The ATP Portugal Open is one of the ATP World Tour 250 Series events that kickstarts May’s ATP World Tour action. The tournament is one of a number of clay court tournaments that lead up to the French Open, and this is just one of the reasons why it attracts such high quality participants every year. Competitors in Oeiras will be rewarded with an overall prize pot of almost 400,000 Euros.
Oeiras is a municipality in western Lisbon, making it a suitable location for a top tier event. The seaside resort is popular for many reasons besides the suitable holiday weather. It features a popular casino, an expansive beach, and for history buffs there are remains of Roman mansions that were built over 2,000 years ago.
There are six clay courts at the Portugal Open, the biggest of which being Court Central. In 2011 the tournament welcomed a total attendance of 41,175 spectators over the duration of the competition. The popularity of the competition amongst tennis fans has much to do with the relatively high attendance of top twenty players.
The ATP Portugal Open has been played since 1990 and has been the site of plenty of success for Spanish and Argentine tennis. All but five of the former champions here have come from the two nations, who have dominated clay court tennis in the Open Era. The same streak is not so evident in the women’s event, which is run during the same week as the men’s competition.
Another interesting trend in the men’s singles draw is that between 1990-2011 only two of the champions have been ranked outside of the top ten. These winners were Juan Ignacio Chela (2004) and Albert Montanes (2009-2010). This statistic serves to highlight the strength of the draw that this event attracts.
Some of the biggest names in tennis have lifted the trophy here at the ATP Portugal Open, including Roger Federer, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Martin Del Potro, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Sergi Bruguera and Thomas Muster.
The ATP Portugal Open is an important part of the Tour schedule for many players, especially those who favour clay courts. Many will be either well into or just beginning their Roland Garros preparations, making this event an exciting testing ground for potential French Open title candidates.