Ode to Vilas

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by suwanee4712, May 21, 2007.

  1. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    To me, one of the unforgettable figures of the late 70's and early 80's was Guillermo Vilas. He was a fierce competitor on the court and friendly off the court. He won 4 grand slam titles, including the 1978 and 1979 Australian Opens on grass. The fields for those tournaments weren't great. But its commendable that he made the effort to go there and play on his worst surface. He also had a 53 match clay court winning streak that was just topped this spring by Nadal.

    It was 30 years ago that he had his greatest year when he won 16 tournaments, including the French and U.S. Opens. He had a 44 match win streak during 1977. One of my favorite matches of all time was his 1977 US Open final win over Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0.

    Anyone have any fond memories of Vilas or favorite matches?
     
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  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Because I only came to tennis in 1985, I have very few "live" memories of Vilas. The first time I saw him play was at the Tournament of Champions in 1986, when Noah beat him 7-6, 6-0 in the final. Noah had just beaten Lendl in a very entertaining match and was playing well; Vilas kept hitting these amazing passing shots in that first set against Noah. He impressed me right away as a great shotmaker, and strong.

    I'm not saying Vilas was a great grass-court player, but he also did win the Masters Cup in 1974 on Australian grass, beating Newcombe, Borg and Nastase.
     
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  3. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Yep, I forgot about his Masters title. Here's the wikipedia entry that lists all of his grand slam titles and regular titles as well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillermo_Vilas
     
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  4. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    thanks for the posts. i learned something new about him today. i remember him being happy when Nadal took over his record i think.
     
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  5. Gillian

    Gillian Banned

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    Happy? Really??
     
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  6. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I remember going to see the McEnroe Over America tour. McEnroe was doing a barnstorming tour playing Vilas on indoor carpet. The thing I remember was just how physically impressive Vilas was, he was indeed a bull of a man. His left arm was at least double the size of his right. And, for all the strength he had, his stroke production was unbelievalbe topspin and not a ton of power. He really was a great player and competitor.
     
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  7. Gillian

    Gillian Banned

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    Do you know what kind of a grip an old timer topspinner like him uses?
     
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  8. fridrix

    fridrix Rookie

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    I think I read Vilas used full Western on the forehand.
     
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  9. triplefault

    triplefault Guest

    I saw Ion Tiriac put Vilas through a practice seesion in Indianapolis at the U.S Open Clay Courts. I will never forget it as I could not believe how hard Vilas worked in that practice session. He was incredibly strong and his topspin backhand was his best shot.

    Later that day, I got in the hotel elevator and there was Vilas. I talked to him for a moment...he was a real nice ,unassuming guy. He was not tall...but he was strong with a huge left forearm.
     
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  10. Gillian

    Gillian Banned

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    Interesting. Wasn't that unusual for that era?
     
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  11. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    i think i saw it on tv. like he was there the day Nadal broke his record, and like they took a picture together. so maybe not really happy, but enough to show up and say congrats
     
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  12. BERDI4

    BERDI4 Semi-Pro

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    Vilas was what Nadal is today.
     
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  13. Gillian

    Gillian Banned

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    sort of. I don't think Nadal has achieved as much, so too soon to make that comparison!!
     
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  14. Gillian

    Gillian Banned

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    Yes, show up maybe. Happy? I don't know about that!!!
     
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  15. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    They called it western because in those days people were used to grips that leaned towards continental. But no, his forehand wasn't a bit western. It was extreme eastern, pretty much identical to the forehand grip Pete Sampras used.
     
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  16. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    Not close. Himself and Borg used the same grip, with was way closer to the modern SW and W than an extreme eastern.

    Probably a mild W or a strong SW
     
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  17. BERDI4

    BERDI4 Semi-Pro

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    I don't agree Frank. If you see the photos you can notice that he used western. It's different to what Sampras used.
     
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  18. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    #18
  19. BERDI4

    BERDI4 Semi-Pro

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    vilas strong serve & volley??
     
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  20. LttlElvis

    LttlElvis Professional

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    Everything about the guy was cool. Tough grinding game. Great classic tennis racquet that everyone wanted: The Head Vilas.
     
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  21. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    The ATP used to calculate the rankings differently than they do now. In 1977 many felt he was the #1 player in the world but because of the formula they used then he ended up #2. Vilas wants the ATP to recalculate the '77 rankings according to the current formula which would retroactively make him the year-end #1 for '77.
     
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  22. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    I remember when I was growing up watching Vilas play the US summer clay court circuit on PBS. The reception was terrrible and every week he was beating up on Brian Gottfried or Eddie Dibbs. Bud Collins was annoucing. I didn't care how bad the reception was, I just wanted to see some tennis.
     
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  23. LttlElvis

    LttlElvis Professional

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    That is funny. I remember that too!! The reception was so fuzzy and sometimes you think you needed to adjust the vertical hold on the TV. I sat through all that just wanting to watch tennis also.
     
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  24. Colpo

    Colpo Professional

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    It's weird how a person's advancing age affects perception. Granted, Vilas did not do himself any favors showing up every day on the Euro clay circuit in the same black suit and straggly hair, but I found it a little sad how the commentators and also this month's Tennis magazine felt comfortable taking shots at him because of it. Vilas was a guy who in his prime was a total tennis bull, little but with an initimadating physique and work ethic - and now they laugh at his sh*t? Not nice...
     
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  25. llgc8080

    llgc8080 Rookie

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    Besides most ATP titles -16- and matches winning streak - 46- in 77 (he was runner up in Australian Open in grass that year - but Aussie wasn't so big in the 70's), he has the records of more matches won & titles won in outdoor (clay+hard+grass+carpet) and of course, in clay (always since Open Era... maybe I must say since ATP creation!).
    And the winning streak was end in the famous final of Aix en Provence against Nastase, who uses a spaghetti raquet, shortly banned by ATP.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2008
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  26. llgc8080

    llgc8080 Rookie

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    In 77, the magazine World Tennis and Michel Sutter consider Vilas as Number 1. See the thread about 1977 in this forum.
     
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  27. llgc8080

    llgc8080 Rookie

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    I forgot, he is one of the few players to win the "CLAY SLAM" in his carrer (RG+Roma+Hamburg+Montecarlo), like Lendl and Kuerten. For example, Borg or Muster didn't win it.
     
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  28. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yep, I wanted a Head Vilas racquet but it was too expensive.

    I've geard that Vilas was also quite a good poet.

    He was a bull of a man, and quite a good competitor--he gave it everything, win or lose.
     
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  29. TNT16

    TNT16 Semi-Pro

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    He was indeed incredibly strong; his most impressive shot was his backhand overhead which he would hit for a powerful winner most of the time. Still trying to figure out how he got so much snap on that shot.
     
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  30. TNT16

    TNT16 Semi-Pro

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  31. garcia_doomer

    garcia_doomer New User

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    Vilas won Rotterdam and Milan too, and was finalist in Dallas WCT and Denver WCT for example, for those who says that he only play well in clay.
     
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  32. GS

    GS Professional

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    I just got that lousy tennis film from '79, "Players", starring Dean Martin's son, who once played in the Wimbledon juniors. Anyway, the film is centered on a fictional Wimbledon final between him and Vilas, right after Vilas won the Aussie Open on grass for the 2nd time---at least they got one decent player in the film. Martin's groundstrokes do look pretty solid, though. And Pancho Gonzalez is okay as Martin's coach. Even McEnroe has a cameo. But Ali MacGraw admits her performance in the film was her worst ever.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
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  33. orangettecoleman

    orangettecoleman Professional

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    it always looked to me like he used an eastern grip. he hit it with an open stance and a windshield wiper motion to create topspin, so everyone always says it's western, but if you look at it it's definitely closer to eastern than western. [​IMG]
     
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  34. orangettecoleman

    orangettecoleman Professional

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  35. TNT16

    TNT16 Semi-Pro

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  36. garcia_doomer

    garcia_doomer New User

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  37. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    The Poet of the Pampas? Any of the Argies read his stuff? IN the heart of the reader, of course, but any critical acclaim there...or just some good rhymes thrown down by an athlete?

    The striped knee-high socks.

    The massive left arm.

    Three of the coolest-looking racquets ever: HEAD Vilas, Slazenger Vilas Tour and Slazenger V-24.

    The heavy forehand.

    The stylish game, even though he was known more as a grinder.

    The time he got to the Wimbledon final....in a movie called Players.

    The great win over Jimmy in the 77 Forest Hills final.

    The loss to Orantes in the 75 Forest Hills semifinal.

    Banned for accepting guarantees. More scapegoat than GOAT.

    The FILA, ellesse and PUMA gear.

    Tightpants even in his fifties. Without a hint of irony. Very embarrassing.

    The claycourt streak.

    Making Guga laugh at the 97 RG trophy presentation, "Get ready kid, it's gonna rain women in your lap!"

    The wife who is young enough to be his daughter.

    The controversy over the streak, and the
    ungraciousness toward Rafa...weak.

    The beanie cap on the court.

    When noobs confuse him with Vitas G.

    Mac's nickname for him: Willy.

    The time he signed my tennis bag for me. I was about 13 and I used it to carry a sweatshirt and some lunch into the grounds at the National Tennis Center.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
    #37
  38. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    It's funny, the Johnny Smythe Band (back about 10 or 12 years ago when they were a band) had a song called "Ode to Vitas". It's what I thought of when I saw this thread. Then I noticed it was ViLas.

    Cool thread. Thanks.

    Now I can't get the 'Vitas' song outta my head.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
    #38
  39. Andres

    Andres G.O.A.T.

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    The reason is quite simple: His right forearm was the size of my right thigh :p

    The guy had a incredibly strong upper body, and a particularly strong left shoulder and forearm.
     
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  40. llgc8080

    llgc8080 Rookie

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    I think Detroit, not Denver.:)
     
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  41. tacoben

    tacoben Semi-Pro

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    Definitely one of my most favorite players (see my avatar). That period in tennis with Vilas, Borg, McEnroe was probably one of the most exciting times.
     
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  42. fridrix

    fridrix Rookie

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    When McEnroe was starting out, he wore Fila and a headband too! Looked like another Borg.
     
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  43. Tennis old man

    Tennis old man New User

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    Great post slice! You forgot...

    The 16 (17 with Rye) titles in 77.

    The Masters of 74, won over Nastase... IN GRASS!
     
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  44. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Tennis old man, I think you're a bigger Vilas fan than I...and I think I love you.

    Kidding, but I'm impressed you remembered one of the few Masters Ilie lose. And on grass no less.

    Salud!
     
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  45. Tennis old man

    Tennis old man New User

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    How can I forget that Masters! I can't understand how Nasty loses!!! Vilas won an awesome tournament, won to Borg too.

    I'm not a Vilas fan, but seeing other threads I must say I'm such a Vilas "defender", a Wilander "defender", a Lendl "defender", a Panatta "defender". Maybe this players are sometimes "attacked" here, in Talk Tennis.

    In "1977 True N°1" thread I post that Vilas was N° 1 in 77: in my opinion Borg, Connors or Mac are greatest players than he, but in that year, I believe the story was different.

    I believe too that can't put Vilas with the greats, but I enjoyed his game very much!

    I'm a fan of Pancho and the Rocket (Bjorn, of the "newest", I'm 72). I'm not talk too much of them because I can't be objective, I'm tinted!!!

    Greetings for Vilas real fans! Salud!
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2008
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  46. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Great post by slice bh, and great add by Tennis old man. I started to see tennis for Vilas. Now I'm trying to play it, for Vilas too. Watched some old games of him, AWESOME!

    Little summary: 62 singles titles (plus 2 shared, Johannesburg 77 and Montecarlo 81) and 15 doubles titles, won the Masters 74 on grass at Kooyong, won USO 77 vs Connors in the final, won French 77 in one of the shortest finals of that tournament, was three times finalist of RG (lost 2 vs Master Borg and one vs another monster, Wilander), was finalist in WCT Finals in Dallas 76 on hard courts vs Borg, win the Grand Prix points system three years (74,75,77), was first in price-money earnings in 77, was SF in USO 82 on hard courts, played twice QF at Wimbledon (one lost to King Borg, the other lost in 5 sets vs Tanner), won twice a "devaluate" Australian Open in those years, plus one final vs Tanner, but... on grass! Won all the 4 "majors" on clay in his career: RG, Rome, Montecarlo, Hamburg; get Argentina to his first Davis Cup final in 81.........
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
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  47. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

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    Vilas has opened the Vilas tennis Academy in Palma de Majorque.
    And he'll play an exhibition against Pecci november the 7th in Paraguay.
     
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  48. gpt

    gpt Professional

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    I took some slides at the 79 Australian Open and more than half of them are of Vilas. Last week my mother told me she found them in a suit case so I will see if I can post some pics from the 79 AO.

    Guillermo is my all time favourite player. When he came to Australia each summer in the late 70's early 80's he was like the saviour of the AO.

    For a few years he was the only top 5 ( or even 10) player to come to our open and he single handedly prevented it from becoming a total embarassment as a major.

    It was sad that he was singled out for the appearance money scandal in the early 80's but I suspect he let Tiriac have too much control. However, the apparently universal support he had from his peers during that ban was significant.

    He was always respectful to his oponents and gave his best when he played.

    He also treated tennis fans with respect.

    Viva Vilas!
     
    #48
  49. Kirko

    Kirko Hall of Fame

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    thats who I modeled my backhand after >>

    the sweeping one hander from low to high. he had the better looking Fila clothes, better than Borg. :)
     
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  50. Kirko

    Kirko Hall of Fame

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    PBS and also Donald Dell >>

    those were great unihibited tennis matches.
     
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