Manuel Orantes: a true legend

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In the most varied decade that one can imagine, the 70´s, Manuel Orantes was one of the great names.

    He beat Borg,Connors,Vilas,Panatta,Dibbs,Solomon,Gerulaitis,Kodes,Nastase many times.He beat Smith, Ashe,Rosewall,Roche,Mc Enroe,Tanner,Ramirez,Fibak as well.
    He was known as the come back specialist, and his two major titles were due to legendary comebacks.In the 75 US Open he was 1-2 and three mp down to Vilas and managed to win their semifinal and then beat Connors in the final.In the QF he had trashed Ilie Nastase who was at his prime.

    In the 76 Masters final, and with some help from Kirk Douglas wife, he overcame a 1-2 deficit to beat Fibak in the final.

    But he also suffered a big comeback: he was, in 74, two sets up against Borg at the FO final.In the third set Borg won dramatically the tie break and Orantes faded away so that the legend of Borg at Roland Garros started that day.

    He was not a bad doubs player: he and his mate Juan Gisbert also won the 1975 Masters doubles against Stewart and Mc Nair in 75.In 1979, he and Higueras lost the FO final.

    And he could be great on grass ( even if he didn´t like the turf): beat Roche at Wimbledon 74, played the Wimbledon semifinals against Nastase in 72 and, aged only 18, in his first real serious grass court match, almost beat world´s number one amateur Roy Emerson at the DC Finals held on aussie grass at Sidney¡¡¡¡.Nobody could believe their eyes.But Orantes had already won that year the Wimbledon juniors as well as the Orange Bowl.

    He also reached the US Open QF against Smith in 1971, and would play two more Forest Hills quarters, but this time on clay.In 76 Borg beat him over 5 dramatic sets and in 77 Connors avenged his 75 defeat by trashing Orantes, not before Manolo had knocked down the likes of Vitas Gerulaitis and John Mc Enroe¡¡¡

    Of course he was mostly renowned as the posessor of one of the finest clay court ( green or red) records ever.He played another FO semi, losing to unheralded frenchman Proisy in 72.Had he won, I doubt Gimeno could beat him in the final, since Orantes had beaten him in the spanish nationals that year.He also lost very surprisingly to Dick Stockton in the 78 QF.

    Orantes won Rome against Kodes ( 6-2,6-3,6-3 in the final against the man that had owned the last two FO titles¡¡¡),USCC at Indianapolis against Connors ( 6-1,-6.3 in the finals¡¡¡),US Pro Boston against Ashe ( 6-2,6-3 in the finals), won several titles at Hamburg,Toronto,Montecarlo and Barcelona, his city.In one of the Barcelona finals, again, he overcame a 1-2 deficit to beat Eddie Dibbs.That happening in 1976.

    Orantes was the son of a poor family who moved from the depressed south of Spain to the relatively rich Barcelona.He learned to play tennis as a ball boy and was a young prodigy that soon would challenge Santana´s reign as the undisputed nº 1 of Spain.In fact, in 1969, aged only 20, he trashed Santana in the final of the Spanish Open and became the inmediate wonderkid of tennis.Who could beat Santana that way on a clay court???.That started a bad reaction from jealous Santana, enhanced by some partisan press, even if Orantes admitedly admired Santana so much ( he got the support of Gimeno instead)

    He was an autodidact and became one of the craftiest touch players that I have ever seen.He was a smart strategist, and his genious turned into some of the greatest top spin lobs, touch volleys and drop shots this game has ever witnessed.Not to mention that wonderful left handed backhand, that many rate as an all time great stroke, including myself.His serve , however,was second class, but his FH was solid and he was never afraid to volley; he is one of the brightest players at constructing a point with crafty and supervaried strokes in order to conclude the point at the net.

    To round up the legend, he was one of the worst case of injuries among top pros.Like Roche if not more.He had to go to the surgeon desk 7 times and most of them when he was playing his best tennis.That made him a streaky player and, unfortunately, we will never know how good he could have been without those constant injuries.Of course, Borg,Connors and Vilas may have thanked mother nature...These injuries coming basically from a bad developed musculation that one clearly associates to his deficits in feeding when a kid ( poor family).

    Finally, if you think Stefan Edberg is a classy guy, news are that he would sound as a jerk compared to Manolo_Orantes gentlemanship was so extreme that all top players, even jerks like Nastase and Connors respected him.Rosewall ,Solomon,Stan Smith, reputed as gentlemen of their own , aknowledged him as the classiest act in the sport.Suffices to say that the only time that Lendl has clapped the shot of an opponent on a tennis court, was in the 1982 Madrid Tournament semifinals, the last time Manuel Orantes, already 33 yrs old, reached an important tour semifinal.Lendl, by the was, was one of the very few great players he didn´t beat, but Orantes was well past his prime when the czech ace became a household name.

    More memories to share about this great yet often overlooked great name of the greatest decade ever?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
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  2. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    He was 5-0 and 40-15 down in the fourth set, against Vilas (in the SF). He saved 5 match-points overall in that match, and won in five sets.

    Yes, I think he was 1-4 down in the fourth set but won that set in a tie-breaker and then won in five.

    He was leading 6-2 and 7-6 (Orantes won the tie-breaker, not Borg, by 7-1 ) and then Borg won the last three sets 6-0 6-1 6-1.

    He lost against Ashe in that QF.

    Orantes....I loved to watch him play tennis. He had grace, his game was beautiful, an artist. The way he constructed points was a thing of beauty. He had touch, control, it was another era with wood racquets and gut, where these "artists" of the court could still be competitive and win big titles.
     
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Thanks for the notes.

    yes, he marveled everybody at point´s construction.An artist with a craftman mentality
     
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  4. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    I remember watching on TV him beating Jimmy Connors in the US Open - I didn't know anything about the guy - but just couldn't believe how calm and collected he was as he took Connors apart - with that crafty game. I was waiting for Connors to blow him off the court with his power - but no chance - I also recall he plays with a smile on his face. Would love to see that match again - now that I know more about the game.
     
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  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Indianapolis 1977.The US Clay Court Championships at stake.Orantes beat Connors 6-1, 6-3.
     
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  6. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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    Connors on his book speaks very highly of Orantes.Its huge Connors beat a still good Orantes at the US Open in 77 and the French in 79 on clay.The head to head was 12-3 in Connors favor but they played very good matches indeed.

    Orantes was a very good fast court player so its strange Connors beat him easily most of the time they played hard or indoors.Go figure
     
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  7. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Orantes beat Connors on green clay (har-tru) in straight sets in the 1975 USO finals.

    His H2H with Laver is 0-1. Orantes lost on clay 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 in Barcelona.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    at Barcelona, Orantes scalped many all time greats, including Borg,Nastase and Ken Rosewall ( in the 71 QF ).He also beat Santana aged 20 when Santana was considered nearly unbeatable on clay, even if clearly past his best days ( but in the next year final, he anihilated Laver in a wonderful exhibition that would be his real last).

    Orantes,Emerson and Wilander have been the only three times winner of the Spanish open.Well, until Nadal, of course.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ...but Orantes could not beat Jan Kodes in the 1972 final.Kodes loved playing in Spain.He also won the Madrid title three years later in his last great victory on the pro circuit.He won over a field that included some of the finest ever cc players: Orantes,Nastase,Vilas,Panatta and Bjorn Borg.
     
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  10. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    Thanks - I was sure it was US Open

    Thanks - I was pretty sure it was the US Open - I think it was forest hills on clay. First time I saw the slow pace game.
     
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  11. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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  12. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Some points of his match against Jimmy Connors, 1975 US OPEN final:

    http://splashurl.com/n2h57rr

    He defeated Nastase in QF, Vilas in SF and Connors in the final. Amazing.

    The following year, 1976, he was defeated in QF by Borg in an amazing five sets match.
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He always played with a Slazenger didn´t he?
     
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  14. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    that´s the way i remember him, but actually he played a wilson kramer for some time as well
     
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  15. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    kiki, excellent first post about Orantes. Did you write it yourself or copy it from an outside source:wink:
    how can you write a post like that and then not be able to spell names right?
    (butcholz,rosewell,...)
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    haha did I writte Rosewell¡¡¡ Rosebad¡¡¡

    It is first hand not a second source.Know my stuff about Orantes.
     
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  17. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    i´m sure you know. just surprised you didn´t have any spelling errors:)
     
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I see your germanic coincidences mit Hoojdem
     
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  19. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    if you see them you can keep them, cici:)
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Orantes won all the big cc titles except RG, where he reached one final, one semi and a few quarters.

    Rome,Hamburg,Montecarlo,Indianapolis,Barcelona,Boston,Toronto...that´s a quite impressive record.and of course, Forest Hills when it was played on green clay.
     
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  21. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Someone has already pointed this out, but Orantes didn't lose a tie-break. He actually got hammered in each of the last three sets.

    Does anyone know the circumstances. Hurt, exhausted?
     
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Most likely self pressure
     
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  23. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Great post OP! Didn't know Orantes was such a great champion! :)
     
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  24. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Great post, kiki.

    Who could forget orantes' incredible comeback in the forest hills semi against vilas?
    Then the next day, he crushes the heavily favored connors!

    I remember these images of manuel orantes: tough legs, deft touch, a
    stack of fresh slazenger challenge ones and that toothy smile....all strong tributes to the spanish game, british raquetmaking and dentistry.
     
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  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Haha good one on the dentist!!!:-D
    And thanks to you all for reviewing together such great career
    Look!!!! many here complain about Hoad or Roche
    injuries but Orantes had more than anyone and he never forgot that pattented smilè
    He just loved playing so much he even clapped his oponent shots
     
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  26. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Good point about how obvious it was that he enjoyed competing. I see him as a forerunner to guga and baghdatis...just on sheer love of game, and smile factor.

    Viva manolo!
     
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  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Manolo was much more than that
    He was a true class act and maybe the greatest tennis gentleman of modern times
    You just couldn't dislike him
    I met the guy and I also heard what guys with the reputation of 1970 ' s Connors and Nastase said about him
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    and many won´t know that but he could also be a fair doubles player.He and Gisbert won the Masters ( 75) and in 79 he and Higueras played the Roland Garros final which they lost.Remember bearded Higueras? several years in the top ten club by the way.
     
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