Tennis: Renaissance man Rios rolls into final

For Marcelo Rios, lazy days and Sundays no longer mix. Yesterday the somewhat erratic and complex Chilean overwhelmed the Frenchman Nicolas Escude in straight sets to reach the final of tomorrow's Australian Open.

The ninth seed beat Escude 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in a one-sided semi-final to set up a left-handed contest for the men's title against the sixth seed, Petr Korda.

Rios, one of the sport's more insular characters, admitted he has been accused by rival players of "tanking" - or giving up - in the past. He acknowledged that he once was too lazy to fight when losing matches.

"Some days I didn't want to play. I would wake up and say `I don't want to play tennis, I don't want to fight today'," he said. "Sometimes I feel tired and some matches I didn't want to play. But I came to realise that tennis is a tough sport: you have to be professional 24 hours a day.

"At the beginning of playing on the tour, I lost easy matches. But two years ago I have tried to fight in all my matches. I discovered it is more mental and I have to stay more focused on all the points, all the matches.

"It is really exciting to win a Grand Slam. No Chilean has previously done it and I'll be the only one in my country to do it, if I win on Sunday."

Rios is the first Chilean to reach a Grand Slam final since Luis Ayala lost in the 1960 French Open. He has surged up the rankings in the past year and was the only player in 1997 to reach the fourth round or better of all four Grand Slam events.

Rios eliminated Korda, from the Czech Republic, from the first round of last year's Australian Open in straight sets and they have split their six meetings.

"It is totally different to play a final and to play a guy in the top 10," Rios said. "Last year was first round, he wasn't doing that good. I think this year is more exciting. He plays fast and he's tough and confident." Rios broke Escude's service eight times and when the Frenchman fell two sets behind he could not fight back as he had done three times previously in the tournament.

Martina Hingis teamed up with Mirjana Lucic to beat the top doubles seeds, Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva, in the women's doubles final. The unseeded Hingis and her 15-year-old partner from Croatia had to come back from 0-3 down in the third set to win 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

The 17-year-old Swiss won last year with Zvereva and decided that retaining the title was sufficient preparation for today's singles final against Conchita Martinez of Spain.

"That's enough for today," she said. "I have played enough tennis these two weeks. Even if I played another half an hour I wouldn't learn anything."

l Steffi Graf has had to shelve her latest comeback after a recurrence of knee trouble. The former world No 1 had planned to return in next week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo after eight months out.

- Derrick Whyte, Melbourne

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: MIS Officer - Further Education Sector

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all