How good was Marcelo Rios?

baselinerT

Rookie
I haven't seen a lot of videos yet and just read a small article on him on how he was No. 1 but never won a major. People please contribute.
 

jmsx521

Hall of Fame
I manage to watch live tennis at tournaments 2-3-4 times per year, when I travel every year around Florida pro tournaments. I've been doing so since 1994. Rios had the best feel of the ball that I've seen out of any player! And you can imagine I've seen tons of players since 1994. That's how good he was! Now I've never watched McEnroe play live, but I assume he is somewhere up that alley... if not better than Rios. Certainly we've got to say that McEnroe is better volleyer than Rios.
 

auzzieizm

Semi-Pro
Check some of his matches and points out on Y o u T u b e.com. He had a way of making even the best players look silly and uncoordinated. It is unfortunate that he had more excuses than the Williams sisters when it came to competition. He tanked plenty of matches sometimes merely because he felt like it. Rios is/was my favorite player to watch.
 

xtremerunnerars

Hall of Fame
Never saw him live, but from the random clips and match parts I've seen he was crazy good. I suppose talented was a better word?
 

roundiesee

Hall of Fame
I was very fortunate to watch Rios Live when he came to Singapore in the nineties to play the then "Heineken Cup". He was up against some of the young up and coming players including a very young Lleyton H, and Paradorn S. Rios was superb in every sense of the word. He had such amazing court craft and balance and never seemed to allow his opponent to control any of the rallies. He was adept at maneuvering his opponent around the court, often causing him to be wrong footed completely; or he would suddenly pop up at the net to kill off the points with ease. Rios just seemed so relaxed and natural on the tennis court, it's a joy to watch. It's really too bad that injuries put an early end to his ATP career, otherwise he would have been a worthy challenger to many of the best players around.
 

kairosntx

Professional
He was an amazing player but never lived up to his ability. He could have had much better match results had he been dedicated to his tennis game. He became an international "player" and it seems he spent more time perfecting those abilities than his tennis.
 
I can tell yo:

0 Grand Slam Titles.
1 GS final lost to... Korda!!!
0 RGarros finals.
0 Master Cup Titles or Finals.
0 grass court titles.
One of the weaks number one in ATP history(only 6 weeks).
0 Chile Open titles (yessss!).


That's all, plus 5 master series and a Grand Salm Cup (a joke!)
 

Andres

G.O.A.T.
I can tell yo:

0 Grand Slam Titles.
1 GS final lost to... Korda!!!
0 RGarros finals.
0 Master Cup Titles or Finals.
0 grass court titles.
One of the weaks number one in ATP history(only 6 weeks).
0 Chile Open titles (yessss!).


That's all, plus 5 master series and a Grand Salm Cup (a joke!)
That's all? 5 MS shields, both on HC and clay, and 18 titles overall!
He was definitely an underachiever, but he has a better career than 99% of the players on ATP history.

He's tied at #7 for most MS shields
 
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he was a streaky player for sure.. when he was on tough , he palyed a reallt shrewd and clever game .. plenty of disguise and foolin the opponent to go the wrong direction .. he made agassis anticipation look really bad at the lipton , key biscyne one year.. also had extremely good hands adn used the opponents pace very very well ..
on good days .
 

madmanfool

Semi-Pro
Rios got like the best coordination i have ever seen. If started playing tennis at a younger age and had the proper detication maybe he could have been the GOAT.
 

hollywood9826

Hall of Fame
I would some up Rios as follows

Talent/Potential = Top 5 all time material
Mental toughness = average at best
Work Ethic = avergae at best
Wekaness to the trim = Very High

Like others said watch some of his points and you can see he had the ability be supergood and challenge for majors on all surfaces (well except pete on grass). but seemed to get down on himself quite often and quit mid-match.

Guy twice as talented as Chang (never #1) IMO but I would take changs career in a heartbeat over Rios'.
 

matchmaker

Hall of Fame
As mentioned above, Rios was one of the greatest ball artists of all time. His best quality was disguising his shots, making opponents continuously guess where his next shot was going to land. Sadly he was mentally very weak and completely failed to achieve the great carreer he was probably predestined to. Another explanation might be that his touch and finesse game could not really stand up against the power game that started to come up. Actually when he got to the number one spot I felt he had renounced to some creativity to the benefit of power. I enjoyed watching him most in the period before he really became famous. He was a pleasure to watch. I remember seeing him for the first time on RG against Sampras. He made Sampras look bad but typically lost the match.
 

!Tym

Hall of Fame
I would some up Rios as follows

Talent/Potential = Top 5 all time material
I wouldn't go that far personally. Talent is one thing, but also what Roddick has is talent too. Being able to boom serves like he does IS a talent, it's not just the result of his height or his Pure Drive, but also just a freakishly "live arm" as they call it in baseball.

A lot of people tend to think of "talent" as being beautiful or aesthically pleasing, etc. And yet, I tend to think talent on a tennis court is also measured by your results. Example? Courier's forehand. He may not have had as much talent in his little pinky as Agassi in his, but hey what's talent when you can CONSISTENTLY bludgeon your inside-out and inside-in forehand with tremendous disguise and very little wind-up all day long without missing like Courier could? I'd take Courier's ad-court forehand over Agassi's any day of the week, and certainly it was effective for him when he had it going. You can call that a result of talent or hard work or brute strength or whatever you want, I simply call it effective.

The same can be said for Alberto Bersategui's forehand. Or Magnus Gustaffson's, etc.

A single, great overwhelming shot is a "talent" too in my book. You don't necessarily have to be balanced to win, it's about whose strengths win the most matches overall consistently that counts in the end.

Rios' primary strength and "talent" to me was that you couldn't read his shot direction AT ALL. Santoro has all kind of tricks up his sleeve, every bit as much touch as Rios if not more, the difference is that Rios' disguise is unparalleled. His "trick" in making players look so dumbfounded at his best was that with the same simple, non-descript takeback off BOTH wings, he could place it on a dime, ANYWHERE...on the court. And THAT is what left players looking dead on their feet against him.

Yet, if I were to individually break down each of his shots, I wouldn't say he had THE greatest touch of all time (say McEnroe, Santoro, Mecir types), or THE greatest topsin of all time (say Bruguera, Borg, Nadal, Muster types), or THE greatest precision of all time (say a guy like Wilander or even Connors as a flat power basliner), or THE greatest power of all time (say a Gonzales type), or THE greatest volleys of all time (say an Edberg), or THE greatest serve of all time (say a Sampras), or THE greatest return of all time (say an Agassi or Connors or peak Hewitt), or THE greatest wheels of all time (say guys like Borg, Coria, Chang, Hewitt, Nadal), etc.

So then what do you have? You have a remarkably WELL-ROUNDED player whose greatest strength was in his CHAMELEON-like quality out there. He was a shape-shifter, materializer-dematerializer Star Trek "beam me up" style. He was Bruce Lee's definition of water, and so on and so forth.

Rios' great and overwhelming talent in other words was his inherent transparency.

A great talent? Yes, undoubtedly. But also if you look at it realistcally, a VERY difficult kind of talent to uphold and maintain for any signifcant stretch of time. Rios couldn't overwhelm you with one single brazen in your face superpower the way guys like Sampras and Becker could with say just their serves alone, or the way Courier and Berasategui could with their forehands alone, etc. As such, Rios really did need to be ALL there mentally and physically to put together his Houdini act out there.

Yes, he was oft injured and oft mentally not all there, but even if he was, I still find it hard to believe that his style of play (being illusive and transparent) and winning could be consistently maintained over the long haul. To me, it's simply not realistic as it never really allows for any coasting. One of the great secrets of Sampras' longevity in my opinion was that he could coast on just his serve when need be.
 

Zimbo

Semi-Pro
He was a Poor man's Agassi. Lefty version.
Yeah right, whatever.

Here is there head to head. Agassi's one win was when Rios had to retire. I guess Agassi couldn't beat a poor version of himself.

Rios was a wasted talent.

2002
Miami TMS
FL, U.S.A.
Hard
S
Agassi
6-7(7) 6-4 RET


1998
Grand Slam Cup
Germany
Hard
F
Rios
6-4 2-6 7-6 5-7 6-3

1998
Key Biscayne
FL, U.S.A.
Hard
F
Rios
7-5 6-3 6-4
 

peluzon

Rookie
es una pregunta muy subjetiva , de la cual yo no te puedo dar una respuesta objetiva ya que para mi Marcelo Rios es el motivo por el cual juego tenis , es de mi pais y fue el primer chileno en salir al mundo a derrotar a los gigantes del tenis.

El tenis de Marcelo Rios es arte , y el arte tambien es subjetivo. A mi no me gusto mucho el Moma por ejemplo , preferi el Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.

Yo he visto mas de 100 partidos de tenis de Marcelo Rios y te puedo decir que es al jugador de tenis que le he visto hacer los puntos mas espectaculares del tenis, pero tambien le vi partidos horribles que se dejaba perder porque no tenia ganas de jugar o porque andaba desmotivado.

Te dejo algun material para que veas lo que realmente es talento y no te aburras leyendo el post de Tim.

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=VXnpGE4lzVo

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=OhohTSNKR8U

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=BpRhITZC1lo

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUe5mqolb7U

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=V44vlLbbr9A

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=VKkWUCETwwM&feature=related
 

Zimbo

Semi-Pro
I think Agassi would rather have 8 grandslams than a better head to head with Rios :wink:
Of course Agassi would, who wouldn't. Agassi ranks as one of the the all time greats. I just wanted to reply to Fedace post saying that Rios is a poor version of Agassi.
 

!Tym

Hall of Fame
Of course Agassi would, who wouldn't. Agassi ranks as one of the the all time greats. I just wanted to reply to Fedace post saying that Rios is a poor version of Agassi.
Actually, I look at Rios more as dirty threesome hybrid of a knuckle baller like Santoro, a 'feel' baseliner like Mecir/Kucera/Murray, and a baseline enforcer like Agassi.

That really is his game to me. Agassi relied very little on the offspeed stuff. Agassi was a pretty straight forward, I'm going to punish you kind of guy, and why he was nicknamed the punisher. Rios was much more illusive, and reminds me more of the black caped magician shrouded in myster who pulls rabbits out of his hats and scarves out of his sleeves. With Rios at his best, you never knew what he would shots he'd pull out of from any position in the court. Agassi played more to strict patterns, it's just that he did it REALLY well and was RELENTLESS with it. He was basically a guy who for the second half of his career tried to pound you into submission, while in the first half of his career, he would go for the one-punch K.O.'s. Either way you look at it, Agassi's way of playing was far more predictable than Rios. Rios is by his very nature unpredictable, he's like a SADISTIC cold-blooded psychopath out there. You can see the Hanibal Lectar operating within him. He actually CALCULATES throwing every kind of pitch in the book at you to keep you guessing, and when he does throw his occasional fastball it's very effective, like a dart, but not necessarily because his fast ball is THAT fast but rather because he SETS IT UP so well that you don't see it coming. Rios is more like a pitcher who spot mixes it up beautifully and has a reasonable fastball of say low 90-92, but isn't a 95 plus guy who leaves guys in the dust with just the fastball alone.

Put it this way, you can be effective in baseball as a dominating hurler and also a Greg Maddux or Eckerslley type who throw people's timing all out of whack.

If Agassi is "the punisher" then Rios is a black alley cat with a wry smile and chipped tooth. Trust me, you don't want to be messing with Rios in a back alley when he's feeling good about himself and looking for a feast. Why? 'Cause while you may survive, you ain't gonna be comin' out looking pretty. In fact, you're probably gonna feel violated. Ooh, that Rios, he just knows how to touch you in so many ways...in all the right AND wrong ways.
 
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ajs72us

New User
Greatest underachiever

Marcelo had more talent in his little finger then most guys. If you took Michael Chang brain and fight and put it in Rios, Rios would have won several grand slams. The guy was sick. When he was playing well he gave guys fits especially Agassi. He was a left handed agassi minus the second part of agassi career fight. Just an incredible talent.
 

Andres

G.O.A.T.
sounds better .... southamerican mans Agassi lefty version


but for some stupid people . poor and mexicans , and chileans, southamericas is the same ****
Aren't you a bit paranoid, peluzon? Not every post is an aggression towards chileans!

"Poor man's" is an expression, and has NOTHING to do with money.
 

superman1

Legend
Actually, I look at Rios more as dirty threesome hybrid of a knuckle baller like Santoro, a 'feel' baseliner like Mecir/Kucera/Murray, and a baseline enforcer like Agassi.

That really is his game to me. Agassi relied very little on the offspeed stuff. Agassi was a pretty straight forward, I'm going to punish you kind of guy, and why he was nicknamed the punisher. Rios was much more illusive, and reminds me more of the black caped magician shrouded in myster who pulls rabbits out of his hats and scarves out of his sleeves. With Rios at his best, you never knew what he would shots he'd pull out of from any position in the court. Agassi played more to strict patterns, it's just that he did it REALLY well and was RELENTLESS with it. He was basically a guy who for the second half of his career tried to pound you into submission, while in the first half of his career, he would go for the one-punch K.O.'s. Either way you look at it, Agassi's way of playing was far more predictable than Rios. Rios is by his very nature unpredictable, he's like a SADISTIC cold-blooded psychopath out there. You can see the Hanibal Lectar operating within him. He actually CALCULATES throwing every kind of pitch in the book at you to keep you guessing, and when he does throw his occasional fastball it's very effective, like a dart, but not necessarily because his fast ball is THAT fast but rather because he SETS IT UP so well that you don't see it coming. Rios is more like a pitcher who spot mixes it up beautifully and has a reasonable fastball of say low 90-92, but isn't a 95 plus guy who leaves guys in the dust with just the fastball alone.

Put it this way, you can be effective in baseball as a dominating hurler and also a Greg Maddux or Eckerslley type who throw people's timing all out of whack.

If Agassi is "the punisher" then Rios is a black alley cat with a wry smile and chipped tooth. Trust me, you don't want to be messing with Rios in a back alley when he's feeling good about himself and looking for a feast. Why? 'Cause while you may survive, you ain't gonna be comin' out looking pretty. In fact, you're probably gonna feel violated. Ooh, that Rios, he just knows how to touch you in so many ways...in all the right AND wrong ways.
Nice. I'm a little tired of this head-to-head sh*t. 8 Slams to zero, 17 MS titles to 5, end of story. Agassi had a few guys who gave him fits. Jurgen Melzer also gave Agassi fits with his off-pace funky style, but no one drools all over that guy.
 
Another one: he retires for a back injury, but... he's now playing Black Rock (?)... so??? He doesn't feel more pain I think...
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
He was good but overrated.Yes his game was beatiful to watch but I don't get why are so many people that much in awe of him.He reached ONE slam(which was also the only time he got past quarters in a slam) final and that match resembled almost a tank job to me although Korda was an amazing player when he got hot.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
I've never seen Marcelo Rios play except on Youtube. These bits on Youtube are not very informative.

What was he:

So a baseliner who has lots of touch?

A baseliner who's not a basher?


Please describe his style of play?
 
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peluzon

Rookie
hoodjem said:
So a baseliner who has lots of touch?

A baseliner who's not a basher?

pffffff that looks like a 10 years old kids definition about one of the 23 tennis player to reach number 1 in the world ,, and the firts latinoamerican to get it.

just 6 weeks like number one ????? ok its true , but to get the number one you have a long way before to get it ,, and if you are from latinoamerica you have different conditions to work.

There are millions of people playing tennis , and only 23 have been number one ,, that is a big deal for me,,,

so more respect with Master Rios
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
I was just asking what is a "feel baseliner".

Is it okay to ask a question?
 
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roddick89

Rookie
Rios was very very very very very very good, and like peluzon says, out of the millions of people who play this sport, only a handful have made it to the top spot.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
I'm certain he was very, very good. A player does not get to be No. 1 in the world by being mediocre. I was just wondering about his style of play, and what is a "feel baseliner." I had never heard that particular term before, and even though I think I can imagine what it means, I wanted to give the author a chance to define it. I guess it doesn't pay to be nice on this thread.

Nevermind.
 

Andres

G.O.A.T.
pffffff that looks like a 10 years old kids definition about one of the 23 tennis player to reach number 1 in the world ,, and the firts latinoamerican to get it.

just 6 weeks like number one ????? ok its true , but to get the number one you have a long way before to get it ,, and if you are from latinoamerica you have different conditions to work.

There are millions of people playing tennis , and only 23 have been number one ,, that is a big deal for me,,,

so more respect with Master Rios
Peluzon!! Lo hiciste de nuevo!!!!!
El tipo no dijo NADA malo sobre Rios! Dijo que nunca lo vio jugar salvo en Youtube, y no conoce su juego!! No fue una definicion! Fue una PREGUNTA!!!

Por el amor de dios, larga la paranoia!!!!!
 

35ft6

Legend
Tennis Week: Is there any player you coached who you believed would be better than what they turned out to be as a professional?

Nick Bollettieri: I believe the player who has probably disappointed me the most was Marcelo Rios. He disappointed me because God really awarded him hands and eyes and feet that were just beyond description. He never lived up to his expectations both as a role model for the game and to really fulfill the talent that he had as a player. I believe that he was probably the person. Remember Larry Stefanki did a great job with him as well?

Tennis Week: Yeah, took him to No. 1 in the world.

Nick Bollettieri: Yup. I believe that Marcelo Rios could have been a far better player then what he is.
Guy on my college team said that Rios was the most talented player he ever saw live. Wish I could have seen him play when he was near his peak. I've heard other people say what !Tym mentioned, that his strokes were just impossible to read. He could hit a loopy extreme angled shot and a flat bomb with the same motion, with just a subtle last minute adjustment of his wrist. Very compact strokes, played the game at a different rhythm than other players, it was like trying to dance to jazz or something.

I wish I could find this web page where it's a bunch of quotes from players, coaches, etc, on Marcelo Rios.
 
true story of my encounter with the genius jungle cat genius RIOS

I'm in bathroom stall (draining some cold beer) at Indian Wells circa 2001 or so, and in comes the lil genius and ponies up RIGHT next to me in next stall. He took a bathroom break from his match (atp official right behind him), so we are doin our biz, I see he has the same blk/orange old Nike Air Court Motion Intl as I have on. I say to him "nice shoes Marcelo, must be nice to get them free!" He says----"Thats only why I wear them"

Another story, I'm watching the Chilean Puma cat practice at night at IW circa 1997 at the old location, the Hyatt Grand Champions. His coach then was Stefanki and they got in this minor arguement cause Larry S. invited Marcelo to a barbeque with his family and some sponsors and Marcelo wanted nothin to do with it, prolly wanted to just get a hooker in his room.. Impression I got is that he is a somewhat angry, chip on shoulder, very shy loner. I'VE SEEN EM ALL UP CLOSE LIVE MANY TIMES, AND I MEAN ALL GOING BACK TO BORG/CONNERS/ MAC AND THIS DUDE WAS SPECIAL, A GIFTED FREAKIN GENIUS, ONE OF THE FEW I WOULD BE MESMERIZED JUST WATCHIN PRACTICE FOR HOURS. EFFORTLESS POWER, BALANCE AND SUPERB BALL STRIKIN.....WITH A GOD LIKE HAUGHTINESS/CONFINDENCE..... BUT TROUBLED..... THE VAN GOUGH OF TENNIS
 

peluzon

Rookie
And now he has a new obsession ,, go to the gym and play tennis everyday.

Will be great just one more tournament , just one. Ma be a Will card to Roland Garros (please no Nadal in first round :-?)

 

ohlori

Rookie
Yeah right, whatever.

Here is there head to head. Agassi's one win was when Rios had to retire. I guess Agassi couldn't beat a poor version of himself.

Rios was a wasted talent.

2002
Miami TMS
FL, U.S.A.
Hard
S
Agassi
6-7(7) 6-4 RET



1998
Grand Slam Cup
Germany
Hard
F
Rios
6-4 2-6 7-6 5-7 6-3

1998
Key Biscayne
FL, U.S.A.
Hard
F
Rios
7-5 6-3 6-4
But he couldn't beat Vince Spadea and Jan-Michael Gambill either in 1998.
 

daddy

Legend
Wasn't Agassi still in a slump in '98?
Well if my memory serves me well, that was the comeback year. He started the year near 100th place and finished well into top 10, he finished 6th if I remember. Unles this is some other year but I dont think so.
 

!Tym

Hall of Fame
Regardless of Agassi was in a slump or not, doesn't have a whole lot to do with the fact that Agassi's game just does NOT match up ideally with Rios. I think too much is made at the upper echelon of the game about talent. I think the reality is that all the elite players are much closer in ability than we probably perceive, and that often times the deciding factor between elite AND ALSO near elite players like Bersategui, Ferreira, and Kucera (during his brief peak) is not so much talent, but rather *individual style matchups*.

Agassi, for example, found Kucera incredibly pesting to play against. Why is that? Because Kucera is an elite "feel-baseliner." What is a feel baseliner? A feel basiliner is someone who relies primarily on sensate "touch-sensitive" hands. Their primary mindset is more to soften their hands on impact in order to "absorb" the blunt force of your shot and use it against you by precisely *redirecting* it to a position disadvantageous to you. Classic examples of touch-sensitive "feel" basliners are people like Martina Hingis, Marcelo Rios, Karol Kucera, Miloslav Mecir, Andrei Chesnokov, Andy Murray, Davide Sanguinetti, John McEnroe when he decided to hang back, Anystasia Myskina, even Brad Gilbert (in a utilitarian and less artful sort of way).

Put it this way, Yoda = touch-sensitive mindset. Harisson Ford = Fernando Gonzales, stone hands and an itchy trigger finger.

They're two different kinds of combat.

Btw, the reason Kucera got in Agassi's hair (or lack of) is that he was very good at absorbing Agassi's pace and placing it well, which frustrated Agassi and also exposed that Agassi isn't the world's greatest ball striker when HE wasn't the one controlling the yo-yo.

A guy like Rios was trouble for Agassi, because he could put AGASSI on the yo-yo for once. Rios did so, because he could take the ball on the rise, even against pace, just like Agassi could do. As a result, Agassi who normally rushed his opponents found himself rushed. Rios' angles and erratic shot behavior and offspeed stuff mixed in with the occasional blunt-speed stuff also unsettled Agassi, making it difficult for him to find his bashing rhythm. Agassi without his bashing rhythm is like a sail boat without its sail...lost.

On the other hand, Chang was a guy Agassi loved playing SO LONG AS he was feeling good about himself that day. The reason is that Chang had neither the variety of Rios nor the power of a Sampras to keep him honest. As such, he said of playing Chang that he felt it was like facing a mirror image except that one was a heavyweight and the other a lightweight. Look at Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard recently. Both great wrestlers, but as Maynard basically said afterward, just look at him and look at me, who's bigger? Yeah, sometimes it really is that simple when you're employing a similar game plan and strengths. The bigger guy manhandles the little guy.

When Agassi played Rios the first time at the Lipton, he and Gilbert were making fun of Rios before the match in the locker room joking about how they were going to push around and bully "the little man" as they called him...um, we, obviously know how that turned out know don't we?

You see, Agassi when he first matched up against Rios was thinking hey, I'm the heavyweight here, he's the lightweight, this is just going to be another me the hairy man beast picking on and having fun with the little she beast Chang. WRONG.

As Agassi would soon find out, Rios may have shared a similar stature to Chang, but their way of playing was NOT similar at all.

Chang is a like a little tenacious pitbul out there who doesn't realize he's not really six feet tall. He's in some sense dillusional. This was actually one of his strengths though, in that this allowed him to "impose his will" and win matches he quite often had no business winning.

Rios, on the other hand, wasn't a guy who "imposed his will" to win. He instead sliced you up with a thousand paper cuts. He really was the closest thing you could come to of, "death by a thousand paper cuts." That's how he would defeat you. He didn't go for the throat like Muster or the balls like Lendl, he would instead make you question your belief in yourself, gradually causing your confidence to errode in one step here, two steps there, another step over there. He'd knick you in the forehead, then the shin, then the elbow, then the eyeball when your mouth opened to say, "Ow!"

He was a master of rubbing salt in your many open wounds as well.

He was death by black magic to an unsuspecting, macho-machismo, overly cocky, "locker room jock" of a foe like Agassi.

Remember, Mr. Fuji from WWF? Rios was the guy who threw salt in your eyes, and THEN hit you in the balls with a cane immediately afterward. That was how it was like to play him he if you crossed him, as Agassi must have before that first Lipton final.

As I said originally, fighting Rios was like fighting a slinky cat that you could never quite catch, but he was always right there to slash you before you could scream, "Monkey!" at every turn.

I guess you could say, it must have kind of felt like that legendary hall of mirrors fight scene from Enter the Dragon.

Unfortunately for Agassi, he may have had Bruce Lee beat for raw power...but certainly not for wiles or craft.

To beat Rios, unless you were TRULY having an OUTSTANDING day, looking at his modest physique and thinking eh, I should just be able to over power and run over the little guy, WASN'T the best strategy to adopt.

Not saying it didn't *occasionally* work, but in reality, it would only work on days when power baseliners were in the ZONE. Anything less, and he'd just outguile you and make you look silly if you tried that approach on him.

Notice that the next time Agassi and Rios met up at the Lipton, and this time Rios was at a low point and Agassi at a high point, notice that that this time Agassi had a FAR different appraisal of the match ahead. He said that it'd come down to whether he could impose his game or if Rios could "Dr. Feel Good" him again. In other words, Agassi KNEW by now that Rios wasn't an ideal style matchup for his game. What Agassi SHOULD have said is that probably my best chance is to rely on my superior fitness to outlast Rios, because stroke for stroke this probably isn't the best matchup for me.

In contrast, the reason Chang matched up sooooo MUCH better against Rios than Agassi is because unnerving or unsettling Chang was virtually impossible. Agassi was DEFINITELY a guy who you could unsettle if you made him feel even just a little bit less than confident in his weapons. Chang wasn't like that. He was as one poster said, "almost pathological" out there in the sense that he always seemed to see himself as being in the match no matter how badly outgunned he might be appearing.

AND the thing you have to understand about Rios is that if he couldn't get in YOUR head, then you CERTAINLY could get in his head! Rios was a great practicitioner of witch craft sure, yet he was also VERY apparently no great proponent of watching Rudy before matches to get inspired. Dig deep and Rios, dog fight and Rios, etc. did not go together. With Chang, you HAD to always be mentally prepared for a dog fight when you stepped on the court with him. Rios couldn't match that, no way, no how, not ever...it simply wasn't his "style" to try hard and sweat profusely and look like he cared more than anything else in the world to win a match. That was "uncool" to him, to be perceived as someone who laid it all on the line it seemed.

Meanwhile, in terms of actual game itself, the one big knock against Chang was always that he lacked the raw firepower of the big boys. Against Rios? No problem. Chang didn't GIVE Rios the ammunition he so loved to turn against you. Rios was a classic example of a guy who FED off an opponents power. Just look at his stroke techniques, so simple, so compact, so elan. They were optimized in other words for turning you power against you, like facing a mirror. You shoot a laser beam at Rios and it'd reflect right back at you and kill you striking you with a surgeon's precision in the throat.

Chang, in short, DIDN'T give Rios power, so nothing to fear there. ...but what about all of Rios' cutesy angles and dink shots? Um, we ARE talking about Michael Chang here, one of if not THE greatest court coverer of all time. Chang was a guy who loved to CREATE off the run. Chang's greatest whimsy and shots inevitably almost ALWAYS came off sprinting off the full run and making some impossible get. Every slam during his prime you could ALWAYS count on him making the points of the tournament highlight reel because of this quality. Chang at his best didn't just run, he CREATED off the run.

Chang in short liked to run and more than that he had the speed to catch up to more of Rios off-speed junk AND mentally not get flustered so he could do something about it in a CALM and RATIONAL manner, which is a mindset which was PARAMOUNT to maintain when facing a drive you mad, magician type like Rios.

All in all, I honestly believe that Rios vs. Chang in a best of ten with no injuries or other extraneous external factors, and Chang wins 7.5 out of 10. Agassi vs. Rios in a best of ten and Rios when 7.5 out of 10.

Again, it's just matchups. Also, you can't really say of players of this elite caliber, that someone good enough to reach the top five in the entire freaking world at some point isn't good enough to manage at least SOME victories along the way in a best of ten series. Remember, Rios might have had a favorable style matchup against Agassi, but he still did NOT beat Agassi love, love, and one in that Lipton final or anything either. There IS a difference between winning comfortably, and NO CHALLENGE AT ALL, let's not get carried away here.
 

Shaolin

G.O.A.T.
Rios is my favorite player ever, in front of 2. Sampras and 3. Federer, which pretty much shows my regard for him.

I would describe Rios as a combination of a lefty Agassi with the touch/artistry of McEnroe, the catlike movement of Federer and unfortunately the mental game of Safin.
 
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