A tennis-packed month of February on the ATP Tour will welcome some of the world’s best players to Rio de Janeiro, Doha and Marseille next week. The first clay-court ATP 500 of the season will take place at the Rio Open presented by Claro, where defending champions Carlos Alcaraz, Cameron Norrie and Lorenzo Musetti lead the field.
Meanwhile, a pair of ATP 250 events – one outdoors and one indoors – will also see big names in attendance. Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev are the top seeds under the Doha sun at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, while Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner headline the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.
1) Alcaraz Defends Title: Then-world No. 29 Alcaraz captured his first ATP 500 crown at the Rio Open presented by Claro a year ago, the first of five titles in 2022 for the Spaniard, who became No.1 youngest in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (just seven months after his triumph in Brazil).
This year he returns to the Jockey Club Brasileiro as world number 2 and seeded. Recent injuries forced Alcaraz to stop playing for more than three months. However, the 19-year-old will try to continue his comeback when he takes on 22-year-old Brazilian wild card Mateus Alves.
2) Can Norrie AND Musetti Revalidate Their Clay-court Success?: Both second-seeded Norrie and third-seeded Musetti lifted their first ATP Tour clay-court trophies in 2022, in Lyon and Hamburg respectively. Norrie, who will play another final on this surface in Buenos Aires on Sunday, will face a player from the previous one in Rio, just like Musetti.
3) Former Winners Looking To Repeat In Rio: Before Alcaraz, the four champions in Rio were Cristian Garín (2020), Laslo Djere (2019), Diego Schwartzman (2018) and Dominic Thiem (2017).
Alcaraz considers himself a normal teen
Carlos Alcaraz said that off the court, he considers himself a normal teen who engages in normal activities.
“I try to work every day, in each training session, to be able to have a good mental level. Also, I try to surround myself with my family, my team, my family and my friends. When I’m not playing tennis I consider myself a normal boy who he does normal things, and that helps me a lot to disconnect, which is important,” the Spaniard said.
“I try not to put that pressure on myself of being the youngest to achieve something, be it a tournament, number one… I go to the track to enjoy myself, to have fun Well, try to improve. That’s my goal,” Alcaraz added.