Richard 'Pancho' Gonzales

RICHARD 'PANCHO' GONZALES (U. S. A.)

Born: 9/5/1928 Died: 4/7/1995

US Open 1948,1949

Pro Champion 1954,1955,1956,1957,1958,1959,1960,1961

British Pro 1950,1951,1952,1956

US Pro 1953,1954,1955,1956,1957,1958,1959,1961

Pancho Gonzales dominated the game for years, but he played all his best tennis while in the pro ranks. Gonzales was a fiery competitor who hated to lose. He had a huge serve, good forehand and decent volleys. He was very difficult to beat because he fought so hard for every point and never gave up. Gonzales was not from the country-club background of many of his contemporaries. He played on public courts and often truanted from school in order to play tennis. He was not in favour with the tennis establishment and became a fiery rebel who was determined to succeed at any cost. In 1948 he won the U. S. Open aged 20. He beat Arthur Larsen, Frank Parker, Jaroslav Drobny and Eric Sturgess in the final. Defending his title in 1949 he beat Larsen and Parker en route to the final. There he faced Ted Schroeder and after five epic sets Gonzales won. He then signed a professional contract. He was only 21 and not yet at his peak. He lost the 1949-50 head to head pro championship 96-27 against Jack Kramer, who was at the peak of his powers. Gonzales was then sidelined for several years, having to try and scrape together a living on the pro tournament circuit, which in those days often meant he played in just five tournaments a year. Pancho showed his class by winning the British Pro three years in a row from 1950-52. In the 1952 final he came from 5-2 down in the fifth set to win five games in a row to beat a distraught Kramer. When Kramer (who was then promoter) retired as the pro champion at the end of 1953, he brought Gonzales back to take his place. Gonzales never looked back. In 1954 Gonzales beat Sedgman and Segura. In 1955-56 he thrashed Tony Trabert 74 matches to 27. He won his fourth British Pro title in 1956, beating Frank Sedgman in the final in one of the greatest pro matches ever. In 1957 Gonzales won the World Championship Series comfortably against Ken Rosewall 50 matches to 26. In 1958 Gonzales overcame Lew Hoad 51 matches to 36. In 1959 he won the pro championship series against Hoad, Ashley Cooper and Mal Anderson, though he had a narrow 15-13 deficit against Hoad. In 1960 he beat Alex Olmedo, Rosewall and Segura. In 1961 Gonzales won his eighth US Pro title and he beat Butch Buchholz, Barry MacKay, Andres Gimeno, Trabert, Hoad and Olmedo in the World Championship Series. Satisfied that he'd proved his mettle against everyone, he then decided to stop playing head to head pro championship series (which were soon to be fazed out anyway as there were more pro tournaments). Gonzales didn't play at all in 1962 and when he did return he found that Ken Rosewall was now the king of the pros. Gonzales made a comeback in May 1964 and he beat Rod Laver on a number of occasions during the next few years. However, overall Laver was the more dominant player. By the mid 1960s Gonzales was still a fine player but was past his peak. In 1968, when open tennis arrived, Gonzales was 40, but he still reached the semis of the French on his least favourite surface, clay. In 1969 Gonzales won what was then the longest match ever played at Wimbledon against Charlie Passarell, who was 16 years his junior. Some of the modern players and so-called tennis experts look at the players with the most Grand Slam titles such as Laver, Sampras, Borg or Federer and argue about which of them was the greatest player ever, but they don't seem to have any comprehension of what happened in the years before open tennis came in. If they did then they would talk about Laver, Gonzales and Rosewall being the greatest ever. Borg, Sampras and Federer, great as they were, wouldn't enter the conversation.

GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE

HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: M.Anderson 1-0, A.Ashe 0-1, M.Bernard 1-0, B.Bowrey 0-1, J.Drobny 1-0, R.Emerson 1-0, A.Larsen 2-0, R.Laver 0-1, M.Orantes 1-1, F.Parker 2-0, B.Patty 0-1, T.Roche 1-1, T.Schroeder 1-0

PRO SLAM HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: M.Anderson 1-0, D.Budge 3-0, A.Cooper 1-0, A.Gimeno 3-0, L.Hoad 3-2, J.Kramer 1-0, R.Laver 0-2, H.Nusslein 1-0, A.Olmedo 0-1, F.Parker 4-0, F.Perry 1-0, B.Riggs 2-0, K.Rosewall 0-3, F.Sedgman 3-2, P.Segura 10-3, T.Trabert 2-1

Pancho Gonzales' Grand Slam record
Pancho Gonzales' Pro Slam record

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN ARCHIVE    FRENCH OPEN ARCHIVE
WIMBLEDON ARCHIVE    U. S. OPEN ARCHIVE