Vitas Gerulaitis and Eddie Dibbs, both Brooklyn-born and imbued with their own styles of New York brashness, meet today at high noon in the title match of the $200,000 World Championship Tennis (WCT) Finals.
The winner of the best-of-five-set shootout on the medium-slow synthetic carpet at Moody Coliseum will collect $100,000 and assorted precious baubles. The runner-up gets $40,000.
Gerulaitis, 23, the reigning Italian and Australian Open champ, is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 4 in the world.
Dibbs, 27, is No. 4 in the official U.S. ranking and No. 6 on the latest computer printout of world ratings.
But Dibbs has won all four of their career meetings, dating back to 1972.
"We haven't played much lately," Dibbs acknowledged yesterday, noting that their only match since Gerulaitis ascended to the world top 10 was excruciatingly close. That was in the final of WCT's London event last year; Dibbs won, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4.
"We never met in the juniors," added Dibbs, who grew up in Miami. "I'm four years older. More mature."
"You could have fooled me," countered Gerulaitis.
Gerulaitis, 6-0 and 160 pounds, grew up in Queens and became the flam-boyant "Broadway Vitas."
Dibbs, 5-7, 160, is pugnacious and unpolished, nicknamed "Fast Eddie" because he look, talks and acts like the hustler he was at North Miami's Flamingo Park.