Sao Paulo, Feb 10 (IANS)
The 15th edition of the Brasil Open kicked off at the indoor clay courts of Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Park. Part of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour 250, the event has been overshadowed once again by the second edition of the Rio Open, an ATP World Tour 500 tournament that begins February 17 in Rio de Janeiro, reports Xinhua.
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 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.
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 hosts Brazil are Thomas Bellucci, who climbed nine spots in the ATP rankings to reach No. 63, and Guilherme Clezar and Joao Souza, who were invited to compete by 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.