if you ask Spanish fans, who is better between Nadal and this legend? 99% of spanish fans will say this name:
Manuel Martínez Santana, best known as Manolo Santana, (born May 10, 1938) was a Spanish male tennis player. He was born in Madrid.
He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1984.
One of the masters of legerdemain, Manuel Martinez "Manolo" Santana was the first post-World War II European to gain universal respect because he not only won the most difficult clay-court event, the French singles in 1961 and 1964, but also the grass-court gems, Wimbledon of 1966 and the U.S. Championship of 1965 at Forest Hills. In doing so, the engaging Spaniard was the first European champ at Forest Hills since Frenchman Henri Cochet in 1928.
"He was a magician on clay," said Rod Laver. "Manolo could hit the most incredible angles, drive you crazy with topspin lobs or drop shots. And he improved his volleying so that he was dangerous on grass, too."
In 1965 Santana became a national hero in Spain. That year Santana spearheaded the 4-1 upset of the U.S. at Barcelona during the Davis Cup campaign and led Spain all the way to the finale for the first time, Although the Spaniards were turned back, 4-1, Santana gave Roy Emerson his only defeat in 12 title-round singles, Two years later he drove Spain to the finale again, salvaging the only point in a 4-1 defeat by beating John Newcombe.
Only Italian Nicola Pietrangeli (164 singles and doubles in 46 ties) and Romanian Ilie Nastase played more Davis Cup than Santana, who played 120 singles (69-17) and doubles (23-11) in 46 matches between 1958 and 1973. He set Cup records by winning 13 singles matches in 1967 (equalled by Nastase in 1971), and also by winning 17 singles and doubles in 1965 and 1967 (topped by Nastase's 18 in 1971).
Born May 10, 1938, in Madrid, he worked as a ball boy at a local club and picked up the game. He was a very appealing player, a slender 5-foot-11 right-hander, who frequently smiled at play and was an admirable sportsman. His racket control was phenomenal, enabling him to hit with touch and power. He had great flair, the ability to improvise and to inspire himself and his partners and teammates. Never losing heart in the doubles of the 1965 Davis Cup against the U.S., he rallied partner Luis Arilla as they stormed back to beat Dennis Ralston and Clark Graebner, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 11-9, in an emotional battle that clinched the decision. Cushions showered down on the two Spaniards as they were carried about the stadium court of the Real Club de Tennis in Barcelona in the manner of bullfighters. Santana and Arilla wept with joy at the most tremendous victory in Spanish tennis annals.
Less than a month later a similarly jubilant celebration was staged at Forest Hills after Santana jolted Cliff Drysdale in the U.S, final, 6-2, 79, 7-5, 6-1. A troupe of dancers from the World's Fair's Spanish Pavilion toted him from stadium to clubhouse, whereupon they serenaded him.
The following year was Santana's at Wimbledon, where he beat Ralston in the final, 6-4, 11-9, 6-4, and enthralled the gallery with his point and counterpoint thrusts.
His successes spurred the rapid development of tennis in Spain, where the sport was not much noticed prior to 1965, His protégé was Manuel Orantes, called Manolito (Little Manolo), who won the U.S. Championship at Forest Hills a decade after his own, though the surface had by then been transformed to clay.
Beginning in 1961, Santana was in the World Top Ten seven years, No. 1 in 1966. His career was virtually over when the open era arrived, but he did elate his countrymen by winning Barcelona in 1970, his last singles victory, where he defeated Rod Laver 6–4 6–3 6–4. He also captured the doubles title in Barcelona that year when he teamed with L. Hoad to defeat R. Laver/A. Gimeno 6–4 9–7 7–5.
At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Santana won the Gold Medal in Singles, tennis being only a demonstration sport as in 1984.
Santana came out of retirement briefly in 1973 to play his last season of Davis Cup, and again in 1974 to act as player-coach for New York in the new World Team Tennis League. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1984, the second Spaniard, following Manuel Alonso.
Currently, he is the organizer of the Madrid Masters.
He manages the Manolo Santana Racquets club, a tennis club in Marbella, and the Sport Center Manolo Santana, in Madrid.
Grand Slam singles finals
1961 French Championships Nicola Pietrangeli 4–6, 6–1, 3–6, 6–0, 6–2
1964 French Championships (2) Nicola Pietrangeli 6–3, 6–1, 4–6, 7–5
1965 U.S. Championships Cliff Drysdale 6–2, 7–9, 7–5, 6–1
1966 Wimbledon Championships Dennis Ralston 6–4, 11-9, 6–4
Santana Wimbledon champion: