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Guillermo Vilas

November 4, 2019


Guillermo Vilas is a retired professional
tennis player from Argentina. Although he peaked at world no. 2 on the ATP rankings in 1977, several sources
and publications ranked Vilas as the world no. 1 that year. Vilas was the second Latin-American to win
a Grand Slam tournament and is considered one of the greatest South American tennis
players ever. He was the second male player to win more
than 900 matches in the Open Era, reaching the mark in July 1987, behind only Jimmy Connors
who reached 900 in 1985. Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer have also surpassed
900 wins. Career
Raised in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, Vilas was a southpaw and played his first
tour event in 1969. He was in the year-ending top ten from 1974
through 1982. He was a clay-court specialist but also played
well on hard, grass, and carpet surfaces. He won four Grand Slam titles: the 1977 French
Open and the 1977 US Open and the 1978 and 1979 Australian Open. He was also the runner-up at the French Open
three times and at the Australian Open once. In 1974 he won the year end Masters Grand
Prix title. In addition he won seven Championship Series
titles the precursors to the current Masters 1000. Best year
A left-handed baseliner, Vilas’s best year on tour was 1977 when he won two of the four
Grand Slam singles tournaments and 16 of the 31 Association of Tennis Professionals tournaments
he entered. His playing record for 1977 was 145 wins against
15 losses. Not including the Masters year-end championship,
he won 72 of his last 73 ATP matches in 1977. The highest point during this phenomenal run
was winning the last US Open played at Forest Hills against Jimmy Connors 2–6, 6–3,
7–6(4), 6–0 in a match where Vilas surprised his American rival by attacking the net. Winning streak, most titles in a single year
In 1977 he won seven consecutive titles after Wimbledon – Kitzbühel, Washington, Louisville,
South Orange, Columbus, US Open and Paris – and set up a 46-match all-surface winning
streak, third all-time behind Björn Borg’s records of 49 and 48 consecutive matches won. He also had a record 57-match winning streak
on clay courts and unofficial tournaments), which stood until the record was broken by
Rafael Nadal in 2006. Both his winning streaks were terminated in
October 1977 by Ilie Năstase in the final of the Aix-en-Provence tournament. In that best of five-set final, Vilas dropped
the first two sets by 6–1, 7–5 and then retired in protest of Năstase’s use of a
spaghetti strung racquet. After that he won a further 28 matches in
a row with titles at Tehran, Bogotá, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Johannesburg. That run was ended in the Masters semifinals
by Björn Borg Even though he won 16 ATP singles titles,
including the French Open and the US Open and was the runner-up at the January edition
of the Australian Open in 1977, he was never ranked by the ATP as World No. 1 during 1977. He was instead year-end World No. 2 in those
rankings, below Jimmy Connors. There is some controversy regarding his status
as No. 2 ranked player for that year, but no official statement has been given by ATP. Retirement
Vilas retired from the ATP tour in 1989 but still played ATP Challenger Series until 1992. He was inducted into the International Tennis
Hall of Fame in 1991. Vilas was in the stands at Flushing Meadows
to cheer on his countryman, Juan Martín del Potro, who beat Roger Federer in an upset
in the US Open finals in 2009. Distinctions
Players with most titles in a season: 16 in 1977. Players with most wins in a season: 134 in
1977. Won the Grand Prix in 1974, 1975, and 1977
Held the open era male record for the longest winning streak on clay courts at 53 matches,
set in 1977, until it was bettered by Rafael Nadal in 2006. Nadal later extended this to 81 matches. Won 62 ATP singles titles and was the runner-up
in 40 singles tournaments. Won 16 doubles titles with other 10 doubles
finals. He took Argentina to its first-ever Davis
Cup final in 1981, together with José Luis Clerc, who was also a top-ten player. The Argentine press often referred to the
tensions between the two of them, which even reverberated to the 2004 French Open awards
ceremony, in which Vilas presented Gastón Gaudio with his trophy over Clerc’s objections. Vilas’s success on the court led to a surge
in popularity of tennis in Argentina and throughout Latin America. Guillermo Cañas and Guillermo Coria were
named after him. In 2005, TENNIS Magazine put Vilas in 24th
place in its list of the 40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Open Era. The only player to win ATP Tour singles titles
in five different continents in the same year, 1977 – Europe, South America, North America,
Africa, and Asia. Career statistics
Grand Slam tournament performance timeline Finals: 8
Year-End Championship performance timeline Finals: 1
Records These records were attained in Open Era of
tennis. ^ Denotes consecutive streak. Career finals:104*
Singles titles:(62) Singles runners-up:
1972 – Buenos Aires, Cincinnati 1974 – Washington D.C.
1975 – San Francisco, Boston, French Open 1976 – Rome, Dallas WCT, São Paulo WCT
1977 – Aix en Provence, Nice, Palm Springs, Baltimore, Australian Open, Johannesburg*(*unfinished)
1978 – French Open 1979 – Sydney Indoor, Indianapolis, Rome,
Stuttgart Indoor, Richmond WCT 1980 – Barcelona, Madrid, Hamburg, Monte
Carlo 1981 – Buenos Aires, Barcelona, North Conway,
Washington D.C., Kitzbühel, Boca Raton, Monte Carlo*(*unfinished)
1982 – Johannesburg, Baltimore WCT, Barcelona, Gstaad, French Open
1983 – Barcelona, Hilton Head WCT, Rotterdam, Detroit WCT
1986 – Forest Hills Other singles titles not listed by the ATP
website Doubles titles
1973 – Buenos Aires 1974 – Buenos Aires, Tehran, Toronto, Hilversum
1975 – Barcelona, Louisville, Hilversum 1977 – Buenos Aires, Tehran, Nice, Baltimore
1978 – Aix-En-Provence, Munich 1979 – North Conway, San Jose
Notes References External links
Guillermo Vilas at the Association of Tennis Professionals
Guillermo Vilas at the International Tennis Hall of Fame

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