Miami Open TD tells crazy story about star ripping him over one Nick Kyrgios decision

Blake's first year as the Miami Open tournament director featured one tense moment and it involved Kyrgios.

by Dzevad Mesic
Miami Open TD tells crazy story about star ripping him over one Nick Kyrgios decision
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Miami Open tournament director James Blake has told a pretty interesting story as the former American tennis star reveals he was once blasted by an anonymous ATP star for his decision to schedule him on Grandstand and put Nick Kyrgios on Stadium - the tournament's No. 1 court.

Blake, a former world No. 4 who retired from pro tennis in 2013, has been serving as the Miami Open tournament director since 2018. 

That year - which was the last year of the Miami Open's old site at Crandon Park - Blake was having his inaugural year as the tournament's boss while a 22-year-old Kyrgios was making his third appearance at the tournament. 

Although Kyrgios was widely criticized and scrutinized at the time by the media, he was selling tickets as well as anyone and there was major interest in his matches. In Miami, that was also the case as many fans wanted to see Kyrgios in live action, who at the time already had at least one win over each member of the Big Three. 

Also, the fact that Kyrgios made back-to-back Miami semifinals in 2016 and 2017 and that he played a thriller against Roger Federer a year earlier also contributed to a great interest in the Australian's matches. 

When taking everything into consideration, Blake thought that scheduling Kyrgios on the tournament's biggest court made sense because it had the biggest capacity. Also, Blake had in mind the fact that had he scheduled Kyrgios on an outside court, many would try to get to him and it would pose security risks. 

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

But one player - who Blake described as "a Masters champion and a very top player' - had an issue with that although Grandstand is the second largest court at the tournament. But ultimately, the anonymous player accepted his fate. 

Blake tells about an ATP star slamming him for prioritizing Kyrgios 

"We’ll keep it anonymous, I’ll name one name. It was my first year so 2018, we’re still at Crandon Park and Nick Kyrgios [is a] huge story as he still is always,” Blake said on the Served with Andy Roddick podcast, via Express-Sport.

“We’ve got him on Stadium and another player that was far more accomplished - not a Grand Slam champion but a Masters 1000 champion - a very, very top player. And he was on Grandstand.

"He was pretty unhappy about that and so he had someone from his team come and say ‘Hey, so and so is really upset and he wants to talk to you.’ So I go to the locker room and he’s like, ‘What is this BS? He hasn’t accomplished this. Look at my resume and look at his resume.’

“I was like, ‘Look, we put him out on one of the outside courts for doubles and we actually had a security risk because we had so many people crushing to get there. The only option is we’ve got to put him on Stadium. It’s just such a big story we’ve got to do it. I’m really, really sorry.' He was very angry but he got over it."

James Blake
James Blake © Getty Images Sport - Al Bello

How did Kyrgios do that year in Miami?

In what was his third Miami appearance at the time, Kyrgios had a first-round bye before starting with a routine 6-4 6-1 second-round win over Dusan Lajovic. In his next match, Kyrgios sealed another convincing win as he beat Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-3. 

But then, Kyrgios stumbled upon former world No. 2 Alexander Zverev. In a round-of-16 showdown, Kyrgios delivered some goods but Zverev also came out playing outstanding tennis and ended up beating the Australian in two sets 6-4 6-4. For Kyrgios, it was the first time that he lost in Miami earlier than the semifinal. 

In his Miami debut in 2016, Kyrgios impressed as he won four matches in straight sets before losing to 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori in the semifinal. The following year, Kyrgios returned to the semifinal and there clashed against Federer. In a match that lasted over three hours and that many described as one of the best matches of the 21st century, Kyrgios just narrowly lost as Federer edged out the Australian 7-6 (9) 6-7 (9) 7-6 (5).

Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer
Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

After two semifinals and one round-of-16 outing in Miami, Kyrgios made his fourth Miami appearance in 2019, reaching the round-of-16 again before losing to Borna Coric. In 2022, Kyrgios returned to Miami for the first time since 2019 and won his opening three matches before he saw his run end in the round-of-16 following a loss to Jannik SInner. 

Last year, Kyrgios didn't compete in Miami because he was recovering from knee surgery, while he is not competing in Miami this year because he is now recovering from wrist surgery.

Miami Open Nick Kyrgios