Open main menu

José Luis Clerc (born 16 August 1958) is a former Argentine professional tennis player, and one of the most important Argentine players in history. He is nicknamed Batata. He reached a career-high Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world No. 4 singles ranking on 3 August 1981, following a run of 25 consecutive match wins after Wimbledon.

José Luis Clerc
Country (sports) Argentina
ResidenceMiami, United States
Born (1958-08-16) 16 August 1958 (age 61)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Turned pro1977
Retired1986 (from full-time playing)
1995 (last match)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Singles
Career record378–152 (71.32%)
Career titles25 (listed by ATP)
Highest rankingNo. 4 (3 August 1981)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open2R (1980)
French OpenSF (1981, 1982)
Wimbledon4R (1979)
US Open4R (1979, 1981)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsQF (1982)
WCT FinalsQF (1982)
Doubles
Career record110–99
Career titles2
Highest rankingNo. 30 (8 October 1979)
Grand Slam Doubles results
French OpenSF (1981)
Wimbledon2R (1977, 1979, 1981)

Tennis careerEdit

Clerc represented Argentina for the Davis Cup from 1976 to 1989. With fellow top player Guillermo Vilas, they led Argentina to her first Davis Cup final in 1981 to set up a tie against United States in Cincinnati. After Vilas lost the first rubber in straight sets to John McEnroe, Clerc defeated Roscoe Tanner in straight sets in the second rubber to level the tie. During the third rubber, partnering Vilas, the pair lost to Fleming/McEnroe in doubles, 9–11 in the fifth and deciding set. Clerc then played McEnroe in the fourth rubber and eventually lost in 5 sets.

Clerc, along with Vilas and Carlos Gattiker, made the final of 1980 World Team Cup in Düsseldorf. Clerc defeated former French Open champion Adriano Panatta 7–6, 6–3. Argentina eventually beat Italy 3–0 to claim the title.

In 1981, Clerc entered the French Open off an 11-match win streak, and defeated Jimmy Connors in an epic 5-setter in the quarterfinals to extend it to 16. The streak ended when Clerc lost in 5 sets against Ivan Lendl who advanced into his first Grand Slam final, despite being up 2 sets to 1 and had a match point in the fourth set. Later that year, starting after Wimbledon, Clerc won another 28 consecutive matches before losing in the third round of the US Open.

In 1982, Clerc reached the semifinals of the French Open for the second consecutive year, and was looking to create the unprecedented all-Argentine final at the French Open, but was however upset by a 17-year old Swedish teenager Mats Wilander in four sets.[1] Wilander would go on to beat Vilas in the final in 4 sets to become the youngest winner of a Grand Slam at the time.

Injuries began to plague Clerc since 1984 and his consistency dropped. Clerc never recovered and only played sporadically after 1985.

He received the ATP Sportsmanship Award in 1981, and Argentine Konex Awards in 1980 and 1990 for Merit in Tennis.

ATP career finalsEdit

Singles: 35 (25 titles, 10 runners-up)Edit

Legend
Grand Slam tournaments (0–0)
Year-End Championships (0–0)
Grand Prix Super Series (1–1)
Grand Prix / WCT Tour (24–9)
Titles by Surface
Hard (3–1)
Clay (21–9)
Grass (0–0)
Carpet (1–0)
Result No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Win 1. 21 May 1978 Florence, Italy Clay   Patrice Dominguez 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
Loss 1. 10 July 1978 Gstaad, Switzerland Clay   Guillermo Vilas 3–6, 6–7, 4–6
Loss 2. 31 July 1978 South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Clay   Guillermo Vilas 1–6, 3–6
Loss 3. 14 August 1978 Toronto, Canada Clay   Eddie Dibbs 7–5, 4–6, 1–6
Loss 4. 25 September 1978 Aix-En-Provence, France Clay   Guillermo Vilas 3–6, 0–6, 3–6
Win 2. 26 November 1978 Buenos Aires, Argentina Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–4, 6–4
Win 3. 4 December 1978 Santiago de Chile, Chile Clay   Víctor Pecci 3–6, 6–3, 6–3
Win 4. 16 April 1979 Johannesburg, South Africa Hard   Deon Joubert 6–2, 6–1
Loss 5. 19 November 1979 Buenos Aires, Argentina (2) Clay   Guillermo Vilas 1–6, 2–6, 2–6
Win 5. 10 March 1980 San José de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Hard   Jimmy Connors 4–6, 2–6, retired
Loss 6. 21 July 1980 Washington D.C., US Clay   Brian Gottfried 5–7, 6–4, 4–6
Win 6. 28 July 1980 South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Clay   John McEnroe 6–3, 6–2
Win 7. 4 August 1980 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. Clay   Mel Purcell 7–5, 6–3
Win 8. 29 September 1980 Madrid, Spain Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–3, 1–6, 1–6, 6–4, 6–2
Win 9. 3 November 1980 Quito, Ecuador Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–4, 1–6, 10–8
Win 10. 17 November 1980 Buenos Aires, Argentina (2) Clay   Rolf Gehring 6–7, 2–6, 7–5, 6–0, 6–3
Win 11. 11 May 1981 Florence, Italy (2) Clay   Raúl Ramírez 6–1, 6–2
Win 12. 18 May 1981 Italian Open, Rome Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–3, 6–4, 6–0
Win 13. 13 July 1981 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. Clay   Hans Gildemeister 0–6, 6–2, 6–2
Win 14. 20 July 1981 Washington D.C., US Clay   Guillermo Vilas 7–5, 6–2
Win 15. 28 July 1981 North Conway, New Hampshire, U.S. Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–3, 6–2
Win 16. 3 August 1981 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. (2) Clay   Ivan Lendl 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
Loss 7. 12 October 1981 Basel, Switzerland Hard (i)   Ivan Lendl 2–6, 3–6, 0–6
Win 17. 8 February 1982 Richmond, Virginia, U.S. Carpet (i)   Fritz Buehning 3–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–3
Loss 8. 12 April 1982 Houston, Texas, US Clay   Ivan Lendl 6–3, 6–7, 0–6, 4–1, retired
Win 18. 7 June 1982 Venice, Italy Clay   Peter McNamara 7–6, 6–1
Win 19. 5 July 1982 Gstaad, Switzerland Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–1, 6–3, 6–2
Win 20. 12 July 1982 Zell am See, Austria Clay   Heinz Günthardt 6–0, 3–6, 6–2, 6–1
Win 21. 15 November 1982 Sao Paulo, Brazil Clay   Marcos Hocevar 6–2, 6–7, 6–3
Win 22. 24 January 1983 Guarujá, Brazil Hard   Mats Wilander 3–6, 7–5, 6–1
Win 23. 11 July 1983 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (2) Clay   Jimmy Arias 6–3, 6–1
Win 24. 18 July 1983 Washington D.C., U.S. (2) Clay   Jimmy Arias 6–3, 3–6, 6–0
Loss 9. 12 September 1983 Palermo, Italy Clay   Jimmy Arias 2–6, 6–2, 0–6
Win 25. 25 July 1983 North Conway, New Hampshire, U.S. (2) Clay   Andrés Gómez 6–3, 6–1
Loss 10. 16 July 1984 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (3) Clay   Aaron Krickstein 6–7, 6–3, 4–6

Performance timelineEdit

SinglesEdit

Tournament 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 SR W–L
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open 1R 2R NH 0 / 2 1–2
French Open 2R 2R 2R SF SF 2R 2R 3R 1R 0 / 9 17–9
Wimbledon 1R 4R 3R 3R 1R 0 / 5 7–5
US Open 3R 4R 1R 4R 1R 1R 1R 0 / 7 8–7
Win–Loss 0–0 3–4 7–3 4–4 10–3 5–2 1–3 1–1 2–2 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0 / 23 33–23
Year-End Championship
Masters Did Not Qualify RR RR QF 1R Did Not Qualify 0 / 4 2–6
Career statistics
Finals 0 7 2 7 7 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 35
Titles 0 3 1 6 6 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 25
Overall Win–Loss 1–3 50–17 56–22 73–23 58–14 65–22 31–15 16–14 24–14 0–0 0–0 0–0 1–4 0–0 375–148
Win % 25% 75% 72% 76% 81% 75% 67% 53% 63% 20% 71.70%
Year-End Ranking 278 15 17 8 5 6 8 33 28 514

Notable rivalriesEdit

Clerc vs. VilasEdit

Regarded as two of the most important Argentine male tennis players, José Luis Clerc and Guillermo Vilas played each other 14 times in their careers, with Vilas leading 10–4. Vilas was 6 years older than Clerc, making it a clash of generations. Vilas being a dominant force on clay for much of the second half of 1970s, Clerc was considered a rising star on clay during that time. All of their 14 meetings came after the quarterfinal stages (with one exception, which was at the Masters Grand Prix) and included 8 finals. Vilas won their first 6 encounters before 1980, including 4 finals and only lost 1 set to Clerc during that time. However, since 1980, they had a tied record of 4–4, with Clerc winning all 4 of the finals.

Despite their insurmountable contribution to Argentine tennis, the pair did not get along, the tension between them even reverberating at the 2004 French Open awards ceremony, in which Vilas presented Gastón Gaudio his trophy over Clerc's objections.

Coincidentally, both players' final Grand Slam appearance was at the 1989 French Open where both received a wild card entry.

Personal lifeEdit

José Luis Clerc in 1980 married to Annelie Czerner and has two sons & a daughter: Juan Pablo Clerc (born 23 September 1981), Dominique Clerc (born 12 January 1984), and Nicolás Clerc (born 19 October 1990). In 2005 they divorced, Clerc in 2008 married with Gisela Medrano MD, with whom they had a daughter named Sophie (born 7 April 2011).

Clerc runs a tennis school in Argentina, participates in Senior tournaments, and regularly serves as a tennis analyst for ESPN Latin America and ESPN Deportes. He also coaches Sebastian Baez, a top ArgentinIan junior player.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Exclusive interview with José Luis Clerc alias Batata who is a part of history". DB4Tennis.com. 13 September 2015.

External linksEdit