By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The tennis clay season will make an early start this year with the second edition of the biggest tennis tournament in South America, the ATP 500 Rio Open. The championship is set to start in the Carnival week on Monday, February 16th and will feature the likes of Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and Sara Errani.
Rio de Janeiro hosted its first ATP and WTA tournament in February last year and decided to make the tournament a fixed stop in the tennis calendar. This year’s championship takes place during Carnival starting on Monday, February 16th and running through Sunday, February 22nd.
The Rio Open tournament will feature four ATP Top 20 players and six Top 30 ones. The biggest star on the sand courts of the Jockey Club is clearly former number one and current world number three Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who won the tournament last year, is set to make his debut on the second day of competition on February 17th.
Former Brazilian top players Gustavo Kuerten and Maria Esther Bueno have also confirmed their presence at the tournament. On the court, Brazil will be represented by six players: Thomaz Bellucci, João Souza, Marcelo Melo, Bruno Soares, André Sá, Teliana Pereira and Bia Maia.
Tickets for the event can be purchased here, with full prices starting at R$ 25 for day and R$100 for night sessions. However, only few tickets are still available mainly for the first days of competition. Tickets for the final and semi-final are sold-out.
With the coinciding of the dates, Rafael Nadal has also been invited to parade with Carnival Special Group opener Unidos do Viradouro on Sunday, February 15th. It has not been confirmed, if he will accept the invitation two days before his first game.
After the Rio Open, the tennis tour will continue in Buenos Aires with the Argentina Open on February 21st.