Monday sees the start of the 20th ATP/WTA Estoril Open west of Lisbon. Previous winners Nikolay Davydenko and David Nalbandian head a strong men’s draw which also features Richard Gasquet and James Blake and might still be further strengthened by a wild card request from world No7 Gilles Simon.
Local hopes will focus on Frederico Gil, at No71 in the world the highest ranked Portuguese player ever, and the Algarve’s Rui Machado who has enjoyed a spectacular rise through the ATP list (No792 to No129) over the past 16 months.
Both men warmed up for the big occasion at a Tunis Challenger event this week, where a quarter-final meeting between the two is on the cards.
The lack of big names in the women’s field will give Portuguese starlet Michelle Brito a great opportunity to gauge her progress against seasoned campaigners, while world No1 doubles pairing, Bob and Mike Bryan from the US, will now not be present due to an administrative error.