Stroll in the sunshine – BY SKIP BANDELE
The ATP Senior Tour may have to rethink its qualifying criteria, as Chile’s Marcello Rios continued to dominate the season in general and his opponents at the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions event in particular.
The 30-year-old proved far too strong for his four opponents in the Algarve, never dropping a set on the way to dismissing the 17 years older, two-time champion, John McEnroe 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Rios had already previously taken the Doha and Hong Kong titles without ever looking likely to loose a match.
Of the eight-man field at the Tennis Academy, only Austria’s Thomas Muster looked capable of giving the new champion a game, and organisers will now have to attempt to lure names of the calibre of a Boris Becker or Goran Ivaniševiæ south, to restore the competitive element in time for next year’s edition.
Under current ATP rules, competitors in veteran tournaments must be at least 35 years of age, but, an exception is made for any player who has left the professional circuit for two seasons – Rios falls into this category. Despite the heavy defeat, McEnroe vowed not to give up, claiming that he will have a better chance of winning, once the tour moves indoors later this year.