Rio Open tournament director says surface change key to attract players

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Rio Open tournament director says surface change key to attract players

ATP Rio Open's fifth edition was officially presented on 5th December, Tuesday. In 2018, the Brazilian event, that will be played from 19th to 25th February, will feature three top ten players: Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta, plus the former world no. 6 Gael Monfils. It's a good field, but organizers would like to make some changes. In a conference call, the tournament director Luiz Carvalho said the plan is to switch venues, from the Jockey Club to the Olympic Tennis Centre that hosted the 2016 Olympics. It would allow the tournament to change surfaces, from clay to hard courts in order to attract more top players. 'We have been trying to do it for a while,' Carvalho said. There will be some clearer information in the next few months, but it's up to the ATP to take the final decision.

'We tried (to get) Juan Martin del Potro, but unfortunately he won't come in 2018,' added Carvalho. 'He plays on hard (court) during that time of the year. If the surface changes, he said that he will play Rio Open.'

Since 2014, when the Rio Open was introduced in the calendar as an ATP 500 tournament, there has always been a main star: for three years in a row Rafael Nadal, in 2017 Kei Nishikori and in 2018, it will be Marin Cilic. A few weeks ago, the ATP Chief Executive Chris Kermode said there will not be additional Masters 1000s in 2019, which means Rio could continue to be in the 500 category. Carvalho finally clarified Miami will still be a Masters 1000 tournament and won't be declassified. 'Miami has a lot of tradition. They are very busy with changing the venue (from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium). From our side, we are focused on ourselves, on how to make our tournament grow with better athletes and structure.'

Story by ESPN

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