José Luis Clerc (born 16 August 1958), also known by the nickname Batata, is a former professional tennis player from Argentina. 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 65)
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 career

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Clerc represented Argentina for the Davis Cup from 1976 to 1989. He and Guillermo Vilas led Argentina to its first Davis Cup final in 1981 to set up a tie against United States in Cincinnati, Ohio. 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, with Vilas and Carlos Gattiker won the 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 with an 11-match win streak and defeated Jimmy Connors in the quarterfinals, 4–6, 6–2, 4–6, 7–5, 6–0, to extend it to 16. The streak ended when Clerc lost in five sets against Ivan Lendl. 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, losing to 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.

ATP career finals

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

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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. May 1978 Florence, Italy Clay   Patrice Dominguez 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
Loss 1. Jul 1978 Gstaad, Switzerland Clay   Guillermo Vilas 3–6, 6–7, 4–6
Loss 2. Jul 1978 South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Clay   Guillermo Vilas 1–6, 3–6
Loss 3. Aug 1978 Toronto, Canada Clay   Eddie Dibbs 7–5, 4–6, 1–6
Loss 4. Sep 1978 Aix-En-Provence, France Clay   Guillermo Vilas 3–6, 0–6, 3–6
Win 2. Nov 1978 Buenos Aires, Argentina Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–4, 6–4
Win 3. Dec 1978 Santiago de Chile, Chile Clay   Víctor Pecci 3–6, 6–3, 6–3
Win 4. Apr 1979 Johannesburg, South Africa Hard   Deon Joubert 6–2, 6–1
Loss 5. Nov 1979 Buenos Aires, Argentina (2) Clay   Guillermo Vilas 1–6, 2–6, 2–6
Win 5. Mar 1980 San José de Costa Rica, Costa Rica Hard   Jimmy Connors 4–6, 2–6, retired
Loss 6. Jul 1980 Washington D.C., US Clay   Brian Gottfried 5–7, 6–4, 4–6
Win 6. Jul 1980 South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Clay   John McEnroe 6–3, 6–2
Win 7. Aug 1980 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. Clay   Mel Purcell 7–5, 6–3
Win 8. Sep 1980 Madrid, Spain Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–3, 1–6, 1–6, 6–4, 6–2
Win 9. Nov 1980 Quito, Ecuador Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–4, 1–6, 10–8
Win 10. Nov 1980 Buenos Aires, Argentina (2) Clay   Rolf Gehring 6–7, 2–6, 7–5, 6–0, 6–3
Win 11. May 1981 Florence, Italy (2) Clay   Raúl Ramírez 6–1, 6–2
Win 12. May 1981 Italian Open, Rome Clay   Víctor Pecci 6–3, 6–4, 6–0
Win 13. Jul 1981 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. Clay   Hans Gildemeister 0–6, 6–2, 6–2
Win 14. Jul 1981 Washington D.C., US Clay   Guillermo Vilas 7–5, 6–2
Win 15. Jul 1981 North Conway, New Hampshire, U.S. Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–3, 6–2
Win 16. Aug 1981 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. (2) Clay   Ivan Lendl 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
Loss 7. Oct 1981 Basel, Switzerland Hard (i)   Ivan Lendl 2–6, 3–6, 0–6
Win 17. Feb 1982 Richmond, Virginia, U.S. Carpet (i)   Fritz Buehning 3–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–3
Loss 8. Apr 1982 Houston, Texas, US Clay   Ivan Lendl 6–3, 6–7, 0–6, 4–1, ret.
Win 18. Jun 1982 Venice, Italy Clay   Peter McNamara 7–6, 6–1
Win 19. Jul 1982 Gstaad, Switzerland Clay   Guillermo Vilas 6–1, 6–3, 6–2
Win 20. Jul 1982 Zell am See, Austria Clay   Heinz Günthardt 6–0, 3–6, 6–2, 6–1
Win 21. Nov 1982 São Paulo, Brazil Clay   Marcos Hocevar 6–2, 6–7, 6–3
Win 22. Jan 1983 Guarujá, Brazil Hard   Mats Wilander 3–6, 7–5, 6–1
Win 23. Jul 1983 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (2) Clay   Jimmy Arias 6–3, 6–1
Win 24. Jul 1983 Washington D.C., U.S. (2) Clay   Jimmy Arias 6–3, 3–6, 6–0
Loss 9. Sep 1983 Palermo, Italy Clay   Jimmy Arias 2–6, 6–2, 0–6
Loss 10. Jul 1984 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. (3) Clay   Aaron Krickstein 6–7, 6–3, 4–6

Performance timeline

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Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# DNQ A NH
(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.

Singles

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Tournament 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 SR W–L
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open A A 1R A 2R A A A A A NH A A A A 0 / 2 1–2
French Open A 2R 2R 2R SF SF 2R 2R 3R A A A 1R A 0 / 9 17–9
Wimbledon A 1R 4R 3R 3R A 1R A A A A A A A 0 / 5 7–5
US Open A 3R 4R 1R 4R 1R 1R A 1R A A A A A 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 rivalries

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Clerc vs. Vilas

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Clerc and Guillermo Vilas played each other 14 times in their careers, with Vilas leading 10–4. 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 eight finals. Vilas won their first six encounters before 1980, including four finals. However, since 1980, they had a tied record of 4–4, with Clerc winning all four of the finals.

Personal life

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Clerc married Annelie Czerner in 1980, and they have two sons and 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 married with Gisela Medrano in 2008, with whom they have 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.

References

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