Guillermo Vilas routed Brian Gottfried and Ricardo Cano upset Dick Stockton today to give Argentina a surprising 2-0 lead over the United States in the American Zone Davis Cup tennis final.
Vilas backed by cheering, flag-waving fans, whipped Gottfried, 6-4, 6-2, after Cano surprise Stockton, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6, 6-4.
The left handed Vilas, Argentina's No. 1 player, combined a solid serve with varied shot selection and steady play to defeat Gottfried on a warm, humid autumn day. Gottfried had been one of the hottest players on the professional tour this year.
The Husky Cano, Argentina's No. 2 singles player, recovered from a nervous start to take command of the match against Stockton, who seemed to wilt after falling at the net in the second set.
Argentina, which has never won an American zone final, will send the doubles team of Vilas and Elio Alvarez against Fred McNair of Chevy Chase, Md., and Sherwood Stewart Saturday.
The final singles matches will be Sunday with Gottfried against Cano and Stockton facing Vilas. Match officials repeatedly called for silence from the excited fans, many of whom carried noisemakers or joined in loud, rhythmic whistling combined with chants of "Cano, Cano," and "Vilas, Vilas."
With a few exceptions, there was silence for the U.S. players' serve and warm applause for well-made points by Gottfried and Stockton.
Play in the Vilas match was suspended briefly in the second set when a fan fainted and the crowd moved around distractingly. When play resumed, Vilas finished the job of breaking Gottfried's serve at love by putting away a smash at the net to take a 5-0 lead.
In the next game, Vilas lofted a perfect lob behind Gottfried to run out the 6-0 set.
"I was very strong and I wanted to make as few errors as possible, and I think I succeeded," Vilas said.
Gottfried admitted he was unable to handle the Argentina on the slow crushed-brick court. "On this type of surface he has time to slow it down," he said.
Stockton was hit by a back spasm in the second set against Cano, but refused to blame his loss on the problem. "I had plenty of opportunities to win," he said.
Vilas, a bit sweaty but still fresh after his straight set drubbing of Gottfried, said he didn't think he could have played much better.
"I've been playing lot of tennis all year," Vilas said.
Vilas took care of Gottfried in a little under two hours at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
Non-playing U.S. captain Tony Trabert, faced with the necessity of winning the doubles and the remaining two singles, said the Argentines "are tough, but we're not out of it."
Trabert said that "unless they wake up sick," he would stick with McNair and Stewart in the doubles. The U.S. pair is a heavy favorite over the Argentines.
"My God, he played well," Trabert said of Vilas. "He's one of the best on earth and practically untouchable on his favorite surface."