It was a beautiful night for tennis out at Key Biscayne on Friday, but only a smattering of fans ventured forth to take in the inaugural six-player Miami Tennis Cup exhibition at Crandon Park.
Those who made the trip to the stadium, normally the home of the Sony Ericsson Open, were treated to a fun match between top-ranked American John Isner and the recently retired 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain.
“It probably wasn’t the best match, as I know he hasn’t played in forever and I’m just getting going again,” said Isner, who won the match 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. “The best way to prepare yourself for a new year is to get out there and play a match like that. I know there wasn’t much riding on the match, but it had that match feel that you can’t emulate in practice.”
The 14th-ranked Isner was taken to a tiebreaker in the first set, where he initially trailed 2-0. Ferrero, who is moving on to become the tournament director of the Valencia tournament, lost serve in the eighth game of the second set.
In the opening match Friday night, No. 11 Nicolas Almagro of Spain defeated No. 54 Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-4, 6-1.
“It was tough because every match against Alejandro is complicated; he’s a good player, and he’s a lefty,” Almagro said. “For me, it’s a pleasure to be here because Spain is really cold and here is warm, and I’m very happy to be in Miami because it’s one of my favorite cities.”
The marquee names participating in the Miami Tennis Cup are the two Andys: the recently retired Andy Roddick, who grew up in Boca Raton, and world No. 3 Andy Murray, who owns an apartment on Brickell Avenue.
Roddick committed to playing in this event before deciding to retire from the game at the U.S. Open. His billing at the Miami Tennis Cup went from top-20 player to this being the former No. 1 player’s “Farewell to South Florida.”
Roddick will face Murray, the reigning Olympic and U.S. Open champion, in Saturday night’s headline match, which is anticipated to draw a larger crowd. That will be followed by a match between Isner and Almagro.
“I guess he needed batting practice,” Roddick quipped about playing Murray. “It’ll be fun to play and see the highest level. I’m not fooling myself into thinking I have much [of a] shot. He’s been playing against the best players in the world the last four months, and I’ve been eating a lot of carbs.”
The Crandon Park facility holds many fond memories for Roddick. The 2003 U.S. Open champion won the prestigious Orange Bowl junior event at the site and the Sony Open title in 2004 and 2010.
“This is a venue I certainly have a lot of memories from,” said Roddick after a practice session Friday morning. “I was one of the couple hundred kids invited to help open this thing when I was 10 years old. From Orange Bowl wins to my first win over Pete [Sampras] here. I didn’t beat Roger [Federer] many times, but a couple of them were here. Won a couple tournaments here also. It’s a great opportunity to come back.”