Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Marcelo Andrés Ríos Mayorga

Marcelo Andrés Ríos Mayorga (born December 26, 1975) is a former World No. 1 tennis player from Chile. Nicknamed El Chino ("The Chinese") and El zurdo de Vitacura ("The lefty from Vitacura"), 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.


In 1993. Ríos became the first male player from Latin America to be ranked world number one in juniors. That year, he won the boys' singles title at the US Open and his first satellite tournament in Chile.

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 (who would be sanctioned by the ATP in December 1998 after testing positive for nandrolone following a doping test at Wimbledon). 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 former president Eduardo Frei on the balcony of La Moneda, with ten thousand people cheering outside the palace.

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, Saint Poelten beating Vincent Spadea, the Grand Slam Cup against Andre Agassi, and Singapore against Mark Woodforde. Furthermore, he reached the quarterfinals in the Madrid and Paris Masters. The year 1998 was a milestone in the career of Marcelo and the sports history of 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.

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 married Costa Rican, Giuliana Sotela, in December 2000 in Santiago. He met her while training at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. Their only child, Constanza, 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."

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