Craig Hickman will be covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Before the tournament got underway, the action was already beginning in South Beach.
Started the day at breakfast with Jarkko Nieminen and Andrea Petkovic, had a short hit with David Ferrer at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, then toughed through the spring-break traffic to Miami Beach for the Xperia Hot Shots unveiling over at the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel on Collins Ave.
Well, okay. I saw Nieminen and Petkovic at breakfast, watched Ferrer’s practice session with Fernando Verdasco before the event on Miami Beach. A bit overexcited attending my first Sony Ericsson Open, just seeing the players up close and personal made me feel as though we were all companions.
Maria Sharapova‘s celebrity appearance gave the event some sparkle after DJ Jazzy Jeff’s set and before Dominika Cibulkova, Sorana Cirstea, AlizÃ© Cornet, Sabine Lisicki, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Heather Watson,were introduced as the WTA’s future superstars. The event felt like a big old party. Free flowing liquor at the open bar. Jazzy Jeff’s louder than loud music. Party goers from all walks of life decked out in various stages of undress, the beach only steps away. Paparazzi everywhere.
The turquoise ocean beneath a clear sky beckoned, but I stayed put. Well, not exactly.
Before the event got underway, I stole some moments in the hotel lobby with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who were on the big flat screen next to the bar beating each other up in the BNP Paribas Open final. More folks than I would have imagined stopped to take in a few points en route to their rooms or the beach or the party out back or the bigger party along the entire thoroughfare out front. Miami Beach during spring break is no joke. Back in the lobby, one young woman waiting for the elevator pointed at the battle on the flat screen, looked at her toddler boy and said, “Look. Tennis.” Seems as though as many people stopped to check the tennis score as they did the basketball score before the nice bartender allowed me the remote to change the channel.
Shortly after the event, Sharapova was escorted by security to the black SUV that swept her away while the photographer’s shutters clicked, clicked, clicked.