Tennis Prose




May/21

2

The Man Who Beat Marcelo Rios In His Final Match

The illustrious career of Marcelo Rios came to a conclusion on April 5, 2004 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Rios was just 28 years old but his body was breaking down. After a disastrous 2003 which saw Rios lose in the first round at Roland Garros, and miss AO, Wimbledon and US Open, the former world no. 1 from Chile gave his career one final thrust in 2004.

In Salinas, Ecuador in March, Rios defeated David Gonzalez 60 60 but then lost to Juan Pablo Guzman of Argentina 64 63 on an outdoor hard court.

The following week, Rios traveled to San Luis Potosi, Mexico and on the red clay he beat Florent Serra of France 75 63.

In the next round for Rios was Argentina’s Mariano Delfino, ranked 224 in the world.

Delfino defeated Rios after losing the first set … 57 63 (ret.). I recently contacted Delfino to discuss his memories for his role in ending the career of a South American legend.

“Yes of course I remember. It was one of my best tournaments,” said Delfino, who was 26 at the time in 2004. “I won against Rios – it was his last official match and I won the tournament (defeated Sergio Roitman in the final 64 64). And the cherry on top of it all was that Guillermo Vilas wanted to practice with me every day.”

Vilas, the all time Argentine legend just so happened to be in town that week.

Delfino concedes his vicotry over Rios was not as glorious as one may imagine. “For sure it was one of his worst performances, he played a long match the day before (vs. Serra) and probably he wasn’t ready to play against me so I can’t take much credit. I practiced many times with Rios and Vilas. Vilas is a legend and was a really nice that he wanted to practice with me.”

Delfino prefers to remember Rios at his best. “Ríos was nice to watch But when he was playing good it was not nice to be in front of him [smiles].”

2004 in San Luis Potosi was the third and last ATP Challenger title that Delfino won in his career – he also won a pair of Challengers in 2002 on clay in Trani, Italy (defeated Jiri Vanek 64 76) and Budapest, Hungary (defeated Quino Munoz 63 67 61). From 2002 to 2004 Delfino won six ATP Challenger doubles titles, each with a different partner.

Delfino’s highest ATP ranking in singles was 154 in May of 2003. His only other appearance on the ATP World Tour was in the 2003 Campionati Internazionali di Sicilia, where he and partner Roitman were doubles wildcard entrants. Delfino and Roitman won their opening round match over Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer, but were beaten in the second round to Christophe Rochus and Tom Vanhoudt of Belgium.

Delfino stopped playing in the ATP in 2011 but tried to play some Futures doubles in 2015 in Chennai, India. His last official match was in doubles, partnering with India’s Sumit Nagal, who he was coaching) – they lost to Lakshit and Chandril Sood 64 62 in the quarterfinals. (Nagal was just 17 at the time and is currently ranked 137 in singles.)

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6 comments

  • Douglas Day · May 4, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Fokina having a tougher time with Ugo’s teamate Herbert this busy morning. If he can crack the frenchman’s fore-court assault the spainard completes a masterclass of Franco-scalps clay fricassee!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 4, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Fokina is making a believer out of me, so is Alcarez. However Opelka is going backwards, he’s 2-6 this year. Lost four or five in a row now.

  • Doug Day · May 4, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Paire has packed stands cheering for him in Madrid against Basilasvili. His ZZ-Top sized beard is best guess why our talented toffer has filled the outside bull ring. He’s the unmask-able Eww Kyrios.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 4, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Paire is never boring and very flashy and flamboyant on court, it seems he’s given up hopes that he can win anything big but he’s still fun to watch.

  • Doug Day · May 6, 2021 at 6:26 am

    Next wave pre-dawn raid today. Bublik playing lights out against Mr. hot streak himself, Karatzev. The corner to corner groundies are only excelled by the taller guys serving and drop shots.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 7, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Bublik, Ruud, Berretini, Isner, Thiem, this French Open is looking very wide wide open, a lot of big threats who can take down Rafa, add Isner to that list. Remember Isner is one of the very few players to extend Rafa to five sets at Roland Garros. Isner looks lethal again.

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