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Gigi’s column: Sinner’s success and Collins’ fairytale ending

In her latest Sky Sports column, Gigi Salmon reflects on Jannik Sinner’s Miami Open success, Danielle Collins’ fairytale ending and collecting her dog Quincy from doggy day care, celebrity spotting, avoided dancing with Annabel Croft, pickleball and ‘hell week’ at Barry’s Bootcamp

Our trip to Miami started with a warning about how to run away from an alligator – they were frequently sighted near where we were staying – and ended with Martina Navratilova and Annabel Croft salsa dancing on the stadium court in the Hard Rock Stadium, only in Miami!

And in case you were wondering about the alligator escape tip, it was to run in a zig-zag line, because if you run in a straight line they are fast and will catch you, a slightly unnerving thing to hear on our first morning when you are shrouded in jetlag!

The Miami Open which is a joint ATP and WTA 1000 event and is the second part of the ‘Sunshine Swing’ is unique in that the main stadium is built just for the tournament on a football field, home to NFL side the Miami Dolphins, in the middle of a racetrack, with construction well under way for the Grand Prix that’s held at the start of May.

It also couldn’t be further removed from the first part of the swing, moving from the calmness and the dry heat of the desert and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, swarm of bees aside, to the heat and humidity of the east coast of Florida, with one drinks stand within the Miami Tennis Gardens reading ‘stay hydrated, drink tequila’.

It’s a mandatory event, that we knew wouldn’t feature Novak Djokovic, who during the course of the tournament announced on social media a separation with coach Goran Ivanisevic, only a few months on from parting with his management team.

As of the time of writing, he is undecided as to his next course of action with regards to a coach.

Our next sighting of Djokovic will be at the Monte Carlo Masters, which he has won twice but not since 2015, that’s in a week’s time and of course you will be able to see it on Sky Sports Tennis.

Sinner’s dominance

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Highlights of Jannik Sinner’s victory against Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Miami Open

Continuing his dominance of 2024 is Jannik Sinner, who dropped one set on his way to his maiden Miami title, making it his third title of the year with 22 wins and just one defeat. The new rankings will show a rise to a career high of number two.

He won the title by beating Grigor Dimitrov, who enjoyed a very good week in Miami, reaching his third Masters final, notching up three top-10 wins in a row (Hubert Hurkacz, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev) and climbing back into the top 10 for the first time since 2018.

Speaking to Sky Sports Tennis, his coach Jamie Delgado revealed Dimitrov hadn’t been that well and had suffered with a slight fever ahead of his semi-final, so all the more impressive that he was able to do what he did.

Jamie also revealed that he had gone for a facial on his day off, when Dimitrov didn’t train, and something I didn’t know, that you should wait four to six weeks before having another one, so he opted ahead of the final for a beard trim!

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A look at Dimitrov’s impressive reflexes to win a point against Alexander Zverev

Collins’ biggest win

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Highlights of Danielle Collins’ victory against Elena Rybakina in the Miami Open final

There was somewhat of a fairytale ending in the women’s competition which saw American Danielle Collins, in her final year on tour playing in her home tournament, win the biggest title of her career.

After dropping the very first set she didn’t look back, not dropping another set before beating last year’s runner-up Elena Rybakina in the final.

Collins, chatting to us after her semi-final win, said she thinks her golf is helping her tennis as she is so bad at golf and that she’s currently “figuring out the wedge”. Just don’t ask her if she will reconsider retiring, her mind is made up, it took a long time to come to the decision and she’s looking forward to having “a normal life”.

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After announcing she would be retiring from tennis, Collins revealed it’s a ‘pretty big’ life decision as she wishes to focus on starting a family

That was highlighted when she left her press conference early to pick up her dog Quincy from doggy day care!

In terms of what winning a 1000 event can do, together with bumping up your bank balance, it also moved her from 53 in the rankings to 22, which means she will be seeded at Grand Slams, which in theory should make the early rounds that little bit easier.

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Collins shared what her Miami Open win means to her in her home state during her last season on tour

Serena, Shakira and Agassi’s kisses to Martina

Gigi Salmon, Annabel Croft and Shakira at the Miami Open
Image: Gigi and Annabel Croft are spotted in front of Shakira at the Miami Open

Miami is also a place to spot celebrities and Annabel and I found ourselves on more than one occasion surrounded by photographers only to turn around and one night find 23-time Grand Slam champion and eight-time Miami winner Serena Williams behind us. And then for the men’s final the singer Shakira, who I saw a few years ago perform at the Davis Cup Finals.

Mike Tyson, who I have seen at Indian Wells over the years, came to watch on one day, and watching Danielle Collins win the biggest title of her career was Andre Agassi, who when he saw Martina, who had arrived for our post-match show, was blowing kisses to her across the court!

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Tennis legend Serena Williams was in attendance at the Miami Open

Annabel’s dancing and Pickleball

Gigi Salmon plays Pickleball at the Miami Open
Image: Gigi enjoyed a game of Pickleball

On the challenge front, I avoided the dancing while Annabel, who as you will all probably know reached the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing, headed off to Little Havana in Downtown Miami to salsa the night away.

I also avoided a car journey with Patrick, a member of the team driving on the ‘wrong side of the road’ for the first time, apparently the journey saw drinks spilled, expletives uttered and a fair amount of ‘just a little bit over to your left’.

I did have a go at pickleball, the largest growing sport in the US, and the best way I can describe it is that it’s a cross between tennis and table tennis, compared to padel – a sport I am a lot more familiar with which is best described as tennis in a squash court.

Hell week at Barry’s Bootcamp

A general view as planes fly above court Philippe Chatrier leaving the colours of the French flag, prior to the mens singles final between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Dominic Thiem of Austria during day fifteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 10, 2018 in Paris, France
Image: All clay courts now lead to Roland Garros in May

I also discovered Barry’s Bootcamp which is a form of modern day torture, although having done five days straight at 6am producer Chris and I were told that what we had done is known as ‘hell week’ and for good reason.

So the ‘Sunshine Swing’ is complete, no double winner once again, but some great tennis was played and now tennis switches to the clay and love it or hate it there’s no avoiding it, with all roads leading to Roland Garros, which will also be staging the Olympic tennis event later this year.

How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis

The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day
Image: The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day

Sky Sports has confirmed a new home for tennis in the UK and Ireland, with Sky Sports Tennis on Sky and NOW, making tennis content available all day, every day for fans.

Sky Sports will broadcast more live tennis than anywhere else, bringing over 4,000 matches from more than 80 tournaments a year on the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as full coverage of the US Open, all exclusively live.

Non-Sky subscribers can stream live matches with a NOW Sports Day and Month Membership, via Sky Sports Tennis, Sky Sports Arena, and Sky Sports Mix channels.

For further access, fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and gain deeper insights from both Tours via Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app, on SkySports.com and via Sky Sports social channels.

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Find out all the ways to watch tennis on Sky Sports, including the US Open, ATP and WTA tours

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