Fresh from last week’s Australian Open, some of the biggest names in tennis arrive in Santiago this week to battle it out for Chile’s annual tennis extravaganza, the clay-court Movistar Open running Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.
Top names appearing in Chile’s capital this year include the Argentine former world number three David Nalbandian and former world number five, Spain’s Tommy Robredo. Nalbandian’s fans are delighted to see him arrive in South America after he was forced to retire from the Australian Open two weeks ago due to illness.
Nalbandian and Robredo, along with Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, who is ranked at 31 in the world, have already made it through round one with wins on Monday Jan. 31 and Tuesday Feb. 1. Chilean players have had less luck, with Paul Capdeville and Nicolás Massú making early first-round exits.
Meanwhile Chile’s star player, double Olympic medal winner Fernando González, is sadly absent from this year’s Open as he recovers from hip surgery.
The presence of so many top international players confirms that Santiago is now an important fixture on the international tennis stage. One of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) 250 Series tournaments, the Movistar Open marks the beginning of the sport’s clay court season for many players, who use it to begin preparations for the great clay court grand slam, the French Open, in June.
The Open first came to Santiago in 1993 after the cancellation of a tournament in Brazil opened up a vacancy in the South American circuit. Well-known Chilean ex-players, brothers Jaime and Álvaro Fillol, seized the chance to bring the world’s tennis elite to the Chilean capital.
In 2001, the tournament moved out of Santiago for a few years to a new site in Chile’s ‘garden city’, the coastal town of Viña del Mar. On its return to Santiago in 2010, it took up residence at the state of the art San Carlos de Apoquindo stadium, nestled into the side of the Andes on the eastern side of the city in Las Condes.
The Movistar Open runs all week, culminating in the Singles Final on Sunday Feb 6. For information on tickets, prices and more, visit the tournament’s ATP website.