The Miami Open tennis event is welcoming in a new era this week as it takes place at Hard Rock Stadium for the first time.

A deal was struck in December 2017 for the tournament to be held at the home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team after doubts emerged over its future at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne, where it had been held since 1987.

This year’s Miami Open got underway at its new-look setting yesterday (Monday) and tournament director James Blake has spoken enthusiastically about Hard Rock Stadium’s capacity to host a tennis event.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Blake said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “To put a tennis court inside a football stadium is something a lot of players didn’t really wrap their heads around. Now that they’re here and see it, I think they’re very positive.”

The stadium complex has been fitted with a permanent campus comprising 30 courts, headlined by a 14,000-seat stadium court built within Hard Rock Stadium itself, which has been reimagined to host a tennis tournament.

Hard Rock Stadium has a capacity of 65,000 and the American football pitch has been condensed to accommodate the tennis court. Fabric screens and temporary stands have been fitted to obscure most of the unused seats.

Stephen Ross, owner of the Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, added: “I wouldn’t say it’s better than a football team, but it’s something that’s very exciting. I’m excited to see people’s reaction. There are so many sceptics out there.”

The Miami Open is one of the leading non-grand slam events on the men’s ATP and women’s WTA circuits. John Isner and Sloane Stephens are the defending singles champions.

Image: A.J. Lipp