The Miami Open 2021, staged a few weeks ago, was the first Masters 1000 since 2004 not to have been able to count on the presence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Florida tournament therefore represented an excellent chance for many young players on the launch pad, but the favorites melted like snow in the sun, paying a heavy price for the pressure.
Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev all exited prematurely, leaving the stage to Jannik Sinner and the revelation Hubert Hurkacz. In a tension-ridden final, the Pole took his first 1000 of his career after knocking out several top opponents along the way.
The issue of the absence of the Big 3 nevertheless held sway for the duration of the event. In a recent conversation with reporters Ben Rothenberg and Simon Cambers on 'Tennis Majors', former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli said men's tennis will need to do something more to make the product palatable even after the three sacred monsters retire.
Bartoli compares the 2019 Federer and Isner final with the 2021 Miami Open final
"Not yet at all, and the numbers are showing it," Marion Bartoli replied when asked whether men's tennis was ready for life after the Big 3).
"The final of the Miami Open this year between Sinner and Hurkacz lost 72% of the viewers on the ratings on the TV compared to the 2019 final between Roger Federer and John Isner. So that's just showing in itself that (the sport is not ready for life post Big 3)."
Marion Bartoli further suggested that it is difficult for a tennis player to be popular if their name isn't Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic. The former Wimbledon champion believes not many casual tennis watchers would have bothered to keep themselves informed about the proceedings at the Miami Open, given that none of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal were part of the field.
"And probably if you go out into the streets and ask who won the Miami Open, even in Miami, I don't think a lot of people would be able to answer that question unless you are a tennis fanatic and you know what's exactly going on," Bartoli added.
Another daunting debate in the tennis community is the choice between electronic line calling and the line judges. And as a fellow player, the Frenchwoman sided with the technology against human error. “It’s much better to have a Hawk-Eye call every single time you’re on the court,” she added. “Especially on clay where there has been so much debate on the line calls there”.