The second leg of the Golden Swing, the Brasil Open is an ATP 250 tournament played on clay indoors. Previously hosted in Costa do Sauipe, the tournament is in its second year at the new venue in Sao Paolo. Rafael Nadal heads the field which also includes three times champion Nicolas Almagro and Juan Monaco while 2009 champion Tommy Robredo has received a wildcard into the tournament.
This set of tournaments were supposed to be Rafael Nadal‘s triumphant return to the tour but it ended badly in Vina del Mar after an inspired Horacio Zeballos came from a set down to spoil the party. Having seen what Zeballos can do, many may fancy their chances at shocking the still rusty Nadal but much of the threats appear to be in the opposite side of the draw. He gets a bye to the second round where he will then take on either a qualifier or Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo. Ramirez-Hidalgo won just one match on clay on the main tour last year and was defeated in straights by Guillaume Rufin in Vina del Mar. For the second time in two weeks, Andrey Kuznetsov takes on Carlos Berlocq and there is nothing to suggest his chances are any better having won just three games in their lopsided match in Chile. What looked like a disappointing defeat at the time to Horacio Zeballos in the Vina del Mar quarter final doesn’t look all that bad now for Albert Ramos who takes on another Spaniard in Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez is in awful form recently having lost his last eight first round matches.
Home interest is in the second quarter of the draw with Thomaz Bellucci and wildcard Ricardo Mello in the same section. Mello, who has a 2-1 record over first round opponent Leonardo Mayer, is planning to retire after the tournament and it would be a fitting end if he were to have a nice run here. Jeremy Chardy may have other ideas but definitely is vulnerable if he repeats the disappointing performance put in against Nadal in Chile. More likely to find success though is fifth seed Bellucci, who should be favoured to make the quarters with a qualifier and then Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Filippo Volandri in his way. Volandri actually defeated Bellucci on his way to making the final here last year but it would be fairly surprising if the Italian repeated the trick this year.
Pablo Andujar can’t buy a win these days, with his losing streak now at 11. As seventh seed, he will have been hoping for a nicer draw than Santiago Giraldo who now has a 3-1 record over him including last year in Miami. With an out of form Juan Monaco, in the same quarter it gives Giraldo or perhaps the likes of Paolo Lorenzi and Tommy Robredo a chance of going deep into the tournament. Lorenzi had a decent run to the quarter finals in Vina del Mar but was thoroughly outplayed by Jeremy Chardy while Robredo was actually defeated by the Italian in round two. Robredo must beat Simone Bolelli, whom he defeated late last year in Genova while Lorenzi must see off another Spaniard in Albert Montanes. Montanes ended 2012 well with a Challenger title but the three set victory over Nicolas Massu won’t be inspiring many.
The final quarter of the draw is Argentinian-heavy with three of them involved in the section. Horacio Zeballos will be attracting all the attention after his extraordinary performance but it doesn’t get much worse than Nicolas Almagro as your second round opponent. Zeballos must first defeat a qualifier, most of which he has defeated on the Challenger tour in recent years, before testing himself against the defending champion. David Nalbandian makes his first appearance of the year here, beginning with a qualifier and either Guido Pella or more likely Fabio Fognini. Nalbandian can still put on a good performance fitness permitting and has previous good results against Fognini, defeating the Italian on the two previous occasions they’ve met.