Vitas and Roscoe, Roscoe and Vitas

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ...so similar yet so different.It stunned to me how everybody was calling them the next US big champs at the late 70´s, and discovering how paralel their lifestyles, careers and personalities look.

    Similarities:

    -.Both won the AO
    -.Both had a xinx against one of the big three of their generation.Vitas beat Mac and Connors at majors but never Borg while Rosocoe beat Connors and Borg but he couldn´t beat Mac
    -.Both won a DC title
    -.Both had a superb 1979 yr, ranking 4th and 5th in the world
    -.Both came off rich families
    -.Both had flamboyant personalities...Roscoe was born in a noble southern (Tenesse) family and Vitas in flamboyant NY
    -.Both loved ( and Roscoe even lived off) women and were considered twoi great womanists
    -.thier US and W records are reversed.Vitas reached one US final plus two semis and also two W semis.while Rosocoe did the other way round, reaching a W final + 2 semis and also a couple of US semis
    -.Both had a sad end: Vitas died of monoxide inhalation and Roscoe has been prosecuted by world wide police because of fraud and bankrupcy ( women again..)
    -.Of course, both loved Jet Set kind of life

    -.Vitas beat Tanner at 79 US semi ( trailing two sets down) and the Wimbledon fourth round of 1982

    -.They were ssomewhat menthally unconsistent.After playing a big match, next day they went down or played slippery

    NOT SIMILAR AT

    -.Style: Gerulaitis had a nice all round court, extremely quick but no major weapon and serve was definitely a liability.Roscoe was solid at the net and at the back but his best weapon by far was his first serve, one of the best ever, and he lacked mobility.Both had excellent stamina tough.

    -.Vitas did better indoors, with a WCT title - plus two semis- and two Masters finals.Tanner was very good indoors but, other than his Philadelphia title in 1981, his record is poorer.
    -.Clay courts: Vitas learned to play on clay and became a top class clay courter, with 2 IO wins, a FO final and a semi, a great clay record that Tanner was very far from achieving.Not to mention that Vitas also won the prestigious WCT invitational on Forest Hills clay court with a great final victory over Mc Enroe

    -.friends on tour: Vitas had a love-hate relationship with Borg,Mac,possibly close to Vilas and for a while, Connors.Roscoe had a love-hate relationship with Connors, hated Vilas and was closer to the Connors gang (Gottfried and Dibbs)

    of course, and that is something they had in common...both disliked Ivan Lendl.

    -.vitas had a pattented long hair.Tanner had short , curly hair that he cut before starting his great 1979 season ( he said that he was bothered by his hair)
    Any comments on those twin yet so different guys?
     
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  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tanner hated Vilas? It didn't sound like that in Tanner's autobiography. Tanner seemed to have a grudge against Nastase amongst the players.
     
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He complained a lot about Vilas baby tactics when Guillermo hired Tiriac...or at least, something to that effect. I read.
     
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  4. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Vitas remained in the limelight and was well liked until the end where as Roscoe seemed to drift off to a darker world as his career wound down.
     
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  5. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Liked Vitas a lot. He was talented, very quick, but he could never beat Borg. Jimbo too usually had the better of him until the early 80's, then Vitas scored a few wins. Vitas was sound on all surfaces, had good results on clay too. I always felt he lacked the killer instinct Bjorn, Jimbo and Johnny Mac had. Vitas liked the social side of the tennis life and enjoyed himself.

    Roscoe had the big fearsome cannonball lefty serve. Loved the fast grass courts back then, especially the hot summer of 76 blowing Jimmy off the Wimbledon court and in 79, I thought for a while he may beat Bjorn in the final. Mighty close for Bjorn. Roscoe did beat Bjorn later that summer in the US Open. Lost to Vitas then, who lost to Mac in the final.
     
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  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Tanner had a nice guy reputation, but of course every body feared his humming serve.That´s true, XavierG of his wins over Connors and his almost win against Borg at 79 Wimbledon.he got sweet revenge at Flushing.He also played, and lost to Borg twice more at the USO ( 80 and 81) quarters, always extremely close encounters.
    Tanner only beat Mc Enroe once, but most of their games were onsided and I really think Mac was the top player whom he feared most.He also had wins over the likes of Vilas, Lendl and Wilander.Even if he won the 77 AO, I think he played his best tennis in 1979, winning tournaments and reaching the semis or the finals in some others.

    I remember a quote from Connors, after their 1980 Wimbledon quarterfinal that Jimbo won over 5 sets.He said something like " When he´s got an ace streak, it is overwhelming.The only thing you can do is just keep playing and let it go.".those were the words of the world´s best returner.
     
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  7. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    #7
  8. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Just some personal clarifications about Vitas.......I was lucky enough to live in Howard Beach ( after that Forest Hills) from 1970 until 1980 and take lessons from Vitas's dad for a few years and was at Port Washington Academy from 1970 - 1979 awesome time to be involved in Tennis and live in Queens!

    He did not come from a rich background.....his dad was a local tennis teaching pro and he grew up in Howard Beach, New York.....very very middle class. Nice area mix of mainly Jewish and Italian on one side of Crossbay Blvd and heavy Irish on he other....but by no means rich.

    Vitas did not have a love/hate relationship with Borg, JMac or even Connors....Borg was Vitas's BEST friend and JMac was also very tight...they played in a band together for fun.....Connors also had a good relationship and respected Vitas.

    Vitas was one of the first guys to come out of the Port Washington Tennis Academy and guys like JMac (and ANYONE living in Queens in the early and mid 70s) looked up to Vitas as he was the local tennis star. As a junior McEnroe looked up to Vitas as just about anyone at PWTC did.

    Another big difference between Tanner and Vitas was Tanner went to Stanford and had a very good college career - Vitas turned pro after one year at Columbia and went pro early.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Broadway Vitas, as we called him in those years.He had a flalir for good life and nicer women, but he worked as hard, or even more, than most players and was extremely fit.

    Does anybody remember his US Open match against Lendl in 1981? he also gave Mac his toughest match at the Open in their semifinal.
     
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  10. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I wonder if this was the photo (it appeared in the 30 for 30 documentary):

    [​IMG]

    The photo is credited to Walter Iooss Jr./SI.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/photos/1306/evolution-of-the-tennis-racket/7/
     
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  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Maybe the common point between both is that, after a big match, they´d play with the tank half empty.That is what kept both out of the top three.
     
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  12. bluegrasser

    bluegrasser Hall of Fame

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    Both great bridesmaids - I mean that in a positive way. Nobody looked better hitting a tennis ball than Vitas, except maybe Nastase.
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes Bluegrasser, indeed.

    Vitas was a flamboyant guy but was liked off court and his main rivals, like Borg,Connors,Mc enroe and Vilas were close to him.It speaks volume when the other top 4 players like you.Of course, Lendl was the exception.

    Nastase was also extremely special.A guy almost everybody wanted to kill on court, yet everybody got nuts with him off.Borg,Panatta,Connors ( yes, Connors the loner¡¡¡), Gerulaitis,Vilas all of them wanted his company, so funny and creative he was.

    He was close to guys so different such as Ashe,Kodes and Okker too.

    That means something too.
     
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  14. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Vitas Gerulaitis only seemed to dislike Wojtek Fibak and Ivan Lendl (Fibak's protege). His rivalry with Fibak was really intense on a personal level in 1979-1980.
     
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    That Fibak-Gerulaiitis issue derived into a Gerulaitis/Lendl mutual disliking if not hate, because, as you mentioned, Lendl was close to the polish pro.

    Now, thinking a bit about it, historically Poland and Lithuania have always had a difficult relationship...
     
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  16. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Gerulaitis had some big wins over Lendl, like the 1981 US Open match. Then there's that famous January 1982 Masters final, where Gerulaitis led by 2 sets and had a championship point, but got smashed in the head and floored by a Lendl shot and Lendl came back and won.
     
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  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, it probably has more to see with their way of being.

    That Masters final is one of the most dramatic matches I remember.Like in the FO final against Mc Enroe two years later, Lendl managed to save a very tough situation and won his first great title.

    But Vitas blew it on mp.He had been succesfully coming to the net after a great sliced BH approach putting pressure on Ivan.But he didn´t do that on that point.The only time he didn´t do it and it was the most appropiate time because...that´d have placed huge pressure on Ivan to make a perfect passing shot.
     
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Gerulaitis was impressive in the second half of 1979 and the first half of 1980.I don´t think there have been many world´s number 4 player with that record.That speaks volume about the quality atop in the game during those years.

    He beat Vilas at Rome´s 79 F in one of the classic clay court matches, being even tougher than Guillermo¡¡¡ ( Vitas had huge stamina).He reached the Dallas and RG semis and would play the USO F ( beat Tanner in another gruelling 5 setter coming from two sets down) and the Masters, where he´d beat Mc Enroe ( an extremely close match) and Connors before, bowing again to Bjorn Borg.

    He won the WCT Forest Hills tournament of champions with an astounding win over Mc Enroe and ended up that streak with another lost to Borg at the FO , this time in the final, after a memorable 5 sets semifinal victory over Jimmy Connors.

    He´d come back again in the second half of 1981 and first half of 1982.

    He beat Mac and Connors twice, beat Lendl twice, beat Vilas,Tanner,Wilander et al...except Borg.
     
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