As you may have already heard, Marcelo “Chinito” Rios beat Andre Agassi 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, at their exhibition match in Santiago yesterday.
The Chilean media did their part to get buzz going for this match. Newspapers Tercera and El Mercurio, among others, published stories and interviews of a fit Agassi and an ailing Rios, both far cries from the tennis rebels they once were.
(all the links lead to spanish-language pages, and i didn’t have time to translate. sorry.)
The U.S. Embassy in Chile held a reception in Agassi’s honor, and we’re told that Andre — content in his post-pro tour life complete with wife, kids, a charity, and an absence from the Masters tour — trained hard in anticipation of this match (marking the 9-year anniversary of Rios beating Agassi at the 1998 Key Biscayne final, giving him the #1 ranking — the first for a South American).
Rios, restless in the retirement forced upon him by a back injury, tried to enter the Vina del Mar tournament earlier this year in Santiago, but had to withdraw because of a flare-up. While not a 100%, he deemed himself fit enough to play this exhibition.
And he seemed really grateful for having the opportunity to play, saying, “Creo que ha sido una de las exhibiciones que más he disfrutado en mi carrera.”
How sweet; he’s turned over a new leaf. I’ll put my money down that he won’t be pissing away any more matches like he used to.