Guillermo Vilas in 1975
|Residence||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
17 August 1952 |
Mar del Plata, Argentina
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Plays||Left-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Prize money||US$ 4,923,882|
|Int. Tennis HoF||1991 (member page)|
|Career record||929–286 (76.4%)|
|Career titles||62 (ATP)|
|Highest ranking||No. 2 (30 April 1975) by ATP|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1978, 1979)|
|French Open||W (1977)|
|Wimbledon||QF (1975, 1976)|
|US Open||W (1977)|
|Tour Finals||W (1974)|
|WCT Finals||F (1976)|
|Highest ranking||No. 13 (21 May 1979)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||2R (1977Jan)|
|French Open||SF (1975)|
|US Open||QF (1975)|
Guillermo Vilas (Spanish pronunciation: [giˈʃeɾmo ˈbilas]; born 17 August 1952) is a retired professional tennis player from Argentina who won four major singles titles. Known for his prolific match play, especially on clay, he became the second man to win more than 900 matches in the Open Era, and his 659 wins on clay are by far the most of the era. His peak was the 1977 season during which he won two major titles (both on clay), had two long match win streaks of 46 all-surface and 53 on clay, and finished with an Open Era record 134 match wins. He also popularized the between-the-legs tweener shot, also known as the "Gran Willy" in his honor.
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 (both played on clay) and the 1978 and 1979 Australian Open (both played on grass). He was also the runner-up at the French Open three times (1975, 1978, and 1982) and at the Australian Open once (January 1977).
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 (ATP win-loss record was 130–15). 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(7–4), 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 (clay), Washington (clay), Louisville (clay), South Orange (clay), Columbus (clay), US Open (clay) and Paris (clay)—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 (including both Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) 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 (which was banned shortly after by the ATP). After that he won a further 28 matches in a row with titles at Tehran, Bogotá, Santiago, Buenos Aires (all on clay) and Johannesburg (hard). That run was ended in the Masters semifinals by Björn Borg.
World No. 1 controversy
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 which was due to the fact that the rankings at the time were based on the average of a player’s results. He was instead year-end World No. 2, behind Jimmy Connors (who won the Masters and six other titles and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1977). Argentine journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan investigated Vilas' tournament records and came to the conclusion that Vilas should have been ranked No. 1 for five weeks in 1975 as well as during the first two weeks of 1976 and handed over their research to the ATP at the end of 2014. In May 2015 the ATP announced it had decided not to grant Vilas the No. 1 position because it happened in the interval between the publication of the official rankings.
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.
- Won the Grand Prix circuit 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 (eighth highest during the open era) and was the runner-up in 40 singles tournaments (plus two unfinished finals). Won 16 doubles titles with other 10 doubles finals.
- He took Argentina to its first-ever Davis Cup final in 1981 (lost to the United States), 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 (women included).
- 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.
Singles performance timeline
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open[a]||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||F||A||W||W||SF||3R||A||A||A||A||NH||A||A||A||2 / 5||23–3|
|French Open||A||A||3R||3R||3R||F||QF||W||F||QF||QF||4R||F||QF||1R||2R||QF||2R||2R||1R||1 / 18||58–17|
|Wimbledon||1R||A||1R||A||3R||QF||QF||3R||3R||2R||A||1R||A||1R||A||A||1R||A||A||A||0 / 11||15–11|
|US Open||A||A||2R||1R||4R||SF||SF||W||4R||4R||4R||4R||SF||3R||3R||2R||1R||A||A||A||1 / 15||43–14|
|Win–Loss||0–1||0–0||5–3||2–2||7–3||15–3||13–3||21–2||17–3||14–3||10–3||8–4||11–2||6–3||2–2||2–2||4–3||1–1||1–1||0–1||4 / 49||139–45|
|Masters||A||A||A||A||W||SF||SF||SF[b]||A||RR[b]||RR[b]||RR[b]||SF[b]||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||1 / 8||16–11|
Grand Slam finals: 8 (4 titles, 4 runners-up)
|Outcome||Year||Championship||Surface||Opponent in the final||Score in the final|
|Runner-up||1975||French Open||Clay||Björn Borg||2–6, 3–6, 4–6|
|Runner-up||1977||Australian Open||Grass||Roscoe Tanner||3–6, 3–6, 3–6|
|Winner||1977||French Open||Clay||Brian Gottfried||6–0, 6–3, 6–0|
|Winner||1977||US Open||Clay||Jimmy Connors||2–6, 6–3, 7–6(7–4), 6–0|
|Runner-up||1978||French Open (2)||Clay||Björn Borg||1–6, 1–6, 3–6|
|Winner||1978||Australian Open||Grass||John Marks||6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 6–3|
|Winner||1979||Australian Open (2)||Grass||John Sadri||7–6(7–4), 6–3, 6–2|
|Runner-up||1982||French Open (3)||Clay||Mats Wilander||6–1, 6–7(6–8), 0–6, 4–6|
- These records were attained in Open Era of tennis.
- ^ Denotes consecutive streak.
|Event||Years||Record accomplished||Player tied|
|US Open||1977||72.1% (106–41) games winning percentage in 1 tournament||Stands alone|
|Grand Slam||1973–88||75 clay court match wins||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1977||16 titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1977||14 clay court titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1973–83||49 clay court titles||Rafael Nadal|
|Grand Prix Tour||1973–88||632 clay court match wins||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1977||145 match wins in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1973–83||794 outdoor matches won||Stands alone|
- The Australian Open was played twice in 1977, in January and December. Vilas played only in the January event.
- The year-ending Masters tournament was actually played in January of the following year.
- "Sports Network bio". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Player Activity – Guillermo Vilas". ATP World Tour. 1977. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Guillermo Vilas". Hall of Famers. International Tennis Hall of Fame. 1991.
- Dicker, Ron (30 August 2004). "With Few Exceptions, the String Remains the Same". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 20 April 2005. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
- Clarey, Christopher (May 27, 2015). "Years Later for Guillermo Vilas, He's Still Not the One". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- Perry, Douglas (May 27, 2015). "Guillermo Vilas got robbed: Why the ATP made the wrong call about controversial No. 1 ranking". The Oregonian/OregonLive.com. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- Diego Amuy (26 May 2015). "Guillermo Vilas has been number one in the world". BATennis World.
- "Player activity – Guillermo Vilas". ATP World Tour. 1992. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Howard Fendrich (1 January 2009). "Federer stunned by del Potro in US Open final". USTA.
- "1972 French Open draw". Retrieved 11 September 2012.
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