Felipe Meligeni, 2019 MEB Cup champion (João Pires/Fotojump)

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 name of the tournament honors the biggest Brazilian tennis player of all time, 19-time Grand Slam champion Maria Esther Bueno, who passed away in 2018. 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.

In 2019, Felipe Meligeni defeated Thiago Wild in the final to secure his wild card in the main draw of the Brazilian ATP 500 in 2020.

The Maria Esther Bueno Cup was created to put together the best players of the new generation in Brazil and award the champion with a wildcard for the Rio Open. It is an unique chance to players taking their first steps in professional tennis.

“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.