STARNBERG, December 22, 2018
Marcelo Rios has returned to the courts. The 42-year-old former World No. 1 from Chile beat Nicolás Lapentti from Ecuador 6-4, 5-7, 11-9 in an exhibition match on Friday held at Gran Arena Monticello. Rios reached the top of the ATP-Rankings 20 years ago and showed that he is still in good shape.
Despite winning those five ATP-Masters titles, the Santiago native 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 in straight sets. Rios retired from the ATP-Tour in July 2004.
Ahead of the exhibition, Rios announced that he intends to return to professional tennis asking for a wild card into the Columbus Challenger, which is takting place in Ohio during the second week of January.
“I’ve been training with pretty high-level guys.” Rios said in an interview with La Tercera. “I have lost 12 stone and has almost reached the weight I was when I was a player (on the tour).
“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.”
According to La Tercera, the refusal of the organization to immediately confirm the invitation to the former World No. 1, caused Rios’ decision not to insist on playing the tournament.