Nadal, Federer bring box-office boost to Miami

Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:16pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) - After missing last year's Sony Open, both world number one Rafa Nadal and 17-times grand slam winner Roger Federer return to South Beach this week along with their box office punch.

There will be no shortage of tennis glitterati around Miami for the next fortnight with 19 of the top 20 men's and women's players in action at Crandon Park but perhaps none more welcome than Federer and Nadal as their absence last year left a hole that could not be filled.

Nadal and Federer are box office gold for any tournament and with the Spaniard missing due to a knee injury and the Swiss maestro on an extended break last year's attendance dropped 5.5 percent to 308,000.

"Anytime you have two stars the size of Roger and Rafa, guys who are bigger than the sport, bigger than tennis, missing it hurts," tournament director Adam Barrett told Reuters on Monday.

"These guys are superstars, they draw crowds whether they are at the airport, a hotel or walking through a mall.

"Anywhere they go they are going to bring additional crowds both tennis and non-tennis folks."

With a promising weather forecast and lineup that includes world number one Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, defending men's champion Andy Murray and three-time winner Novak Djokovic the Sony Open could set record ticket sales this year.

"A lot of it has to do with how the draw unfolds," Barrett said about a possible attendance record. "A lot of years when you set record attendance you get intriguing matches.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during their men's singles final match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 26, 2014. REUTERS/Brandon Malone