Special day. This Friday marks the anniversary of Guillermo Vilas’ last cry. Yes, because on July 24, 1983, in Kitzbuhel, Argentina’s best tennis player achieved the 62nd official singles tournament in his rich sports career. For this reason, 37 years have passed since that day on Austrian soil, in its ally, brick dust.
Willy Vilas was and still is the king of Argentine tennis. For victories, titles, feats and what he generated with his sporting feats. The left-hander from Mar del Plata reaped numerous successes in his career, such as having obtained 62 individual tournaments on the professional circuit, including four Grand Slam and one Masters at the end of the year.
Of the 62 titles he won, he won 49 of them on slow courts, his favorites. His maximum milestone on that surface was having been crowned at Roland Garros, in 1977. That was his first Major, the one so longed for after the conquest of the Masters tournament in 1974. In that unforgettable 1977 he also celebrated at the US Open and the other two Grand Slam achieved them at the Australian Open in 1978 and 1979.
In 1983 he then won his last title and did so in his fourth victory at Kitzbuhel. That time, Vilas reached the final without giving up a set and defeated French Henri Leconte 7-6 (4), 4-6 and 6-4 in the decisive duel. He ratified his status as top favorite of that ATP in Austria and celebrated without knowing that he would be the last of the 62.
With his seasoned and smart tennis, Vilas left an indelible mark with the record of 16 titles in 1977, the maximum mark of a man in a single season. That year, in addition, he sealed the historical streak of 53 consecutive victories, cut by the Romanian Ilie Nastase in Aix-en-Provence, with the racket, then suspended, with double stringing. Due to the ranking system of the moment, he was only second and was not ranked No. 1 in the world, being clearly the best of that season.
Vilas’ 62 titles, in order, from first to last:
1973: Buenos Aires
1974: Gstaad, Hilversum, Louisville, Toronto, Tehran, Buenos Aires and the Masters
1975: Munich, Hilversum, Washington, Louisville and Buenos Aires
1976: St. Louis, Fort Worth, Monte Carlo, Toronto, San Pablo and Buenos Aires
1977: Springfield, Buenos Aires-1, Virginia Beach, Roland Garros, Kitzbuhel, Washington, Louisville, South Orange, Columbus, US Open, Paris, Tehran, Bogotá, Santiago, Buenos Aires-2 and Johannesburg
1978: Hamburg, Munich, Gstaad, South Orange, Aix-en-Provence, Basel and Australian Open
1979: Hobart, Washington, Buenos Aires and Australian Open
1980: Rome, Kitzbuhel and Palermo
1981: Mar del Plata, Cairo and Houston
1982: Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Milan, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Boston and Kitzbuhel
1983: Richmond, Delray Beach and Kitzbuhel