Former World No. 1 Marcelo Ríos says he almost decided to quit tennis at the age of 22 when he became World No. 1. Rios was speaking over the weekend on Instagram and reflected about the time he wanted to announce that he would retire after winning the Miami Masters in 1998 but changed his mind at the last minute.
“I won Indian Wells and I knew I had a chance to reach the top of the world ranking in Miami. I still needed Sampras to lose early in that tournament and that's exactly what happened. My draw was very complicated: Ivanisevic, Henman, Haas and Agassi in the final.
When I saw Andre on the other side of the net, I doubted if that would really be my moment." Ríos says he was not prepared for the attention that came with being the top player in the world. “I am as I am, but I have always been criticized for that.
I grew up away from home, at 13 I had to become almost independent. I had to learn to fight, to defend myself from life and I was ready for that when I got to the circuit. But nobody ever prepared me to be number one in the world, to be an idol.
This is not taught. There are no classes for this. You get that fame, that gift and you take it as you can. No one teaches you to be number 1. I launched myself into life in that way and from that day, the day I beat Agassi, everyone started to criticize me."
“I remember winning and almost not reacting, I threw the racket but I barely celebrated it. That’s why they criticized me. In my day I remembered saying once to my manager, or to my father, I do not remember it well, that if someday I became number 1 I would retire from tennis.
As well, during that ceremony I was a minute away from saying it. It was not arrogance. It was simply what I wanted. I discussed it with my agent and told him I wanted to retire, at 22 years old. He called me crazy, he told me that now was when the money and the contracts would start to arrive.
Then I thought coldly and he was right, I would have been left with nothing. If I had made that decision, now I would be working. If I had been injured before I was No. 1, this story would not exist."