Marcelo Rios Announces Comeback

By Scoop Malinowski

Another former ATP world no. 1 has got the urge to try a comeback. Like Bjorn Borg, Thomas Muster and Mats Wilander before, Marcelo Rios wants to try his hand on the professional tennis circuit again, fourteen years after retiring from tennis in 2004.

Rios is not aiming at unrealistic goals like returning to a top ten ranking or winning his first Grand Slam title. Rios is targeting a return to the Challenger tour in 2019 with the goal of becoming the oldest ever ATP Champion.

Rios, the ATP world no. 1 for six weeks in 1998, has told newspaper La Tercera that he has been training for a return to competitive tennis and in particular, lower level tournaments in America. It’s not clear if he will travel more extensively for this comeback.

“I’ve been training with pretty high-level guys.” Rios said during an interview with La Tercera, a major newspaper in Chile. “There are no guys that plays badly. I’ve been getting tired and I’ve had to lose weight. I have lost twelve pounds and almost reached the weight I was when I was a player (on the tour). I’m happy, it’s something different.”

Rios wants to play in January at the Columbus, Ohio Challenger. A formal request for a wild card to play at the upcoming Columbus Challenger has been submitted. The tournament is hosted at the Ohio State University Tennis Center and will begin on January 7th.

The ultimate goal of Rios is to become the oldest ever winner of a Challenger tournament, a distinction currently held by Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who won the Calgary Challenger this year at the age of 39 years and seven months.

“If I had not felt good or I had not lost weight, I would not have made the decision (to come out of retirement),” Rios added.
“From here to 7th January I can injure myself, because I train a lot, but I would like to do it, to get a wild card, to try it.”

“Imagine: winning a challenger at 43 is nice, whatever it may be. I feel qualified to play it and win it. If I did not feel good playing, I would not.”

Rios won eighteen ATP World Tour singles titles including five Masters Series events now known as 1000 events. The ultra-talented Chilean holds career wins over Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Carlos Moya, Jim Courier, Gustavo Kuerten, Marat Safin, Boris Becker, Thomas Muster and Michael Chang.

Note: Scoop’s book Marcelo Rios The Man We Barely Knew is available at amazon for $12.99.


  • Scoop Malinowski · December 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Note: Rios was denied a wildcard today by the Columbus Challenger. Was it favoritism for the American players or Rios bad behavior to tennis officials coming back to haunt him?

  • Hartt · December 21, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Has Rios registered with the ant-doping authorities? Rebecca Marino ran into a problem when she wanted to return to pro tennis last fall, but hadn’t done the necessary paperwork, and had to delay her return for a few months.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 21, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    When’s the last time Rios played a match on tour? In that pic you posted, Scoop, of Rios practicing during Eddie Herr, he looked too muscular.

    I was out at Pro World today in Delray Beach and in the late morning I caught Sofia Kenin playing a practice match with Francoise Abanda. I did an interview with Abanda afterward, who when I first walked up to the court, I thought was Venus Williams. The young Canadian, 17 years Venus’s junior, looks a lot like Venus, who said she played once in a Challenger in Quebec City. But talk about it being tough to make it on tour, Abanda said she’s ranked now #220, but she was #110 in 2017 and almost beat French Open champ Ostapenko in a second round match at Wimbledon, but now she’s coach-less and not even going to go to Australia to try to qualify at the Aussie O, the only slam she said she hasn’t qualified for.

    Longer article to follow, but she’s a very nice young woman and apparently somewhat vain because when I took a picture of her, she asked to see it on my phone and I guess she didn’t like it because she then asked me to take another picture of her, but she turned with her back to the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture of a pro player who then asked me to see it and take another one.

  • Rou · December 21, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Wonder if he will play transition tour?????. Dan Marcowitz by dauhjtercolayed Absns in Quebec itf. Abanda has 2 sides. Sometimes she tries other times not at all

  • Hartt · December 21, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Francoise Abanda is an interesting case. She was very successful as a junior, and Canadian tennis fans and officials had high expectations for her. Every once in a while she will play a very good match, and she has done well in Fed Cup, but she hasn’t shown any real consistency.

    I have a hunch that she did not want to follow the advice of Tennis Canada, and perhaps did not understand just how tough it would be on the pro tour. In any case, in terms of Canadian tennis, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu is currently more successful, ranked No. 152 despite losing considerable time this season because of injury.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Rou, at this point Rios is only saying he wants to win a challenger but if he plays really well and proves he can compete at the top 250 level he may adjust his goals.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    I thought there were high hopes for Abands. She said another much younger Canadian was down at Pro World too this week, 16 year old, Layla I think she said her name is. I’ll have to listen to tape.

    She said Tennis Canada was very supportive, but after 19 they stop paying for your travel expenses. She also said growing up in Canada playing mostly on hard indoor courts, her forehand is too flat as a consequence and she wishes she’d come to Florida to train earlier in her career, but she said she’s still young and hopeful.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 21, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Dan, Rios last played doubles in 2004 in an Ecuador Challenger and lost with Chilean Adrian Garcia to Qreshi and Federico Brown 6261 in QF. His last singles match was at same event, losing to Juan Pablo Guzman 6364 in R16. I will have to talk with Qreshi about playing against Rios in his final ATP match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Abanda is an interesting case and we all look forward to your report Dan. She is one of those players like Robson, Oudin, Ula Radwanska who did not live up to early potential but it’s not too late and with the right coach and attitude she can still achieve a successful career.

  • Hartt · December 22, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Dan, the young player Francoise referred to is 16-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez. She just turned 16 in Sept., and even as a 15-year-old had some success. She is relatively small but is a strong competitor.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 22, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Rios looks like he will get smoked if he plays a challenger.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 23, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Rios vs Lapentti full match 12-10 in superbreaker.



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