The 6th edition of the Rio Open at the Jockey Club Brasileiro gathers four top-10 players and some of the best clay courters in the battle for the only ATP 500 title in South America. Rafael Nadal won the inaugural tournament here in 2014, followed by David Ferrer, Pablo Cuevas, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman, with the latter trio entering the draw again next week.
Thiem wasted a match point against Schwartzman in the semi-final of Buenos Aires and he will try to bounce back in Rio de Janeiro, opening the campaign against Laslo Djere and having to beat the young Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild or Taro Daniel to reach the quarters.
Pablo Andujar, Cordoba finalist Guido and the 5th seed Joao Sousa complete the top quarter and Thiem should reach the semis if he brings his best tennis. The 3rd seed Marco Cecchinato will travel to Rio de Janeiro after playing the in the final in Buenos Aires, seeking another good run and more points that would keep him in the top-20 as long as possible.
Marco faces a tricky first-round opponent in Aljaz Bedene and the winner will play against Thiago Monteiro or Pedro Sousa. Guido Andreozzi, Roberto Carballes Baena and Nicolas Jarry fight for the place in the quarter-final as well and it should be interesting to see will Cecchinato be able to play on a high level for the second week in a row.
Former champions Diego Schwartzman and Pablo Cuevas have to play against each other in the opening round, with the Argentinian playing the final in Buenos Aires later on Sunday which probably gives a small advantage to Cuevas.
The remaining players in the third quarter are Malek Jaziri, Federico Delbonis, Lorenzo Sonego and Albert Ramos-Vinolas who will all seek the semi-final spot if Schwartzman or Cuevas fail to bring their A game.
The bottom quarter is packed with good players and the first round offers the clash between the 2nd seed Fabio Fognini and the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, with the winner playing against Maximilian Marterer or Christian Garin.
Dusan Lajovic, Cameron Norrie, Jaume Munar and Leonardo Mayer are also in contention and we should get some great battles right from the opening day.