By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In two weeks the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) will make its annual early season stop in Rio de Janeiro with the fourth edition of the ATP 500 2017 Rio Open. Widely regarded as the biggest tennis tournament in South America, the tournament is set to start on Monday, February 20th at the Jockey Club and for 2017, will be exclusively a men’s tournament.
On the singles side, top players such as Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem, ranked number five and eight in the world respectively, and 2015 Rio Open champion David Ferrer will compete on the Club’s nine clay courts, including a 6,200-seat Center Stadium.
They will be joined on the doubles side by Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, who finished 2016 ranked number one in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings.
“For the fourth consecutive year, we will have two Top Ten players at the Rio Open, which is very positive,” exclaimed Tournament Director Luiz Carvalho on the tournament’s website.
“Nishikori, Thiem and Ferrer are three of the most competitive athletes on the ATP World Tour. In 2017, the Brazilian public will be able to see all the skills and reflexes of Bruno and Jamie who shined around the world in 2016.”
Ferrer, from Spain, will be competing for the fourth consecutive year, while 26-year-old Nishikori of Japan will be making his Rio Open debut. Last year, Thiem from Austria, advanced to the 2016 Rio Open semi-finals.
This year, the hometown fans will be sure to be cheering on the three Brazilians competing in the tournament: Thomaz Bellucci, Thiago Monteiro, and Rogerio Dutra Silva.
The Rio Open, which began in 2014, is the first-ever ATP World Tour 500 tournament to be held in Brazil. It is one of only thirteen ATP 500 tournaments held every year, and one of the few on clay.
Considered the biggest tennis tournament in South America, last year’s Rio Open, won by Pablo Cuevas from Uruguay, was attended by some 45,000 fans who watched 92 tennis matches at the Jockey Club Brasileiro.
Tickets for the 2017 Rio Open, which will run from February 20th to the 26th, can be purchased now at the tournament’s website. Ticket prices range from R$30, for the early session on Monday, February 20th, all the way up to R$670 for the finals on Sunday, February 26th.