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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Rios announces retirement
MARCELO RIOS FACTS
Marcelo Rios
Born: 26 December 1975 in Santiago, Chile
Turned pro: 1994
Titles: 18 (five Masters Series)
Highest ranking: 1 (March 1998)
Prize money: $9.7m
Win-loss record: 391-192
Former world number one Marcelo Rios has retired from tennis.

A chronic back injury has restricted the 28-year-old to just three tournaments since May 2003.

"It is very sad for me to accept that I must leave tennis - it has been the passion of my life and I have dedicated almost 20 years to it," he said.

The Chilean was world number one for six weeks in 1998, the same year in which he reached his only Grand Slam final at the Australian Open.

"The truth is that I wanted to continue to play and win a tournament for my daughter to see," said Rios, who twice had surgery on his back problem.

"That will not be possible."

Rios' daughter, two-year-old Constanza, lives with the Chilean's estranged wife Juliana in Costa Rica.

Rios was the first South American in history to reach the number one spot, and only the third ever player to be ranked top as a junior and as a professional.

He won five Masters Series titles, including three in 1998, and was later named Chile's sportsman of the century.

However, Rios' career was also notable for controversy.

He regularly skipped Wimbledon, saying "grass is for cows", and once described women's tennis as "a joke".

In 2001, police in Rome filed a complaint against Rios after he allegedly attacked two policemen following a night-out.

In 2003, he almost missed playing for his country in the Davis Cup when he failed to catch a flight after attending an all-night beach party.

And later in the same year, he was cleared of assaulting two policeman following an incident in a bar in his hometown of Santiago.




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