Tennis Prose



How a traveling snafu changed the career of Marcelo Rios

In the summer of 1995 Marcelo Rios was 19 years old and rising up the ranks. He had won his first ATP title in Bologna in May (defeated Marcelo Filippini) which shot his ranking up from 69 and into the top 50 to 49.

Rios lost second round at Roland Garros to Alberto Berasategui (after beating Vince Spadea), and he lost first round at Wimbledon to Mark Knowles in four sets. Rios continued to play in Europe on clay that summer.

In Gstaad he lost to Jacob Hlasek in three sets in the QF. In Stuttgart he lost to Thomas Muster in the round of 32 62 64. After falling to Muster in Germany, Rios wanted to fly back to Chile for a much needed break but when he could not organize a flight, he reorganized his plans and tried to get a WC into the next ATP tournament in Amsterdam, Holland.

But it was too late and Rios, would have to play through qualifying rounds. Rios decided to play qualies in Amsterdam and did indeed reach the main draw.

In typical Marcelo Rios fashion, the unexpected happened. Rios wound up winning both the singles and doubles titles in Amsterdam, for his second and third ATP titles!

In the singles, Rios handled Renzo Furlan in the first round 63 76 and then 21 ranked Alex Corretja in the R16 76 64. In the quarterfinal, Rios survived Bernd Karbacher 57 76 75 to set up a semifinal vs. Carlos Costa. Rios again prevailed 76 60 and was in the final.

Jan Siemerink, the tricky lefty Dutch player would prove a most challenging foe for Rios but again Rios pulled off the stunning victory in the best of five set final, to disappoint Siemerink and his stadium of supporters, by a score of 64 75 64.

Rios also won the doubles final that day with Holland hero Sjeng Schalken vs Wayne Arthurs and Neil Broad, 57 61 76 62.

The singles title vaulted Rios to no. 38 in the world and later that year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rios would win this third ATP singles title by besting Mark Philippousis 76 62.

In 1997 Rios would begin his history making surge into the elite pantheon of the ATP, entering the top ten, reaching the QF of AO, winning Monte Carlo . By 1998 at age 22, Rios would be no. 1 in the world, a top honor he would hold for six weeks.

But a pivotal moment in the career of Marcelo Rios happened when he could not make the flight from Stuttgart to Santiago and then he recalculated and opted to play in Amsterdam… an anecdote which convincingly proves that all is not lost when the best laid plans suddenly go awry.

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