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Vitas Gerulaitis

Vitas Gerulaitis American tennis player

American tennis player
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American tennis player
A.K.A. Vytautas Kevin Gerulaitis
Was Athlete Tennis player
From United States of America
Type Sports
Gender male
Birth 26 July 1954, Brooklyn, USA
Death 17 September 1994, Long Island, USA (aged 40 years)
Star sign LeoLeo
Stats
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 70 kg
The details
Biography

Vytautas Kevin Gerulaitis (July 26, 1954 – September 17, 1994) was an American professional tennis player. In 1975, Gerulaitis won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon, partnering with Sandy Mayer. He won the men's singles title at one of the two Australian Open tournaments held in 1977 (Gerulaitis won the tournament that was held in December, while Roscoe Tanner won the earlier January tournament). Gerulaitis also won two Italian Open titles, in 1977 and 1979, and the WCT Finals in Dallas, in 1978.

Early life

Gerulaitis was born on July 26, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York, to Lithuanian immigrant parents, and grew up in Howard Beach, Queens. He attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, graduating in 1971. He attended Columbia College of Columbia University for one year before dropping out to pursue tennis full-time. Gerulaitis was nicknamed "The Lithuanian Lion". His younger sister Ruta was also a professional tennis player.

Career highlights

Gerulaitis led the Pittsburgh Triangles to the World TeamTennis championship title at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena in 1975. Gerulaitis played for the Triangles from 1974 until 1976. He also played for the league's Indiana Loves franchise in 1977.

Gerulaitis was coached by Fred Stolle from 1977 until 1983.

He also won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon in 1975. He was a singles semifinalist at Wimbledon in both 1977 and 1978. In 1977 he lost a Wimbledon semifinal to his close friend and practice partner, Björn Borg, 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 8–6, a match later considered one of the greatest of the decade.

In 1977, Gerulaitis won the most significant title of his career at the Australian Open, when he defeated John Lloyd in the men's singles final in five sets.

In 1978, Gerulaitis won the year-end championship WCT Finals for the World Championship Tennis tour, beating Eddie Dibbs 6–3, 6–2, 6–1. By 1978, he was the third-ranked men's singles player in the world.

In 1979, Gerulaitis lost in the men's singles finals at the US Open to fellow New Yorker, John McEnroe, in straight sets. He was a member of the United States team which won the Davis Cup in 1979. He won two singles "rubbers" in the final, as the US beat Italy 5–0.

Gerulaitis reached his third Grand Slam singles final in 1980, when he lost in the final of the French Open to Björn Borg in straight sets.

In February 1981, Gerulaitis won the star-laden Toronto Indoor invitational tournament, defeating John McEnroe in the final after having defeated Jimmy Connors in the semifinal.

During his career, Gerulaitis won 25 top-level singles titles and eight doubles titles. His career-high singles ranking was world No. 3 which he reached on February 27, 1978.

Gerulaitis was known for his exceptionally quick hands at the net and his outstanding court coverage. In 1985, Gerulaitis teamed with Bobby Riggs to launch a challenge to female players after the famous Battle of the Sexes. The stunt, however, was short-lived when Gerulaitis and Riggs lost a doubles match against Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

He retired from the professional tour in 1986, and was a regular tennis commentator on the USA network between 1988 and 1994.

Gerulaitis coached Pete Sampras during the 1994 Italian Open in Rome, when Sampras' coach, Tim Gullikson, was on a family vacation. Sampras won the title by defeating Boris Becker in the final in straight sets.

Gerulaitis is the subject of a Half Man Half Biscuit song from the McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt album, "Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis".

Death

Gerulaitis died on September 17, 1994, at the age of 40. While he was visiting a friend's home in Southampton, New York, an improperly installed pool heater caused carbon monoxide gas to seep into the guesthouse where Gerulaitis was sleeping, causing his death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Gerulaitis failed to show up for a dinner at 7 p.m. that evening and his body was found the following day by a maid who went to the guesthouse. Gerulaitis' remains were interred in Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.

Criminal charges of negligent homicide were later brought against the pool mechanic and the company he worked for. Both he and the company were acquitted at a trial approximately two years later in October 1996. Jurors heard testimony that a technician from the heater manufacturer had made adjustments several days before Gerulaitis' death and that even if an exhaust pipe had been longer, carbon monoxide (colorless and odorless) would have still been drawn into the air-conditioning vent because it is heavier than air. Arthur M. Luxenberg, a lawyer for the Gerulaitis family, stated that Gerulaitis' mother and sister believed the verdict to be fair, and he went on to state that the testimony at the trial "confirmed to us what we always knew: that there were a lot of other people involved in this matter."

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 3 (1–2)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1977 Australian Open Grass John Lloyd 6–3, 7–6, 5–7, 3–6, 6–2
Loss 1979 US Open Hard John McEnroe 5–7, 3–6, 3–6
Loss 1980 French Open Clay Björn Borg 4–6, 1–6, 2–6

Singles performance timeline

Tournament 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 SR W – L
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open (Jan) A A A A A A A Not Held 0 / 0 0–0
French Open A A A A A A A A SF F 1R QF 1R 2R 1R A 0 / 7 16–7
Wimbledon A A A 1R 1R QF SF SF 1R 4R 4R QF 2R 4R 3R A 0 / 12 30–12
US Open 1R 2R 1R 2R 2R 4R 4R SF F 2R SF 1R 3R 4R 3R A 0 / 15 33–15
Australian Open (Dec) Not Held W A A 1R A A 2R 2R A NH 1 / 4 6–3
Win – Loss 0–1 1–1 0–1 1–2 1–2 7–2 14–2 10–2 11–3 10–4 8–3 8–3 3–4 7–4 4–3 0–0 1/38 85–37
Year-end championships
Masters Grand Prix A A A A A A A A F A F R16 A R16 A A 0 / 4 6–6
WCT Finals A A A A A A SF W SF A A A SF QF A A 1 / 5 7–4
Win – Loss 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 1–1 2–0 4–3 0–0 3–2 0–1 2–1 1–2 0–0 0–0 1 / 9 13–10
Career statistics
Tournaments played 9 20 15 19 20 18 22 22 19 20 21 22 15 2 244
Titles – Finals 0–0 1–2 2–7 0–3 5–9 3–5 3–6 3–6 1–4 5–7 1–2 1–3 0–0 0–0 25–54
Overall Win – Loss 7–9 33–19 38–13 31–19 60–16 46–15 64–20 52–19 43–19 61–15 32–20 34–20 12–15 0–2 510–221
Win % 44% 63% 75% 62% 79% 75% 76% 73% 69% 80% 62% 63% 44% 0% 70%
Year-end ranking 131 47 15 18 4 5 4 9 9 5 20 17 81 799

Career finals

Singles: 56 (26 titles, 30 runner-ups)

Result No. Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1. 1974 Salt Lake City, US Hard (i) Jimmy Connors 6–4, 6–7, 3–6
Win 1. 1974 Vienna, Austria Hard (i) Andrew Pattison 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 6–2
Loss 2. 1975 Philadelphia WCT, US Carpet Marty Riessen 6–7, 7–5, 2–6, 7–6, 3–6
Loss 3. 1975 Roanoke, US Hard (i) Roger Taylor 6–7, 6–7
Loss 4. 1975 Salisbury, US Carpet Jimmy Connors 7–5, 5–7, 1–6, 6–3, 0–6
Win 2. 1975 New York City, US Carpet Jimmy Connors walkover
Loss 5. 1975 Orlando WCT, US Hard Rod Laver 3–6, 4–6
Win 3. 1975 St. Louis, US Clay Roscoe Tanner 2–6, 6–2, 6–3
Loss 6. 1975 Bermuda Clay Jimmy Connors 1–6, 4–6
Loss 7. 1976 Indianapolis WCT, US Carpet Arthur Ashe 2–6, 7–6, 4–6
Loss 8. 1976 Toronto Indoor WCT, Canada Carpet Björn Borg 6–2, 3–6, 1–6
Loss 9. 1976 Charlotte WCT, US Carpet Tony Roche 3–6, 6–3, 1–6
Loss 10. 1977 Richmond WCT, US Carpet Tom Okker 6–3, 3–6, 4–6
Win 4. 1977 Ocean City, US Hard Robert Lutz 3–6, 6–1, 6–2
Loss 11. 1977 Monterrey WCT, Mexico Carpet Wojtek Fibak 4–6, 3–6
Loss 12. 1977 London WCT, UK Hard (i) Eddie Dibbs 6–7, 7–6, 4–6
Loss 13. 1977 Houston WCT, US Hard Adriano Panatta 6–7, 7–6, 1–6
Win 5. 1977 Rome, Italy Clay Antonio Zugarelli 6–2, 7–6, 3–6, 7–6
Win 6. 1977 Brisbane, Australia Grass Tony Roche 6–7, 6–1, 6–1, 7–5
Win 7. 1977 Perth, Australia Hard Geoff Masters 6–3, 6–4, 6–2
Win 8. 1977 Australian Open, Melbourne Grass John Lloyd 6–3, 7–6, 5–7, 3–6, 6–2
Win 9. 1978 Richmond WCT, US Carpet John Newcombe 6–3, 6–4
Loss 14. 1978 Las Vegas, US Hard Björn Borg 5–6, 6–5, 4–6, 5–6
Loss 15. 1978 Milan WCT, Italy Carpet Björn Borg 3–6, 3–6
Win 10. 1978 WCT Finals, US Carpet Eddie Dibbs 6–3, 6–2, 6–1
Win 11. 1978 Forest Hills, US - WCT Invitational Clay Ilie Năstase 6–2, 6–0
Loss 16. 1979 Monte Carlo, Monaco Clay Björn Borg 2–6, 1–6, 3–6
Win 12. 1979 Rome, Italy Clay Guillermo Vilas 6–7, 7–6, 6–7, 6–4, 6–2
Win 13. 1979 Kitzbühel, Austria Clay Pavel Složil 6–2, 6–2, 6–4
Loss 17. 1979 US Open, New York Hard John McEnroe 5–7, 3–6, 3–6
Win 14. 1979 Sydney Indoor, Australia Hard (i) Guillermo Vilas 4–6, 6–3, 6–1, 7–6
Loss 18. 1979 Masters, New York Carpet Björn Borg 2–6, 2–6
Win 15. 1979 Arkansas, Little Rock US Carpet (i) Butch Walts 6–2, 6–2
Loss 19. 1979 Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico Hard Jimmy Connors 5–6, 0–6, 4–6
Loss 20. 1980 Pepsi Grand Slam, Boca Raton Clay Björn Borg 1–6, 7–5, 1–6
Win 16. 1980 WCT Tournament of Champions, US Clay John McEnroe 2–6, 6–2, 6–0
Loss 21. 1980 French Open, Paris Clay Björn Borg 4–6, 1–6, 2–6
Win 17. 1980 Stuttgart Outdoor, Germany Clay Wojtek Fibak 6–2, 7–5, 6–2
Loss 22. 1980 Sydney Indoor, Australia Hard (i) John McEnroe 3–6, 4–6
Win 18. 1980 Melbourne Indoor, Australia Carpet Peter McNamara 7–5, 6–3
Loss 23. 1981 Monterrey WCT, Mexico Carpet Johan Kriek 6–7, 6–3, 6–7
Loss 24. 1981 Melbourne Indoor, Australia Carpet Peter McNamara 6–4, 1–6, 5–5 retired
Win 19. 1981 Johannesburg, South Africa Hard Jeff Borowiak 6–4, 7–6, 6–1
Loss 25. 1981 Masters, New York Carpet Ivan Lendl 7–6, 6–2, 6–7, 2–6, 4–6
Loss 26. 1982 Genova WCT, Italy Carpet Ivan Lendl 7–6, 4–6, 4–6, 3–6
Win 20. 1982 Brussels, Belgium Hard (i) Mats Wilander 4–6, 7–6, 6–2
Loss 27. 1982 Zürich WCT, Switzerland Carpet Bill Scanlon 5–7, 6–7, 6–1, 6–0, 4–6
Win 21. 1982 Florence, Italy Clay Stefan Simonsson 4–6, 6–3, 6–1
Win 22. 1982 Toronto, Canada Hard Ivan Lendl 4–6, 6–1, 6–3
Win 23. 1982 Melbourne Indoor, Australia Carpet Eliot Teltscher 2–6, 6–2, 6–2
Win 24. 1982 Johannesburg, South Africa Hard Guillermo Vilas 7–6, 6–2, 4–6, 7–6
Loss 28. 1983 Forest Hills WCT, US Clay John McEnroe 3–6, 5–7
Win 25. 1983 Basel, Switzerland Hard (i) Wojtek Fibak 4–6, 6–1, 7–5, 5–5 retired
Loss 29. 1984 Toronto, Canada Hard John McEnroe 0–6, 3–6
Win 26. 1984 Treviso, Italy Carpet Tarik Benhabiles 6–1, 6–1
Loss 30. 1984 Johannesburg, South Africa Hard Eliot Teltscher 3–6, 1–6, 6–7

Doubles: 20 (8–12)

Result No. Year Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1. 1974 Roanoke, US Indoors Sandy Mayer Ian Crookenden
Jeff Simpson
7–6, 6–1
Loss 1. 1974 Little Rock, US Carpet Bob Hewitt Jürgen Fassbender
Karl Meiler
0–6, 2–6
Win 2. 1974 Salt Lake City, US Indoors Jimmy Connors Iván Molina
Jairo Velasco Sr.
2–6, 7–6, 7–5
Loss 2. 1974 Oslo, Norway Indoor Jeff Borowiak Karl Meiler
Haroon Rahim
3–6, 2–6
Win 3. 1975 Roanoke, US Indoors Sandy Mayer Juan Gisbert
Ion Ţiriac
7–6, 1–6, 6–3
Win 4. 1975 Wimbledon, London Grass Sandy Mayer Colin Dowdeswell
Allan Stone
7–5, 8–6, 6–4
Loss 3. 1976 Indianapolis WCT, US Carpet Tom Gorman Robert Lutz
Stan Smith
2–6, 4–6
Win 5. 1976 Boca Raton, US Hard Clark Graebner Bruce Manson
Butch Walts
6–2, 6–4
Win 6. 1976 Fort Worth WCT, US Hard Sandy Mayer Eddie Dibbs
Harold Solomon
6–4, 7–5
Loss 4. 1976 Charlotte WCT, US Carpet Gene Mayer John Newcombe
Tony Roche
3–6, 5–7
Loss 5. 1976 South Orange, US Clay Ilie Năstase Fred McNair
Marty Riessen
5–7, 6–4, 2–6
Loss 6. 1977 Masters Doubles WCT, New York Carpet Adriano Panatta Vijay Amritraj
Dick Stockton
6–7, 6–7, 6–4, 3–6
Win 7. 1977 Brisbane, Australia Grass Bill Scanlon Mal Anderson
Ken Rosewall
7–6, 6–4
Win 8. 1978 Birmingham WCT, US Carpet Sandy Mayer Frew McMillan
Dick Stockton
3–6, 6–1, 7–6
Loss 7. 1978 Philadelphia WCT, US Carpet Sandy Mayer Bob Hewitt
Frew McMillan
4–6, 4–6
Loss 8. 1978 Richmond WCT, US Carpet Sandy Mayer Bob Hewitt
Frew McMillan
3–6, 5–7
Loss 9. 1980 Monte Carlo, Monaco Clay John McEnroe Paolo Bertolucci
Adriano Panatta
2–6, 7–5, 3–6
Loss 10. 1980 Sydney Outdoor, Australia Grass Brian Gottfried Peter McNamara
Paul McNamee
2–6, 4–6
Loss 11. 1981 Frankfurt, Germany Carpet John McEnroe Brian Teacher
Butch Walts
5–7, 7–6, 5–7
Loss 12. 1985 Rotterdam, Netherlands Carpet Paul McNamee Pavel Složil
Tomáš Šmíd
4–6, 4–6

Commemoration

The Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Tennis Centre was opened in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Also, a street in Vilnius is named after him.

Quote

"And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row."

after defeating Jimmy Connors at the January 1980 Masters. Gerulaitis had lost their previous 16 matches.

Video

  • Wimbledon Classic Match: Gerulaitis vs Borg Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: October 31, 2006, Run Time: 180 minutes, ASIN: B000ICLR8O.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D04E3DB1F3BF933A1575AC0A962958260
http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20075078,00.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/in-the-court-of-the-ultimate-tennis-playboy-1915677.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/wimbledon_history/3742097.stm
https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E7DC1F3BF933A1575AC0A962958260
http://articles.philly.com/1994-09-20/sports/25837341_1_vitas-gerulaitis-martin-raynes-carbon-monoxide
https://www.nytimes.com/1996/10/05/nyregion/acquittal-in-death-of-gerulaitis.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/8271149.stm
https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html
https://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/-/G008/overview
https://www.itftennis.com/procircuit/players/player/profile.aspx?playerid=10000514
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