A few years ago, the Australian Open became the “Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.”
It is now time for the tournament known as the Sony Ericsson Open, in Key Biscayne, Florida, to become the “Grand Slam of the Americas.”
The fact that it is not a grand slam event is mere technicality.
To remedy this issue, it could become one. It is already a masters series on the men’s side and tier 1 event on the women’s side. It would just require a small upgrade. And it would fit perfectly into the calendar, halfway between the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
The Sony Ericsson Open has changed name three time over the past decade. The event was initially known as the Lipton International Players Championships. In 2000, the title sponsor changed and the event was renamed the Ericsson Open. In 2002, it became known as the NASDAQ-100 Open. In 2007, the tournament was renamed the Sony Ericsson Open in a deal where the company will pay $20 million over the next four years.
Many people still call it “the Lipton.” I have even heard: “oh, the Nasdaq” when I mentioned its new name. This has become too confusing and cannot be good for business. Only few people care about tennis in the USA. Any confusion should be avoided. The Grand Slam of the Americas sounds so good, doesn't it?
If you think I exagerate, let me tell you about this little scene I witnessed earlier today.
Baltimore Ravens and former University of Miami running-back Willis McGahee was hitting tennis balls against Russia’s Elena Dementieva on a practice court. It was a photo-op set up by Sony Ericsson people. They are not dating. They had never met before. She made him look like a fool by the way, but that’s not the point.
Curious onlookers and avid tennis fans alike looked confused. Most of them knew the gorgeous and talented Dementieva. But, none of the people I got to talk to on the side of this court had heard about McGahee. Most of them even strongly believed that a sport called football should be played with the feet. You have probably guessed it by now, they were from Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina …
I am typing those lines, outside the media center, in the stands overlooking the main court where Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten is playing France’s Sebastien Grosjean. Even though, Grosjean has been a Florida resident for years, Kuerten can count on the support of the crowd, which, it must be said, is rather scarce today.
You see where I am going with this? Hang on, I have more.
Earlier today, tennis heartthrobs Andy Roddick and James Blake of the United States, were practicing together. I would be lying if I were to say that no one was watching. But the practice session between Guillermo Canas, last year’s finalist, and David Nalbandian, both from Argentina, that followed did attract true dedicated fans (and not only teenage girls with their Sony Ericsson camera phones).
Miami is known as the “Gateway to the Americas;” its tennis tournament should be the “Grand Slam of the Americas.”
I know that IMG people, who put together this event, will love my idea. I am willing to give it up for free, just remember where you heard it first.