With all due apologies to NCAA Division 1 basketball’s March Madness, here is our tribute to the recently departed Miami Open.
We call it the Best of … Miami Madness:
Best clutch performance: Petra Kvitova won the opening set of the final against Elena Rybakina in a thrilling 16-14 tiebreak. For more than 22 minutes, the two battled, as nine set points came and went. Kvitova, 10 years older than Rybakina, converted the 10th.
Best on-court intrusion: Aryna Sabalenka has been difficult to stop this year, but an enormous dragonfly -- or was that twin-engine Cessna? -- managed to interrupt her second-round match against Shelby Rogers. Even the chair umpire was impressed.
Best rebound: Ekaterina Alexandrova, the No.18 seed in Indian Wells, lost her first match to Wang Xinyu. But after a cross-country jaunt and a few days of practice, she flourished in Miami, beating Taylor Townsend, No.9 seed Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu to reach the quarterfinals.
Best overtime performance: Camila Giorgi finally managed to defeat Kaia Kanepi in an opening-round match that required tiebreaks and a running time of 3 hours, 32 minutes. Yes, lots of running.
Best Assist I: Jessica Pegula, the No.3-ranked player in the world, stalks the baseline -- with one of those signature orange Miami Open towels?
Best Assist II: Doubles, by definition, is a game based on teamwork. Here, the Czech Republic’s teenage Fruhvirtova sisters, Brenda and Linda, display some extraordinary synergy.
Best debut at the Big Dance: In her first visit to Miami, No.25 seed Martina Trevisan made it all the way to the quarterfinals. The Italian wound up occupying the fourth-round spot in the draw that might have been filled by No.1 Iga Swiatek, who withdrew with a rib ailment. Trevisan won three matches, including a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jelena Ostapenko, before losing to Rybakina.
Best jump ball: Trevisan collects a second shoutout, with a shot that made an improbable hop over the net against Rybakina.
Best buzzer-beater: Pegula saved two match points in the quarterfinals against Anastasia Potapova and won in a third-set tiebreak that ended past 1:30 a.m. Afterward, Pegula posted a photo on social media from the locker room, saying that her arm cramped up -- when she was brushing her hair.
Best zone defense: Coco Gauff versus the aforementioned Potapova, charging side to side, outside both doubles alleys, in an insane point. This happens every time she plays but, like Gauff, it never gets old.
Most inspired Cinderella run: Sorana Cirstea, who advanced to the second WTA 1000 semifinal of her career. The first came nearly a decade ago in Toronto. In tennis years, that’s an eternity.
Survive and advance: Rybakina saved a match point in her 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 third-round victory over Paula Badosa. It was her scariest moment on the way to the final for the reigning Wimbledon champion.
Best out-of-bounds play: In her third-round match against Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu hit a serve that still might be in orbit. Reportedly, Elon Musk considered buying it. The look on Andreescu’s face is priceless.
Best inbounding play from out of bounds: Beatriz Haddad Maia is practically in the stands when she hits this doubles winner.
Best effort by a mid-major: Like Florida Atlantic, Varvara Gracheva is not yet a major player. The 22-year-old is ranked No.54, but had to qualify her way into the main draw. She stunned No.4 seed Ona Jabeur in the second round and advanced to the fourth round. Gracheva lost to Petra Kvitova, but the score -- 7-5, 7-6 (5) -- suggested she’s ready to play in one of the marquee conferences.
Best sixth-man performance: And the raspberry goes to … the energized Brazilian fans of Beatriz Haddad Maia. They were solidly behind their No.13 seed, but in the end they might have cost her a third-round match with Jelena Ostapenko. Later, Ostapenko -- who won in three sets -- said their chorus of boos inspired her to play better.
Best halftime show: When Laura Siegemund left the court for an extended medical timeout during their second-round match, Paula Badosa seemed a tad irked. She called on a willing-and-able ball person and went back to playing tennis.
Three shining moments: And, finally, back by popular demand (and as a public service), we give you the hottest shots of the Miami Open:
--Courtney Nguyen contributed to this story.