By Mario Sarmento
Before the stars get to shine on Stadium Court at the 2014 Sony Open Tennis, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Martina Hingis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and others lit up the night at Cavalli Restaurant & Lounge on South Beach for the annual Player Party.
A who’s who of the best players in the world arrived at the trendy restaurant on Ocean Drive Tuesday Night sporting some of the finest designer threads in town – and that’s saying something – ready to relax and unwind before the competition began.
World No. 1 Nadal looked as if he stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine, wearing a stylish black blazer over a white dress shirt with designer jeans. The Spaniard was ecstatic for a return trip to the Magic City.
“It’s very nice (to be in Miami), I didn’t have the chance to be here last year,” Nadal said. “It feels a little like home, a lot of Latinos here. I really like it a lot; I enjoy every time I have a chance to be here.”
When asked what places he liked to visit when he came to Miami, Nadal said, “Everything. South Beach is a special place, a lot of life, and I like to be with people – all the fans.”
Former World No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis, who will be playing doubles with partner and friend Sabine Lisicki at this year’s tournament, also graced the red carpet. Hingis was dressed to impress with a black dress with white polka dots by Dolce & Gabbana and elegant beige heels.
“It’s always a good one to have,” she said. “With Dolce, you’re always well-dressed.”
Hingis said she loves rollerblading in the parks in Key Biscayne, and she enjoys going to sporting events and concerts. Plus, there’s a special friend she looks forward to getting in touch with when she comes here.
“I always try to give Anna Kournikova a shout when I come down here,” she said of her former doubles partner. “I haven’t had much time. When you’re playing and coaching, it’s tough.”
Another head-turner was Dominika Cibulkova, who arrived wearing a fashionably pink dress that was dotted with rhinestones, with black heels complementing the outfit.
“I was afraid I was going to be a little bit overdressed,” she said. “But I think it’s fine on me. I bought it at home (in Slovakia), but actually, the dress is from America.”
The tournament’s 10th seed knows something about fashion; Cibulkova just launched her own clothing line.
“It’s more like sporty clothes, sporty T-shirts, and hoodies and towels,” she said. Cibulkova sells the clothes in her online store, and she is putting them in a couple of retail stores in her native Slovakia, with the proceeds all going to her charity foundation.
Also looking glam was another former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who rocked a red dress that she said was a gift from Ginny Hilfiger, sister of world-famous designer Tommy.
Jankovic said she has been training so much she hasn’t had time to see the sights, but some of her favorites are “the beaches, to go shopping, go to nice restaurants, things like that,” she said.
Not to be forgotten, stylish Frenchman and 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who strolled into Cavalli in a casual chic black button-down long-sleeve shirt and designer jeans.
“I like pretty much everything (here). I like Miami,” said Tsonga, who has an apartment in the city.
Now that the stars have had the chance to mingle and showcase their off-court style, the focus shifts to their on-court exploits as the tournament shifts into full gear.