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Andy Murray name-dropped as Miami Open boss explains huge scheduling predicament

Miami Open tournament director James Blake has opened up on the biggest issue when it comes to scheduling matches. The former world No. 4-turned-Miami boss named Andy Murray as a prime example of the conflicts of interest when trying to plan the order of play. Blake’s comments came before the tournament faced huge rain delays after a two-day storm.

Blake took on the role of the tournament director in Miami back in 2018 – five years after he retired from professional tennis. Now finding himself on the other side of the debate when it comes to scheduling matches and trying to adjust to players’ needs, the 44-year-old explained just how difficult it was to cater for everyone involved – especially the media.

Detailing how the scheduling meetings went down, Blake told the Served with Andy Roddick podcast: “Yeah so it’s myself, my other tournament director Cathy and then it’s the ATP, usually whatever the tour supervisor is for that week, the ATP media, the WTA supervisor and the WTA media. Usually it’s a battle between what’s best for the tournament and what’s best for, a lot of times it’s media that has a big input.”

One player that often causes a divide between the tournament and the media is Murray. The three-time Grand Slam champion is often a blockbuster pick for Miami night sessions but British broadcasters prefer him to play in the day, so that his match isn’t shown overnight in the UK.

“We don’t want to put some of the European stars later in the evening because that’s going to be middle of the night for a lot of their fans that are going to be watching,” Blake continued. “So the media is asking for, ‘Hey can we have Andy Murray in the middle of the day instead of the night match?’

“But for the tournament, maybe he’s the biggest draw that day and we want him at night. So now we’ve got a battle and it’s what is going to be more important? And a lot of that just comes down to compromising. ‘You know what, this time we’ll put Andy Murray during the day’.”

It has led to some back-and-forth, with Blake giving in to the media for past matches before telling them that they won’t get so lucky next time. He added: “It’s not best for the tournament but next time they’ll know, if he wins, next time we’ve got to put him as the night match. [They say], ‘Okay, we can work with that and we’ll shift around and we’ll do this.’ So a lot of it is just kind of compromising.”

It’s not just the TV broadcasters doing the negotiating, as the Miami Open boss revealed that the two tours got involved when it came to other blockbuster matches. “Every once in a while there’s a trade between the ATP and the WTA,” he explained.

“‘Well look we’ve got three massive matches that we have to put out here and we don’t have that space on Grandstand. We’d have to relegate that to Court 1. Well can we switch and then the next day we’ll switch it again to another ATP match?’”

It’s something that Blake and the various stakeholders will likely have to do a lot over the next few days as the tournament attempts to catch up from a rain delay. There were only a couple of hours of play on Friday with the rest of the day proving to be a washout. And matches started more than three hours later than planned when the storm continued on Saturday morning.

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