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 30.
1997 – Eight years after having to default the final of the Lipton Championships after tearing ligaments in his knee after being hit by a car driven by a drunk driver, Thomas Muster of Austria defeats Spain’s Sergi Bruguera 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-1 to win the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla. “It’s very emotional for me because of what happened here eight years ago,” says Muster of the victory, his 44th and ultimately his final ATP tournament title.
2000 – Martina Hingis hands Monica Seles the worst loss of her professional career, defeating the former world No. 1 6-0, 6-0 in 39 minutes in the semifinals of the Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla. Lindsay Davenport edges Sandrine Testud 6-1, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (7) in a much more competitive women’s semifinal match. Seles is hampered by a right ankle sprain that limits her movement and is the major factor in the one-sided match.
2002 – Serena Williams fights off seven second-set points and defeats Jennifer Capriati 7-5, 7-6 (4) in the women’s singles final at the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.
1996 – Steffi Graf wins her unprecedented fifth title at the Lipton Championships, defeating Chanda Rubin 6-1, 6-3 in 54 minutes in the women’s singles final in Key Biscayne, Fla. The title was Graf’s 97th of her career in her 124th final. Says Rubin of Graf, “Her game is oppressive, and it forces you to go for too much. I came up quite a bit short today, and that kind of was the story to the match.”
2004 – Three-time defending champion Andre Agassi sees his 19-match winning streak at the NASDAQ-100 Open end in a 6-2, 7-6 (2) fourth-round loss to Agustin Calleri of Argentina. Agassi holds five set points in the second set, but is unable to convert to even the match at one-set apiece. Says Agassi, who also misses a chance to win his 800th career ATP match victory. “I missed some chances. I needed to step it up and play to his standard, and I didn’t do that.”
2008 – In an exciting day of women’s tennis at the Sony Ericsson Open, Lindsay Davenport, playing in Key Biscayne for the first time in five years, upsets world No. 2 Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2, while world No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova comes from back a 2-5 third-set deficit – and saves a match point – in defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 1-6, 7-5, 6-0. In the early hours of the day – the night before – Jelena Jankovic rallies from a 1-5 deficit in the third set and saves five match points in the final-set tie-break to register a second-round win over Sofia Arvidsson of Swede 6-7 (7), 6-2, 7-6 (9) in a match that concludes at 12:30 am. Says Jankovic, ”I didn’t play well, but I was hanging in there. I really believed in myself. I played one point at a time…I don’t like to lose. No matter what the score is, the match is not over until it is over. I’m a big fighter, and it was very important for my confidence to show that I don’t give up.” Jankovic eventually reaches the final of the tournament, where she is defeated by Serena Williams in a tight three-set final.