Miami Open prepares to start without Big 3, with Covid restrictions

Miami, Mar 21 (efe-epa).- The ATP Masters 1000 Miami will get underway on Monday under coronavirus-related restrictions and without the so-called big three of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

A reduced number of fans will be allowed to attend the second edition to be held at the new Miami Gardens’ Hard Rock stadium, due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced organizers to cancel last year’s event.

World No.1 Djokovic was the latest to withdraw from the tournament on Friday citing the Covid-19 limitations.

“I decided to use this precious time at home to stay with my family. With all the restrictions, I need to find balance in my time on tour and at home,” the six-time Miami Open champions said on Twitter.

Swiss star Federer has opted not to defend the title he won in 2019, opting for caution after his return to competition after over a year-long absence and two knee surgeries.

He played two matches to reach the quarter-finals at the Qatar Open this month, and said after his defeat to Nikoloz Basilashvili that he was still a few weeks away from full fitness. His target is to be ready for the grass court season.

His fellow 20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal also skipped the tournament as he prioritizes the upcoming clay court season over a hard-court event he has never won despite reaching five finals.

The women’s draw, meanwhile, will be star-packed with world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty leading the entry list, which includes Serena Williams, who has won a record eight titles.

While the Australian will seek to defend the title she won in 2019, the American will be in the hunt for the first title in Miami since 2015.

The list also includes former world No.1s Naomi Osaka of Japan, the 2021 Australian Open champion, and Romania’s Simona Halep. EFE-EPA

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