Australian Open 1978,1979
French Open 1977
US Open 1977
Guillermo Vilas was a hero in his home country of Argentina. Vilas was the ultimate clay court specialist. His inexhaustible stamina meant he could outlast everyone except Borg on the red dust. Vilas made his Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon in 1970, where he lost in the opening round. At the French Open in 1975 Vilas beat Jan Kodes in the fourth round, Onny Parun in the quarters and Eddie Dibbs in the semis before losing to Bjorn Borg in straight sets in the final. At the US Open Vilas thrashed Kodes for the loss of just two games in the fourth round and dropped five games against Jaime Fillol in the quarters before losing a two sets to love lead against Manuel Orantes in the semis. At the 1976 US Open Vilas lost in the semis in straight sets to Jimmy Connors. At the 1977 Australian Open (Jan.) Vilas lost to Tanner in straight sets in the final. At the French Open he thrashed Stan Smith in the fourth round, Wojtek Fibak in the quarters, Raul Ramirez in the semis and Brian Gottfried in the final, not dropping more than four games in a set in winning his first Grand Slam title. At the US Open Vilas dropped just two games in beating Ray Moore in the quarters and overcame Solomon in straight sets in the semis. In the final Vilas came from a set down to beat the favourite Jimmy Connors to take his second Grand Slam title of the year. That year, 1977, Vilas broke several records but the number one ranking eluded him. He was on a winning streak of 50 consecutive wins after losing at Wimbledon and also amassed a record of consecutive wins on clay. He also won a record 16 tournaments at Springfield, Buenos Aires, Virginia Beach, French Open, Kitzbuhel, Washington, Louisville, South Orange, Columbus, the US Open, Paris, Tehran, Bogota, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Johannesburg. Even Muster, during his incredible year of 1995, did not surpass Vilas' record. Vilas had arrived six weeks before the 1978 Australian Open began so he could acclimatise himself to the court surface and conditions. Vilas practised up to seven hours a day with his coach Ion Tiriac in preparation for the event. It paid off as he took the title beating John Marks in the final in four sets. At the French Open Vilas was taken apart by Borg in the final. At the 1979 Australian Open, Vilas beat John Sadri in straight sets; his all court skills were too much for the unknown American. At the 1980 Australian Vilas lost in five sets to Kim Warwick in the semis. At the 1982 French Open Vilas beat Yannick Noah and Jose Higueras before losing in four sets in the final to Mats Wilander in a match which contained many long gruelling rallies. At the US Open he lost to Connors in four sets in the semis. At the 1986 French Open 33 year old Vilas beat Guy Forget 8-6 in the fifth set in the fourth round before losing a close four setter to Johan Kriek. He made his last Grand Slam appearance at the French Open in 1989, where he lost to Claudio Pistolesi in the first round. After retiring Vilas pursued a music career and played on the veterans' circuit. He is a frequent visitor to the French Open, where he is often spotted by the TV cameras sitting in the stands on the Centre Court. In 2006 Vilas presented Rafael Nadal with a trophy when Nadal surpassed his winning streak of wins on clay at the French Open.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Ashe 1-1, B.Borg 0-3, P.Cash 0-1, J.Connors 1-2, M.Edmondson 0-1, A.Gimeno 1-0, J.Kodes 3-0, J.Kriek 0-1, I.Nastase 1-0, Y.Noah 2-1, M.Orantes 0-2, A.Panatta 1-0, T.Roche 2-0, M.Santana 1-0, S.Smith 3-0, R.Tanner 0-3, M.Wilander 0-1
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