In tennis, the collective term for a series of tournaments played across the South American continent is known as the Golden Swing. Generally, the ATP 250 and ATP 500 tournaments are scheduled in the calendar such that these lower tier tournaments lead up to a Masters tournament or a Grand Slam. This rule is broken by the February-March part of the tennis season where the players enter the tournaments which lead up to no “big title” tournament. The Golden Swing initiated in 2001 and since the has been a soundproof, yet an integral part of the tennis calendar.
The four tournaments that comprise of the Golden Swing currently are: Ecuador Open, Buenos Aires Open, Sao Paulo Open and Rio Open. Out of these only the Rio Open is an ATP 500 event while the rest of them are ATP 250 events.
When it started in 2011, the Golden Swing had a different set of tournaments in its tetrad. The initial tournaments were: Chile Open, Buenos Aires Open, Sao Paulo Open and Mexican Open.
The tennis season season sees two periods in its calendar where there are two time phases of clay season. One is the Golden Swing and the other one is the European clay court swing. Compared to the European Open, the Golden Swing indeed lacks the sheen since it is devoid of a Masters tournament. Despite being a minnow compared to its European opponent, the South American clay court swing definitely has had major improvements to what it was a decade back.
CHILE OPEN (Status: Defunct)
The Chile Open began in 1992 and enjoyed a decent run till 2014. Many of the World’s Top-10 players signed up for the event. Fernando Gonzalez, the home favourite player won the tournament most number of times. In 2013, Horacia Zeballos made one of the most valiant comebacks in his career by defeating Rafael Nadal after being a set down in the finals. The last event was won by Fabio Fognini. The ATP 250 event was discontinued in 2014 due to sponsorship issues.
ECUADOR OPEN (Status: Part of the Golden Swing)
Investors from Colombia bought the Chile Open and moved it to Ecuador. Now famously known as the Quito Open, the event offers 250 points to the victor. In its first three editions, Victor Estrella Burgos defended his next two titles successfully after winning the inaugral event. In the 2018 edition his run finally came to an end when he was defeated in the second round. The winner of the fourth edition was Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena.
BUENOS AIRES OPEN (Status: Part of the Golden Swing)
The Buenos Aires Open is the oldest tournament of the Golden Swing who celebrated its 97th edition this year. The tournament lacks a sponsor but is presented by the city of Buenos Aires itself. Dominic Thiem won his second title at this event this year but trails by 6 titles compared to the most successful player in this event, Guillermo Villas.
SAO PAULO OPEN (Status: Part of the Golden Swing)
The Brasil Open, played at Sao Paulo began in 2011. In its first three years, it was played on hard courts. In 2004, when the event changed its turf to clay, Gustavo Kuerten became the lone player to have won the event on both hard and clay courts. The last three years of the tournament have been won by Uruguayan player, Pablo Cuevas.
RIO OPEN (Status: Part of the Golden Swing)
Brazil’s lone ATP 500 event began in 2014, headlined by Rafael Nadal. Nadal won the first event and the following year, it was his compatriot David Ferrer who won the title. 2016 saw Pablo Cuevas emerge as the victor whereas Dominic Thiem won the event in 2017.
MEXICAN OPEN (Status: Formerly a part of the Golden Swing, now a build-up for the Sunshine Double)
The Mexican Open played at Acapulco started in 1993, 8 years earlier to its WTA counterpart. When it was a part of the Golden Swing, it was the last-leg in the Golden Swing. For two decades, the tournament was played on outdoor clay courts. In 2014, the organziers decided to change to hard courts. The main reason was to help the players in an easier transition from the South American clay swing to the American hard courts at the Sunshine Double. When it was held on clay courts, Thomas Muster won the event four times. On hard courts, no player has won the event twice.
The Golden Swing might not create the noise of the slams or the buzz of the Masters, but if you were to take it away from the season, it would be an irreplaceable void to fill.