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The Curious Case of Guillermo Vilas’s Missing Clay Court Titles

Rafael Nadal had an amazing day, winning the Argentina Open to notch his 46th career clay-court title, and 65th overall. The king of clay most certainly is back, and proving that he may indeed be ready to make a run at a record 10th Roland Garros title this spring.

But as good as Rafael Nadal’s day was in Buenos Aires, Guillermo Vilas’s was far better. That’s because Vilas, who according to the ATP started the day with 46 career clay titles, ended the day with 49. Have you ever heard of a player winning three titles in one day? Not a bad day’s work for a 62-year-old!

Well, Vilas didn’t win all three titles on Sunday, but because his title count on clay had been incorrectly counted—three tournaments that he had won on clay in the past had since switched to hard court so they were incorrectly counted as hard—the ATP corrected the mistake and added the three titles before the final.

Problem was, their media notes, ones used religiously by stat geeks and number mongers, had already been sent out to the world on the interwebs.


Apparently the ATP didn’t reach out too vigilantly to rectify the situation (we’re certainly culpable as we tweeted and published the milestone, too!) and many media outlets were left trumpeting an incorrect stat both during the match and long after. The Tennis TV broadcast had it wrong, stating the erroneous count at the conclusion of the match. And there were many others:

Even CNN short-changed Argentina’s greatest tennis legend (this, from their report):

“Argentina legend Guillermo Vilas led the way with 46 wins in clay court tournaments so it was fitting that today's "King of Clay" drew level with him by winning the tournament in Buenos Aires.”

As mentioned, this publication was guilty too and, for the record, we rely heavily on ATP Media, which does a great job of providing us with facts and figures that allow us to make our tennis coverage compelling on a daily basis (LIFE WOULD TRULY SUCK WITHOUT THEM).

We certainly understand the mistake and, more important, are happy that it’s been remedied. If there is any complaint it’s that the ATP didn’t do a better job of making their mistake known when they realized they had miscalculated. Media outlets all over the world are quoting their work, and the importance of accuracy—and transparency—when two legends of the game are vying for momentous milestones is of the utmost importance.

Okay, now, back to the important stuff. Congrats to Rafa on his 46th title today in Buenos Aires, and congrats to Guillermo Vilas, who somehow, rather miraculously, won three!