MIAMI -- The $2.5 million Lipton International Players Championships open Friday with the best men's field in the event's 6-year history and a women's draw enhanced by 13-year-old Jennifer Capriati.
The tournament was cut from two weeks to 10 days this year and men's five-set matches were reduced to three sets, except the final. The result is the appearance of all of the top five ranked players players in the world and 17 of the top 20. Wimbledon last year had 14 and the U.S. Open had 18.
Seeding, as usual, is identical to the computer rankings with defending champion Ivan Lendl on top followed by Boris Becker, Stefan Edburg, Brad Gilbert and Andre Agassi.
Sixth-ranked John McEnroe planned to enter the tournament for the first time, but can't play because of a groin pull. Jimmy Connors, ranked 20th, also is out with an injury. No. 12 Mats Wilander says he has lost his motivation and is taking a break from tennis.
No seeds play on opening day, but Capriati will face Luanne Spadea in the opening round. Capriati is unranked and unseeded because she only has played in one professional tournament.
Last week, she made her pro debut in the Virginia Slims of Florida at Boca Raton, becoming the youngest player to make the finals of an event on the women's circuit. She lost to Gabriela Sabatini in the championship match, 6-4, 7-5.
Spadea is thewinner of the Orange Bowl 18-and-under championship in December and a $25,000 satellite event at Key Biscayne two weeks ago.
Sabatini, ranked third in the world, is the top seed on the women's side. No. 1 Steffi Graf is still recovering from her broken thumb and second-ranked Martina Navratilova is taking her customary early spring break.
Organizers have said they will pull out of Key Biscayne if a permanent 12,000-seat stadium is not built. The tournament currently uses temporary stands seating 12,355.
Residents of the island have filed a suit seeking a temporary injunction against the stadium. They lost their original suit, but have appealed.
A bigger problem could be increasing public opinion against the stadium. Tournament officials along with the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women's International Tennis Association have asked Dade County to pay $13 million of the $16 million construction costs, and that has sparked considerable opposition.