Five Ways the Miami Open Beats Indian Wells

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Tennis Twitter loves to hate on the Miami Open. The image of “a stadium within a stadium” gets ridiculed every year online. And yes, Indian Wells is a tough act to follow. But most people who trash the Miami Open fall into two categories: (1) The nostalgia lovers who miss the pictures from Crandon Park or (2) people who have never been to the “new” Miami Open. 

The Miami Open may not be better than Indian Wells, but I’d argue it’s an equal alternative for a lot of people. From the location (yes, it’s better than Crandon Park) to diverse fan base and high-quality tennis, the Miami Open is a must-stop for all tennis fans. 

1. Location: The True Tennis Paradise 

Indian Wells coined the hashtag #TennisParadise. And Palm Springs in March is pretty close to paradise. It looks like a postcard. But for beach lovers, spring in south Florida can’t be beat.

Nearby Beaches

While Palm Springs has the stunning mountains and sunsets, south Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And the temperature in mid-March is as paradise-like as you can ask.

Typically reaching the high 70s or low 80s and lows in the mid 60s. Stroll on the beach in the morning or after a day of tennis, or add a few days to your trip and spend them reading on the the most beautiful beaches the US has to offer.  

Convenient Location 

Additionally, the tournament is located in north Miami, easily drivable from Fort Lauderdale, Miami and other surrounding cities. Everyone loved Crandon Park, but the tournament was outgrowing the space and it was difficult to get to. One single road stretched for miles to get there.

The new location is right off the highway, meaning you’re a quick drive to just about anywhere in South Florida. It opens the tournament up to new fans and offers easy access to people who may want to stop by for a day or two.

Indian Wells may be tennis paradise, but if you’re looking to replace the mountains with the ocean, the Miami Open is for you.

2. Adult-Centered Tournament

Many pro tournaments are geared towards children and families. The themes and events are marketed to a specific group, which isn’t a bad thing. Bring your whole family! Tennis is a great family activity, so it makes perfect sense. But attending some tournaments (Charleston, for example) feel like they are geared almost exclusively to families. 

Walking into the Miami Open, you immediately feel like it’s a tournament made for adults. Kids are welcome, of course, but it feels like tennis’s version of an adult party. There’s good music. There’s a bar at every turn. People are dancing. Groups of young adults mingle around the grounds. 

Simply put, it’s a cool event outside of the tennis. It’s not just there to cater to kids and families. If you’re looking for an adult-swim version of a tennis tournament, Miami Open is the one for you.  

3. Culture and Diversity

The culture of South Florida is wrapped around the grounds. And South Florida’s culture is unlike any other area in the country. The Cuban and Latin American flare can be felt from the food to the art displayed and music playing around the grounds. You can feel the culture all around the tournament. 

Davis Cup Vibes

Not sure what court to visit in between watching your faves? Listen for a minute. You’ll hear the South American fans turning an outside court into a Davis Cup match. 

Different Cultures

Also, Indian Wells is known for a lot of things, but diversity isn’t one of them. Walking around the grounds can look a bit like a Golden Girls reunion. Which is lovely. Who doesn’t love Bea Arthur? But for minorities, Indian Wells can make you feel like an outsider. 

The Miami Open grounds are full of just about everyone. Every age, race, sexuality—you’ll see it all. It’s not just the Latin and Cuban cultures. Miami is a hotbed for Europeans and other cultures.

LGBT+ Friendly

South Florida is also known for its LGBT+ population. You’ll run into groups of young friends and couples that you just won’t see at Indian Wells. If you’re looking for tennis tournament where diversity and minorities are truly welcome, the Miami Open is the one for you. 

4. Higher-Quality Tennis

Ok, I get it: You’re a tennis fan. You’re not interested in the drinks and music around the grounds. You’re here for the tennis. All good. 

For me, the tennis quality at the Miami Open is severely underrated. And the tennis at Indian Wells is severely overrated.

The thin air and extremely slow courts, combined with gusts of wind, result in a lot of ugly tennis. We’ve all seen the clips of Ana Ivanovic playing the final against Zvonereva, with both players getting swept away by wind. And we all love Medvedev’s jokes. But he’s right: The courts are a too slow. Most players simply can’t hit through them consistently.

Watching players slog through points, throwing their body into shots to hit a winner isn’t my idea of good tennis. 

Quicker courts, different balls and heavier air leads to better tennis in Miami. Fans can actually see winners! The matches feel more electric because things are happening. Aggressive players can get to the net. Servers can use the court to their advantage (without it being a serve-bot off). Even though there’s wind near the beach, it’s not the blustery, waves of wind at Indian Wells. The conditions lend themselves to quality tennis at a fun pace.

Sadly, we won’t get the Medvedev rants that were so funny at Indian Wells. But that’s the only downside. 

5. World-Class Venue 

People love to remind us: Tennis is not a top tier sport in America. But you know what is? Football. And the facilities at the Hard Rock Stadium reflect a brand new football stadium. 

You won’t find better lounges, updated technology, or (most importantly?) nicer bathrooms. It’s a great place for fans to relax between matches with a cocktail. 

During the tournament, fans get access to the club level in the Hard Rock Stadium.

I know what you’ve seen online. But visiting the Hard Rock Stadium is impressive in person. It’s new, it’s clean. It’s a great place to spend a day watching tennis. 

To address the biggest issue of a ‘stadium within a stadium’: It doesn’t feel as bad as it looks in pictures. In fact, the main stadium has a unique feel to it when you’re there in person. Football fields are significantly bigger than tennis courts, and obviously there are way more seats available. The main tennis stadium is large enough to feel like a big deal, but every seat is a good one. Viewing tennis there is a pleasure. And in person, there’s something unique about playing inside a football stadium. As they say, don’t believe everything you read on twitter.

You know what else is aplenty? Space! You don’t feel like you’re on top of each other like at the US Open or Indian Wells. Smaller courts are spread out and have ample viewing. You’re able to see big stars up close.

And the grounds are littered with bars and dance floors in between. Sit outside and enjoy a cocktail in the beautiful Miami weather.

The Miami Open grounds do more than hold serve. It’s an easy, 4-ace hold Serena-style.

Match Point

Nobody is going to argue the greatness of Indian Wells, but the Miami Open is severely underrated. As the popular saying goes, don’t knock it until you try it. Going to the Miami Open is an experience unlike any other. 

It offers diversity, flare and top-quality tennis you won’t see anywhere else. And the beach is minutes away. You won’t regret a trip.

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