Aug/18

29

My Latest Interview with La Segunda About Marcelo Rios

Daniel Fernandez contacted me again to ask some questions about my thoughts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame omitting Marcelo Rios from the latest 2019 induction class ballot which included Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Mary Pierce, Jonas Bjorkman, Thomas Muster, Goran Ivanisevic, Sergi Bruguera, Conchita Martinez, and Li Na. I guess I have become his American go-to guy to discuss Marcelo Rios and his status in the world of tennis. I said it before and I will say it again, Marcelo Rios deserves to be nominated and inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even the greatest player in tennis history agrees…

Daniel Fernandez: Once again, the Tennis Hall of Fame has excluded Marcelo Rios; even more, he’s not even considered among the candidates for next year promotion, many of whom are not only contemporaries from him but have at least similar competitive records.What do you think of that?

Scoop Malinowski: Marcelo Rios is a fringe contender to be nominated for the Hall of Fame despite the fact Roger Federer said he would vote Marcelo to be inducted. The fact that other fringe players like Michael Stich, Michael Chang and Gabriela Sabatini were inducted and Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Muster are now officially nominated this year gives hope to Marcelo’s chances.

Daniel Fernandez: At this point I’m really considering that this lack of recognition has more to do with his persona and bad reputation than his tennis career.

Scoop Malinowski:
That should not matter. It did not matter for Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Marat Safin, Andre Agassi in his yearly professional years. Marcelo Rios is not the typical example of a tennis champion, his credentials and achievements are unique. If it’s going to happen it will take time. Look, nobody expected Roger Federer to say he would vote yes to inducting Marcelo Rios into the International Hall of Fame. That was a step in the process to change the public perception of Rios and to appreciate and understand his career. I think it would certainly help if Marcelo was more visible on the tennis circuit and if he granted more interviews to media. Marcelo was an intriguing character and many tennis enthusiasts and industry insiders would love to hear his views and observations about the modern game and also his thoughts about his career. To many people in tennis, Marcelo has disappeared. He needs to be more visible and accessible to the media. This would help raise his profile and increase his chances to be nominated for the Hall of Fame ballot in the coming years.

Daniel Fernandez: And although we already talked about this: Do you think Rios has enough achievements and credentials to (at least) be considered among the candidates?

Scoop Malinowski: He accomplished more than some Hall of Famers. Number one in the world is the ultimate achievement in pro tennis. And he was a great inspiration for many future players including Federer, Yoshihito Nishioka, Donald Young, Alexander Dolgopolov and Maria Sharapova. I’m around the sport a lot and players and insiders still talk about him very fondly. He is missed. He was special. He had a profound impact on the sport both positively and to a lesser degree negatively with his attitude to some. Rios was a very special champion who burst into the world of tennis as a little man and against all odds had a gigantic impact. ATP no. 1, four Masters Series titles, 18 titles overall, won the Grand Slam Cup.

Another very worthy player to be in the Hall of Fame is Nicolas Massu. He accomplished something Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have failed to – he won those two Olympic gold medals in 2004 in singles and doubles, both of which required astonishing physical efforts. Saving four gold medal points in the fourth set of the doubles down 2-6 vs Germany’s Kiefer and Schuettler was one of the most incredible matches I ever saw. Massu for one major tournament was a superhero. He accomplished the impossible in tennis, something the three greatest players of all time have failed to do. And it’s looking like no one in history will ever accomplish what Massu did in 2004 in Athens. Massu should also be a serious contender to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Wouldn’t it be something special if Rios and Massu both get in in the next decade? It could and should happen.

Scoop’s book Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew is available at amazon for $11.99

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