A documentary on Guillermo Vilas’ fight for the No. 1 ranking has recently been released on Netflix. The film, titled Guillermo Vilas: Settling the Score, has been helmed by Argentinian journalist Eduardo Poppo and features comments from legends such as Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Rod Laver and Gabriela Sabatini.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are quite easily two of the greatest players in the history of the sport. And they both hold Guillermo Vilas in very high regard, as seen in the documentary which is now available to stream on Netflix.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pay tribute to Guillermo Vilas in Netflix documentary
Roger Federer has a work ethic that is second to none. One of the reasons that the Swiss Maestro has been able to maintain his supremely high standards for so long is his dedication to every aspect of the game.
However, according to Roger Federer, it is Guillermo Vilas who possesses the most exemplary work ethic. The 20-time Grand Slam champion heaped praise on Vilas' sense of discipline in the documentary, and pointed out how it set an example for players such as himself.
“Guillermo was one of those players that left a mark, especially when it comes to the work ethic for the next generation of players,” Federer said.
Roger Federer went on to lavish more praise on the former US Open champion, labeling him an ‘incredible fighter’.
“He was an incredible fighter and would never get tired,” Federer continued.
Roger Federer then briefly touched upon Vilas' struggle for the coveted ranking. The 39-year-old expressed a touch of regret that Vilas was unable to achieve the top spot, and asserted that the ranking system at the time didn't give the player his due credit.
"He should have been the world No. 1, but the ranking system was different at the time,” Federer remarked. “It didn't reward playing a lot.”
Rafael Nadal meanwhile recalled an interesting anecdote about Guillermo Vilas and himself in the documentary. The two players, being southpaws and clay-court specialists, shared a close bond off the court.
The Mallorcan reminisced how his fellow French Open champion gave him crucial advice about the importance of all-round court coverage as opposed to just lateral movement.
“When I was very young, I do remember one thing he told me - ‘Everybody knows how to run to the side, but to run back and forth, it's a lot more complicated, so you have to try to take players out of their comfort zone'," Nadal said.
The controversy surrounding Guillermo Vilas' ranking
Guillermo Vilas is undoubtedly the most successful South American tennis player of all time, having won four Grand Slams and a total of 62 career titles. The former French Open champion had over 900 victories on the tour, but still never managed to find himself perched atop the ATP rankings.
Vilas was always extremely keen on being ranked No. 1 in the world, and eventually, not getting there became one of the biggest regrets of his career.
In his best calendar year - 1977 - Guillermo Vilas won the French Open as well as the US Open. He won a further 16 titles on the ATP tour and finished with an incredible W-L record of 130-15.
In the same year, Guillermo Vilas won 53 matches in a row on clay. Unfortunately for him though, none of this was enough to give him the coveted No. 1 spot as he continued to languish at No. 2 behind Jimmy Connors.
This was mainly due to the fact that, in those days, ranking systems took a count of the average of every player’s results. Needless to say, Vilas' average wasn’t enough to surpass Connors in the chart.Published 27 Oct 2020, 18:15 IST