Guillermo Vilas born 17th August of 1952 in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina is a retired and former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Argentina.
Whilst peaking at No. 2 on the ATP rankings in 1977, several sources and publications, as well as through the current ATP-ranking system, rank Vilas as the real World No. 1 that year (often ranked equally with Björn Borg). Vilas was the second Latin-American to win a Grand Slam tournament.
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).
In 1974 he won the year end Masters Grand Prix title. In addition he won five Championship Series titles (1975–80) the precursors to the current Masters 1000.
Records: Winning streak, most titles in a single year
He had a 46-match all-surface winning streak (still unrivalled) and won seven consecutive titles – Kitzbühel (clay), Washington (clay), Louisville (hard), South Orange (hard), Columbus (hard), US Open (clay) and Paris (clay) after Wimbledon in 1977. 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 by the ATP shortly after). 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.
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 (who won the Masters and six other titles and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1977). However, the magazine World Tennis and Michel Sutter gave Vilas the World No. 1 ranking. The way in which the current rankings are calculated would have given Vilas the number one ranking in 1977. Also, a study published in February 2011 in the journal PLoS ONE (Volume 6, Issue 2, e17249) analyzed all tennis match records for 1977 and concluded that Vilas was the best player of that year.
Guillermo Vilas Professional Statistics
Doubles titles (16)
1973 (1) – Buenos Aires
1974 (4) – Buenos Aires, Tehran, Toronto, Hilversum
1975 (3) – Barcelona, Louisville, Hilversum
1977 (4) – Buenos Aires, Tehran, Nice, Baltimore
1978 (2) – Aix-En-Provence, Munich
1979 (2) – North Conway, San Jose (Costa Rica)
Singles runner-ups (40)
1972 (2) – Buenos Aires, Cincinnati
1974 (1) – Washington D.C.
1975 (3) – San Francisco, Boston, French Open
1976 (3) – Rome, Dallas WCT, São Paulo WCT
1977 (5) – Aix en Provence, Nice, Palm Springs, Baltimore, Australian Open (Jan.)
1978 (1) – French Open
1979 (5) – Sydney Indoor, Indianapolis, Rome, Stuttgart Indoor, Richmond WCT
1980 (4) – Barcelona, Madrid, Hamburg, Monte Carlo
1981 (6) – Buenos Aires, Barcelona, North Conway, Washington D.C., Kitzbühel, Boca Raton
1982 (5) – Johannesburg, Baltimore WCT, Barcelona, Gstaad, French Open
1983 (4) – Barcelona, Hilton Head WCT, Rotterdam, Detroit WCT
1986 (1) – Forest Hills