Author Mark "Scoop" Malinowski has written a book about former ATP world number one-ranked Marcelo Rios. The following is a brief interview he did with Chilean major daily newspaper La Cuarta's Eduardo Rojas along with some excerpts from his new book.
What on earth made you write about Chino Rios?
Michael Chang asked me the same question at the U.S. Open this year, when I asked him his opinion of Rios for this book. And my reply was the same: Just because I want to. He was a great player, a marvel of a talent, a renegade and a compelling subject for a journalist to investigate.
What is the book about?
It’s an abstract book. I wanted to try to shape it in the the spirit of Rios...unique, unpredictable, irreverent, funny, serious. Something like a Stanley Kubrick film or a Steely Dan song. I collected tons of memories, perspectives and anecdotes from the tennis world about Rios and assembled it all together.
What makes him appealing?
Rios is the most interesting and talented tennis player I have ever seen. A non-conformist and artist who did it his way. I think there are a lot misconceptions about Rios and his extraordinary career should not be forgotten.
Did you tell him you were writing about him? Any anecdotes?
So many. One time, Rios was playing a doubles match in New Haven and was down a set and triple match point. He served a second serve ace. His partner, Michael Joyce, went back to Rios who suddenly told him, "Now we win." And then Rios just went on a tear, hitting first ball winners all over the court. They came back and saved the match points, won that game, won the second set tie-break and won the third set 6-1. Joyce said Rios was on fire. And there are so many colorful stories like that, some good, some bad.
Did you watch him live?
Many times in New York and all my life on television. He played the game differently than all the other players. He even invented a new shot—the jumping backhand. Federer, McEnroe, Nadal, Borg, as talented as they were/are, did not invent a new shot.
Why should tennis fans read this book?
It's a tennis book unlike any other, it shows the sport from a different perspective. Marcelo Rios is one of the most fascinating characters to ever grace a tennis court. My first book "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle" was called by Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward: 'A smashing success, one of the two best books I ever read." John McEnroe also told me he liked my boxing book. This new book about Rios I am equally proud of and confident that readers will very much enjoy to read it.
Some excerpt quotes from Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew:
►Michael Chang: "Why are you writing a book about Marcelo Rios?"
►Ilie Nastase: "He's the worst prick I ever met."
►Marat Safin: "He had the talent to win 10 Grand Slams."
►Roger Federer: "I was a big admirer of Marcelo."
►Thomas Johansson: "Rios could make you feel like it was your first time standing on the court."
►Mats Wilander: "I thought Rios was a ballkid."
►David Mercer: "I don't think he respects many people in the media. I think he regards us as like parasites, living off his skills."
►Nick Bollettieri: "He was one out of a million. What he had you can't teach."
►Mike Agassi: "In a way he was better than Andre because you could not read Rios' shot."
►Michael Joyce: "He was serving down love-40. Triple match point. His first serve was a fault. Then he hits the second serve as hard as he can and it's an ace. I walk back to the service line and then he says, 'Now we win.' I swear to God, then the guy hit like a winner on every ball."
►Mike Nakajima: "Marcelo cold-cocked him. We go into the bathroom and the guy is out cold."
►Peter Lundgren: "Marcelo said to me, I'm sorry I was like that. I thought you were a great coach."
Scoop Malinowski is the co-owner of Tennis-prose.com. Scoop's books Facing Sampras, Facing Federer, Facing McEnroe, Facing Nadal, Facing Hewitt are available at Amazon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org