Vijay Amritraj is a retired Indian tennis player who was considered one of the best in the world during the 70s and 80s.
Amritraj registered wins over greats like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Rod Laver and John McEnroe during his career, and reached multiple Grand Slam quarterfinals. He was the first ever Indian tennis superstar, and he used his fame very well even after retirement to help promote the game in the country.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 2nd Round (1984)
French Open: 3rd Round (1974)
Wimbledon: Quarterfinalist (1973, 1981)
US Open: Quarterfinalist (1973, 1974)
Highest Ranking: No. 18
Style of play
Amritraj was a classical serve-and-volleyer, using the prevalent style at the time to outwit his opponents. He used his serve to set up his net attacks, rarely staying at the back of the court.
When Amritraj did play from the baseline, he hit flat groundstrokes off both wings that skidded and stayed low. He also had a biting backhand slice that he frequently used as an approach shot.
Amritraj typically introduced plenty of variations into each rally, hitting slices, drops and lobs to move his opponent all over the court.
Strengths and weaknesses
Amritraj's soft hands and sharp reflexes at the net were undoubtedly his strongest assets. He could take the attack to the opposition no matter where he was playing or who he was up against.
Amritraj could hit all kinds of volleys effectively - the traditional deep volleys, the short droppers, the sharply angled ones, and the overhead smashes. He also had very high tennis IQ, which helped him choose the right kind of shot to hit at the most opportune time.
The Indian had a solid serve, and his groundstrokes from the back of the court were fairly effective. He wasn't the greatest at defense though, and could be run ragged by the top players.
In fact, stamina was always a major liability for Amritraj. He lost more than his fair share of five-setters over the course of his career, with many of them coming after he had taken a big lead. He was also sometimes criticized for lacking a killer instinct, which allowed opponents to make their way back into the match.
Amritraj was born in Chennai, India, and has two brothers Anand and Ashok who were also tennis players.
Vijay was a very sickly child in his early years, and suffered from stunted growth. In order to improve his health, his parents Robert and Maggie encouraged him to start playing tennis. Maggie in particular was the driving force behind her son taking up the sport as a career, and she ensured he kept at it despite the fact that he was not nearly as fit as his brother Anand.
Once he got used to the pace of play in professional tennis though, he went far beyond both of his brothers. He fought epic battles against all the great players in the 70s and 80s, and registered as many as five career wins over Jimmy Connors. While his inability to win five-setters on the big stage was considered a blemish on his career, the court craft and elegant shot-making that he regularly displayed made him a fan favorite all over the world.
Amritraj is married to Shymala, with whom he has two sons - Prakash and Vikran. Prakash Amritraj followed in his father's footsteps, going on to become a successful tennis player.
Amritraj briefly dabbled in acting, making a cameo appearance in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. After his retirement, he became a well-respected TV presenter and commentator, lending his characteristic baritone to many of the epic Slam finals we've seen in recent years.
Social media presence:
Vijay Amritraj Twitter: @Vijay_Amritraj