Andrés Gómez Santos

Born: February 27, 1960 in Guayaquil (Guayas)
Height: 1.93 m
Plays: Left-handed
He is widely regarded as one of the best players of the 80s, and the best South American among guys born in the 60s. His surname has been written in sport history since he achieved an unexpected victory at Roland Garros in 1990. Riding on excellent form from winning two big clay-court Spanish events that year (Barcelona & Madrid), Gómez’s triumph added to his previous decade’s victories (Rome ’84 being his most prominent win). Roland Garros ’90 was a unique event; Gómez’s toughest opponent and three-time champion, Ivan Lendl, withdrew from the event to prepare for Wimbledon (which, incidentally, didn’t culminate in triumph). Additionally, two other top players, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, faced early eliminations in the first round, losing to future major champions.
This open playing field worked in Gómez’s favor; until the semifinals, he was favored to win every match and conserved energy as his potentially toughest opponent, Magnus Gustafsson, gave him a walkover in the fourth round. The semifinal against Thomas Muster was up for grabs, considering their recent encounter at Rome’s semifinals, which Muster barely survived. However, in Paris, Gómez clearly outshone Muster. In the championship match, despite not being the favorite against the highly experienced and immensely talented 20-year-old Andre Agassi, Gómez managed to win crucial points in tight games, securing victory in a rather peculiar fashion (the winner got one point fewer), reflected in the scoreline of 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
At the age of 30, Gómez emerged as a Grand Slam singles champion, having previously secured two doubles titles – US Open ’86 along with Slobodan Živojinović, and French Open ’88 with Emilio Sánchez. Post the Agassi’s final, Gómez candidly admitted his lack of mobility, emphasizing that his game prioritized producing winners over errors. His primary weapons were his serve (very low toss) and forehand, enabling him to dictate the pace of the game efficiently. Despite being among the tallest players of the 80s and excelling in doubles, akin to Yannick Noah, grass wasn’t Gómez’s forte. He never claimed a tournament title on that surface, reaching just one Wimbledon quarterfinal, where he faced significantly lower-ranked opponents – including an 18-year-old Guy Forget – in four consecutive matches.
Following his sensational Parisian triumph, Gómez’s form dwindled. Despite this, his remarkable Spring ’90 performances on clay earned him a spot in the first German editions of the ‘Masters’ in Frankfurt and the ‘Grand Slam Cup’ in Munich that allowed him to earn good money at little effort. Unfortunately, these appearances cumulated in twelve consecutive defeats, an unprecedented slump for a Top 10 player. Gómez’s prime days were numbered, yet in Autumn ’91, ranked No. 142, he secured his final title as a ‘wild card’ entrant in Brasilia. The subsequent year at Key Biscayne, he engaged in an intense battle with Jim Courier, the then newly-crowned world’s best player; he saved a double match point in the 2nd set before retiring due to an ankle (tendinitis) injury at an open scoreline of 4-6, 7-6, 3-4 (15/30) ret.
A year later, facing one of the era’s top clay-courters, Carlos Costa, Gómez [183] fought for 2 hours and 30 minutes in Mexico City, ultimately losing 4-6, 7-6, 6-7. This marked the end of his physical abilities, leading to his retirement. To this day, Gómez remains the best Ecuadorian player of the Open Era. His son, Emilio Gómez, ventured into professional tennis making his major debut at Roland Garros ’20 at the age of 29. Meanwhile, his nephew Nicolás Lapentti soared to a world ranking of No. 6. Trivia: Gómez was the biggest specialist of playing tie-breaks among those born in the 60s, with an impressive 63% ratio (182-106, including a decent 15-12 in deciding 3rd set tiebreaks).
Career record: 531–273 [ 279 events ]
Career titles: 21
Highest ranking: No. 4
Best GS results:
Roland Garros (champion 1990; quarterfinal 1984, 86-87)
Wimbledon (quarterfinal 1984)
US Open (quarterfinal 1984)
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