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Rios Just Step Away From Moving To No. 1

Sat., March 28, 1998, midnight

They love Marcelo Rios in Chile, and they love him in the cheap seats at the Lipton Championships, where fans chant, wave flags and sing a song popular at South American soccer matches: “Ole! Ole! Ole!”

Rios weighs only 150 pounds, but he’s bigger than soccer in Chile. And he needs just one more win to become the No. 1 tennis player in the world.

The pony-tailed left-hander beat Tim Henman 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 in the Lipton semifinals Friday, losing just five points in the final set. His opponent in Sunday’s finals will be three-time Lipton champion Andre Agassi, who advanced by beating Alex Corretja 6-4, 6-2.

If Rios wins, he’ll supplant Pete Sampras at the top of the rankings, making him South America’s first “numero uno.”


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