Americans Play Up a Storm For the Home Crowd At The Miami Masters

Marianne BevisSenior Writer IMarch 30, 2009

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 28:  Venus Williams reacts returns a shot against Shahar Peer of Israel during day six of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 28, 2009 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

It’s one of the brightest and breeziest tournaments on the tour. Bright sunshine alternates with breezy outbursts that have kept both players and officials on their toes.

But Miami is "bright and breezy" in that old fashioned sense, too. Only here could you find a color theme of purple and pink against a backdrop of bottle green and lime.

Tennis courts are pale violet, sun umbrellas and signage are pink, and even the players’ seats are bright violet adorned with lime-green lettering. Ball-kids in scarlet and officials in turquoise add to the event’s rainbow brightness.

The place radiates razzmatazz, right down to the glamorous marketing. Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic teeing off together is a photo opportunity made in heaven, boasting a pair of smiles that outshone even the Florida sunshine.

As if to gild the lily in this ebullient State, the American players are putting on a great show for their fans. And even amidst the jewel-like colors sported by the women in this year’s Sony Ericsson Open, the magnificent and glorious Williams sisters stand out.

Serena glows in brilliant tangerine. Venus has picked up the Miami hues of vivid purple and pink. These two women light up the stage wherever they appear, and Miami seems to suit them down to the ground.

There is a certain inevitability about the progress of the American women here. Serena and Venus have eight Miami titles between them, so Serena is going for a record-breaking No.6. Back on top of the women’s rankings, it will be tough to deny her with so many of the top seeds already fallen by the wayside.

Neither she nor her sister has had a smooth ride through their matches thus far, but both inclined to get stronger match by match. They each have one more round to win before they can meet in the semis. Who will the American crowd cheer on, then?

In the men’s doubles, the Bryan brothers are also fulfilling American expectations. They managed a really gutsy win—by 10 games to 8 in the final set—to advance to a Nadal/Lopez meeting. They should win and, with the second and third seeds already beaten, they have a good chance for the title.

And so to the individual men, and an unexpectedly subtle color palette that’s in stark contrast with both the surroundings and the women’s tournament.

Almost every man has adopted tones ranging from monochrome to sepia, with a generous and welcome helping of white. The traditional color of tennis is rarely in evidence outside Wimbledon these days.

Fernando Verdasco’s opening match against Benjamin Becker was a negative photo, charcoal and white on both sides of the net. Stan Wawrinka and Andreas Seppi, too, were a monochrome pairing. Albert Montanes and Bjorn Phau were both in sophisticated grey. Federer’s white and smoky mink were leavened with turquoise highlights, and Juan Monaco wore white with shorts the color of oil smoke.

American favourite Andy Roddick and Dmitry Tursunov matched up in classic white and black, and played classic big-hitting tennis.

Roddick continues to enjoy a good season but was severely tested in this tough three-setter. He had the commentators apologising profusely to viewers for the blue language that accompanied the first few rain-spattered games, but he eventually pulled himself together with another sound display of serving and powerful baseline play.

In the same quarter of the draw, Americans have also been cheering the return to top-level tournament play by Taylor Dent, who dismissed two seeds on his way to a match-up against Roger Federer.

A much greater talent than his current 467 ranking, he will undoubtedly relish the competition against the No. 2. It would be a truly remarkable result if he wins, and a great launching pad for his come-back if he loses.

So the home crowd has had much to enjoy, and has a particularly relaxed and cheerful way of expressing it. The hats are big, the smiles fulsome, and the posture laid-back.

Maybe it’s the sunshine that generates this up-beat atmosphere. Maybe it’s the colors so reminiscent of Disney’s animated films. Perhaps it’s gratitude that they are not the ones running around in 78 percent humidity for two hours.

But you can bet they’ll be on their feet cheering should any one of their home heroes lifts a trophy next weekend.