Originally Posted by PanchoGonzalesTheGreatest
It is said by those who saw him that he was such a fierce competitor that he makes Jimmy Connors look like a *****cat in comparison. Think about that for a second.
It has also been said that he never lost serve whilst serving for the set or match. He was the World No. 1 professional tennis player for an unequalled eight years in the 1950s and early 1960s.
A 1999 Sports Illustrated article about the magazine's 20 "favorite athletes" of the 20th century said about Gonzales (their number 15 pick): "If earth was on the line in a tennis match, the man you want serving to save humankind would be Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez." American tennis commentator Bud Collins echoed this in an August 2006 article for MSNBC.com: "If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzales."
He also had great longetivity and as a 41-year-old at Wimbledon in 1969, Gonzales met Charlie Pasarell, a Puerto Rican younger than Gonzales by 16 years.
Gonzales fought back from 2 sets down to win an epic encounter 22-24, 1–6, 16-14, 6–3, 11-9. Gonzales saved all seven match points that Pasarell had against him in the fifth set, twice coming back from 0-40 deficits, to walk off the court the eventual winner in a 5-hour, 12-minute epic.
Here is a YouTube video about the incredible Pancho Gonzales: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd0gJzm_EQY
He has to be considered one of the mentally toughest of all time, but one possible negative against him is his temper. It effected his level of play on two occasions that I know of (perhaps there were others).
He won the 1949 US title over Ted Schroeder, 16-18, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. This was in the press:
Gonzales lost his temper and almost his match when a questionable call by the umpire gave Schroeder a set point in that wild first set. Pancho lost the next point and the set. He was so disgusted, he kicked away the second set at 6-2.
Something similar happened in the famous Pasarell match, which Pancho won 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. After losing his serve in the last game of the first set (from 40-love up!), he started complaining about the fading light. He couldn't get the referee to stop the match; in his anger he swatted several of Charlie's serves into the net, and he ended up losing the set 6-2. It was a complete change from the great discipline he showed in the first set.
Of course in both matches he pulled it together and came all the way back. But maybe a case can be made that Pancho's mental toughness was not perfect, due to his temper.