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.
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.
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.
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".
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)
|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|
|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|
|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|
Singles: 56 (26 titles, 30 runner-ups)
|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)
|Win||1.||1974||Roanoke, US||Indoors||Sandy Mayer|| Ian Crookenden
|Loss||1.||1974||Little Rock, US||Carpet||Bob Hewitt|| Jürgen Fassbender
|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
|Win||3.||1975||Roanoke, US||Indoors||Sandy Mayer|| Juan Gisbert
|7–6, 1–6, 6–3|
|Win||4.||1975||Wimbledon, London||Grass||Sandy Mayer|| Colin Dowdeswell
|7–5, 8–6, 6–4|
|Loss||3.||1976||Indianapolis WCT, US||Carpet||Tom Gorman|| Robert Lutz
|Win||5.||1976||Boca Raton, US||Hard||Clark Graebner|| Bruce Manson
|Win||6.||1976||Fort Worth WCT, US||Hard||Sandy Mayer|| Eddie Dibbs
|Loss||4.||1976||Charlotte WCT, US||Carpet||Gene Mayer|| John Newcombe
|Loss||5.||1976||South Orange, US||Clay||Ilie Năstase|| Fred McNair
|5–7, 6–4, 2–6|
|Loss||6.||1977||Masters Doubles WCT, New York||Carpet||Adriano Panatta|| Vijay Amritraj
|6–7, 6–7, 6–4, 3–6|
|Win||7.||1977||Brisbane, Australia||Grass||Bill Scanlon|| Mal Anderson
|Win||8.||1978||Birmingham WCT, US||Carpet||Sandy Mayer|| Frew McMillan
|3–6, 6–1, 7–6|
|Loss||7.||1978||Philadelphia WCT, US||Carpet||Sandy Mayer|| Bob Hewitt
|Loss||8.||1978||Richmond WCT, US||Carpet||Sandy Mayer|| Bob Hewitt
|Loss||9.||1980||Monte Carlo, Monaco||Clay||John McEnroe|| Paolo Bertolucci
|2–6, 7–5, 3–6|
|Loss||10.||1980||Sydney Outdoor, Australia||Grass||Brian Gottfried|| Peter McNamara
|Loss||11.||1981||Frankfurt, Germany||Carpet||John McEnroe|| Brian Teacher
|5–7, 7–6, 5–7|
|Loss||12.||1985||Rotterdam, Netherlands||Carpet||Paul McNamee|| Pavel Složil
The Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Tennis Centre was opened in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Also, a street in Vilnius is named after him.
"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.
- Wimbledon Classic Match: Gerulaitis vs Borg Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: October 31, 2006, Run Time: 180 minutes, ASIN: B000ICLR8O.