Marcelo Rios retires from tennis at 28

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:07 IST

Marcelo Rios, the first South American to reach No. 1 in ATP rankings history, retired from tennis because of an ongoing back injury.

Santiago :
Marcelo Rios, the first South American to reach No. 1 in ATP rankings history, retired from tennis because of an ongoing back injury. "It is very sad for me to accept that I must leave tennis," said the Chilean left-hander, gifted on all surfaces. "Tennis has been the passion of my life, I am 28 and I have dedicated almost 20 years to tennis. Tennis has been a way of life to me,a€ he added. Unfortunate exit Rios has been largely inactive for about a year with recurrent back pain. He had surgery in Miami and in Santiago, but the problem was not solved. Rios' daughter, Constanza, 3, lives with her mother in Costa Rica. Rios and his wife, Giuliana, are separated. Rios became No. 1 in the world in March 1998, soon after he reached his first and only grand slam final at the Australian Open, where he lost to Petr Koda of the Czech Republic. He held the ranking for six weeks, and led the ATP that year with seven titles in eight finals. He remains the only man to reach No. 1 without winning a grand slam title. Successful run Rios was also the world's No. 1-ranked junior in 1993, after which he turned professional, earning more than USD 9.7 million in prize money. In his 10-year career, he won 18 singles titles in 31 finals, and one doubles title. However, he couldn't win his hometown event, losing the Santiago final three times, and in Vina del Mar last year. Even so, he helped Chile win the World Team Cup last year for the first time, and finished with a Davis Cup record of 28-17 (25-10 in singles). In 2000, Chile named him as its best athlete of the 20th century. Rios, affectionately known as "Chino" by his countrymen, said that he has not decided what he will do next but in recent months he has been working as a tennis commentator for a local radio station. (AP)

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