Brasil Open kicks off in Sao Paulo
Updated: 2015-02-10 09:40
SAO PAULO - The 15th edition of the Brasil Open kicked off Monday at the indoor clay courts of Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Park.
Part of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour 250, the event was overshadowed once again by the second edition of the Rio Open, an ATP World Tour 500 tournament that begins Feb 17 in Rio de Janeiro.
This year, the Brasil Open, which in the past featured such tennis stars as Rafael Nadal, can't boast of having any of the world's top 10 players, as ranked by the ATP.
The tournament's lead competitor is Spain's Feliciano Lopez (ranked 14th by the ATP), followed by fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo (17th), who won the Brasil Open in 2009.
Spanish players have won seven of the past 14 editions, thanks to Nicolas Almagro, winner of the 2012, 2011 and 2008 opens, as well as Fernando Verdasco, Pablo Andujar, Pablo Carreno and Albert Ramos. Other compatriots could join their ranks, depending on the outcome of the qualification matches, which were to conclude Monday.
Argentina is another strong presence at the Brasil Open, with defending champion Frederico Delbonis (60), Leonardo Mayer (28), Juan Monaco (62) and Diego Schwartzman (61).
Representing host Brazil are Thomas Bellucci, who climbed nine spots in the ATP rankings announced Monday, to reach No. 63, and Guilherme Clezar and Joao Souza, who were invited to compete by the tournament organizers.
The only Brazilian ever to win the Brasil Open is Gustavo Kuerten, three-time winner of the French Open (2001, 2000 and 1997) and former World No. 1. The now retired "Guga," as he is affectionately known, won the tournament in 2004, when it was still played in the northeastern resort of Costa do Sauipe, in Bahia state.
The Brazilians have done well in the doubles category, however, thanks to Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo, who won in 2011. Soares also won in doubles in 2012 and 2013, but paired with American Eric Butorac and Austria's Alexander Peya, respectively.
Soares and Peya are back together this year, while Melo, who won in doubles in 2008 with fellow Brazilian Andre Sa, will compete with Austria's Julian Knowle.