Marcelo Ríos marked a before and after in Latin American tennis. It was officially the first to climb to the top of the ATP world ranking. It is necessary to remember that, although Vilas was deserving of that achievement, “the computer” placed him in second position on the ladder. “I don’t know much about Vilas, I only know that he was number 2, and I am number 1,” Ríos said repeatedly, I was used to the controversy.
The “Chinese” as he is known, was number 1 at the Junior level thanks to his titles in the Milo Cup, the US Open, the Japanese Open, Eddie Herr and the runner-up in the Sunshine Cup and the quarterfinals of the Orange Bowl. In addition, he lasted six weeks (four of them in a row) at the top as a professional in 1998. It is that on March 29 he won the final of Key Biscayne against Andre Agassi by 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4 and In this way, he fulfilled the dream he had since childhood: to be the best tennis player on the planet.
“I feel like I’m 100,” he said. That year, precisely, was the most prolific of his career but he could not achieve something that eluded him until the days of his retirement: winning a Grand Slam. Perhaps the most controversial match was that of the Australian Open final, which the Chilean lost to Peter Korda, who would later be sanctioned for doping. Ríos stayed in this season with seven more titles, among which three Masters stand out.
“ATP is poorly managed in that area. They give you a list where there are millions of things you never saw in your life. It is super difficult. They got too drastic. One thing is personal life and another thing is to doparte to take advantage. What happened with Korda is to take advantage. Right at a Grand Slam, that I could have won. It is not like in athletics, where the second is given the title in those cases. He won seven games, reached the final as a plane. After a month, I played with him and beat him. A controversy arose. Now one laughs, but it was in his records that he won a Grand Slam, “he said.
Years later, his hip injuries did not allow him to perform at the level he wanted and he would officially retire in 2004 at just 28 years old. However, he had a return to the sport in 2006 through the Veterans Champions Tour. Ríos would stay with 8 consecutive tournaments, and would end the season as number one … but this time in seniors. In this way the Chilean became the only player in the history of professional tennis to be No. 1 in the world as a youth, professional and senior. “
I think in my life I learned not to look at the past, I always tried to look at the present, “Ríos said in an interview with the BBC.” I don’t regret anything I did in my career. I always did my best and it’s all I could give. “
In May 2014, Marcelo Ríos declared in an interview with El Mercurio that he could suffer from Asperger’s syndrome. In November 2016, he was confirmed to have been diagnosed when he was just a boy. “I once googled my name and saw that it was associated with a term known as Asperger’s disease. After reading the article, I think I am Asperger, because of the 70 symptoms that are mentioned, I feel identified with 69. I am not unfriendly, but my personality is different from that of Chileans. They are usually silent and quiet. The problem is that people do not accept that you are different. “
Roger Federer was one of those who praised the Chilean’s level on the circuit: “I loved watching him play. I was very happy when I played against him ”, wrote Federer on his social networks not so long ago. The two tennis players faced off in 2002, when Ríos was still active and Federer was taking great strides towards the successes he later achieved. It was at the Madrid Masters and the Sydney ATP. The Swiss triumphed both times. Meanwhile, Ríos returned the praise: “Roger Federer is by far the best tennis player in all of history. I am struck by his motivation to continue playing after having won so much.”
At the end of 2018 he tried to put in a professional ‘comeback’ at the Challenger level. He asked for a Wilcard for the Columbus competition because he wanted to be “the oldest player to win an official tournament” at the age of 43: “It’s crazy that occurred to me. Obviously I thought it well and in moderation. That’s why I was not a challenger either. I’m going to play an ATP, because I know I’m not there for that. It’s just to feel alive. At 43, I know it’s not the same. With assholes of 20 you can tell the difference. ” Three days after the refusal of the tournament he decided not to play it.
Ríos was linked to Chilean tennis practically the second after his retirement had been confirmed, as well as his withdrawal from the Seniors circuit. He served as an adviser to the Davis Cup team in which Nicolás Massú has been captain for years and only resigned due to having differences with the mother entity of Chilean tennis. In 2019 he was confirmed as captain of the ATP Cup and, a month later, he resigned for personal reasons.
“I broke the labrum and apart I had a decompression of the sciatic. I feel better, although I have trouble sleeping. The pain at night is strong; in the day it hurts less, because I like to move, but I stumble. All the tennis players have shit (sic) the hip. It’s what tennis leaves you. It left me well financially, thank God, but made shit (sic) inside ”, sentenced Ríos.