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Marcelo Ríos

Marcelo Ríos
File:Marcelo Rios 2004.jpg
Country 23x15px Chile
Residence Santiago, Chile
Born (1975-12-26) 26 December 1975 (age 44)
Santiago, Chile
Height Script error: No such module "convert".
Turned pro 1994
Retired 2004
Plays Left-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money $9,713,771
Career record 391–192 (at ATP Tour level, Grand Slam level, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles 18
Highest ranking No. 1 (30 March 1998)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open F (1998)
French Open QF (1998, 1999)
Wimbledon 4R (1997)
US Open QF (1997)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals RR (1998)
Olympic Games 1R (2000)
Career record 36–57 (at ATP Tour level, Grand Slam level, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles 1
Highest ranking No. 141 (7 May 2001)
Marcelo Ríos
Medal record
Competitor for 23x15px Chile
Men's Tennis
Pan American Games
Silver medal – second place 2003 Santo Domingo Men's Singles
Silver medal – second place 2003 Santo Domingo Men's Doubles

Marcelo Ríos (born 26 December 1975) is a former World No. 1 tennis player from Chile. Nicknamed El Chino ("The Chinese") and El zurdo de Vitacura ("Vitacura's Lefty"), he became the first Latin American player to reach the top position on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles rankings in 1998. He held the World No. 1 ranking for six weeks. He has held the top ranking in both juniors and seniors. He was the first player to win the three clay-court Masters Series tournaments (Monte Carlo, Rome, and Hamburg) since the format began in 1990. He is the only male player in the open era to have been World No. 1 while never managing to win a Grand Slam singles tournament in his career. He did reach the 1998 Australian Open final, losing to Petr Korda.

He retired prematurely in 2004, after being overtaken by a back injury. He played his last ATP level tournament while only 27 years old at the 2003 French Open.

Tennis career

Early years

Ríos began playing tennis at the age of 11 at the Sport Francés golf club in Vitacura (Greater Santiago), adjacent to his house.


As a junior in 1993, he won the Boys' Singles title at the US Open and his first satellite tournament in Chile.

Junior Slam results:

Australian Open: -
French Open: SF (1993)
Wimbledon: -
US Open: W (1993)

ATP Tour


Ríos turned professional in 1994 and quickly began to acquire international fame after his participation at Roland Garros, where in the second round, at just 18 years of age, he confronted Pete Sampras, fighting a hard battle to lose 6–7, 6–7, 4–6. His great left-handed ability, plus his novel long hair and backwards visor, drew the attention of the media, marking his first step towards international stardom. That same year he won his first challenger in Dresden, Germany.


In May 1995, aged 19, Ríos won his first tournament title in Bologna defeating Marcelo Filippini of Uruguay 6–2, 6–4, and breaking into the world's top fifty for the first time. Then in June he won at Amsterdam in both singles (against Jan Siemerink, 6–4, 7–5, 6–4) and doubles (with Sjeng Schalken) and won the tournament in Kuala Lumpur against Mark Philippoussis 7–6, 6–2. He also reached the final of his home country's ATP tournament in Santiago. Ríos ended the year ranked No. 25 in the world.


Ríos's achievements this year included stellar performances in the Masters Series (then called Super 9) tournaments. He reached the quarterfinals in Stuttgart and the Masters Series of Rome, and the semifinals in Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, and Canada. In Sankt Pölten, Austria, he won his fourth career title by defeating the Spaniard Félix Mantilla 6–1, 6–4. Ríos again reached the final in Santiago (where a sort of curse seemed to deny him victory in front of his home crowd), and also reached the finals in Barcelona and Scottsdale. For much of the year Ríos would be ranked in the top ten, becoming the first Chilean in history to do so. He finished the year ranked number 11.


In 1997 Ríos for the first time reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament at the Australia Open and again at the US Open. He also won the Super 9 tournament at Monte Carlo; after a first round bye, he beat Andrea Gaudenzi, Albert Costa, Carlos Moyá, Magnus Larsson, and, in the final, Àlex Corretja, 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. Two weeks later he lost in the final of the Rome Masters against the same Spaniard. Other successes for the year included the quarterfinals (again) in the Madrid Masters and the finals in Marseille, Boston, and (for the third time) in Santiago. Ríos went as high as No. 6 during the year, and ended the year in the top ten for the first time, being No. 10.

1998: World No.1

The year 1998 brought the peak of the career of Ríos, who reached the number 1 spot in the world. The year began with success. He won the tournament (the first of the year) in Auckland, New Zealand, against Richard Fromberg, then reached the final of the Australian Open, losing to Petr Korda. The following months brought successes such as the title of the Super 9 (the current Masters Series) at Indian Wells, where he defeated hard-serving Greg Rusedski in the final.

The consummation came in the final Super 9 at Key Biscayne, Florida, under the guidance of his coach Larry Stefanki. After victories over Hendrik Dreekman, Tommy Haas, and Goran Ivanišević, Ríos beat Thomas Enqvist in the quarterfinals and Tim Henman in the semis. In the final on March 29, Ríos defeated Andre Agassi 7–5, 6–3, 6–4. In Chile, thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the triumph of the first Chilean to reach the sport's number one ranking, grabbing the position from Pete Sampras (who had maintained 102 consecutive weeks at number one, and 5 years ending the season as the leader). In the days ahead, there was a crowded reception leading Ríos to then president Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle on La Moneda Palace, with around 10,000 people cheering at the palace's surroundings. Ríos's number one ranking lasted four weeks; he lost it after being unable to defend the title at Monte Carlo because of an injury suffered in the Davis Cup while defeating Hernán Gumy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On August 10, however, Ríos recovered the number one spot for another two weeks. During this extraordinary season Marcelo also won the Rome Masters against Albert Costa in the final, Sankt Pölten beating Vincent Spadea, the Grand Slam Cup against Andre Agassi, and Singapore against Mark Woodforde. Furthermore, he reached the quarterfinals in the Stuttgart Masters and Paris Masters. The year 1998 was a milestone in the career of Marcelo and also sport in Chile. Ríos won 7 titles, including 3 Masters Series, and reached the final of the Australian Open. On July 27 of that year, he reached the maximum number of points achieved throughout his career: 3719 (by the scoring system used prior to the year 2000). He ended the year ranked No. 2 behind Pete Sampras, who topped the world rankings for a sixth consecutive year.


Ríos maintained a high level throughout 1999, although his game was interrupted by repeated injuries and surgeries. This prevented him from defending the points achieved by reaching the final of the Australian Open the previous year, so he fell several positions in the rankings. He reached the final of the Monte Carlo Masters, but after trailing 4–6, 1–2, had to retire due to a new injury, awarding the tournament to Gustavo Kuerten. Ríos subsequently won the Hamburg Masters in a match that lasted more than four hours against Mariano Zabaleta; 2 weeks later he became champion in Sankt Pölten for the third consecutive time. In October, he won at Singapore and reached the final in Beijing, losing to the Swede Magnus Norman. He also reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the Madrid Masters. Despite the many injuries and surgeries he suffered, Ríos would complete his third consecutive year as a Top Ten player, at the No. 9 world ranking.


This year was marked by repeated and disabling injuries that would prevent Ríos from staying among the top players in the world. He won the tournament of Umag, Croatia beating the Argentine Mariano Puerta in the final. Ríos also reached the semifinals at the Hamburg Masters losing to Marat Safin, one of the new stars of the circuit. Ríos finished the year No. 37 in the world.


In 2001 Ríos won the first tournament of the year in Doha. However, his performance in the following tournaments was weaker, weakened by an ankle operation, which resulted him to drop out of the top 50 in the world for the first time since he was a teenager. In September Ríos won another title, this time in Hong Kong, defeating German Rainer Schüttler in the final. Ríos decided to return in October to play a Challenger tournament, winning the final of Santiago beating the Argentine Edgardo Massa in the final. Also reached a doubles final in Scottsdale. Ríos ended the year as No.39 in the world.


In early 2002 he had some good results, but a back injury prevented him from continuing the season successfully. It was the same injury that he had had two operations with already, and finally prevented him from returning to a competitive level. His best results were the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, the semifinal at the Miami Masters, and the final in the Stockholm tournament playing the Thai Paradorn Srichaphan. Ríos would again finish among the 25 best players in the world in position No. 24, but without managing to recover from injuries that beset him since late 1999.


In Viña del Mar tournament (formerly Santiago tournament) Ríos reached the final, losing to Spaniard David Sánchez, losing the fourth of four finals he participated in his home country. However, representing Chile together with Fernando González and Nicolás Massú, he won the World Team Cup in Düsseldorf. The same year he also won silver medals in singles and doubles alongside Adrián García in the 2003 Pan American Games. In May Ríos played his last ATP-level match, losing in the first round at Roland Garros to Mario Ančić after withdrawing at 1–6 0–1. In 2003 Ríos played very few tournaments, in most of which he had to withdraw. This resulted in ending the year only as No. 105 in the world.

Tour retirement

In 2004, six years after claiming the World No. 1 ranking, and after a long absence from the tour, Ríos returned to competition with a 6–0, 6–0 victory at a Challenger Series tournament in Ecuador. He played his last competitive match in early April 2004 at a challenger in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, where he retired in the round of 16.

Finally, on July 16, 2004, after years of constant injuries and back discomfort—and at just 28 years old—Rios announced his retirement from tennis during a press conference in Santiago. He organized a farewell tour across his home country, travelling through several cities, meeting with fans, offering tennis clinics, and playing friendly matches with international and local tennis players such as Petr Korda and Goran Ivanišević. The tour ended on December 22, 2004, at a soccer stadium in Santiago, where he played his final tennis match against Guillermo Coria of Argentina.

Ríos intended to return to ATP competition in February 2007 at the Viña del Mar tournament (Movistar Open); however, he retired because of the same back injury that made him retire from the tour.

On March 30, 2007, Ríos played an exhibition match in the Movistar Arena against Andre Agassi, both as a way to commemorate the match where Ríos rose to World No. 1 and as a way of having the American play in Chile. On June 24, 2008, Ríos defeated Pete Sampras in an exhibition match that commemorated the ten years anniversary of having reached the Number 1 ranking in the world.

Champions Tour

On March 29, 2006, Ríos, aged 30, debuted on the ATP Champions Tour, a tour for former tour players. At his first tournament on the tour in Doha, Qatar, he defeated Thomas Muster, Henri Leconte, Pat Cash, and Cédric Pioline to claim the title. The following week he repeated, this time winning the crown in Hong Kong, where he won the final before an also former world No. 1 Thomas Muster. Rios won six tournaments in a row, adding Algarve Graz, Paris and Eindhoven to the above. His inclusion on the senior circuit caused mild controversy, as he was significantly younger than many of his fellow competitors.[1] He ended the year as number one, winning a total of six tournaments and holding a winning streak of 25 matches, achieving the record of being the only player in history to be No. 1 in the world as a junior, professional and veteran.

In 2008 Ríos came back to veteran's tour where he won the tournaments in Barcelona and Algarve. On June 22, 2008, he was defeated by Pete Sampras in the final of a seniors tournament in São Paulo, Brazil. Ríos ended the year as No.3 in the veteran's world rankings.

Personal life

Ríos was born in Santiago, Chile to Jorge Ríos Jarvis, an engineer and businessman, and Alicia Mayorga, a teacher. He has an older sister, Paula.

Ríos met Costa Rican Giuliana Sotela in September 1998 while he was training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. Ríos and Sotela got married in December 2000 in Santiago. They have a daughter, Constanza, who was born in June 2001. In March 2004, the marriage ended in divorce, which legally took place in Costa Rica, as Chile did not allow married couples the right of divorce until November 2004. During 2004, Ríos worked as a sports commentator for a radio station in Chile.

In April 2005, Ríos married model María Eugenia "Kenita" Larraín, a former fiancée of football player Iván Zamorano. The couple subsequently experienced a very public break-up in September of the same year after an incident in Costa Rica in which Larraín was injured when Ríos allegedly threw her out of his car while he was driving to visit his daughter. Ríos claimed that marrying Larraín was "the biggest mistake of my life."

In May 2008, Ríos married Paula Pavic.[2] They have five children together, daughter Isidora (born December 2008), daughter Colomba (born June 2010), and also triplets, which are a son named Marcelo Jr. and two daughters named Antonella and Agustina (all born December 2011).[3][4]

In March 2008, on the tenth anniversary of Ríos reaching the Number 1 ranking, journalist Nelson Flores published a book in Spanish titled El extraño del pelo largo ("The strange man with long hair"), recounting his experiences following the player from his junior days up to his ascent to the top of the ATP singles ranking.

In November 2011, an English language book was published by Mark 'Scoop' Malinowski about Rios titled, 'Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew.'[5]


Ríos' career has been marked by a number of controversies.

  • After achieving the number one in singles, an Argentine reporter ask him what it felt like to be at the same status as Guillermo Vilas; he answered "I've been compared to Vilas for a while now. I do not know him. All I know is that he was No. 2 and I'm No. 1."[citation needed]
  • He was fined US$10,000 for speeding during the 1998 Stuttgart Indoor tournament.[6]
  • In a confusing incident, he ran over his physical trainer, Manuel Astorga, with his jeep, leaving him gravely injured in the foot. Astorga was later fired as trainer.[6]
  • After a magazine published some photos of him dancing seductively with a woman at a Paris disco, his girlfriend (later to be his first wife), Giuliana Sotela, broke up with him. During a Davis Cup press conference, Ríos read a letter, asking Sotela for forgiveness. He ended the press conference in tears.[7]
  • He was accused by his second wife, María Eugenia Larraín, of throwing her out of his car while driving to visit his daughter in Costa Rica. Larraín arrived at Santiago's airport in dramatic fashion, in a wheelchair and showing multiple bruises on her legs. He claimed those bruises were caused by falling while skiing.[6]
  • He was arrested in Rome in 2001 after he punched a taxi driver on the nose and then had a fight with the policemen arresting him.[7]
  • In 2003, while training for a Davis Cup tie with Ecuador, he allegedly urinated on some men in a La Serena bar's bathroom and was later expelled from his hotel after being accused of swimming nude. As a consequence, the Chilean team missed a flight to Ecuador the following day. He later apologized for the incidents.[6][8]
  • In 2003, he and a friend were expelled from a Santiago bar after insulting other clients and being involved in a brawl with some waiters. Both were arrested and later released.[6]
  • He reportedly told Monica Seles to move her "fat ass" while on a lunch queue, but he has denied this.[7]
  • At 1997 Wimbledon Championships he commented that lawn is "only for cattle and soccer" and not suitable for tennis play.[7]
  • He was disqualified from the 2000 Mercedes-Benz Cup tennis tournament in Los Angeles, California during a first round match with Gouichi Motomura of Japan and fined US$5,000 for saying "fuck you" to the chair umpire.[7]
  • During a post-match interview at the Basel tournament, he insulted a journalist under his breath after she asked him whether he had Native American ancestry.[9]
  • He tried to moon some reporters who were recording him while partying outside his apartment in Reñaca.[7]
  • He fired his coach Larry Stefanki shortly after he became World No. 1, claiming that he wanted to go in a different direction.
  • He won the French Open's Prix Citron several different years (many in a row) for being the most arrogant tennis player.

All finals (33)

Singles: 31 (18–13)

Wins (18)
Grand Slam (0)
Tennis Masters Cup (0)
Grand Slam Cup (1)
ATP Masters Series (5)
ATP International Series Gold (2)
ATP International series (10)
Titles by Surface
Hard (7)
Clay (9)
Grass (0)
Carpet (2)
No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
1. May 28, 1995 Bologna, Italy Clay 23x15px Marcelo Filippini 6–2, 6–4
2. 30 July 1995 Amsterdam, Netherlands Clay 23x15px Jan Siemerink 6–4, 7–5, 6–4
3. 8 October 1995 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Carpet (i) 23x15px Mark Philippoussis 7–6(8–6), 6–2
4. 26 May 1996 Sankt Pölten, Austria Clay 23x15px Fèlix Mantilla 6–2, 6–4
5. 27 April 1997 Monte Carlo, Monaco Clay 23x15px Àlex Corretja 6–4, 6–3, 6–3
6. 18 January 1998 Auckland, New Zealand Hard 23x15px Richard Fromberg 4–6, 6–4, 7–6(7–3)
7. 15 March 1998 Indian Wells, USA Hard 23x15px Greg Rusedski 6–3, 6–7(15–17), 7–6(7–4), 6–4
8. 29 March 1998 Miami, USA Hard 23x15px Andre Agassi 7–5, 6–3, 6–4
9. 17 May 1998 Rome, Italy Clay 23x15px Albert Costa W/O
10. 24 May 1998 Sankt Pölten, Austria Clay 23x15px Vincent Spadea 6–2, 6–0
11. 5 October 1998 Grand Slam Cup, Munich, Germany Hard (i) 23x15px Andre Agassi 6–4, 2–6, 7–6(7–1), 5–7, 6–3
12. 18 October 1998 Singapore Carpet (i) 23x15px Mark Woodforde 6–4, 6–2
13. 9 May 1999 Hamburg, Germany Clay 23x15px Mariano Zabaleta 6–7(5–7), 7–5, 5–7, 7–6(7–5), 6–2
14. 23 May 1999 Sankt Pölten, Austria Clay 23x15px Mariano Zabaleta 4–4, ret.
15. 17 October 1999 Singapore Hard (i) 23x15px Mikael Tillström 6–2, 7–6(7–5)
16. 23 July 2000 Umag, Croatia Clay 23x15px Mariano Puerta 7–6(7–1), 4–6, 6–3
17. 7 January 2001 Doha, Qatar Hard 23x15px Bohdan Ulihrach 6–3, 2–6, 6–3
18. 30 September 2001 Hong Kong, China Hard 23x15px Rainer Schüttler 7–6(7–3), 6–2
Runners-ups (13)
No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
1. 29 October 1995 Santiago, Chile Clay 23x15px Sláva Doseděl 7–6(7–3), 6–3
2. 10 March 1996 Scottsdale, USA Hard 23x15px Wayne Ferreira 2–6, 6–3, 6–3
3. 21 April 1996 Barcelona, Spain Clay 23x15px Thomas Muster 6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–1
4. 10 November 1996 Santiago, Chile Clay 23x15px Hernán Gumy 6–4, 7–5
5. 16 February 1997 Marseille, France Hard (i) 23x15px Thomas Enqvist 6–4, 1–0, ret.
6. 18 May 1997 Rome, Italy Clay 23x15px Àlex Corretja 7–5, 7–5, 6–3
7. 24 August 1997 Boston, USA Hard 23x15px Sjeng Schalken 7–5, 6–3
8. 9 November 1997 Santiago, Chile Clay 23x15px Julián Alonso 6–2, 6–1
9. 1 February 1998 Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia Hard 23x15px Petr Korda 6–2, 6–2, 6–2
10. 25 April 1999 Monte Carlo, Monaco Clay 23x15px Gustavo Kuerten 6–4, 2–1, ret.
11. 10 October 1999 Shanghai, China Hard 23x15px Magnus Norman 2–6, 6–3, 7–5
12. 27 October 2002 Stockholm, Sweden Hard (i) 23x15px Paradorn Srichaphan 6–7(2–7), 6–0, 6–3, 6–2
13. 16 February 2003 Viña del Mar, Chile Clay 23x15px David Sánchez 1–6, 6–3, 6–3

Doubles: 2 (1–1)

Win (1)
No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponent Score
1. 30 July 1995 Amsterdam, Netherlands Clay 23x15px Sjeng Schalken 23x15px Wayne Arthurs
23x15px Neil Broad
7–6, 6–2
Runner-up (1)
No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponent Score
1. 11 March 2001 Scottsdale, USA Hard 23x15px Sjeng Schalken 23x15px Donald Johnson
23x15px Jared Palmer
7–6(7–3), 6–2

Team competition wins

Other wins

Singles performance timeline

Tournament 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 SR W–L Win %
Grand Slams
Australian Open A A A 1R QF F A A 1R QF A 0 / 5 14–5 74%
French Open A 2R 2R 4R 4R QF QF 1R 2R A 1R 0 / 9 17–9 65%
Wimbledon A A 1R A 4R 1R A A A A A 0 / 3 3–3 50%
US Open A 2R 1R 2R QF 3R 4R 3R 3R 3R A 0 / 9 17–9 65%
Grand Slam W–L 0–0 2–2 1–3 4–3 14–4 12–4 7–2 2–2 3–3 6–2 0–1 0 / 26 51–26 66%
Year-End Championship
ATP Tour World Championships RR 0 / 1 0–1 0%
Grand Slam Cup QF W Not Held 1 / 2 4–1 80%
Olympic Games
Summer Olympics Not Held A Not Held 1R Not Held 0 / 3 0–1 0%
Davis Cup
Davis Cup Singles Z1 Z1 Z1 PO Z1 PO PO PO Z1 Z1 0 / 10 25–10 71%
ATP Masters Series
Indian Wells A A 3R SF 2R W 3R 2R 1R 3R 2R 1 / 9 16–8 67%
Miami A A 3R 3R 3R W 4R 4R 2R SF 4R 1 / 9 20–7 74%
Monte Carlo A A LQ SF W A F 1R 2R 3R A 1 / 6 16–4 80%
Rome A A 2R QF F W 1R 1R 2R A A 1 / 7 15–6 71%
Hamburg A A A SF 3R 2R W SF 2R A A 1 / 6 14–5 74%
Canada A A A SF A A A 3R A 3R A 0 / 3 7–3 70%
Cincinnati A A 1R A 3R 2R A 2R A 2R A 0 / 5 4–5 44%
Madrid (Stuttgart) A A A QF QF QF QF A 3R 2R A 0 / 6 11–5 69%
Paris A A A 2R 2R QF 2R A A 1R A 0 / 5 2–5 29%
Masters W–L 0–0 0–0 5–4 20–8 16–7 20–3 14–6 10–7 4–5 12–7 3–1 5 / 56 104–48 68%
Career Statistics
Titles 0 0 3 1 1 7 3 1 2 0 0 18
Finals Reached 0 0 4 4 5 8 5 1 2 1 1 31
Overall Win–Loss 0–1 12–11 41–21 57–25 60–26 68–17 47–18 29–23 31–19 32–21 14–10 391–192 67%
Win % 0% 52% 66% 70% 70% 80% 72% 56% 62% 60% 58% 67%
Year End Ranking 562 107 25 11 10 2 9 37 39 24 105 $9,567,686

ATP Tour career earnings

Year Majors ATP wins Total wins Earnings ($) Money list rank
1997 0 1 1 1,397,445 12
1998 0 7 7 3,420,054 2
1999 0 3 3 1,794,244 5
2000 0 1 1 493,816 40
2001 0 2 2 466,025 43
2002 0 0 0 506,160 39
2003 0 0 0 308,140 73
Career 0 18 18 9,713,771 47


  • Ríos has the record for being the only player in history to have been world No. 1 as a junior, as a professional and as a senior
  • He was the first Latin American to reach the world No. 1 ranking, first achieved on March 30, 1998
  • He was the first player to win all three clay-court ATP Masters Series since the format started in 1990
  • He is the only No.1 ATP ranked player in the open era not to win a Grand Slam title in his entire career.


External links

Preceded by
23x15px Pete Sampras
23x15px Pete Sampras
World No. 1
March 30, 1998 – April 26, 1998
August 10, 1998 – August 23, 1998
Succeeded by
23x15px Pete Sampras
23x15px Pete Sampras
Preceded by
23x15px Goran Ivanišević
ATP Champions Tour
Year-End No.1

Succeeded by
23x15px Sergi Bruguera

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