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Scouting Report: Ready In Rio

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the 2016 ATP World Tour season

Rio Headlines Week #7  – The busiest month of the season continues with three tournaments, highlighted by the third year ATP World Tour 500 level event in Rio de Janeiro. World No. 5 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 David Ferrer headline an outstanding field in Rio. In Marseille, the top two seeds are No. 4 Stan Wawrinka and No. 8 Tomas Berdych leading the way. In Delray Beach, the first outdoor tournament in North America features Top 20 performers Kevin Anderson and Bernard Tomic as the top two seeds. Overall, 14 of the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings are in action in the three tournaments.

RIO OPEN presented by CLARO (Rio de Janeiro) – The first of two Brazilian tournaments on the ATP World Tour takes place in Rio, with the venue the beautiful Jockey Club Brasileiro featuring eight clay courts, including a 6,200-seat stadium. This is the second (of 13) 500 level tournament of the season. Seven of the Top 25 in the Emirates ATP Rankings (as of Feb. 8) are entered. The top three seeds are Nadal, Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is making his tournament debut. The other seeds are: No.  4 John Isner, No. 5 Dominic Thiem, No. 6 Jack Sock, No. 7 Fabio Fognini and No. 8 Thomaz Bellucci. Four of the seeds – Tsonga, Isner, Thiem and Sock – are making their tournament debut.

Rafa in Brazil  – Nadal is making his fifth career Brazilian tournament appearance (17-1 record) on the ATP World Tour, winning titles in Costa do Sauipe in 2005 (d. A. Martin), Sao Paulo (d. Nalbandian) in 2013 and Rio in 2014 (d. Dolgopolov). Nadal’s only loss came last year to Fognini in the semi-finals. The Spaniard will open against countryman Pablo Carreno Busta.

Ferrer Reigning Champ – Ferrer enters with an 8-1 career record in Rio, reaching the semi-finals two years ago (l. to Dolgopolov) and winning the title last year (d. Fognini). The 33-year-old Spaniard is off to an 8-4 start this season, highlighted by a semi-final in Auckland (l. to Sock), quarter-final at the Australian Open (l. to Murray) and semi-final in Buenos Aires (l. to Almagro).

Brazilian Title Hopes  – There are three Brazilians in the main draw – No. 30 Thomaz Bellucci, No. 143 Joao Souza, and No. 338 Thiago Monteiro. Bellucci has four career ATP World Tour titles. He reached the quarter-finals two years ago.  Souza is coming off a quarter-final showing in Rio last year and the 21-year-old Monteiro is making his ATP World Tour main draw debut.

Countrymen Reunite – Brazil’s top two doubles players, No. 1 Marcelo Melo and No. 10 Bruno Soares – are teaming together for the first time on the ATP World Tour since the ATP Masters 1000 Miami event last year when they advanced to the semi-finals. Both players are appearing in their first home country tournament since winning Grand Slam titles (Melo at Roland Garros in June last year and Soares at the Australian Open last month).They did play together in a World Group Davis Cup tie last September. They have a 78-53 career record together, including a 4-5 mark in finals. Their last title together came in Stockholm in October 2012.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE (Marseille) – The second of five French tournaments on the ATP World Tour is led by World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka and No. 8 Tomas Berdych, who reached the final in his last appearance in Marseille in 2013. The strong field includes seven of the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The other seeds are: No. 3 Richard Gasquet, No. 4 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Gilles Simon, No. 6 David Goffin, No. 7 Gael Monfils and No. 8 Benoit Paire. There are two former champions in the field – reigning & 2007 champ Simon and 2014 winner Ernests Gulbis.

Stan the Man – Wawrinka, who is making his first appearance since reaching the 4th Round at the Australian Open last month (l. to Raonic in five sets), is appearing in Marseille for the third time (2-2 record). Last year he reached the quarter-finals (bye, l. to Stakhovsky). He opened the season by winning his third straight title (fourth overall) in Chennai (d. Coric). The No. 2 Swiss player has a 7-1 record on the year.

Berdych is Back – Berdych is playing in Marseille for the first time since 2013 when he reached the final (l. to Tsonga). The No. 1 player from the Czech Republic has a 5-5 career record in Marseille. He is off to a 7-2 start this season, reaching the semi-finals in Doha (l. to Djokovic) and the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Federer). 

The Defending Champ – Reigning champion and No. 5 seed Simon comes in with a 21-7 career record in Marseille. He won the title in 2007 (d. Baghdatis) and last year he captured his second title (d. Monfils). He also advanced to the semi-finals in 2009 and ’13. He opens in the 1R against top Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili. 

Monfils on the Move – After reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month (l. to Raonic), last year’s Marseille finalist Gael Monfils, has advanced to his 23rd career ATP World Tour final in Rotterdam (vs. Klizan). Monfils is trying to capture his sixth career ATP World Tour title, the first at the 500 level. Coming into Marseille last year, the 29-year-old Frenchman had an 1-6 career record before turning things around by reaching the final.

Teenage Trio – Two of the four teenagers to finish in the Top 100 Emirates ATP Rankings last season are in the draw: Hyeon Chung, who is making his Marseille debut, along with wild card Alexander Zverev, who lost in the first round last year. The 18-year-old Zverev is coming off a quarter-final in Rotterdam (l. to Monfils). He will improve from his career-high No. 70 ranking on Monday. The other teenager in the draw is 19-year-old wild card Quentin Halys. He plays Monfils in the first round.

Kyrgios Returns – No. 2 Aussie Nick Kyrgios returns to action after missing Rotterdam with an elbow injury. The 20-year-old opened the season last month by reaching the third round at the Australian Open (l. to Berdych). He is making his Marseille debut against Vasek Pospisil.

DELRAY BEACH OPEN (Delray Beach) – The first outdoor North American tournament of the season is highlighted by the top four seeds of Kevin Anderson, Bernard Tomic, defending champion Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov. The other seeds are: No. 5 Jeremy Chardy, No. 6 Steve Johnson, No. 7 and last year’s runner-up Donald Young and No. 8 Adrian Mannarino. Overall, six players in the Top 30 Emirates ATP Rankings are in the draw. Anderson, who won his second ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach in 2012, was runner-up in 2014 (l. to Cilic). Karlovic, Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro (2011) are the former champions in the draw.

Anderson Top Seed – Top seed Anderson, who lives in nearby Gulf Stream, just minutes from Delray Beach, finished last season a year-end best No. 12. He is making his seventh straight Delray Beach appearance (14-5 record). He made his debut in 2010 as a qualifier (ranked No. 133) and in four of the past five years has advanced to the quarter-finals or better: 2011 (QF), 2012 (winner), 2013 (QF), 2014 (runner-up) and 2015 (2R). The 29-year-old South African has been bothered by a left knee injury. He retired in the first round at the Australian Open vs. Ram, his last outing.

Delpo Returns – Wild card entry Juan Martin del Potro is making his return to Delray Beach for the first time since 2011. This is the 27-year-old Argentine’s second appearance in Delray Beach. Five years ago he came in ranked No. 166 and won the title without dropping a set (d. Tipsarevic). It was his fifth tournament that year after returning from right wrist surgery, which he underwent on May 4, 2010. Last year the former World No. 4 played in two tournaments – Sydney (QF) and Miami (1R) before undergoing left wrist surgery on Jan. 20 and on June 18. He is a winner of 18 career titles on the ATP World Tour, including the US Open in 2009. He is currently No. 1,045 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Ivo Eyes 300 – Reigning champion Ivo Karlovic, who was not broken last year, is one win away from 300 in his career. The 36-year-old Croat is playing in his first tournament since retiring in the first round at the Australian Open due to a right knee injury.

All Eyes on Fritz  – Special exempt entry 18-year-old Taylor Fritz, who is appearing in his first career ATP World Tour final on Sunday in Memphis (vs. Nishikori), is the youngest player in the draw. The Rancho Santa Fe, California native is playing in only his fourth career ATP World Tour level tournament. He is expected to jump from No. 145 to around No. 103 and to around No. 82 if he wins the title. In his young career he has already won three Challenger titles. He finished as the No. 1 junior in the world last year, winning the US Open and reaching Roland Garros final.

Bryans are Back – Four-time Delray Beach champions Bob and Mike Bryan return to the tournament for the ninth time (19-4 record). The 10-time year-end No. 1 team won the title in 2009-10 and ’14-15 and also were finalists in ’08. They have won a record 109 titles together. They are looking to win their first title since last August at ATP Masters 1000 Montreal.

Movers Of The Week (15 February, 2016)

John Isner 11 (+1 spot)
Gael Monfils 16 (+2 spots)
Martin Klizan 27 (+16 spots)
Philipp Kohlschreiber 29 (+3 spots)
Nicolas Mahut 40 (+14 spots)
Pablo Cuevas 45 (-10 spots)
Nicolas Almagro 53 (+19 spots)
Alexander Zverev 56 (+14 spots) - career-high
Ricardas Berankis 79 (+23 spots)
Taylor Fritz 102 (+43 spots) - career-high

Potential Milestones

Rio de Janeiro - Singles

Santiago Giraldo - 149 wins

Marseille - Singles
Tomas Berdych - 549 wins
Feliciano Lopez - 399 wins
Marin Cilic - 347 wins
Robin Haase - 148 wins
Sergiy Stakhovsky - 148 wins
David Goffin - 97 wins

Delray Beach - Singles
Ivo Karlovic - 299 wins
Jeremy Chardy - 195 wins
Benjamin Becker - 146 wins 

Birthdays

21 February - Andreas Seppi (32)

In Case You Missed It

Dominic Thiem captured his fourth ATP World Tour title in Buenos Aires. Read

Martin Klizan capped off a magical week in Rotterdam with a final win over Gael Monfils. Read

Kei Nishikori won a record fourth straight title in Memphis. Read