For two sun-soaked weeks each March, the world’s best tennis players descend on South Florida for a time-honored tournament in the Magic City: the Miami Open. Often referred to as the Miami Masters, the event features both singles and doubles action while delivering one of the most exciting, spectator-friendly tournaments on the global tennis tour.
In 2019, for the first time in 32 years, the prestigious competition moves from its longtime venue on Key Biscayne to the reimagined Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, located just a 20-minute drive west from Acqualina Resort & Spa. The new tennis campus is a spectator’s oasis, highlighting the culture, food, art, and entertainment of South Florida. Add that to a 14,000-seat center court with a state-of-the-art shade canopy and the largest video board in the sport, and visitors will not want to stray far from the action.
Whether you’re an avid tennis fan or a casual enthusiast, here’s a guide to help you make the most out of your getaway to this year’s Miami Open (held from March 18th to March 31st) — inside the stadium and out.
What and How to Watch
Photo: A.J. Lipp via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY
By adding a state-of-the-art, new venue to one of the deepest player fields in the sport, the Miami Open has all but cemented its status as the unofficial “fifth major” of tennis. Fans can now take in the action with added conveniences like expedited parking, premier hospitality offerings, a state-of-the-art shade canopy, and oversized video boards. Most importantly, it doesn’t come at the expense of the intimate court atmosphere made popular at Key Biscayne: a centerpiece stadium court surrounded by 29 tournament and practice courts, including a 4,000-seat Grand Stand.
For spectators looking to get a close-up account of the world’s most high-profile players, look no further than Center Court, a 13,800-seat, cutting-edge tennis stadium within Hard Rock Arena. This is home to the most luxurious seating in all of South Florida sports and entertainment, The 72 Club, which elevates the spectator experience with exclusive perks like premium views, all-inclusive food and beverage including beer and wine, VIP parking, and extended legroom. Fans can visit miamiopen.com/luxury-seating to learn more or make a reservation.
Outside of Center Court, the Miami Open’s main draw is its unique spectator experience on the outer courts. Filled on a first-come-first-serve basis, these intimate settings are packed to the brim with top-level action during each day session, including top-10 and top-20 players in both the men’s and women’s draw. From Wimbledon to the U.S. Open, fans will be hard pressed to find a better combination of close-up views and high-quality tennis anywhere in the world.
Photo: Carine06 via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY
On the men’s side, look for tournament favorite Novak Djokovic to continue his dominant return to form and capture his seventh Miami Open title. Roger Federer—who recently won his 100th career title in Dubai—will surely make a deep run, while Rafael Nadal—who has never won the Miami Open—seeks to fill one of the few remaining voids on his resume. Other players to watch include Greek upstart Stefanos Tsitsipas (a 20-year-old all-rounder who recently made the Australian Open semifinals), German phenom Alexander Zverev (expected future number one in the world and winner of two Masters 1000 events in 2018), and the controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios (who recently won in Acapulco and has the talent to pull off some significant upsets).
On the women’s side, the safe pick is Naomi Osaka, who has flashed superstar potential en route to capturing the last two major championships. Serena Williams loves playing in Miami, as does defending champion Sloane Stephens, who seeks to recapture the form that saw her win the U.S. Open in 2017. Also keep an eye on Petra Kvitova (who has one tournament win and two finals appearances already in 2019), Belinda Bencic (who recently rode her hot hand to win in Dubai), and Simona Halep (a permanent fixture in the top five, yet still missing a Miami Open crown).
Where to Eat, Drink, and Shop
When you’re not taking in the action, there’s plenty to do outside Hard Rock Stadium. Blending a modern steakhouse with the colorful flavors of the Mediterranean, AQ Chop House by Il Mulino provides an exquisite setting within Acqualina Resort to indulge in prime cuts of meat, seafood, pasta, crudos, and salads. Must-try menu items include branzino crudo with blood orange & frisée, grilled octopus, and short rib ravioli.
To find an elegant dining experience in Bal Harbour, make a reservation at Makoto, well-known in Miami for its sleek atmosphere and modern twists on Japanese cuisine. Aside from delectably refreshing takes on sushi and sashimi, the upscale establishment is praised for its miso seabass, spicy tuna crispy rice, and Wagyu beef carpaccio, which is served with a hot stone so guests can sear it to their liking.
For refined dining with a peaceful view of the intracoastal waterway, visit Sea Grill Restaurant, which specializes in Greek cuisine from land and sea. Try the Chilean sea bass pan-seared filet, grilled calamari, linguine lobster, or the lamb youvetsi, each perfectly complemented with a glass of Santorini white wine.
Photo: Phillip Pessar via Flickr / CC BY
To grab a drink, visitors can find Top Notch Cigars and Whiskey Lounge a couple of blocks from Hard Rock Stadium. Apart from its walk-in humidor, where guests can choose from a large variety of the world’s best premium cigars (including a proprietary offering from former NFL player Chad Ochocinco), the lounge pours exclusive whiskeys and hosts regular events such as live jazz. On the way back to the resort, stop by The Beach Bar at the base of the storied Newport Pier to enjoy a nightcap cocktail amid the city’s glittering lights and tide-washed beaches.
Some of South Florida’s most acclaimed shopping destinations wait just a short drive from Acqualina Resort & Spa, too. To the northwest, Aventura Mall features a mix of over 300 luxury boutiques and celebrated shops, 50 restaurants (including the chic Treats Food Hall), and the Arts Aventura Mall program, which highlights 20 museum-quality works in a variety of mediums. Straight south from Sunny Isles Beach is Bal Harbour Shops, a glamorous indoor-outdoor collection of luxury shops including Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Chloe, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and more.
When you reserve your Magic City escape with Acqualina’s Miami Open Getaway package, your luxurious accommodations are complete with two VIP tickets to the Miami Open Quarterfinals on March 27 at 7 pm, roundtrip transportation from the resort to Hard Rock Stadium, daily buffet breakfast for two, and a $40 spa credit to use towards a face or body treatment at the five-star Acqualina Spa by ESPA.
Featured Photo: Peter Menzel via Flickr / CC BY