Sports

The Miami Open Is Back and Better Than Ever

World No. 4 player Alex Zverev warms up on the practice court on Saturday, March 26, 2022.
World No. 4 player Alex Zverev warms up on the practice court on Saturday, March 26, 2022. Photo by Jesse Scott
Knock on wood, but life is feeling like 2019 and then some at the Miami Open.

After moving from its longtime home at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019, it’s been one hell of a ride.

Year one of the Miami Open at Hard Rock made a memorable splash, with record crowds hitting the new, trés Miami setting splashed in graffiti art, radiating Latin beats, and bursting with open-air culinary happenings amid dozens of sparkly, new tennis courts.

Year two in 2020...wasn't. And last year’s event was an über-restricted shell of its prior iterations, with capacities maxed at around 1,000 per session, quieting the roars that are an infectious norm at big-time tennis events.

Now here we are in 2022, and things are popping again.

There are no COVID protocols to enter and the grounds are as much of a spot for a social experience as they are for world-class tennis. The landscape all the more intriguing as the Formula One Miami Grand Prix track and stands take shape and weave through the surrounding parking lots.

Through the tournament’s first weekend, food and booze fueled the party, courtesy of the Wharf, Kiki on the River, Novecento, among others. The culinary offerings are a draw in themselves, with croqueta flights from Dos Croquetas, ceviche from SuViche, and a spicy chicken sandwich from Fuku. You can even get a frozen margarita with a tennis-ball-topped stirrer from Bodega as a DJ spins nearby.
click to enlarge A frozen margarita at Bodega is only the beginning of the Miami Open's culinary offerings. - PHOTO BY JESSE SCOTT
A frozen margarita at Bodega is only the beginning of the Miami Open's culinary offerings.
Photo by Jesse Scott
Other staples include custom art from the likes of local artists Marcus Borges and Didi Contreras and a gondola ride that stretches above the courts outside the main stadium and provides panoramic vistas of the tennis action.

Yes, there is tennis, too, complete with quintessentially 2022 storylines.

There’s the absence of Serbian grand slam champion Novak Djokovic, who withdrew in early March because his vaccination status (as in not) precluded him from entering the U.S. There’s Russian superstar Daniil Medvedev rolling through the early rounds — though, on the scoreboards, the Russian flag has been conspicuously absent beside his name. And there's Naomi Osaka, the now unseeded former grand slam champion making a run through the round of 16, as fans audibly debate her mental fitness.

As week two rolls on toward the finals this weekend, we have yet to see how it all shakes out. But whether or not you're a tennis lover, the Miami Open is a cultural spectacle that should be cherished by locals and visitors alike.

The Miami Open. Through April 3, at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens; 305-943-6737; miamiopen.com. Single-session tickets start at $30 via ticketmaster.com.
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Jesse Scott is a Fort Lauderdale-based contributor for Miami New Times covering culture, food, travel, and entertainment in South Florida and beyond. His work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and his hometown newspaper, the Free Lance-Star, among others.