|Country (sports)||United States|
|Born||July 26, 1954|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 17, 1994 (aged 40)|
Southampton, New York, U.S.
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Plays||Right-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Career record||535–232 (69.8%) in Grand Prix, WCT and Grand Slam level, and in Davis Cup|
|Highest ranking||No. 3 (February 27, 1978)|
|Grand Slam singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1977Dec)|
|French Open||F (1980)|
|Wimbledon||SF (1977, 1978)|
|US Open||F (1979)|
|Tour Finals||F (1979, 1981)|
|WCT Finals||W (1978)|
|Career record||164–123 (Grand Prix, WCT and Grand Slam level, and in Davis Cup)|
|Highest ranking||No. 43 (May 20, 1985)|
|Grand Slam doubles results|
|Australian Open||1R (1983)|
|French Open||QF (1980)|
|US Open||3R (1972)|
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 with the class of 1975 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. Both siblings' native language was Lithuanian.
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 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 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 denser than air at low temperatures. 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."
The Gerulaitis family reached a confidential settlement with some of the defendants in their civil case by 2002.
|Win||1977||Australian Open||Grass||John Lloyd||6–3, 7–6(7–1), 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|
|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|
|Loss||1.||Mar 1974||Salt Lake City, US||Hard (i)||Jimmy Connors||6–4, 6–7, 3–6|
|Win||1.||Nov 1974||Vienna, Austria||Hard (i)||Andrew Pattison||6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 6–2|
|Loss||2.||Jan 1975||Philadelphia WCT, US||Carpet||Marty Riessen||6–7(1–7), 7–5, 2–6, 7–6(7–0), 3–6|
|Loss||3.||Feb 1975||Roanoke, US||Hard (i)||Roger Taylor||6–7, 6–7|
|Loss||4.||Feb 1975||Salisbury, US||Carpet||Jimmy Connors||7–5, 5–7, 1–6, 6–3, 0–6|
|Win||2.||Mar 1975||New York City, US||Carpet||Jimmy Connors||walkover|
|Loss||5.||Mar 1975||Orlando WCT, US||Hard||Rod Laver||3–6, 4–6|
|Win||3.||Apr 1975||St. Louis, US||Clay||Roscoe Tanner||2–6, 6–2, 6–3|
|Loss||6.||Sep 1975||Bermuda||Clay||Jimmy Connors||1–6, 4–6|
|Loss||7.||Jan 1976||Indianapolis WCT, US||Carpet||Arthur Ashe||2–6, 7–6(8–6), 4–6|
|Loss||8.||Feb 1976||Toronto Indoor WCT, Canada||Carpet||Björn Borg||6–2, 3–6, 1–6|
|Loss||9.||Apr 1976||Charlotte WCT, US||Carpet||Tony Roche||3–6, 6–3, 1–6|
|Loss||10.||Feb 1977||Richmond WCT, US||Carpet||Tom Okker||6–3, 3–6, 4–6|
|Win||4.||Feb 1977||Ocean City, US||Hard||Robert Lutz||3–6, 6–1, 6–2|
|Loss||11.||Mar 1977||Monterrey WCT, Mexico||Carpet||Wojciech Fibak||4–6, 3–6|
|Loss||12.||Apr 1977||London WCT, UK||Hard (i)||Eddie Dibbs||6–7(2–7), 7–6(7–5), 4–6|
|Loss||13.||Apr 1977||Houston WCT, US||Hard||Adriano Panatta||6–7(4–7), 7–6(7–3), 1–6|
|Win||5.||May 1977||Rome, Italy||Clay||Tonino Zugarelli||6–2, 7–6(7–2), 3–6, 7–6(7–5)|
|Win||6.||Oct 1977||Brisbane, Australia||Grass||Tony Roche||6–7, 6–1, 6–1, 7–5|
|Win||7.||Oct 1977||Perth, Australia||Hard||Geoff Masters||6–3, 6–4, 6–2|
|Win||8.||Dec 1977||Australian Open, Melbourne||Grass||John Lloyd||6–3, 7–6(7–1), 5–7, 3–6, 6–2|
|Win||9.||Fev 1978||Richmond WCT, US||Carpet||John Newcombe||6–3, 6–4|
|Loss||14.||Mar 1978||Las Vegas, US||Hard||Björn Borg||5–6(5–7), 6–5(7–5), 4–6, 5–6(4–7)|
|Loss||15.||Apr 1978||Milan WCT, Italy||Carpet||Björn Borg||3–6, 3–6|
|Win||10.||May 1978||WCT Finals, US||Carpet||Eddie Dibbs||6–3, 6–2, 6–1|
|Win||11.||Jul 1978||Forest Hills, US - WCT Invitational||Clay||Ilie Năstase||6–2, 6–0|
|Win||12.||Feb 1979||Arkansas, Little Rock US||Carpet (i)||Butch Walts||6–2, 6–2|
|Loss||16.||Feb 1979||Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico||Hard||Jimmy Connors||5–6, 0–6, 4–6|
|Loss||17.||Apr 1979||Monte Carlo, Monaco||Clay||Björn Borg||2–6, 1–6, 3–6|
|Win||13.||May 1979||Rome, Italy||Clay||Guillermo Vilas||6–7(4–7), 7–6(7–0), 6–7(5–7), 6–4, 6–2|
|Win||14.||Jul 1979||Kitzbühel, Austria||Clay||Pavel Složil||6–2, 6–2, 6–4|
|Loss||18.||Sep 1979||US Open, New York||Hard||John McEnroe||5–7, 3–6, 3–6|
|Win||15.||Oct 1979||Sydney Indoor, Australia||Hard (i)||Guillermo Vilas||4–6, 6–3, 6–1, 7–6|
|Loss||19.||Jan 1980||Masters, New York||Carpet||Björn Borg||2–6, 2–6|
|Loss||20.||Feb 1980||Pepsi Grand Slam, Boca Raton||Clay||Björn Borg||1–6, 7–5, 1–6|
|Win||16.||May 1980||WCT Tournament of Champions, US||Clay||John McEnroe||2–6, 6–2, 6–0|
|Loss||21.||Jun 1980||French Open, Paris||Clay||Björn Borg||4–6, 1–6, 2–6|
|Win||17.||Jul 1980||Stuttgart Outdoor, Germany||Clay||Wojtek Fibak||6–2, 7–5, 6–2|
|Loss||22.||Oct 1980||Sydney Indoor, Australia||Hard (i)||John McEnroe||3–6, 4–6|
|Win||18.||Oct 1980||Melbourne Indoor, Australia||Carpet||Peter McNamara||7–5, 6–3|
|Loss||23.||Jan 1981||Monterrey WCT, Mexico||Carpet||Johan Kriek||6–7, 6–3, 6–7|
|Loss||24.||Oct 1981||Melbourne Indoor, Australia||Carpet||Peter McNamara||6–4, 1–6, 5–5 retired|
|Win||19.||Nov 1981||Johannesburg, South Africa||Hard||Jeff Borowiak||6–4, 7–6, 6–1|
|Loss||25.||Jan 1982||Masters, New York||Carpet||Ivan Lendl||7–6(7–5), 6–2, 6–7(6–8), 2–6, 4–6|
|Loss||26.||Feb 1982||Genova WCT, Italy||Carpet||Ivan Lendl||7–6, 4–6, 4–6, 3–6|
|Win||20.||Mar 1982||Brussels, Belgium||Hard (i)||Mats Wilander||4–6, 7–6, 6–2|
|Loss||27.||Apr 1982||Zürich WCT, Switzerland||Carpet||Bill Scanlon||5–7, 6–7, 6–1, 6–0, 4–6|
|Win||21.||May 1982||Florence, Italy||Clay||Stefan Simonsson||4–6, 6–3, 6–1|
|Win||22.||Aug 1982||Toronto, Canada||Hard||Ivan Lendl||4–6, 6–1, 6–3|
|Win||23.||Oct 1982||Melbourne Indoor, Australia||Carpet||Eliot Teltscher||2–6, 6–2, 6–2|
|Win||24.||Nov 1982||Johannesburg, South Africa||Hard||Guillermo Vilas||7–6, 6–2, 4–6, 7–6|
|Loss||28.||May 1983||Forest Hills WCT, US||Clay||John McEnroe||3–6, 5–7|
|Win||25.||Oct 1983||Basel, Switzerland||Hard (i)||Wojtek Fibak||4–6, 6–1, 7–5, 5–5 retired|
|Loss||29.||Aug 1984||Toronto, Canada||Hard||John McEnroe||0–6, 3–6|
|Win||26.||Nov 1984||Treviso, Italy||Carpet||Tarik Benhabiles||6–1, 6–1|
|Loss||30.||Nov 1984||Johannesburg, South Africa||Hard||Eliot Teltscher||3–6, 1–6, 6–7|
|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. The song An Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis by Birkenhead band Half Man Half Biscuit, from their 1991 album McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt also references the player, albeit obliquely.
"And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row."
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