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By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Top-seeded tennis players from all over the world are in Rio de Janeiro this week for the annual ATP 500 tournament, the Rio Open. Taking place from today until Sunday, February 21st, at the Jockey Club Brasileiro, the event is South America’s largest tennis tournament and will be hotly contested.

Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil's star tennis player, completes a training session before making his debut today at the Rio Open, photo by Luiz Pires/Fotojump.
Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s star tennis player, completes a training session before making his debut today at the Rio Open, photo by Luiz Pires/Fotojump.

Rafael Nadal, Spain’s 14-time Grand Slam winner and a previous Rio Open champion, returns to warm up ahead of the French Open. He will open against fellow countryman, Pablo Carreno Busta. Defending champion David Ferrer, who is also Spanish, will take on Nicolas Jarry in the first round and is a serious contender for the title again.

Young Austrian Dominic Thiem may not be well known among the fans but he will be hoping to triumph in Rio. Over the weekend he picked up his fourth career title beating Nadal in the semi-finals in the Argentinean Open in Buenos Aires.

Some of the other players vying for the men’s single title are John Isner, America’s top player, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Brazilian star, Thomaz Bellucci. He is ranked 30th in the world and will face 31st seed Alexandr Dolgopolov from the Ukraine this evening.

The Rio Open, which is played on clay, was founded in 2014. As an ATP 500 event, it is in the third highest category of tennis tournament, coming after the Grand Slams and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000. Winners in the singles competitions are are awarded 500 points. Top players are required to take part in at least four of the thirteen 500 events, including the US Open, otherwise they register a zero score towards their ranking.

Women’s and doubles competitions will also be taking place. For information on how to buy tickets to watch the tournament, click here.

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