They were packing up for the final time at Crandon Park on Sunday night after John Isner beat Alex Zverev in the climax of the Miami Open.
Next year this Masters level event will move from its idyllic location of Key Biscayne to a more perfunctory new stadium, constructed largely on a parking lot at the Miami Dolphins stadium in a far less salubrious inland suburb.
Time has caught up with the charismatic but somewhat outdated old venue, and it is tempting to see the tournament’s relocation as a possible metaphor for the way the men’s game is heading.
American John Isner beat Alex Zverev in the climax of the Miami Open on Sunday eveningiPhone transfer software
This edition was the first time since Hamburg 2006 that none of the so-called Big Four (not to mention the fifth Beatle, Stan Wawrinka) had not appeared in the third round of an event at this level.
A degree of anxiety could be sensed behind the scenes once Roger Federer had been eliminated from the second round, following the exit of the troubled Novak Djokovic the previous day. Nobody quite knows where this will end up, but Sunday's final was another signal that the established order – often described as a golden era with at least one major star reaching every final – is finally starting to crumble.
Federer was to confirm that he will skip the whole clay court season to preserve his ageing body, and he will probably never play on the brown dirt again.
Rafael Nadal made an early withdrawal from his last three scheduled hard court events, including Miami, with more knee problems. It looks increasingly like both will be restricting themselves to events and surfaces that give them the best chance of adding new titles.
This is the last time the Miami Open will be held at the idyllic arena on Key Biscayne, Florida
The fear is that if Federer and Nadal sneeze the whole game may catch a cold.
Djokovic’s coach/consultant Andre Agassi walked this weekend, and he looks lost for now. There are encouraging noises emanating from the Andy Murray camp, but the future for this slightly younger set of great rivals remains uncertain.
Extra hopes were pinned on Juan Martin Del Potro reaching the final and doing the ‘Sunshine Double’ after winning Indian Wells, and not just because he is a massive favourite in Latino south Florida. The popular Argentinian lost in the semis after recent exertions, but looks the player most likely to assume figurehead status if the others disappear – he would probably be revered already had his