The incredible career of Guillermo Vilas was thrust back into the spotlight with the article by Peter Bodo regarding the effort underway to award the Argentine the No. 1 ranking from the 1970s, which you can read here: https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/29237076/an-argentine-journalist-13-year-quest-do-right-tennis-legend-guillermo-vilas
The 1977 year for Vilas is regarded one of the single greatest tennis seasons ever – highlighted by titles at the French and U.S. Opens, a runner-up showing at the Australian Open and 21 singles titles and a record 50-match win streak. However, remarkably, Vilas did not officially rank No. 1 at any point in the season.
Bud Collins, the famed Hall of Fame tennis journalist and personality, documented the 1977 year in tennis (as well as all others) in his book “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” which is for sale and download here:
We have excerpted this entire chapter here below the outlines the achievements of Vilas
By any standard, 1977 was a landmark year for tennis. Wimbledon, the oldest of tournaments, celebrated its Centenary. The U.S. Open was played at Forest Hills for the last time. And a technological innovation, the “double strung” or “spaghetti” racket, caused such a stir that it was banned from tournament play several months after gaining notoriety, leading to the definition of a racket for the first time in the official rules of the game.
Three men—Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas and Jimmy Connors—waged their own version of the year’s hit movie, the science-fiction classic “Star Wars.” They were in a stratospheric super class, a galaxy above anyone. Borg won Wimbledon and had the most solid record, including winning margins against both his rivals. Vilas won the French and U.S. Opens and fashioned the longest winning streak of the 10 years of the Open era. Connors won the WCT Finals in Dallas and the Grand Prix Masters, and was runner-up at Wimbledon and Forest Hills. The debate as to who was No. 1 continued right through the Masters, which, because of U.S. television considerations, was moved back by new Grand Prix sponsor Colgate-Palmolive to the first week of January 1978.
There was no similar disagreement as to who was the ruler of women’s tennis. Chris Evert remained the indisputable No. 1, despite Virginia Wade’s coronation— after 15 years as the lady-in-waiting—as the queen of Wimbledon. The celebrations of Wimbledon’s Centenary fortnight began with the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club honoring 41 of the 52 living singles champions. A crowd of 14,000 packed Centre Court, and their applause swelled as the Band of the Welsh Guards played The March of the King from the opera “Aida,” signaling a wonderfully nostalgic “Parade of Champions.” The former winners strode out onto the most famous lawn in tennis to receive commemorative medals from the Duke of Kent in a brief, dignified ceremony. In a touching final gesture, medals were presented to Elizabeth “Bunny” Ryan, 85, and Jacques “Toto” Brugnon, 82, “representing all the doubles champions.” Ryan, winner of 12 women’s doubles and seven mixed titles between 1914 and 1934, moved slowly, on walking sticks, but cast them aside to wave to the crowd. Brugnon, winner of Wimbledon doubles titles, twice each with fellow French “Musketeers” Henri Cochet and Jean Borotra, used a cane and later held the arm of the fourth “Musketeer,” Rene Lacoste. Toto died the next winter, but for this moment he was ebullient.
The tournament was also richly memorable. Lefthander John McEnroe, 18, of Douglaston, N.Y., became the youngest male to make the semifinal in Wimbledon’s 100 years, the first player ever to come through the qualifying rounds and get that far. He won eight matches in all before Connors brought him back to reality, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. In the other semifinal, Borg defeated the swift and flashy Vitas Gerulaitis, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6, in breathtaking combat between the charging Lithuanian Lion and the baseline defending Swede. The sustained quality of the shotmaking and drama made this, in the opinion of longtime observers, one of the all-time Centre Court classics.
The final also lived up to a majestic standard. Borg and Connors—destined to be remembered as the archrivals of the ’70s—battled each other from the baseline in torrid rallies seldom seen on grass. Connors seemed out of it at 0-4 in the fifth set, but roused himself for one last challenge and came back to 4-4 before a crucial double fault in the ninth game cost him his momentum, his serve and the match, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
In the women’s singles, 14-year-old Californian Tracy Austin became one of the youngest players to compete at Wimbledon (Austrian Mita Klima was 13 in 1907). She defeated Ellie Vessies-Appel, 6-3, 6-3, then showed tremendous poise and groundstrokes in losing a Centre Court match to defending champion Evert, 6-1, 6-1. That match, and her first victory ever over Billie Jean King on grass—6-1, 6-2 in the QF —took an enormous emotional toll on Evert and left her curiously flat for her semifinal against Wade.
“Our Ginny,” as the British affectionately called third seeded Wade, had never prepared better for a tournament, nor felt more self-confident. She hadn’t gone beyond the semifinal in 15 previous Wimbledons, but she kept the pressure on with bold approach shots and magnificent net play to beat Evert, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Wade was much more passive in the final against 6-foot, 170-pound Betty Stove, the first Dutch finalist at Wimbledon, who had knocked off second-seeded Martina Navratilova in the quarters, 9-8 (8-6), 3-6, 6-1. But Ginny settled down and let her erratic opponent make the mistakes. Wade won nine of the last 10 games and the match, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Wade, the first Englishwoman to win her national title since Ann Jones in 1969, accepted the gold championship plate from Queen Elizabeth II, who was making her first appearance at Wimbledon since 1962 in honor of the Centenary and her own Silver Jubilee celebration. British reserve gave way to an unbridled outpouring of patriotic sentiment. The Duchess of Kent waved excitedly to Wade from the Royal Box, and thousands of delighted Britons broke into a spontaneous, moving chorus of For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.
Stove wound up with a “cripple” as a triple loser of finals—runner-up with Navratilova in the women’s doubles to unseeded Floridian JoAnne Russell and Aussie Helen Gourlay Cawley, 6-3, 6-3, and with Frew McMillan in the mixed to South Africans Bob Hewitt and Greer Stevens, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. In the men’s doubles, the first seeded defending champions Brian Gottfried and Raul Ramirez fell to the Indian-American entry of Sashi Menon and Jim Delaney in the first round, 3-6, 7-5, 6-8, 6-2, 6-3, paving the way for an all-Australian final. Ross Case and Geoff Masters, runners-up the previous year, beat John Alexander and Phil Dent in another thriller, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 8-9 (4-7), 6-4.
Though Wimbledon was the highlight of the year, the most impressive achievement was the winning streak Vilas compiled the last six months of the year. Vilas started the year as runner-up to Roscoe Tanner, the hard-serving left-hander, in the Australian Open, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Tanner beat perpetual Ken Rosewall, 42, in the semis, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Rosewall had avenged his semifinal loss of a year previous by dethroning Mark Edmondson, 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. Vilas’ semifinal victim, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, was Alexander, who had toppled ex-champ Arthur Ashe, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6.
By winning the French Open in the absence of Borg and Connors, Vilas lost only one set in seven matches, and his 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Gottfried in the drizzly final was the most decisive since the tournament went international in 1925. Thus Guillermo shed his image as “The Eternal Second”—”they call me that in the Argentine press”— and removed an enormous psychological burden.
Driven by his coach-manager, the hirsute and menacing Romanian Ion Tiriac, Vilas became the fittest and most iron-willed player on the professional circuit. Over his last six months of 1977 he won 13 of 14 tournaments, 80 of 81 matches, including the U.S. Open. His 50-match, July-through-September winning streak was the longest since the advent of Open tennis, eclipsing Rod Laver’s 31 straight matches of 1969. And he immediately launched another streak of 30.
The record streak ended controversially the first week in October in the final of a tournament at Aix-en-Provence, France, Vilas defaulting angrily after losing the first two sets to Ilie Nastase, who was using the “spaghetti” racket that had just been barred, effective the following week.
The crowning glory of Vilas’ streak was winning the U.S. Open, played at the West Side Tennis Club in the Forest Hills section of New York’s borough of Queens for the last time after 68 years as the site of the event. Clumsy last-ditch efforts by the club’s officials to retain the Open could not compensate for their years of foot-dragging on making physical improvements. W. E. “Slew” Hester of Jackson, Miss., president of the USTA, decided that the neighborhood was too congested, the club management too stubbornly old-fashioned, to accommodate America’s premier tournament, which was given 28 hours of television coverage by CBS-TV under a new five-year, $10-million rights contract. Hester set in motion ambitious plans for building a new USTA National Tennis Center in nearby Flushing Meadows Park, site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World’s Fairs.
Vilas helped make “The last Forest Hills” memorable. He lost only 16 games in five matches up to the semifinal, in which he beat Harold Solomon, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2. Connors removed his nemesis of the 1975 final, Manolo Orantes, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, and then the first Italian ever to get so far, Corrado Barazzutti, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. In the final, Vilas displayed great physical and mental stamina and a new technical weapon—a finely sliced backhand approach shot—to beat Connors in a match of brutish grace, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0. The sellout crowd of more than 16,000 cheered for the popular Argentine left-hander against “the ugly American.” After the last point, many Latins in the crowd spilled into the court, hoisted Vilas to their shoulders and carried him around the old horseshoe stadium like a conquering hero. Connors, furious at both the outcome and the reception given the victor, left in a snit, not bothering to wait for the trophy presentation ceremonies.
Probably the only one leaving Forest Hills feeling worse than Connors was a spectator named James Reilly, suffering a bullet wound during McEnroe’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, win over Eddie Dibbs, a third-round night match. It was a random shot from outside the stadium, never traced, and Reilly, carted away to hospital in a stretcher, was only mildly scratched in his left thigh. Dibbs and Mac left the court for a few minutes. The police were wary and nervous for a while because it was the time of the “Son of Sam” killings that terrorized New York, particularly Queens.
Vilas dominated the Grand Prix point standings, winning the $300,000 prize earmarked as the top share of the $1.5-million bonus pool put up by Colgate. On the year, Vilas won a record 17 tournaments and $800,642 in prize money—more than he had earned in five previous pro seasons. He played the most ambitious tournament schedule of any of the top men and finished with a 145-14 record, including Davis Cup matches. (With Vilas and Ricardo Cano playing singles, Argentina upset the United States, 3-2, in the American Zone final to reach the Cup semifinal for the first time.)
Cano, a minor figure, another of those virtually unknown Latins who caused norteamericao headaches on clay, startled Dick Stockton in the opener, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6, 6-4, and the U.S. couldn’t catch up. Vilas ran through Brian Gottfried, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, and Stockton, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, and that was it.
During his 50-match streak, which included a five-match tournament victory at an event in Rye, N.Y., not officially recognized by the ATP, Vilas won an astonishing 109 of 125 sets. Starting with the French Open, he won 57 consecutive matches on clay.
But even though World Tennis magazine declared him No. 1 for the year, most other authorities disagreed and bestowed that mythical honor on Borg, who, top-seeded, defaulted to Dick Stockton, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open with a shoulder injury. The 21-year-old Swede had the best winning percentage for the season—.920, on a record of 81-7. He won 13 of the 20 tournaments he played. Including the Masters— played in 1978, but considered the climax of the 1977 season—Borg was 3-0 over Vilas (two victories in the spring, the third in the semis of the Masters, 6-3, 6-3), and 2-1 over Connors, who beat him in the Masters final, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, before a crowd of 17,150 at Madison Square Garden.
Connors may have had the season-ending last laugh, but he finished No. 3 after having been the best player in the world in 1974 and 1976, and No. 2 to Arthur Ashe in 1975. Connors won eight of 21 tournaments, 70 of 81 matches. He was in four important finals, winning the WCT Finals over Stockton, 6-7, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, and the Masters, losing to Borg at Wimbledon and to Vilas at Forest Hills. But Connors was 1-2 head-to-head against Borg and 0-2 against Vilas, including a gripping match in the round-robin portion of the Masters, won by Vilas, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. This spellbinder kept a record tournament crowd of 18,590 riveted to their seats in the Garden until past midnight, 42 minutes into a Friday morning.
While Borg, Vilas and Connors constituted the ruling triumvirate of men’s tennis, there were other noteworthy performers. Spaniard Orantes underwent surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his left elbow in the spring, but came back splendidly to bedazzle Connors, 6-1, 6-3, in the U.S. Clay Court final at Indianapolis and to topple Dibbs, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 6-4, in the 50th anniversary U.S. Pro Championships.
Gerulaitis became the first American since Barry MacKay in 1960 to win the Italian on slow clay, beating paisano Tonino Zugarelli, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-6 (7-1) in three hours, 20 minutes. Later Vitas, the boulevardier, demonstrated his versatility by winning the second Australian Open of the calendar year (yes, there were two!) on grass at Melbourne, over Englishman John Lloyd, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 3-6, 6-2. The tournament was moved up to mid-December so that it could be included in the Grand Prix.
In doubles, South Africans Hewitt, 37, and Frew McMillan, 35, won 13 tournaments, even though separated for four months during the summer because McMillan played World Team Tennis. Their biggest victory came at Forest Hills, where they captured their first U.S. Open doubles title over Gottfried and Ramirez, 6-4, 6-0. Hewitt and McMillan also won the Masters over Stan Smith and Bob Lutz, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.
Gottfried and Ramirez won the Italian Open doubles for a record fourth consecutive year, over McNair and Stewart, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, and recaptured the French Open title, over a Czech-Polish blend of Jan Kodes and Wojtek Fibak, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Ashe and Tony Roche won the Australian Open, Part I in January, over Americans Erik van Dillen and Charlie Pasarell, 6-4, 6-4. It reverted to an Aussie party in December’s Part II, Allan Stone and lefty Ray Ruffels beating Dent and Alexander, 7-6, 7-6. Vijay Amritraj and Stockton made their only doubles victory together count, collecting $40,000 apiece for beating the makeshift pair of Italian Adriano Panatta and Gerulaitis in the WCT doubles finals at Kansas City, 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
The Colgate Grand Prix embraced 76 tournaments, with total prize money of approximately $9 million. Worldwide, men’s tournaments offered about $12 million, excluding World Team Tennis and exhibition matches. Fifteen players made more than $200,000 in prize money, including Bob Hewitt ($234,184), whose earnings came mostly in doubles. Five players (Vilas, Borg, Ramirez, Smith, and Orantes) crossed the once unimaginable $1-million career earnings mark, increasing the number of tennis millionaires to 13 since Laver first passed the milestone in 1971.
Australia recovered the Davis Cup for the first time since 1973 and tied the U.S. for the most possessions (24). Italy, arriving in Sydney to defend, got a left-handed surprise. Roche, at 32, seemingly well past his prime, had last played for the Cup 10 years before, then only in the clinching doubles with John Newcombe over Spain. But he was Captain Neale Fraser’s ace from deep in the hole for the showdown on White City grass, and justified the long-shot gamble with serve-and-volleying flair to astound Panatta, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Alexander took care of Barazzutti, combative though never having won a match on the green, 6-2, 8-6, 4-6, 6-2, and it looked like a romp. However Adriano Panatta and Paolo Bertolucci, jarred Alexander and Dent, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. It was 2-1. With a goodly number of Italian immigrants in the crowd screaming for him—”Dai [come on], Adriano?’— Panatta drove Alexander to the brink of defeat in a difficult swirling wind, but J. A. shoved harder when pushed to wrap up the Cup in five, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 8-6, 11-9.
Rosie Casals and Stockton repeated as champions at the third (and last) Spalding Mixed Doubles Classic in Dallas, beating Stove and McMillan, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6. Despite good attendance and TV exposure, an appealing event was scrapped because players couldn’t fit it into their singles-emphasizing schedules.
World Team Tennis completed its fourth season, with the Boston Lobsters topping the East Division, and the Phoenix Racquets the West Division. Ten teams played 44 matches each, and again all operated in the red. The New York Apples, led by King and Sandy Mayer, won the league championship, defeating Phoenix in the final round of the playoffs, 27-22, 28-17.
Evert won three of the four biggest women’s tournaments, her fourth Virginia Slims Championship, played at Madison Square Garden, over Englishwoman Sue Barker, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1; her third consecutive U.S. Open, matching a feat last accomplished by Maureen Connolly, 1951– 53, and the Colgate Series Championship.
Chrissie represented the United States for the first time in the Federation Cup, which attracted 42 nations to the grass courts of Devonshire Park in Eastbourne, England, the week before Wimbledon. She didn’t lose a set in singles as the United States romped past Austria, Switzerland, France, South Africa and Australia. Evert defeated Kerry Reid, 7-5, 6-3, and King disposed of Dianne Fromholtz, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, to clinch the championship.
Evert and King were too much for Britain as the U.S claimed a 39th victory, 7-0, in the 54-year-old Wightman Cup, played on the West Coast for the first time, at the Oakland Coliseum. Chrissie opened with a 7-5, 7-6, victory over Wade, and trimmed Barker, 6-1, 6-2. King blistered Barker, 6-1, 6-4, and slipped past Wade, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6, the two of them treating a crowd of 11,317 to a glorious evening.
In all, Evert, at age 22, won 11 of 14 tournaments, 70 of 74 matches, and $453,134 in prize money. She was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year and No. 1 in doubles for the first time, with Casals. Evert won the U.S. Open without losing a set for the second straight year and stretched her remarkable clay-court winning streak to 23 tournaments and 113 matches, dating back to August, 1973. Even though Fromholtz surprised her in the round-robin portion of the eight-woman Colgate Series Championships, 7-6 (5-4), 6-4, Evert reached the final and claimed the richest prize in women’s tennis, $75,000, by beating King, 6-2, 6-2.
Although Evert was the dominant force, and Wade the sentimental success story, there were other notable achievements in 1977. Austin, five feet tall and weighing 90 pounds, reached the quarters of the U.S. Open, beating No. 4 seed Barker, 6-1, 6-4, and Ruzici, 6-3, 7-5, before Stove sent her back to school, 6-2, 6-2. The 14-year-old took enough time off from her eighth and ninth-grade classes in Rolling Hills, Calif., to play 10 professional tournaments and wound up ranked No. 12 in the world, and No. 4 in the United States—the youngest ever to crack the Top Ten until Jennifer Capriati, a younger 14 in 1990.
Martina Navratilova, starting the season slimmed down and determined to make up for a disappointing 1976, won four of 11 tournaments on the Virginia Slims circuit, beating Evert in the final of the season opener at Washington, D.C., 6-2, 6-3.
Transsexual Renee Richards won her year-long legal struggle for acceptance in women’s tournaments when a New York judge ruled that she could not be barred from the U.S. Open for failing the Olympic chromosome test. The court ruled that medical evidence proved Richards was “female,” and the USTA and WTA dropped efforts to bar her. She lost in the first round of the Open singles, but reached the doubles final with Californian Betty Ann Grubb Stuart before losing to Navratilova and Stove, 6-1, 7-6. (Stove also won the mixed with Frew McMillan, over King and Gerulaitis, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.) Thereafter, Richards—the lone entrant to use both men’s and women’s dressing rooms at the U.S. Championships—became a regular competitor on the women’s circuit, though several players defaulted against her in protest. Renee lost to Wimbledon champs in her Forest Hills ventures: To Neale Fraser, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1, in 1960, and Wade, 6-1, 6-4 in 1977, both first rounders. She did win a minor tournament, Pensacola, Fla., defeating Evert in the semis (Jeanne Evert, that is), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, and Caroline Stoll in the final, 6-2, 6-2.
King, recovered from knee surgery the previous November, worked her way back into shape and won three consecutive tournaments and 18 straight matches in autumn to reach the playoff finale of the $2-million Colgate Series, which carried a $600,000 bonus pool. She was 0-4 on the year against Evert, but 2-0 against WTT teammate Wade, 3-0 against Navratilova, 1-0 against Barker and 4-0 against Stove. King, winning six titles, finished the year with a 53-6 record, ranked No. 2 in the U.S. While the topcats were away, employed in WTT, lesser ladies were at play in Europe: Janet Newberry won the Italian, 6-3, 7-6, (7-5) over Czech Renata Tomanova. Mima Jausovec became the first Yugoslav to win the French, beating Romanian Florenta Mihai, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.
Kerry Reid, at 29, won the two-headed Australian Open for the first time—Part I over fellow Aussie Dianne Fromholtz, 7-5, 6-2. Part II, in December, went to Goolagong, her fourth, over Helen Gourlay Cawley, 6-3, 6-0. Formally it was Mrs. Roger Cawley defeating Mrs. Robert Cawley (the respective English and Australian husbands unrelated). That extended her Aussie streak to 20 match wins. Kept out of the January version because she was pregnant, Goolagong gave birth to her first child—daughter Kelly—in May, and launched a comeback in the fall.
Hottest political controversy of the year concerned the rise and fall of the “double strung” or “spaghetti” racket, which was actually a radical stringing technique that could be applied to any standard racket frame. There were several versions, but they all used two sets of vertical strings, supported by five or six cross strings threaded through them, and braced with fish line, adhesive tape, rope or other protuberances, including a plastic tubing called “spaghetti.” While rackets thus strung generally had a very low tension—between 35 and 55 pounds—they were able to generate tremendous power because of a “trampoline effect,” the ball sinking deep in the double layer of strings and being propelled out. Because the dual layer of strings also moved, they were able to “brush” the ball, artificially imitating a heavy topspin stroke. Thus, some players were able to hit the ball extremely hard from the backcourt and still keep it in play. The “spaghetti” racket was all the more maddening to play against because the ball came off it with a dull thud that made it difficult to judge.
The “double strung” racket was invented in West Germany by a former horticulturist named Werner Fisher, and it created a major scandal in club and national tournaments there as second and third-line players became champions with it. An adaptation of the racket was first used in a major tournament by Australian lefty Barry Phillips-Moore in the French Open, where he beat Chilean Davis Cupper Pato Cornejo, ranked considerably above him, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0, before losing to 15th-seeded Balazs Taroczy. A number of professional players used it in Europe during the summer and it gained further notoriety at the U.S. Open when an obscure American player named Mike Fishbach used his homemade version to trounce Billy Martin, 6-1, 7-5, and 16th-seeded ex-champ Stan Smith, 6-0, 6-2, in the first two rounds. Alarm bells rang but Brit John Feaver quelled the fever for a while, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
However, a couple of weeks later, Nastase was beaten, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, by a French player, Georges Goven, using a “spaghetti” racket in Paris and swore he would never play against it again. The following week he turned up with one himself and used it to win a tournament at Aix-en-Provence, ending Vilas’ long winning streak in the best-of-five-set final. Vilas quit after two sets, down 6-1, 7-5, claiming that playing against the exaggerated spin injured his elbow.
The ITF had already acted by that time, however, putting a “temporary freeze” on use of the double-strung rackets in tournaments, effective Oct. 2. Unfortunately for Vilas, that was the day the tournament ended. The ITF based its decision on a report by the University of Brunswick in West Germany, which indicated that every hit with the racket was in fact a “double hit,” in violation of the rules. The ITF made its ban permanent the following June by adopting a definition of a racket for the first time: “A racket shall consist of a frame, which may be of any material, weight, size of shape and stringing. The stringing must be uniform and smooth and may be of any material. The strings must be alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross. The distance between the main and/or cross strings shall not be less than one quarter of an inch nor more than one-half inch. If there are attachments they must be used only to prevent wear and tear and must not alter the flight of the ball. They must be uniform with a maximum protrusion of .04 of an inch.”
In November, 11 days after his 43rd birthday, Rosewall won Hong Kong, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, over 31-year-old Tom Gorman. He was not quite as old as Pancho Gonzalez, 43, had been in winning Des Moines in 1972. It was Rosewall’s 32nd (and last) singles championship of the open era. But, of course, “Muscles,” or “The Doomsday Stroking Machine,” won many more during his amateur days and Kramer Pro days.The little Aussie had been a title winner for almost three decades, and he would glide into 1978 to show some kids what it was all about.
1977 THE MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Men’s Singles Final (Jan.): Roscoe Tanner (USA) def. Guillermo Vilas (ARG), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Men’s Singles Final (Dec): Vitas Gerulaitis (USA) def. John Lloyd (GBR), 6-3, 7-6 (1), 5-7, 3-6, 6-2
Women’s Singles Final (Jan.): Kerry Melville Reid (AUS) def. Dianne Fromholtz (AUS), 7-5, 6-2
Women’s Singles Final (Dec): Evonne Goolagong Cawley (AUS) def. Helen Gourlay Cawley (AUS), 6-3, 6-0
Men’s Doubles Final (Jan.): Arthur Ashe (USA) and Tony Roche (AUS) def. Charlie Pasarell and Erik van Dillen (USA), 6-4, 6-4
Men’s Doubles Final (Dec): Ray Ruffels and Allan Stone (AUS) def. John Alexander and Phil Dent (AUS), 7-6, 7-6
Women’s Doubles Final (Jan.): Dianne Fromholtz and Helen Gourlay Cawley (AUS) def. Betsy Nagelsen (USA) and Kerry Melville Reid (AUS), 5-7, 61, 7-5
Women’s Doubles Final (Dec): Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Helen Gourlay Cawley (AUS) and Mona Schallau Guerrant (USA) and Kerry Melville Reid (SHARED – RAINED OUT)
Mixed Doubles: Not Played
Men’s Singles Final: Guillermo Vilas (ARG) def. Brian Gottfried (USA), 6-0, 6-3, 6-0
Women’s Singles Final: Mima Jausovec (YUG) def. Florenta Mihai (ROM), 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1
Men’s Doubles Final: Brian Gottfried (USA) and Raul Ramirez (MEX) def. Wojtek Fibak (POL) and Jan Kodes (CZE), 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Women’s Doubles Final: Regina Marsikova (CZE) and Pam Teeguarden (USA) def. Rayni Fox (USA) and Helen Gourlay (AUS) ,5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Mixed Doubles Final: Mary Carillo and John McEnroe (USA) def. Florenta Mihai (ROM) and Ivan Molina (COL), 7-6, 6-3
Men’s Singles Final: Bjorn Borg (SWE) def. Jimmy Connors (USA), 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4
Women’s Singles Final: Virginia Wade (GBR) def. Betty Stove (NED), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Men’s Doubles Final: Geoff Masters and Ross Case (AUS) def. 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 8-9 (4), 6-4
Women’s Doubles Final: Helen Gourlay Cawley (AUS) and JoAnne Russell (USA) def. Martina Navratilova (CZE) and Betty Stove (NED), 6-3, 6-3
Mixed Doubles Final: Greer Stevens and Bob Hewitt (RSA) def. Betty Stove (NED) and Frew McMillian (RSA), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Men’s Singles Final: Guillermo Vilas (ARG) def. Jimmy Connors (USA), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-0
Women’s Singles Final: Chris Evert (USA) def. Wendy Turnbull (AUS), 7-6 (3), 6-2
Men’s Doubles Final: Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan (RSA) def. Brian Gottfried and Raul Ramirez (MEX), 6-4, 6-0
Women’s Doubles Final: Martina Navratilova (USA) and Betty Stove (NED) def. Renee Richards and Betty Ann Grubb Stuart (USA), 6-1, 7-6
Mixed Doubles Final: Betty Stove (NED) and Frew McMillan (RSA) def. Billie Jean King and Vitas Gerulaitis (USA), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
1977 CHAMPIONS AND LEADERS
Wightman Cup: United States
Grand Prix Masters, NYC Jimmy Connors
WCT, Dallas Jimmy Connors
Virginia Slims Championships, NYC Chris Evert
Top Player Earnings:
Men Guillermo Vilas $766,065
Top Player Earnings:
Women Chris Evert $503,134
Year-End Number One Men: Jimmy Connors
Women: Chris Evert
Davis Cup: Australia
Federation Cup: United States