The Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., is the biggest, most prestigious tennis tournament in the United States next to the US Open. Its history dates back to 1985 and is documented in pages in my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com). The following are events that happened in the history of the tournament – also previously called the Lipton Championships, the NASDAQ-100 Open and the Ericsson Open – as excerpted from the book from March 29.
1998 – Marcelo Rios of Chile clinches the world No. 1 ranking for the first time when he defeats Andre Agassi 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla. The victory for Rios sets off celebrations in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, where thousands for citizens take to the streets in jubilation, waving flags and singing songs celebrating Rios overtaking Pete Sampras as world No. 1. Says Rios of his accomplishment, “First of all, being the best player in the world for Chile is not normal. We have never had a champion be No. 1 in the world in tennis. I don’t know if we have had it in other sports, but I don’t think so. I think everybody is going to take it really good. I feel proud, being Chilean, to be the only one to be No. 1 in the world.” Writes Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, “Marcelo Rios used his tennis racket like a magic wand, directing none other than Andre Agassi around the court at will Sunday. And, for his final trick, Rios made Pete Sampras’ No. 1 ranking disappear.”
1997 – Sixteen-year-old Martina Hingis needs only 43 minutes to defeat Monica Seles 6-2, 6-1 in the singles final of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla.
1996 – Goran Ivanisevic benefits from a 48-minute rain delay while trailing Pete Sampras 6-1, 1-0 and comes from behind to defeat the world No. 2 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne. Says Ivanisevic, “I was thinking I was going to fly home tomorrow and then the rain came and saved me.”