The Latin American ‘Golden Swing’ has been a fruitful hunting ground for the Spaniard. He made the semi-final in Buenos Aires, and the final in Rio and definitely comes to Sao Paulo as the form player at the moment on the dirt.
He has every right to think he has a decent change here too. He made the final here last year, losing to the Pablo Cuevas, and the Uruguayan has had a chocking year so far, so this title could be there for the taking for the top seed.
Another hardy Spaniard on the clay, Ramos-Vinolas has been a stalwart of this year’s golden swing, and he has not done badly either. Semi-finals in Quito, quarter-finals in Buenos Aires and the semi-finals of Rio, he is another contender for a deep run on his best surface.
Having tickled the Top 20 last year, Cuevas’ fortunes have had an abrupt about turn. He did a Golden Swing double of winning Rio and Sao Paulo but right now he would probably settle for back to back wins for the first time this season.
Cuevas as won just one match – his first match of the year at Sydney and since then he has been on a fairly convincing four-match losing streak. We earmark the defending champion as a top seed upset as the Latin American clay court swing comes to an end.
Portugal’s finest has had a bit of a variable season so far. It started very promisingly with a run to the final in Auckland and looked like fantastic preparation for his Australian Open campaign, but never underestimate the power of an Aussie crowd as he laboured to a five set loss to Jordan Thompson.
He had a spirited run in Buenos Aires to the quarter-final, but bounced out of Rio in his opener. Last time he was here, he fell in the first round of qualifying in 2013, but a lot has happened to the Portuguese since then, winning his first title in Kuala Lumpur later that year. He has since made seven ATP World Tour Finals, winning his second title in 2015, and ought to acquit himself well.
The Brasil Open takes place between 22-28 February – (GMT -3 hours).
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