Guillermo Vilas ([ɡiˈʃeɾmo ˈβilas]; born 17 August 1952), also known as Willy Vilas, is an Argentine former professional tennis player, No. 1 of the Grand Prix seasons in 1974, 1975 and 1977, who won four Grand Slam tournaments, one year-end Masters, nine Grand Prix Super Series titles and 62 total ATP titles. World Tennis, Agence France-Presse and Livre d'or du tennis 1977 (Christian Collin-Bernard Ficot), among other rankings and publications, rated him as world No. 1 in 1977 (while others ranked Björn Borg or Jimmy Connors No. 1). In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in April 1975, a position that he held for a total of 83 weeks. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991, two years after his first retirement.
Guillermo Vilas in 1975
|Born||17 August 1952|
Mar del Plata
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Turned pro||1969 (amateur tour from 1968)|
|Plays||Left-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Int. Tennis HoF||1991 (member page)|
|Career record||950–293 (76.4%)|
|Career titles||62 (10th in the Open Era)|
|Highest ranking||No. 2 (30 April 1975)|
|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)|
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 number of match-wins on clay (659) is 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 of match wins. In 2016, The Daily Telegraph ranked him as the 3rd best male clay-court player of all time, behind Rafael Nadal and Björn Borg. In 2018, Steve Tignor for Tennis Magazine ranked him as the 16th greatest tennis player of the Open Era.
Historical and statistical studies presented in 2015 by Argentinian journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan concluded that Vilas should have been No. 1 in the old ATP ranking system for seven weeks between 1975 and 1976. The ATP Tour and its chief executive at that time, Chris Kermode, although not refuting the data, decided not to officially recognize Vilas. The controversy is still in the legal stage. In October 2020, Netflix released a documentary film about the Vilas case titled "Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score".
Raised in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, Vilas was a left-hander and played his first tour event in 1968. He was in the year-ending top ten from 1974 through 1982. He was a clay-court specialist but also played well on hard-court, 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 130 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(7–4), 6–0 in a match where Vilas surprised his American rival by attacking the net.
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 53-match winning streak on clay courts, which stood until surpassed by Rafael Nadal in 2006. Both his winning streaks were terminated in October 1977 by Ilie Năstase in the final of the Raquette d'Or 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 ITF). 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 semi-finals by Björn Borg.
ATP Ranking No. 1 controversyEdit
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, Vilas 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 seven other titles and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1977). Nevertheless "World Tennis" magazine listed Vilas as 1977 year-end world No. 1, and Borg No. 2.
Argentine journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan investigated the 1973–78 period records, and delivered a detailed report with more than 1,200 pages in which they 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. Although the study was not refuted, in May 2015 the ATP announced it had decided not to make official the No. 1 position for Vilas because it happened in the interval between the publications of the official rankings.
In October 2020, Netflix released a documentary about the controversy titled "Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score".
Vilas retired from the ATP Tour in 1989 but still played on the 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 2009 US Open final.
- Won the Grand Prix circuit in 1974, 1975, and 1977.
- World Tennis Magazine, France Presse, Michel Sutter and Christian Quidet, among others, ranked him as No. 1 Tennis Player of the Year in 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 (15th male) in its list of the 40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Open Era, men and women included.
Singles performance timelineEdit
|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 finalsEdit
Singles: 8 (4 titles, 4 runner-ups)Edit
|Loss||1975||French Open||Clay||Björn Borg||2–6, 3–6, 4–6|
|Loss||1977||Australian Open||Grass||Roscoe Tanner||3–6, 3–6, 3–6|
|Win||1977||French Open||Clay||Brian Gottfried||6–0, 6–3, 6–0|
|Win||1977||US Open||Clay||Jimmy Connors||2–6, 6–3, 7–6(7–4), 6–0|
|Loss||1978||French Open (2)||Clay||Björn Borg||1–6, 1–6, 3–6|
|Win||1978||Australian Open||Grass||John Marks||6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 6–3|
|Win||1979||Australian Open (2)||Grass||John Sadri||7–6(7–4), 6–3, 6–2|
|Loss||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 % in 1 tournament||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1977||16 titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||22 finals reached in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||14 clay-court titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||120 outdoor match-wins in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||15 outdoor titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||145 match-wins in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1973–88||632 clay-court match-wins||Stands alone|
|ATP Buenos Aires||1973–82||8 singles titles||Stands alone|
|1973–77||6 consecutive titles [c]||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 played in January of the following year.
- Tournament was played twice in 1977.
- "Sports Network bio". Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Guillermo Vilas". www.head.com.
- "Masters não dicidiu quem é o primeiro tenista do mundo". Jornal do Brasil (in Portuguese). 11 January 1978. p. 27.
- Sal Recchi (18 January 1978). "Who's No. 1? Let's draw straws". Boca Raton News. p. 1C – via Google News Archive.
- "Le livre d'or du tennis 1977". Solar – via Amazon.
- "Guillermo Vilas". International Tennis Hall of Fame.
- Simon Briggs (20 May 2016). "Ahead of French Open 2017 Simon Briggs ranks the 20 male clay-court players of all time". The Daily Telegraph.
- "The 50 Greatest Players of the Open Era (M): No. 16, Guillermo Vilas". www.tennis.com.
- "Player Activity – Guillermo Vilas". ATP World Tour. 1977. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Guillermo Vilas". Hall of Famers. International Tennis Hall of Fame. 1991.
- "Fantástico, Guillermo!". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 47 no. 12. 19 September 1977. pp. 12–17.
- Dicker, Ron (30 August 2004). "With Few Exceptions, the String Remains the Same". The New York Times.
- Clarey, Christopher (27 May 2015). "Years Later for Guillermo Vilas, He's Still Not the One". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- Perry, Douglas (27 May 2015). "Guillermo Vilas got robbed: Why the ATP made the wrong call about controversial No. 1 ranking". The Oregonian/OregonLive.com. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
- Diego Amuy (26 May 2015). "Guillermo Vilas has been number one in the world". BATennis World. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- "Guillermo Vilas got robbed: Why the ATP made the wrong call about controversial No. 1 ranking". oregonlive.com.
- "Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score | Netflix Official Site". www.netflix.com. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
- "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 28 March 2019.
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