Nice read of Nick Bollettieri talking about Marcelo Rios. Remember in the book "Tough Draw" By Eliot Berry, Bollettieri was quoted as calling Agassi a "one in 50,000" player. And in this book Bollettieri called Rios a "one out of a million"
Speaks volumes about the natural talent of Rios. Some interesting insights made here by Nick...
Nick Bollettieri: "My first memory of Rios is, Who is this guy? He came here with a Chilean group when he was about 14. He wasn't big in stature. But he had an air on the tennis court - that he could do anything with the ball. And that air is difficult to teach. And the ironic thing is, he could do anything with it. Even at that age he just had the ability to do those things. And then being a lefty - it was much more interesting to me because lefties are peculiar in ways. They do things you don't think anybody can do and sometimes they do things off the chart. They think different, they react differently. And they really cannot be stymied early in their career. Because if you stymie them, you never know what that boy and girl can do. And lefties are far different than righties. He wasn't too jovial on the tennis court, he didn't mess around. He wasn't joking. That's my first memory of Marcelo."
Question: Who did he like to practice with here?
Nick Bollettieri: "Marcelo would actually practice with anyone. He never thought anyone was too young or too poor. If you say to hit, he'd go out and hit. That was very good. I think Jimmy Arias said it better than anybody. Because he'd play with ding dongs, ping pongs, choppers, chippers. Because you never know when you might run into somebody that way. He would never say, Oh they're not good enough, or something like that. But he was very serious when he practiced. He was serious. And he worked like hell on the court. He would never say, I'm tired, I had enough. He would run for every ball. And he was the same way in the gym. He worked his *** off. He never complained."
Question: He loved the sport?
Nick Bollettieri: "He seemed to love it. However, he didn't show too many signs of satisfaction. So you never knew what was going through his mind. You didn't know whether he was self-conscious, over-conscious, stuck up. You didn't know. He trained with the very best - can't get any better than Larry Stefanki did a helluva job with him. And then I had him. I was a little taken aback because I began to see a little bit of a different trait of Marcelo. I don't know if he really appreciated the sport or what he could get out of the sport - it was very difficult for him to say thank you to all the people that helped him. It was very difficult for him to talk to young children, when they waited for autographs and things like that. And I was a little surprised. And he wasn't overly generous. And he was very tight with his money. I remember he'd come down from the eighth floor down to the third floor at two o'clock in the morning when the water was free. He'd go all the way down there. That was in Germany, we were playing the Grand Slam Cup in Munich and he won (d. Agassi in five sets). In fact, I had Williams then and we won the doubleheader. And so when we won, I tipped the stringer and I tipped the ballboys. And then when I presented them, he said, 'What did you do that for?' And then he even questioned whether or not I should get paid because that wasn't on the regular Tour [smiles]."
"I believe that Marcelo had as much talent - feet, movement, anticipation, hands, his eyes - of any player that's played the game. He wasn't afraid to work. But tough for him to communicate. And perhaps, to understand how devastating it was to a youngster that would wait two or three hours for autographs and then not do that. And of all the students I've had, I believe that he didn't get to a point where he was capable of doing. I think he could have been top dog, man, top dog."
Question: How has Marcelo changed and matured?
Nick Bollettieri: "He was divorced and he's married now - he's very, very, very polite. Extremely, extremely polite. He came here to watch his daughter (in 2009) - by the way, his daughter (Constanza) is excellent, excellent. No, she's better than excellent. She moves well. Good groundstrokes. Great foundation. She can volley. She can do a lot of things. She could be a very good player. And Marcelo is very happy to see that. And he was very appreciative, (saying) Thank you, he was very warm. And I said to myself, I think having the children that he has now, helped him change. But did he fulfill his career? No. No sir. He was one out of a million. What he had, you can't teach."
Question: He was the only guy I ever saw who could toy with Agassi on the court. Your comment?
Nick Bollettieri: "He could toy with anybody. Fast as anything. He created shots that most people don't even think they could do. But he was #1 for a week or so. Never won a Grand Slam. He probably fell short of the mark he could have made on tennis."
Question: What was missing in his makeup?
Nick Bollettieri: "Himself. You have to understand that life is a multitude of things. It's being humble. It's sharing. It's knowing that when a little kid waits hours - so excited - that it's your obligation - this is your profession - to give that child time. I think now he seems to be much more subdued. But he was never lazy. Never lazy. Never. He worked like an animal."