Guillermo Vilas during the Munich Open in May 1975
|Born||17 August 1952|
Mar del Plata
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Turned pro||1969 (amateur tour from 1968)|
|Plays||Left-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Int. Tennis HoF||1991 (member page)|
|Career record||950-293 (76.4%)|
|Career titles||62 (10th in the Open Era)|
|Highest ranking||No. 2 (30 April 1975)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1978, 1979)|
|French Open||W (1977)|
|Wimbledon||QF (1975, 1976)|
|US Open||W (1977)|
|Tour Finals||W (1974)|
|WCT Finals||F (1976)|
|Highest ranking||No. 13 (21 May 1979)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||2R (1977Jan)|
|French Open||SF (1975)|
|US Open||QF (1975)|
Guillermo Vilas ([?i'?e?mo '?ilas]; born 17 August 1952), also known as Willy Vilas, is an Argentine former professional tennis player, No. 1 of the Grand Prix seasons in 1974, 1975 and 1977, who won four Grand Slam tournaments, one year-end Masters, nine Grand Prix Super Series titles and 62 total ATP titles. World Tennis, Agence France-Presse and Livre d'or du tennis 1977 (Christian Collin-Bernard Ficot), among other rankings and publications, rated him as world No. 1 in 1977 (while others ranked Björn Borg or Jimmy Connors No. 1). In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in April 1975, a position that he held for a total of 83 weeks. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991, two years after his first retirement.
Known for his prolific match play, especially on clay, he became the second man to win more than 900 matches in the Open Era, and his number of match-wins on clay (659) is by far the most of the era. His peak was the 1977 season during which he won two major titles (both on clay), had two long match win streaks of 46 all-surface and 53 on clay, and finished with an Open Era record of match wins. In 2016, The Daily Telegraph ranked him as the 3rd best male clay-court player of all time, behind Rafael Nadal and Björn Borg. In 2018, Steve Tignor for Tennis Magazine ranked him as the 16th greatest tennis player of the Open Era.
Historical and statistical studies presented in 2015 by Argentinian journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan concluded that Vilas should have been No. 1 in the old ATP ranking system for seven weeks between 1975 and 1976. The ATP Tour and its chief executive at that time, Chris Kermode, although not refuting the data, decided not to officially recognize Vilas. The controversy is still in the legal stage. In October 2020, Netflix released a documentary film about the Vilas case titled "Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score".
Raised in the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, Vilas was a left-hander and played his first tour event in 1968. He was in the year-ending top ten from 1974 through 1982. He was a clay-court specialist but also played well on hard-court, grass, and carpet surfaces.
He won four Grand Slam titles: the 1977 French Open and the 1977 US Open (both played on clay) and the 1978 and 1979 Australian Open (both played on grass). He was also the runner-up at the French Open three times (1975, 1978, and 1982) and at the Australian Open once (January 1977).
A left-handed baseliner, Vilas's best year on tour was 1977 when he won two of the four Grand Slam singles tournaments and 16 of the 31 Association of Tennis Professionals tournaments he entered. His playing record for 1977 was 130 wins against 15 losses. Not including the Masters year-end championship, he won 72 of his last 73 ATP matches in 1977. The highest point during this phenomenal run was winning the last US Open played at Forest Hills against Jimmy Connors 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(7-4), 6-0 in a match where Vilas surprised his American rival by attacking the net.
In 1977 he won seven consecutive titles after Wimbledon--Kitzbühel (clay), Washington (clay), Louisville (clay), South Orange (clay), Columbus (clay), US Open (clay) and Paris (clay)--and set up a 46-match all-surface winning streak. He also had a record 53-match winning streak on clay courts, which stood until surpassed by Rafael Nadal in 2006. Both his winning streaks were terminated in October 1977 by Ilie N?stase in the final of the Raquette d'Or tournament. In that best of five-set final, Vilas dropped the first two sets by 6-1, 7-5 and then retired in protest of N?stase's use of a spaghetti strung racquet (which was banned shortly after by the ITF). After that he won a further 28 matches in a row with titles at Tehran, Bogotá, Santiago, Buenos Aires (all on clay), and Johannesburg (hard). That run was ended in the Masters semi-finals by Björn Borg.
Even though he won 16 ATP singles titles, including the French Open and the US Open and was the runner-up at the January edition of the Australian Open in 1977, Vilas was never ranked by the ATP as world No. 1 during 1977 which was due to the fact that the rankings at the time were based on the average of a player's results. He was instead year-end world No. 2, behind Jimmy Connors (who won the Masters and seven other titles and was the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1977). Nevertheless "World Tennis" magazine listed Vilas as 1977 year-end world No. 1, and Borg No. 2.
Argentine journalist Eduardo Puppo and Romanian mathematician Marian Ciulpan investigated the 1973-78 period records, and delivered a detailed report with more than 1,200 pages in which they came to the conclusion that Vilas should have been ranked No. 1 for five weeks in 1975 as well as during the first two weeks of 1976 and handed over their research to the ATP at the end of 2014. Although the study was not refuted, in May 2015 the ATP announced it had decided not to make official the No. 1 position for Vilas because it happened in the interval between the publications of the official rankings.
In October 2020, Netflix released a documentary about the controversy titled "Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score".
Vilas retired from the ATP Tour in 1989 but still played on the ATP Challenger Series until 1992. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991. Vilas was in the stands at Flushing Meadows to cheer on his countryman, Juan Martín del Potro, who beat Roger Federer in an upset in the 2009 US Open final.
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open[a]||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||F||A||W||W||SF||3R||A||A||A||A||NH||A||A||A||2 / 5||23-3|
|French Open||A||A||4R||3R||3R||F||QF||W||F||QF||QF||4R||F||QF||1R||2R||QF||2R||2R||1R||1 / 18||58-17|
|Wimbledon||1R||A||1R||A||3R||QF||QF||3R||3R||2R||A||1R||A||1R||A||A||1R||A||A||A||0 / 11||15-11|
|US Open||A||A||2R||1R||4R||SF||SF||W||4R||4R||4R||4R||SF||3R||3R||2R||1R||A||A||A||1 / 15||43-14|
|Win-Loss||0-1||0-0||5-3||2-2||7-3||15-3||13-3||21-2||17-3||14-3||10-3||8-4||11-2||6-3||2-2||2-2||4-3||1-1||1-1||0-1||4 / 49||139-45|
|Masters||A||A||A||A||W||SF||SF||SF[b]||A||RR[b]||RR[b]||RR[b]||SF[b]||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||1 / 8||16-11|
|Loss||1975||French Open||Clay||Björn Borg||2-6, 3-6, 4-6|
|Loss||1977||Australian Open||Grass||Roscoe Tanner||3-6, 3-6, 3-6|
|Win||1977||French Open||Clay||Brian Gottfried||6-0, 6-3, 6-0|
|Win||1977||US Open||Clay||Jimmy Connors||2-6, 6-3, 7-6(7-4), 6-0|
|Loss||1978||French Open (2)||Clay||Björn Borg||1-6, 1-6, 3-6|
|Win||1978||Australian Open||Grass||John Marks||6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3|
|Win||1979||Australian Open (2)||Grass||John Sadri||7-6(7-4), 6-3, 6-2|
|Loss||1982||French Open (3)||Clay||Mats Wilander||6-1, 6-7(6-8), 0-6, 4-6|
|Event||Years||Record accomplished||Player tied|
|US Open||1977||72.1% (106-41) games winning % in 1 tournament||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1977||16 titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||22 finals reached in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||14 clay-court titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||120 outdoor match-wins in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||15 outdoor titles in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||145 match-wins in 1 season||Stands alone|
|Grand Prix Tour||1973-88||632 clay-court match-wins||Stands alone|
|ATP Buenos Aires||1973-82||8 singles titles||Stands alone|
|1973-77||6 consecutive titles [c]||Stands alone|