Published On : Mon, Jul 19th, 2004
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(July 19, 2004) Chile’s “sportsman of the century” and former world No. 1 tennis player Marcelo Rios retired from tennis last Friday because of a recurring back injury, ending a career that included 18 singles titles. Rios has been mostly inactive for the past year due to back pain. He underwent surgery in Miami, United States, and in Santiago, but the problem was not remedied.

“It is very sad for me to accept that I must leave tennis,” confessed Rios, the first South American to reach No. 1 in the ATP ranking history.

“Tennis has been the passion of my life. I am 28, and I have dedicated almost 20 years to it. Tennis has been a way of life to me.”

Rios became No. 1 in the world in March 1998, soon after reaching his first and only grand slam final at the Australian Open, where he lost to Petr Koda of the Czech Republic.

He led the ATP that year with seven titles in eight finals and remains the only man to reach No. 1 without winning a grand slam title.

“The truth is that I wanted to continue to play and win a tournament for my daughter to see,” said Rios.

Known affectionately as ‘Chino,’ Rios reached 31 finals in his 10-year career and won one doubles title. He also helped Chile win the World Team Cup last year for the first time, and had a 28-17 record in the Davis Cup, including 25-10 in singles.

By David Seitel (

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