Marat Safin will make his debut on the Champions Series tennis circuit Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Safin, who retired from the ATP World Tour last fall, opens against Wayne Ferreira in the eight-player event.

Safin, who turned 30 in February, is the favorite to win the event, titled the Banco Cruzeiro do Sul Rio Champions Cup. Also competing in the eight-player, single-knock out event are Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Mark Philippoussis, Cedric Pioline, Mikael Pernfors and Fernando Meligeni. The event will feature $150,000 in total prize money, with the singles champion earning $60,000. Tickets can be purchased by calling 5521-3005-4023 or by visiting

The full schedule of play is as follows;

Friday 12th March: Starting at 6 pm
Quarterfinal #1 – Fernando Meligeni vs. Mikael Pernfors
Quarterfinal #2 – Mark Philippoussis vs. Cedric Pioline
Quarterfinal #3 – Marat Safin vs. Wayne Ferreira
Quarterfinal #4 – Jim Courier vs. Mats Wilander

Saturday 13th March: Starting at 6 pm
Men’s Doubles Match
Semifinal #1 – Winner of Safin/Ferreira vs. Meligini/Pernfors
Semifinal #2 – Winner of Philippoussis/Pioline vs. Courier/Wilander

Sunday 14th March: Starting at 11 am
3rd Place Match
Championship Final

Safin became the first Russian to win the U.S. Open in 2000 when he shocked Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the men’s singles final. Safin rode the momentum of winning his first major singles title to earn the No. 1 ranking later that year and rank in the top spot for a total of nine weeks during his career. He reached the final of the Australian Open in 2002 and again in 2004, losing to Thomas Johansson and Roger Federer, respectively, but broke through to win his second major title in Australia in 2005, defeating Lleyton Hewitt in the final. Safin, who also reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2002 and at Wimbledon in 2008, won 15 career singles titles and guided Russia to Davis Cup titles in 2002 and 2006. Safin turned 30 years old on January 27 and concluded his ATP World Tour career last fall.

The Rio Champions Cup is part of the global Champions Series tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. To be eligible to compete, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team.

Each event features $150,000 in prize money – with the tournament champion earning $60,000 – and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1. Each tournament champion earns 800 ranking points.

Here are other photos from the event’s Facebook page of Courier and Wilander also arriving.

The full 2010 Champions Series schedule of tournaments will be announced in the near future. The first tournament in the United States – the Staples Champions Cup – will be held April 29-May 2 in Boston, Mass., and will feature Bjorn Borg playing in his first tournament in the U.S. in 10 years.

[nggallery id=25]