In 2018, Rio Open made the first edition of Maria Esther Bueno Cup, the first NextGen tournament of Brazil. We reunited the eight best Brazilian players under 23 years old and they played against each other for a wildcard in Rio Open’s main draw. The matches were played at the Sociedade Harmonia de Tenis, Maria Esther’s second home, in Sao Paulo.

US Open juniors champion in 2018, Thiago Wild, was the champion of the tournament and secured his place in the main draw of the Rio Open after beating Rafael Matos in the final, 6/3 6/4.

The two players ended the group stage with three wins each. Matos led in the beginning of both sets, but Wild managed to take his chances and win the final match.

“I want to thank everyone who came here in the last few days and supported me during the group stage, when I was losing, but I always managed to turn things around. The conditions

here favoured me, because it is really fast, and now it is time to arrive in Rio with the opportunity to have a good week”, said Wild.

The Maria Esther Bueno Cup is guaranteed in the next year with the same goal to put together the best players of the new generation and award the champion with a wildcard for the Rio Open. It is an unique chance to players taking their first steps in professionalism.

“We had four days of the best of Brazil’s NextGen of Brazil, with high level matches. The Maria Esther Bueno Cup has accomplished its goal to promote, support and give opportunity to young players, aiming the development of Brazilian tennis. The event also kept alive the memory of our greatest player”, said Luiz Carvalho, Rio Open Tournament Director.

During the event, a statue of Maria Esther Bueno was inaugurated at the Sociedade Harmonia, honoring the legacy of the 19-time Grand Slam champion.