Stefanos Tsitsipas has cast a somewhat sinister light on next week’s COVID-crippled Miami Masters, with the weekend Acapulco finalist suggesting that something is afoot among dissatisfied players.
The event which will be staged in a stadium parking lot with only 750 fans allowed in daily and a prize money cut of around 60 per cent has been crushed by pullouts from major ATP names.
Ticket prices for the few punters allowed to purchase entry have at least doubled, with a pair for the men’s final going in excess of USD 5,000.
While the WTA side of the draw still can boast the presence of No. 1 Ash Barty – her first event outside Australia in more than a year – Naomi Osaka and “local” Serena Williams, that’s not the case on the men’s side.
Tsitsipas dropped a huge hint that the withdrawal 48 hours ago of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic might be a signal of a surprise development.
The Serb who won the Australian Open while claiming a back injury, said he will remain in Europe with his family rather than face the bureaucracy of a one-off trip to COVID-hotspot Florida.
Also missing: Top 10 players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. with others dropping out in a steady trickle in recent days.
With the event starting on Wednesday, the situation could soon come to a head, according to Tsitsipas.
“Some things will be happening as well, I heard. I guess that explains the absence of players.
“I don’t want to say more, but in a way, I’m not surprised.”
After losing Saturday’s Acapulco final to Alexander Zverev, Tsitsipas launched further warnings about the abbreviated version of what was formerly a Tour highlight fortnight at its former venue on a local tropical island which moved to the Miami Latin beat.
“Honestly I like Miami as a tournament but I feel it won’t be as good as in previous years,” Tsitsipas said.
“I go there with low expectations, not expecting much from the tournament itself.
“It has other restrictions and will operate entirely on its own (player quarantine, etc). and with a different system.”