crowds whether they are at the
airport, a hotel or walking through a mall.
"Anywhere they go they are going to bring additional crowds both
tennis and non-tennis folks."
With a promising weather forecast and lineup that includes world
number one Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, defending men's
champion Andy Murray and three-time winner Novak Djokovic the Sony
Open could set record ticket sales this year.
"A lot of it has to do with how the draw unfolds," Barrett said
about a possible attendance record. "A lot of years when you set
record attendance you get intriguing matches.
"Every year you wait, you let it unfold, we will be close to records
every year. The only thing that really takes records out of the
equation is rain."
The women's main draw gets underway with first-round matches on
Tuesday while the men's main draw begins Wednesday.
first-round bye, Nadal will open action against the winner of
Dutchman Robin Haase and Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who will be
chasing his 600th career win.
[to top of second column]
Third-seeded Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka along with
big hitters Canadian Milos Raonic and American John Isner lurk as
But it is the bottom half of the draw where the real intrigue lies
with world number two Djokovic, fresh off a win at Indian Wells,
two-time winner Federer and holder Murray all eager to add another
Miami title to their resumes.
For Murray, who maintains a residence in Miami, the Sony Open will
be a bit of a home game but his road back to the final is a daunting
one with a possible last-eight clash with Djokovic and a semi-final
meeting with a re-energised fifth seed Federer, coming off a
runner-up finish in Indian Wells.
Williams, a six-time winner in Miami, will open her title defense in
the second round against either Italian Francesca Schiavone or
Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova.
Fourth seed Sharapova is on the same side of the draw as Williams
along with in-form Italian Flavia Pennetta, who is carrying the
momentum from her victory at Indian Wells.
The other side of the draw features second-seeded Australian Open
champion Li Na of China, third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland,
the 2012 champion and runner-up at Indian Wells, and Venus Williams,
who has three Sony titles in her trophy case.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.