This article is part of our What We Learned series.
The Miami Open ends up being one of the lesser-attended Premier Mandatory and Masters events on tour because players will often take the end of March off to prepare for the clay-court season. This still only slightly diminished the player pool and we were left with the deserving champions of Roger Federer and Ashleigh Barty. Here's what we learned during the back end of the Sunshine Double.
Cori Gauff goes by Coco
At just 15 years old, Coco was given a wild card into Miami and registered a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over fellow wild card Caty Mcnally in Round 1. The drawmakers certainly did Coco a favor by pitting her against the 17-year-old Mcnally, but winning any match in a Premier Mandatory event is worth celebrating and it will certainly be the first of many to come. She is still a few years away from being taken seriously at the WTA level, although it's a name worth remembering, so make sure you get it right.
Nick Kyrgios can be successful without winning
The 23-year-old Australian is a polarizing tennis player and a polarizing person in general. He has an undeniable feel for the game, one of the best serves on tour, attracts eyes to the sport, but yet he could seemingly care less about all of that. In fact, he's even admitted as much. Over recent weeks, however, he's found a good balance of entertaining himself while simultaneously earning the respect of tennis savants. In a sport full of unspoken rules and country-club manners, Kyrgios is challenging the status quo and there's growing support behind his way of looking at tennis, or if you're not so inclined: his way of mocking tennis.
There are many different ways to analyze this, but the most obvious is his underhand quick-serve. When talking to folks not familiar with tennis, I equate this to a quick-pitch in baseball. It throws the batter off rhythm and also has garnered a lot of attention from baseball pundits who vouch for the unspoken rules of the game. Is it legal? Yes. Is the underhand serve legal? Yes. So then what's the problem here? It's very easy to say Kyrgios is being disrespectful to the game and to his opponents by deploying the quick-serve, but that perspective fails to give him any creative credit. Like Judy Murray says below, the hallmark of tennis is to disrupt your opponent, and the quick-serve is an innovative approach to this sentiment.
Regardless, the camp of people who don't like Kyrgios will always use his lackluster record (currently 187-95 on his career) as the main reason why his antics shouldn't be applauded. And yes, from a fantasy perspective, Kyrgios is not an ideal player to invest in given his propensity to lose to lesser competition. Yet he dominates the media attention during the first few days of every event he enters and tennis Twitter is constantly abuzz when he plays. Because of this, advertisers, higher appearance fees and a larger social media following all fall in his favor. Wins are important, but we may need a new metric to define success when it comes to Kyrgios because he is indeed successful.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is ready for our attention
The 18-year-old Canadian is no longer one to keep an eye on. He bolted through the qualifying rounds and made it all the way to the semifinals of the main draw. He lost in straights to John Isner in the semifinals, but he vaulted himself to No. 33 in the process and is No. 12 in the year-end Race To London. We already know he still needs to improve his conditioning, so despite this recent success, it might actually be worth fading Auger-Aliassime in upcoming tournaments considering he's never played so many matches at this level. It's not a fun prediction by any means given how highly everyone speaks of his character and how fun his all-around game is to watch, but there's not much precedent for him being able to sustain this early-season success throughout 2019. Just ask Hyeon Chung.
Tennis still can't be played in the rain
The Miami Open grounds were completely redone this year and it received much praise from those in attendance. The crown jewel of the venue was converting Hard Rock Stadium, which is where the Miami Dolphins play, into the main show court. However, the fortnight was marred with rain delays and stoppages. Given the nature of tennis tournaments, though, DraftKings is able to wait until all matches on a slate have been played out even if it rolls into the next day, unlike a sport like baseball where all your players will receive zeros in the event of a cancelled game.