The Jockey Club Brasileiro in Rio de Janeiro will stage the most prominent men's tennis tournament in South America between February 18-24, joining the ATP Tour in 2014 when Rafael Nadal claimed the inaugural title. David Ferrer, Pablo Cuevas, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman also secured their name on the list of champions, with a solid field ready to fight for the crown in the third week of February on the Guga Kuerten Court.
The Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem will lead the action ahead of Fabio Fognini, Marco Cecchinato and Diego Schwartzman, with only five top-40 players entering the draw. Thiago Wild was the first player who received a wild card after winning the U23 Maria Esther Bueno Cup in Sao Paulo and the organizers have given the second invitation to the 24-year-old Thiago Monteiro.
The top-ranked Brazilian player claimed his second Challenger title on Sunday in Punta del Este, prevailing over Facundo Arguello to cement his position ahead of Rogerio Dutra Silva who was in contention for the wild card as well, with both players competing for Brazil in the Davis Cup against Belgium this weekend.
After losing in the qualifying round in 2015, Monteiro played in the main draw in Rio in the next three years, defeating the world no. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2016 before reaching the quarters a year later. Pablo Cuevas haled Thiago in 2016 and they played a great match 12 months ago as well, with the Uruguayan scoring a 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 win in two hours and 42 minutes after saving three match points.
Monteiro expressed his gratefulness for the opportunity to compete at the biggest South American tournament and in front of his fans, hoping to deliver his best tennis and seek more big wins like in the previous years.