The weakness of Vilas' 4 slam wins

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
I admire Vilas. He won many events and matches but I do think he is a little overrated because of his 4 slam wins. Look at them: in 77 he won the French, but there's no way he would have won it if Borg had played it instead of World Team Tennis. The 77 US Open win over Connors was a great win, but if Borg had not got injured there's no way he would have lost to Stockton or Solomon on clay, which means that Vilas would have had to face Borg in the semi final. Again there's no way Vilas would have beaten a fit Borg.

Vilas' 2 Australian wins were in weak fields. There's no way he would have won of Borg, Connors and McEnroe were in the draw. Tanner and Gerulaitis were missing too.

Vilas could easily have ended up with 0 slams.

I realise that there will always be slam winners due to other players being injured or pulling out eg there are Roland Garros winners who only won because of injuries to Nadal, and there are players who profited from Djokovic refusing the covid vaccine. Vilas did well in 77 to win 2 slams even if Borg was absent. Given Vilas' consistency I consider him a worthy slam winner, but not worthy of 4 slams: I would say 1 or 2 slams is where Vilas was really at.
 

BTURNER

Legend
I admire Vilas. He won many events and matches but I do think he is a little overrated because of his 4 slam wins. Look at them: in 77 he won the French, but there's no way he would have won it if Borg had played it instead of World Team Tennis. The 77 US Open win over Connors was a great win, but if Borg had not got injured there's no way he would have lost to Stockton or Solomon on clay, which means that Vilas would have had to face Borg in the semi final. Again there's no way Vilas would have beaten a fit Borg.

Vilas' 2 Australian wins were in weak fields. There's no way he would have won of Borg, Connors and McEnroe were in the draw. Tanner and Gerulaitis were missing too.

Vilas could easily have ended up with 0 slams.

I realise that there will always be slam winners due to other players being injured or pulling out eg there are Roland Garros winners who only won because of injuries to Nadal, and there are players who profited from Djokovic refusing the covid vaccine. Vilas did well in 77 to win 2 slams even if Borg was absent. Given Vilas' consistency I consider him a worthy slam winner, but not worthy of 4 slams: I would say 1 or 2 slams is where Vilas was really at.
I have the same problem here, that I have with people who put an asterix behind every slam Graf won while Seles was out of commission with the stabbing. Borg is simply not important enough to be able to compromise the quality of any major by not playing in the final, because no single player should ever be seen as so important that his or her failure to play and reach the final, reduces the stature of the result.

If you did not beat peak Borg at the French, then you didnt really win the French Open in the 1970s and early 80's. I just don't buy it.
 

ChrisRF

Legend
I have the same problem here, that I have with people who put an asterix behind every slam Graf won while Seles was out of commission with the stabbing. Borg is simply not important enough to be able to compromise the quality of any major by not playing in the final, because no single player should ever be seen as so important that his or her failure to play and reach the final, reduces the stature of the result.

If you did not beat peak Borg at the French, then you didnt really win the French Open in the 1970s and early 80's. I just don't buy it.
I generally agree with you. It's possible to use that argument if an important player is explicitly banned (like lately with Covid restrictions and the Russian ban). But if someone just chooses to stay away for making money in another event, then it's different, let alone if someone is simply injured, which is part of the game.

It also looks like the OP is overrating Borg very much, who never won the US Open, be it on green clay or hardcourt. He simply wasn't as good there as he was at other places, and Vilas was certainly good enough that at least he COULD have done what quite a number of players also did: Beating Borg at the US Open. To simply assume there is "no way" this could happen is wrong.
 

BauerAlmeida

Hall of Fame
I agree he wouldn't beat Borg at RG. But he could have definitely beaten him at the USO, and you can't put an asterisk there if he beat Connors in the final. And if he beat Connors there I don't see why he wouldn't be able to do so at the AO too. Maybe he could lose as well, sure, but he can win too. If a player doesn't participate it's not up to the player that wins to prove that he would unquestionably beat the other had he played.

And you can apply this logic to many players. Would Ferrero win RG with a healthy Kuerten who was beating him before? Would Federer win it if he had to face Nadal?
Would Ivanisevic win Wimbledon if Federer doesn't take out Sampras?
 

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
I agree he wouldn't beat Borg at RG. But he could have definitely beaten him at the USO, and you can't put an asterisk there if he beat Connors in the final. And if he beat Connors there I don't see why he wouldn't be able to do so at the AO too. Maybe he could lose as well, sure, but he can win too. If a player doesn't participate it's not up to the player that wins to prove that he would unquestionably beat the other had he played.

And you can apply this logic to many players. Would Ferrero win RG with a healthy Kuerten who was beating him before? Would Federer win it if he had to face Nadal?
Would Ivanisevic win Wimbledon if Federer doesn't take out Sampras?
Borg was very dominant at Roland Garros and dominated Vilas. If Borg had entered French Open 77 Vilas' only hope of winning was injury to Borg. Vilas had a better record against Connors than Borg. The odds of Vilas beating a fit Borg at Forest Hills 77 are very low.
I did say in my above post that you could apply the same logic to other players. I don't think Federer would have won Roland Garros in 2009 if he faced Nadal for example. Ivanisevic would have had a good chance against Sampras in 2001 at Wimbledon though. Ferrero had a 3 2 head to head over Kuerten.
I don't think the slam counts of Federer, Kuerten or Ferrero are inflated. I do think 4 slams for Vilas is flattering.
He has more than Murray but there's no doubt in my mind that Murray goes down as a greater player than Vilas.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Yeah, the main focus for Vilas is that the two Australian Open wins were simply not legit Majors, full stop.

But the 1977 French Open was quite weak as well. Obviously, Borg was missing, with everyone thinking that a Borg win over Vilas was virtually guaranteed had he played. Connors wasn't there either, but, given how Vilas smoked him in the 1977 U.S. Open final on green clay, I'd pick Vilas in that match.

In addition, though, Gerulaitis and Orantes were also both missing.

Orantes was 8-7 against Vilas, going 5-0 against Vilas from 1975-1976, with all the matches on clay. In their biggest match during that stretch, at the 1975 Italian Open, Orantes smoked him, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. And Orantes was in good clay form in 1977, winning Indianapolis (beating Connors, 6-1, 6-3 in the final), Boston, and Tokyo + making finals in Hamburg and Barcelona.

Then there's Gerulaitis. He was 6-6 against Vilas, but he was playing his best tennis ever from the 1977 Italian Open, which he won, to Wimbledon, where he lost 8-6 in the fifth set to Borg.
 

KG1965

Legend
I admire Vilas. He won many events and matches but I do think he is a little overrated because of his 4 slam wins. Look at them: in 77 he won the French, but there's no way he would have won it if Borg had played it instead of World Team Tennis. The 77 US Open win over Connors was a great win, but if Borg had not got injured there's no way he would have lost to Stockton or Solomon on clay, which means that Vilas would have had to face Borg in the semi final. Again there's no way Vilas would have beaten a fit Borg.

Vilas' 2 Australian wins were in weak fields. There's no way he would have won of Borg, Connors and McEnroe were in the draw. Tanner and Gerulaitis were missing too.

Vilas could easily have ended up with 0 slams.

I realise that there will always be slam winners due to other players being injured or pulling out eg there are Roland Garros winners who only won because of injuries to Nadal, and there are players who profited from Djokovic refusing the covid vaccine. Vilas did well in 77 to win 2 slams even if Borg was absent. Given Vilas' consistency I consider him a worthy slam winner, but not worthy of 4 slams: I would say 1 or 2 slams is where Vilas was really at.
The thead is interesting but the hypothesis of considering zero slam because he was lucky at Forest Hills 77 and RG 77 does not seem correct to me.
Guillermo is a great tennis player who has won two very tough and important slams.
The AO obviously count for little, he probably wouldn't have reached the semi-finals if all the top dogs had participated.

He won some elite tournaments such as Washington, Milan, Rotterdam, Boston, Toronto, Rome, the Masters GP, Louisville, Hamburg, the very important ones.

He will remain in history for his two slams, the real number one in 77 and the real number one for 7 weeks between 75 and 76.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
The thead is interesting but the hypothesis of considering zero slam because he was lucky at Forest Hills 77 and RG 77 does not seem correct to me.
Guillermo is a great tennis player who has won two very tough and important slams.
The AO obviously count for little, he probably wouldn't have reached the semi-finals if all the top dogs had participated.

He won some elite tournaments such as Washington, Milan, Rotterdam, Boston, Toronto, Rome, the Masters GP, Louisville, Hamburg, the very important ones.

He will remain in history for his two slams, the real number one in 77 and the real number one for 7 weeks between 75 and 76.
I don't think we should disregard Vilas's 1977 French Open title, but literally the four other best players on clay in 1977 -- Borg, Orantes, Gerulaitis, and Connors -- were all missing. I don't think there's ever been another French Open where four or even three of the top five clay court players were missing.
 

KG1965

Legend
I don't think we should disregard Vilas's 1977 French Open title, but literally the four other best players on clay in 1977 -- Borg, Orantes, Gerulaitis, and Connors -- were all missing. I don't think there's ever been another French Open where four or even three of the top five clay court players were missing.
I agree with you that top 4 on clay were not present but at least the rest of the seeding was good (to win he beat Fibak, Ramirez and Gottfried who were top 10).
IMHO there wasn't much difference on red clay in 1977 between Ramirez, Gottfried, Orantes and Gerulaitis. But also Jimbo.
The problem seems to me essentially to be the absence of Borg.
It seems to me to be a very different situation from the two AOs which were literally emptied.
 
FO : Absent (Borg) are always wrong ... Vilas beat Stan Smith (Slam winner), Ramirez and Gottried (top 10- Gottfried was number 4), and Fibak (top 15). Great victory.
USO : Vilas beat Higueras, Solomon, Connors ... Great victory.
AO : Absent are always wrong (again) ... Vilas won on a surface that is not his, in scorching temperatures, by working like crazy, and beating very good grass specialists : Roche (Slam winner, Wimbledon finalist), Dent (AO finalist), Amaya (who almost beat Borg in Wimbledon) ... In 1978, a Vilas-Ashe final would have been prestigious but it's not Vilas's fault if Marks beat the great Ashe in SF ! So, AO = great victories.
Masters on grass : Vilas beat Borg, Newcombe, Nastase. Great victory.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
IMHO there wasn't much difference on red clay in 1977 between Ramirez, Gottfried, Orantes and Gerulaitis. But also Jimbo.
I might disagree here:

Vilas was 4-1 against Ramriez on clay.​
Vilas was 7-0 against Gottfried on clay.​
Vilas was 7-1 against Fibak on clay.​

So, he was 18-2 against his QF/SF/F opponents.

That was a much easier combo than playing 2/3 or 3/3 of Borg, Orantes (5-0 against Vilas in 1975-1976), Connors, and Gerulaitis (who had just won the Italian Open).
 
I might disagree here:

Vilas was 4-1 against Ramriez on clay.​
Vilas was 7-0 against Gottfried on clay.​
Vilas was 7-1 against Fibak on clay.​

So, he was 18-2 against his QF/SF/F opponents.

That was a much easier combo than playing 2/3 or 3/3 of Borg, Orantes (5-0 against Vilas in 1975-1976), Connors, and Gerulaitis (who had just won the Italian Open).

He was 18-2 against his opponents precisely because he's great !
 
His USO was legit of course, if he can beat Connors here he can also beat Borg, and injuries are part of the game anyways. As for the FO, that is another story. You are right, no way he beats Borg here, and while one player being voluntarily (and that was only partially voluntary, as he was forced to choose) absent shouldn’t automatically undermine a whole slam no matter who he is, there were multiple others who chose not to play that years FO edition. Let me just quote @NonP here:
Here's the entire '77 WTT men's roster for those of you who don't time to waste going through this 52-page file:

Andrews, John
Anthony, Julie
Borg, Bjorn
Bostrom, Pat
Case, Ross
Cheney, Brian
Docherty, Steve
Drysdale, Cliff
Emerson, Roy
Estep, Mike
Gerulaitis, Vitas
Giltinan, Bob
Gorman, Tom
Kakulia, Teimuraz
Laver, Rod
Lucas, John
Mayer, Sandy
McMilan, Frew
Melville Reid, Kerry
Metreveli, Alex
Nastase, Ilie (QF at RG)
Okker, Tom
Pasarell, Charlie
Ralston, Dennis
Reid, Raz
Riessen, Marty
Roche, Tony
Ruffels, Ray
Stolle, Fred
Stone, Allan
van Dillen, Erik
Walts, Butch

That's 32 players, who along with Connors left the '77 FO draw depleted (historians are invited to explain how Nasty was able to participate regardless). And it shows when you examine Vilas' actual run:

1R - Franulović
2R - Prajoux
3R - Mitton
4R - Smith
QF - Fibak
SF - Ramírez
F - Gottfried
Sorry but this is definitely enough to conclude that win was heavily asterisked and chances Vilas would have won it under normal circumstances are close to zero.
 
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KG1965

Legend
I might disagree here:

Vilas was 4-1 against Ramriez on clay.​
Vilas was 7-0 against Gottfried on clay.​
Vilas was 7-1 against Fibak on clay.​

So, he was 18-2 against his QF/SF/F opponents.

That was a much easier combo than playing 2/3 or 3/3 of Borg, Orantes (5-0 against Vilas in 1975-1976), Connors, and Gerulaitis (who had just won the Italian Open).
It seems to me that your arguments especially on Orantes are very valid.
The spaniard was a very complicated opponent for Guillermo.
 

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
I generally agree with you. It's possible to use that argument if an important player is explicitly banned (like lately with Covid restrictions and the Russian ban). But if someone just chooses to stay away for making money in another event, then it's different, let alone if someone is simply injured, which is part of the game.

It also looks like the OP is overrating Borg very much, who never won the US Open, be it on green clay or hardcourt. He simply wasn't as good there as he was at other places, and Vilas was certainly good enough that at least he COULD have done what quite a number of players also did: Beating Borg at the US Open. To simply assume there is "no way" this could happen is wrong

FO : Absent (Borg) are always wrong ... Vilas beat Stan Smith (Slam winner), Ramirez and Gottried (top 10- Gottfried was number 4), and Fibak (top 15). Great victory.
USO : Vilas beat Higueras, Solomon, Connors ... Great victory.
AO : Absent are always wrong (again) ... Vilas won on a surface that is not his, in scorching temperatures, by working like crazy, and beating very good grass specialists : Roche (Slam winner, Wimbledon finalist), Dent (AO finalist), Amaya (who almost beat Borg in Wimbledon) ... In 1978, a Vilas-Ashe final would have been prestigious but it's not Vilas's fault if Marks beat the great Ashe in SF ! So, AO = great victories.
Masters on grass : Vilas beat Borg, Newcombe, Nastase. Great victory.
The field Vilas beat to win Roland Garros wasn't that great. Smith was past his best and never strong on clay. Fibak was never going to be a contender for the French title. Ramirez was his best win but Ramirez never got to a slam final, and Gottfried never got to a slam final anywhere else.
The USO was a strong victory though I still think don't think he would have beaten Borg.
The AO win against Roche was against a past his best Roche. Dent and Amaya were useful players but hardly slam contenders in a strong field. This field was exceptionally weak for a slam and doesn't really count as a slam at all to be honest.
Ashe was also past his best and if that was Vilas' greatest threat that shows what a weak slam it was. Marks would have had no hope of getting to any slam final with a proper field.
The Masters win is very impressive, though the best player in the world was missing: Connors.
Vilas never won a slam when all the best players in the world were in it, save US Open 1977 when Borg retired injured.
 
Then we have to look at all the grand slam draws of all the winners since 50 years to see each time who was there or not and who was beaten or not and decide whether or not it is a great title. Not only for Vilas but for all the Slam winners.
 

Mustard

Bionic Poster
The odds of Vilas beating a fit Borg at Forest Hills 77 are very low.
Are you sure about that? I think Vilas was in the form of his life at the time, a big winning streak, confidence sky high. Look at how Vilas beat Connors in the 1977 US Open final 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0, just 1 year after Connors had beaten Vilas on the same court 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in the 1976 US Open semi final.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Are you sure about that? I think Vilas was in the form of his life at the time, a big winning streak, confidence sky high. Look at how Vilas beat Connors in the 1977 US Open final 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0, just 1 year after Connors had beaten Vilas on the same court 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in the 1976 US Open semi final.
He had that big winning streak, but (other than the infamous spaghetti string match) it was broken by Borg, 6-3, 6-3 at WTF.

Borg was 9-0 against Vilas from 1976-1979, only dropping sets at the 1976 WCT Finals (1-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-1) and Nice in 1977 (6-4, 1-6, 6-2, 6-0).
 

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
Then we have to look at all the grand slam draws of all the winners since 50 years to see each time who was there or not and who was beaten or not and decide whether or not it is a great title. Not only for Vilas but for all the Slam winners.
That happens quite alot on this forum. There are some slam wins that are more impressive than others.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Then we have to look at all the grand slam draws of all the winners since 50 years to see each time who was there or not and who was beaten or not and decide whether or not it is a great title. Not only for Vilas but for all the Slam winners.
I don't think so. Some Australian Opens, including the two Vilas won, had fields that lacked most of the top players. As noted, 32 WTT players + Connors missed the 1977 French Open, including 4 of the top 5 clay court players. Then, you have the players strike at Wimbledon in 1973. Other Majors might have had relatively strong or relatively weak fields across a spectrum, but the ones I mentioned really stand out from others as well below even the low end of that spectrum.
 
To summarize, there are two ways of looking at things.
1/ Against Vilas, we can see everything he didn't do. In FO, he didn't beat Borg and Connors because they were not there. In USO, Vilas didn't beat Borg. In AO, most of top players were not there, si Vilas didn't beat them. So Vilas victories are minor. That's not my opinion, because I think absent are always wrong and I think it's impossible to reason by supposition (if Connors was there, if Borg was'nt injured ...). For information I remind you that Vilas beat Borg the only time they played on Australian grass.
2/ For Vilas, we can see everything he did. And I prefer that. In FO, he beat number 4, 6 and 12 + the great Stan Smith (who was not so old - 6 years younger than Djoko today). In USO, he beat 2 clay specialists (Higueras and Solomon) and the number 1 (Connors). In AO, in very difficult conditions (heat) and on an unnatural surface for him, he beat a lot of grass specialists, including 1 Slam Winner and finalist (Roche, 3 years younger than Djoko today) and 1 Slam finalist (Dent).
 

Mustard

Bionic Poster
To summarize, there are two ways of looking at things.
1/ Against Vilas, we can see everything he didn't do. In FO, he didn't beat Borg and Connors because they were not there. In USO, Vilas didn't beat Borg. In AO, most of top players were not there, si Vilas didn't beat them. So Vilas victories are minor. That's not my opinion, because I think absent are always wrong and I think it's impossible to reason by supposition (if Connors was there, if Borg was'nt injured ...). For information I remind you that Vilas beat Borg the only time they played on Australian grass.
Borg lost to Dick Stockton at the 1977 US Open, albeit injured. Connors chose not to play the 1977 French Open, and Borg chose 1977 World Team Tennis for the Cleveland Nets over playing at the 1977 French Open. The 1977 US Open was Vilas in the form of his life.
 

WCT

Professional
Borg lost to Dick Stockton at the 1977 US Open, albeit injured. Connors chose not to play the 1977 French Open, and Borg chose 1977 World Team Tennis for the Cleveland Nets over playing at the 1977 French Open. The 1977 US Open was Vilas in the form of his life.
Well, technically he retired at the US Open. 1 set each and maybe 1 game into the third. Sure opened the door for Vilas, though. But that happens a bunch. The best player or players lose and it opens the door. Vilas still had to walk through. He did still have to beat Connors to win the tournament.

BTW, that Stockton match was best of 3. 75-78 the early round matches were best of 3 at the US Open.
 

Mustard

Bionic Poster
Well, technically he retired at the US Open. 1 set each and maybe 1 game into the third. Sure opened the door for Vilas, though. But that happens a bunch. The best player or players lose and it opens the door. Vilas still had to walk through. He did still have to beat Connors to win the tournament.
Yes, and Connors had beaten Vilas 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in the 1976 US Open semi final. In the 1977 US Open final, Vilas turned the tables, beating Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0.

BTW, that Stockton match was best of 3. 75-78 the early round matches were best of 3 at the US Open.
The 1977 US Open was the worst of all for that, with the first 4 rounds being best of 3 sets. The 1975, 1976 and 1978 US Opens had the first 3 rounds as best of 3 sets.
 

WCT

Professional
Yes, and Connors had beaten Vilas 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in the 1976 US Open semi final. In the 1977 US Open final, Vilas turned the tables, beating Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0.


The 1977 US Open was the worst of all for that, with the first 4 rounds being best of 3 sets. The 1975, 1976 and 1978 US Opens had the first 3 rounds as best of 3 sets.
Yep, I remember 77 being best of 3 until the quarters because Connors killed Tanner in the round of 16. Best of 3 certainly gave less margin for error. I remember sweating out a Connors Pat Dupre 3 setter in the 3rd round of the 78 US Open.
 
I admire Vilas. He won many events and matches but I do think he is a little overrated because of his 4 slam wins. Look at them: in 77 he won the French, but there's no way he would have won it if Borg had played it instead of World Team Tennis. The 77 US Open win over Connors was a great win, but if Borg had not got injured there's no way he would have lost to Stockton or Solomon on clay, which means that Vilas would have had to face Borg in the semi final. Again there's no way Vilas would have beaten a fit Borg.

Vilas' 2 Australian wins were in weak fields. There's no way he would have won of Borg, Connors and McEnroe were in the draw. Tanner and Gerulaitis were missing too.

Vilas could easily have ended up with 0 slams.

I realise that there will always be slam winners due to other players being injured or pulling out eg there are Roland Garros winners who only won because of injuries to Nadal, and there are players who profited from Djokovic refusing the covid vaccine. Vilas did well in 77 to win 2 slams even if Borg was absent. Given Vilas' consistency I consider him a worthy slam winner, but not worthy of 4 slams: I would say 1 or 2 slams is where Vilas was really at.
During 1977 Vilas won 130 matches and 16 tournaments. Thats saying a lot. Amazing records.
 

austintennis2005

Professional
FO : Absent (Borg) are always wrong ... Vilas beat Stan Smith (Slam winner), Ramirez and Gottried (top 10- Gottfried was number 4), and Fibak (top 15). Great victory.
USO : Vilas beat Higueras, Solomon, Connors ... Great victory.
AO : Absent are always wrong (again) ... Vilas won on a surface that is not his, in scorching temperatures, by working like crazy, and beating very good grass specialists : Roche (Slam winner, Wimbledon finalist), Dent (AO finalist), Amaya (who almost beat Borg in Wimbledon) ... In 1978, a Vilas-Ashe final would have been prestigious but it's not Vilas's fault if Marks beat the great Ashe in SF ! So, AO = great victories.
Masters on grass : Vilas beat Borg, Newcombe, Nastase. Great victory.
What do you mean “absent are wrong” makes no sense whatsoever
 

crimson87

Semi-Pro
The fact that for a Vilas GS victory to be valid he has to face an absolute gauntlet of a draw. And that rarely ever happens in a major. There are always upsets or absent players.

ATP already robbed him his number one ranking. Ain't that enough.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
The fact that for a Vilas GS victory to be valid he has to face an absolute gauntlet of a draw. And that rarely ever happens in a major. There are always upsets or absent players.

ATP already robbed him his number one ranking. Ain't that enough.
I think the U.S. Open criticism is overstated. But I would say there are 7 Major draws that were meaningfully different from the draws of every Open Era Major:

1978 AO: Vilas won​
1979 AO: Vilas won​
1980 AO​
1981 AO​
1982 AO​
1977 French: Vilas won​
1973 Wimbledon​

The first five all had very weak draws not worthy of a Major. 32 WTT players + Connors missed the 1977 French Open, including 4 of the top 5 clay court players. And the 1973 Wimbledon boycott obliterated that draw.
 
I think the U.S. Open criticism is overstated. But I would say there are 7 Major draws that were meaningfully different from the draws of every Open Era Major:

1978 AO: Vilas won​
1979 AO: Vilas won​
1980 AO​
1981 AO​
1982 AO​
1977 French: Vilas won​
1973 Wimbledon​

The first five all had very weak draws not worthy of a Major. 32 WTT players + Connors missed the 1977 French Open, including 4 of the top 5 clay court players. And the 1973 Wimbledon boycott obliterated that draw.
Were the 76 and 77 AO draws really so much stronger? Connors and Borg didn’t play, the 76 quarters exclusively featured Australian players.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Were the 76 and 77 AO draws really so much stronger? Connors and Borg didn’t play, the 76 quarters exclusively featured Australian players.
The top 4 seeds in 1976 were Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, and Stan Smith.

In 1978, it was Guillermo Vilas, José Luis Clerc, Arthur Ashe, and Tim Gullickson.

In 1979, it was Guillermo Vilas, John Alexander, Victor Amaya, and Hanf Pfister.

So, I'd say 1979 was in a different category of bad than 1976. 1978 is worse than 1976, but maybe it can be distinguished from the other 6 especially weak Major draws.

1977 is weird with two editions played that year. I'd have to dig a bit deeper to see where I rank each of them.
 

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
During 1977 Vilas won 130 matches and 16 tournaments. Thats saying a lot. Amazing records.
Yes that is a great achievement. I do think Vilas deserved the number 1 for 1977 because ultimately ranking must be decided by results. It's not Vilas' fault Borg got injured at the US Open and missed the French. I have no doubt Borg played a higher level than Vilas in 77 in terms of playing performance, but Vilas had better results than Borg. I would rather have had Vilas' 1977 than any other player of that year. It is an injustice that Vilas missed out on the ATP number 1 ranking.
 

sandy mayer

Semi-Pro
The top 4 seeds in 1976 were Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, and Stan Smith.

In 1978, it was Guillermo Vilas, José Luis Clerc, Arthur Ashe, and Tim Gullickson.

In 1979, it was Guillermo Vilas, John Alexander, Victor Amaya, and Hanf Pfister.

So, I'd say 1979 was in a different category of bad than 1976. 1978 is worse than 1976, but maybe it can be distinguished from the other 6 especially weak Major draws.

1977 is weird with two editions played that year. I'd have to dig a bit deeper to see where I rank each of them.
Even in 1976 Rosewall was the only top ten player to enter the draw. I don't think Newcombe was even top 20. The Australian Open was so weak for most of the 70s. I think it's a shame it took so long to revive this slam. I am glad that now it's so important.
 

-snake-

Hall of Fame
The fact that for a Vilas GS victory to be valid he has to face an absolute gauntlet of a draw. And that rarely ever happens in a major. There are always upsets or absent players.

ATP already robbed him his number one ranking. Ain't that enough.


And no one's ever said he was better or comparable to Borg anyway. This thread is just throwing sheet at the guy for the sake of it.
 
Yes that is a great achievement. I do think Vilas deserved the number 1 for 1977 because ultimately ranking must be decided by results. It's not Vilas' fault Borg got injured at the US Open and missed the French. I have no doubt Borg played a higher level than Vilas in 77 in terms of playing performance, but Vilas had better results than Borg. I would rather have had Vilas' 1977 than any other player of that year. It is an injustice that Vilas missed out on the ATP number 1 ranking.
There is an interesting Netflix documentary on this, Eduardo Puppo, tenis journalist and Marian Ciulpan, roumanian mathematician made calculations to prove that Vilas deserved N.1. The whole subject is well covered on that doc. And I agree with you, ranking is about results.
 
There is an interesting Netflix documentary on this, Eduardo Puppo, tenis journalist and Marian Ciulpan, roumanian mathematician made calculations to prove that Vilas deserved N.1. The whole subject is well covered on that doc. And I agree with you, ranking is about results.
As a side note, Eduardo Puppo has the custody of Vilas' collection of memorabilia.
 

WCT

Professional
The top 4 seeds in 1976 were Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, and Stan Smith.

In 1978, it was Guillermo Vilas, José Luis Clerc, Arthur Ashe, and Tim Gullickson.

In 1979, it was Guillermo Vilas, John Alexander, Victor Amaya, and Hanf Pfister.

So, I'd say 1979 was in a different category of bad than 1976. 1978 is worse than 1976, but maybe it can be distinguished from the other 6 especially weak Major draws.

1977 is weird with two editions played that year. I'd have to dig a bit deeper to see where I rank each of them.
That's pretty damning for a GS tournament.
 

crimson87

Semi-Pro
Yeah but the documentary basically comes to the conclusion that Vilas was denied of valid number one weeks even before 1977.

On 1975 there were weeks of that year where he met the criteria to be world number one under the averages system. But the ATP didn't calculate rankings every week so...

Such a ranking can't be taken seriously. At least until 1990. Better to look at world tennis magazine or the grand prix ranking.

And then don't get me started on the averages system which was basically:

Connors wins WB
Scratches his balls
Wins Dallas WCT and a couple more tournaments

World number one.

How can you be punished for playing and winning?
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Even in 1976 Rosewall was the only top ten player to enter the draw. I don't think Newcombe was even top 20. The Australian Open was so weak for most of the 70s. I think it's a shame it took so long to revive this slam. I am glad that now it's so important.
Yeah, it might make sense to extend my list to 10 Majors that stand out for especially weak draws:

1976 AO​
1977 AO (January)​
1977 AO (December​
1978 AO: Vilas won​
1979 AO: Vilas won​
1980 AO​
1981 AO​
1982 AO​
1977 French: Vilas won​
1973 Wimbledon​
 

martinezownsclay

Hall of Fame
Totally agree, and it was in another post here I was laughing how some people, especialy that crazy Vilas fanatic, I think jean pierre or something, were insisting Vilas should ranked over Courier all time. Yes a guy with 4 totally legit slams and a legit #1 for about a year and half, should be ranked lower than someone with possibly all his slams being questionable in nature, and at minimum 2 of the 4 being a complete joke, and who was never the best player in the world. That makes a lot of sense.
 

martinezownsclay

Hall of Fame
The fact that for a Vilas GS victory to be valid he has to face an absolute gauntlet of a draw. And that rarely ever happens in a major. There are always upsets or absent players.

ATP already robbed him his number one ranking. Ain't that enough.

People don't even fully recognize Court and Goolagong's Australian Open titles. Two players who were absolutely dominant on grass (the Australian Open surface then), especialy Court. Why on earth would they fully recognize Vilas's, a guy who in reality is a mediocre and non contending player on grass, as his Wimbledon performances prove emphatically.

And anyone who won Roland Garros in the "tons of absentee" years in the 70s have their wins depleted in value. I even saw various people on a major womens tennis site arguing this for Evert (I strongly disagreed and defended Evert, as I think she was so wholly dominant on clay, she is the one who gets a total exception to any actual field that attends, maybe Borg to a lesser extent than Evert), so OF COURSE this will also be argued for Vilas, a great clay courter, but who it is proven can be beaten by various guys in the top 15 who are good on clay, on clay, on a given day, and has 1 guy who completely owns him on clay (Borg) who he barely gets games off of, who was absent not due to injury, which wouldn't be a devaluing for me, but the context of slams in that period which is entirely different.

And Vilas never merited the #1 ranking. Notice how for 1977 the ranking points and computer said it was Connors, and nearly all the agencies of experts, writers, ex players gave it to Borg, so apparently by no merit it was Vilas even that year, his best year ever. His only argument was 2 slams to each of their 1, which is something, but slams were a screwy thing in that period as covered above. And apparently convinced neither the computer nor hardly any of the experts.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Sigh. A win is a win. I think the AO fields were quite the joke, but non-participators were not excluded...they chose not to play. Not like the damn WTT ban at RG. Vilas winning USO was stellar, RG just a little less w/no Borg or Connors there. But it is what it is....he won all 4 titles fair and square, as they say. He'll never be held in the same esteem as Borg or Connors or Mac, but he wasn't a piker by any stretch.
 
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martinezownsclay

Hall of Fame
Sigh. A win is a win. I think the AO fields were quite the joke, but non-participators were not excluded...they chose not to play. Not like the damn WTT ban at RG. Vilas winning USO was stellar, RG just a little less w/no Borg or Connors there. But it is what it is....he won all 4 titles fair and square, as they say.
Yeah but when you are comparing him to people like Courier and Murray who have similar accomplishments on paper as it is, of course the reality of the Australian Opens at the time (and to a lesser extent even some of the French Opens, including the one he won) should come into play, and makes it clear he should rank below those guys IMO.

And I know from your comments on the other thread you don't consider Court a serious candidate for female GOAT despite on paper having the best achievements in nearly every category both in singles and singles/doubles, in comparision to Navratilova, Graf, Serena, or even Evert. Presumably that is in large part since you recognize the Australian Open status at the time where 11 of her 24 singles slams and many of her doubles slams even came from. So if that applies to her, a dominant grass courter who is still not getting full value (probably rightly) for her Australians, why would it not apply to Vilas, a mostly mediocre grass courter as his Wimbledon and all other grass tournament performances reflect.
 
Totally agree, and it was in another post here I was laughing how some people, especialy that crazy Vilas fanatic, I think jean pierre or something, were insisting Vilas should ranked over Courier all time. Yes a guy with 4 totally legit slams and a legit #1 for about a year and half, should be ranked lower than someone with possibly all his slams being questionable in nature, and at minimum 2 of the 4 being a complete joke, and who was never the best player in the world. That makes a lot of sense.
Well to be fair one year and a half stretches it, it was little more than a year (58 weeks). Was however during a very strong period with multiple top players. Courier of course is clearly above Vilas. One has to admit though, the USO 77 were definitely not questionable. He was a little lucky that Borg got injured before he had to face him, but beating Connors definitely is enough to make it a legit slam win. 1977 FO is of course another topic.
 

martinezownsclay

Hall of Fame
Well to be fair one year and a half stretches it, it was little more than a year (58 weeks). Was however during a very strong period with multiple top players. Courier of course is clearly above Vilas. One has to admit though, the USO 77 were definitely not questionable. He was a little lucky that Borg got injured before he had to face him, but beating Connors definitely is enough to make it a legit slam win. 1977 FO is of course another topic.

So he had 1 very legit slam (77 US Open), one iffy one (77 French), and 2 bogus ones (both Australians). I agree with that assessment, and given that he is well off even being compared to the likes of Courier or Murray at all. Definitely not underrated.

Honestly while I would rank Vilas over Wawrinka overall pretty easily considering Wawrinka's lack of any achievements and consistent quality performance outside of slams, in terms of just slams and slam wins, and nothing else, Wawrinka > Vilas very, very easily IMO, despite Vilas technically having 1 more.

And yes I guess I should have said before I do disagree about the 77 US Open not being a fully legit slam, and even an impressive one. He did beat Connors which is a huge win on any surface at the US Open,and Connors had beaten Borg on the same Har Tru clay in the final the year before, so definitely a legit win. Injuries (Borg getting injured in his 4th round m atch) are natural and one thing I almsot never devalue players wins for (I didn't devalue Agassi's 99 US Open title since Sampras who almost for sure wins it pulled out injured last moment), and given Borg's US Open woes him losing that match uninjured isn't even impossible anyway.

Given the context of the time my best case for Vilas would be crediting his WTF title as not a WTF today but an actual slam, especialy with the impressive wins (including his nemisis Borg) he had to win it, and saying he has 3 slams, with 1 iffy one (the French). Even along that line of thinking though I would still rank him clearly behind both Courier and Murray though. Murray has some of the best non slam win credentials of any 3 or 4 slam winner in history, and Courier has both his 4 slams and time at #1.
 
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crimson87

Semi-Pro
Are we going to ignore that Courier got to a GS Final in AOby beating a journeyman in QF and a WO in the SF? Or that he beat clay court titans like Ivanisevic, Edberg and Agassi to win the FO?

Vilas was denied like 3 FO by the guy that was head and shoulders the best clay courter ever until Nadal showed up. He choked another one vs young Vilander though.

Similar case to Federer, where he only won one FO but could have won like 5 or 6 if not for Nadal.

Courier never faced such opposition at the FO. Also wasn't he basically done by 1995? Longevity has to count for something.
 
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