It’s not just another day. This Monday, 23 years have passed since Marcelo Ríos, after winning the final of the Lipton Cup (Today Miami Masters 1000) Andre Agassi, reached the top of the ATP world rankings for the first time, a fact that positions him as the first Ibero-American to become N ° 1 in the world.
It was March 29, 1998 and the talented Chinese he was preparing to play the final against the American. What I did not know is that that day would go down in history: It was a victory for Ríos by 7-5, 6-3 and 6-4, in one hour and 57 minutes of play, in a stadium full of Chileans, despite being a visitor in the country of his rival.
To reach the final, he had to leave tennis players like Hendrik Dreekmann, Tommy Haas, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Enqvist and Tim Henman.
And if that moment was so special for Rios it is because displaced none other than Pete Sampras from the top of the world rankings, which had been the leader of the classification since April 1996.
Thus, the Chilean reached his first time as No. 1. The following month, Sampras passed it again, in August Chino regained the leadership and finally lost it 13 days later again in the hands of the American, who started the seventh of his eleven times as 1st of the circuit.
It was an indelible event in the history of Chilean tennis and sport, one of the most unforgettable days in the country. In January of that year, Ríos had lost his only Grand Slam final, to Petr Korda at the Australian Open. In March he won in Indian Wells and when he achieved the double in Miami he touched the sky with his hands.