PDA

View Full Version : I'll say it: Mac Best Ever (on any given day)


Colpo
11-30-2006, 02:26 PM
The more I think about it, the more I can live with the notion that John McEnroe is arguably the best player ever in a restricted given match setting. I'm not talking about consistently - I'm talking about playing the game as well as it can be played in a given match. For that, I'll take the 1984 Mac against anybody. Sampras and Federer are consistently brilliant, so that it's hard to make out the peaks in their play. 1984 Mac is the guy I'd pick to play any single match that needed to be won. I might feel differently with a little more distance from Fed's current run, which will end someday, but Fed's Nadal Achilles heel and Mac's tremendous passion and intimidation tip the scales in his favor by a small margin. Think about it, 1984 Mac on a neutral surface really competing against ice king Fed, not sitting back on the baseline and letting Fed slowly dictate but hitting the deep approach, blanketing the net and serving lights out. 1984 Mac could beat this guy, no question, a majority of the time.

Dunlopkid
11-30-2006, 02:29 PM
Are you saying Mac would have beaten Fed the majority of the time? LOL.

joe sch
11-30-2006, 07:48 PM
Mac's S/V attach game was a very unique and devasting tennis attack. Federer has not really even played any great S/V players. Mac played many great baseliners like Connors, Lendl and Borg. I think Federer would have a much harder time figuring out Mac's game than visa-versa. Its a shame we will probably never see any of these type of matches in the future, like all the Mac vs Connors, Borg & Lendl matches.

bluegrasser
12-01-2006, 03:28 AM
I'd give Mac a 50/50 chance against Federer on grass, that is - in his prime.

Colpo
12-01-2006, 07:11 AM
Are you saying Mac would have beaten Fed the majority of the time? LOL.

That's what I'm saying. He wouldn't have crushed Federer, but with Mac's serve & volley, lefty attack, he would've taken 6-4 or 7-3 on average from Federer if Mac were playing according to his peak form.

Before you LOL too hard, did you see Mac play during that time?

Ripper
12-01-2006, 07:23 AM
Mac's S/V attach game was a very unique and devasting tennis attack.

His tongue was, also, a devastiting weapon that helped him win many matches.

deucecourt
12-01-2006, 07:45 AM
Johnny Mac would lose in straight sets by both Federer and Sampras and whine the entire match.

LttlElvis
12-01-2006, 07:51 AM
That's what I'm saying. He wouldn't have crushed Federer, but with Mac's serve & volley, lefty attack, he would've taken 6-4 or 7-3 on average from Federer if Mac were playing according to his peak form.

Before you LOL too hard, did you see Mac play during that time?

McEnroe probably is the most talented player ever. I think he was better than Sampras. (I never saw Laver play live). McEnroe of 1984 is the greatest player I have ever seen. I didn't think any one could top that year. However, in the long run, we look at players career as a whole. Unfortunately for tennis, McEnroe didn't stay at the top for long.

I too, think 1984 McEnroe would have a winning record vs. Fed. But that would only be 1984 McEnroe. The thing about Federer is it is amazing how dominant he has been 2004-2006. I think his 3 yr record so far is the best consecutive 3 yrs. any male tennis player ever has had. The scary thing is it is possible this can go another 3 years.

deucecourt
12-01-2006, 08:03 AM
Are you guys for real? This must be a joke. Johnny Mac had good touch around the net and that was really it. Average serve, less than average power and the biggest mouth in the game. Not even racquet technology would help his power game.

slice bh compliment
12-01-2006, 08:39 AM
I don't think his wife would even call him the best ever.;)

Although in the early-mid 80's, a lot of experts were comparing him favorably with the likes of Laver, Kramer and Gonzales.

chaognosis
12-01-2006, 09:06 AM
There are many players about whom it could be said, that on any given day they could lose to no one. For decades players and writers seemed to agree that at his best, on a fast surface, Ellsworth Vines was literally unbeatable. Later the same argument was applied to Lew Hoad -- that his best match was better than anybody else's best match. Jack Kramer still holds out for Vines as having the highest "peak" performance of any player ever, while Pancho Gonzalez claimed well into the 1990s that Hoad was supreme in this respect. Gonzalez said that John McEnroe had the same genius as Hoad, but didn't hit with the same power -- a statement that could also perhaps characterize Rod Laver. Gonzalez also said that he ranked Pete Sampras alongside Hoad, but would not to call him better than Hoad.

You heard some talk like this about Sampras, and even more now with respect to Roger Federer. Ultimately, I don't think we can know. If both Vines and Hoad at their best were supposed to be unbeatable, how do we choose between them? Who would win in a match where neither player could lose? Practically speaking, two great players would not each be able to achieve and maintain their absolute top level of play against one another, because the greatness of their opponent would (or should) disrupt their rhythm. But it is an interesting question nevertheless. I never saw Vines or Hoad play, but accounts of their game paint a pretty vivid picture. I would not choose McEnroe over Federer; both are shotmaking artists, but Federer has considerably more power... if McEnroe could not handle Lendl's game, I find it hard to believe that he could handle Federer's. Peak Sampras vs. peak Federer has of course led to much speculation, and I think both would have their hands full.

bribeiro
12-01-2006, 09:48 AM
Mac himself has said he'd like to play like Fed.

Grimjack
12-01-2006, 10:06 AM
That's what I'm saying. He wouldn't have crushed Federer, but with Mac's serve & volley, lefty attack, he would've taken 6-4 or 7-3 on average from Federer if Mac were playing according to his peak form.

Before you LOL too hard, did you see Mac play during that time?

I agree in the sense that I fully believe that Mac, in his prime, and playing at his best on a given day, had a bigger gap between himself and his contemporaries than anybody else in the history of the game. Fed included.

I disagree mightily with the above analysis, however. Mac's serve-n-volley, net blanketing attack was state of the art in 1984. But tennis left that style behind. No matter how dominant a peak-form Mac was against his contemporaries, the power-baselining game of today has rendered S&V utterly hopeless as a strategy. And when it's executed with Fed's degree of skill and dominance?

Peak-form Fed against peak-form Mac would not merely be ugly for Mac, it would be embarrassing. A peak-form Hewitt would have a better chance, even though he was nowhere near as great as Mac. The evolution of the game marches on.

urban
12-01-2006, 10:10 AM
As Chaognosis pointed out, this best on his day theme is difficult to measure. Often the best performances need an opponent, who isn't too strong on the day. Vines and Hoad had their best performances against Bunny Austin resp. Ashley Cooper at Wimbledon, who were not the best opposition, especially hadn't a big serve. And nothing against Connors, but with his weak serve,he could really be beaten badly at Wimbledon, as Ashe, Borg and Curren have demonstrated. But one note on Mac's serve: In his prime, it was far from weak, but with his nasty leftie slice pratically unreturnable. The returner had to play his shot from the side stands. I recall, that Ted Tinling actually demanded a rule change, that the leftie would be prevented from serving to the ad court at game point.

KFwinds
12-01-2006, 11:03 AM
Johnny Mac would lose in straight sets by both Federer and Sampras and whine the entire match.

When I read this, I figured you would get responses like this one above, but I gotta tell you that you make a pretty good case for Mac. I'm a Mac fan myself, and although I won't go as far as to predict how he would fare against Fed, I think in his prime ('84) his game was virtually unstoppable. There are a lot of youngsters on this board that can't appreciate what his game was really like. Think about this: in 1984 Mac only lost 3 matches the entire year to DIFFERENT opponents - meaning no player beat him more than once. In 2006, probably Fed's best year yet, he not only lost more matches than Mac did in '84, but Nadal beat him on several occasions. Someone might be able to help me with the stats, but I don't believe even Lendl or Borg (Mac's biggest rivals) gave him that much trouble in a single year.

Also, let me say that I'm not a Fed hater by ANY stretch - try to view these comments as more "pro-Mac" than "anti-Fed". I have no doubt that when all is said and done that Roger Federer will probably be considered as the greatest to play the game. I do agree, however, with those who feel that Mac had the greatest single season ever.

The Gorilla
12-01-2006, 12:00 PM
if you want to see how mcenroe would have fared in todays game look no further than tim henman,he's got all the same attributes as mcenroe,no power but incredible touch and speed around the court with a very accurate serve,devastating from the net,very consistent from the baseline without having any explosive power.Unfortunately the slowness of court surfaces has rendered these attributes ineffective against todays power baseliners,something mcenroe couldn't handle when lendl,this new style of play's pioneer picked up a graphite racquet.

haerdalis
12-01-2006, 12:56 PM
I would say that Mac was a bit unlucky not being born 6 years earlier or so. His game on faster courts seems like as good as it gets with a wooden racquet. Borg being as good as it gets on clay with a wooden racquet. With modern equipment Mac's technique just doesnt cut it.

Colpo
12-01-2006, 01:00 PM
if you want to see how mcenroe would have fared in todays game look no further than tim henman,he's got all the same attributes as mcenroe,no power but incredible touch and speed around the court with a very accurate serve,devastating from the net,very consistent from the baseline without having any explosive power.Unfortunately the slowness of court surfaces has rendered these attributes ineffective against todays power baseliners,something mcenroe couldn't handle when lendl,this new style of play's pioneer picked up a graphite racquet.

I have to disagree with this comparison. Henman, while a nice player years ago, wasn't the best at anything. Mac will go down as best hands, best volley, best lefty 1st serve, best lefty 2nd serve, and best balls-out temperament. That's got nothing to do with the eras they played in - Mac would be a great if he were in his prime now. All you've done is pick a current quality s & v'er, looked at his lack of success, and said that's Mac. That's not Mac.

Mac, like Federer, won through point dictation. Mac had a great court brain. He could pick out opponent weaknesses exceedingly well, and then pick on those weaknesses mercilessly. He had pinpoint control, and coming from the left side was a big part of his effectiveness. He had myriad serve placements, deep approaches, and dead-eye volleys. I still say I like his matchup vs. Federer.

More than one naysayer (and thanks for ALL opinions) has mentioned Lendl. Not only was Lendl already in the middle of his long prime period in '84, but he beat Mac in the French final that most agree was Mac's for the taking (nobody's perfect). Lendl played a power baseline game, was a righty, and played with a graphite racquet. Yes, there were years when Mac couldn't handle Lendl and was overpowered, but not in 1984. I think that shows that a 1984 Mac could be very, very great today.

Moose Malloy
12-01-2006, 01:48 PM
I wish people would stop harping on Lendl's "power" being more than Mac could handle.
Mac completely dominated Lendl '83/'84(after being dominated by Lendl around '82)
Mac then went on a 6 month sabatical, married a crazy movie star, had kids, dabbled in drugs & returned to tour as a part time player. Lendl's game did not change at all in that time for the better, Mac's just turned for the worst. Imagine Federer taking 6 months off to do coke & coming back to a Roddick dominated tour. Thats sort of what happened.
Mac never fully dedictated himself to the game from that point on, so I wouldn't draw too many conslusions about the game passing him by, though a Becker type player was certainly an evolution of the game that Mac may have never solved, had he been fully dedicated(but not a Lendl)

I would say that Mac was a bit unlucky not being born 6 years earlier or so. His game on faster courts seems like as good as it gets with a wooden racquet.

You do know that Mac completely dominated the tour in '84 with a graphite racquet?
I do agree that Mac with a wood racquet playing Fed with a wood racquet, on the fast surfaces of the 70s/80s would prevail.
As urban said, that lefty serve was completely unreturnable. Anyone comparing him to the pedestrian Henman, or saying that his serve wasn't formidable, needs to get a clue.

Also, you can't dismiss the intangibles that would be at play when Mac played Fed. Fed has never played anyone that intense or unsporting. Mac could turn a tennis crowd into a football crowd, it would be a supreme mental challenge for Fed. I'm not sure if Fed would react well to being called a ********** to his face on court, dealing with the best lefty serve of all time, someone who will attack relentlessly, a bloodthirsty crowd, intimidated linesman/umpires, etc. He might win, but wouldn't want to experience that ever again.

But LttlElvis makes a great point, Mac was crazy good for one year, while Fed has been crazy good for 3, so that counts for something, even in a 'what-if' matchup.

Moose Malloy
12-01-2006, 02:49 PM
Mac won 13 events in 1984.
4 of them without dropping a set.
Won titles on 4 different surfaces-carpet,clay,grass,hard

Went 6-1 vs Lendl that year(5 of the 6 wins were in straight sets. He beat Lendl on twice on clay, 3 times on carpet, & once on hardcourt)

He was 3-0 vs Wilander(including a win on clay)

He was 6-0 vs Connors(4 were in straight sets, 2 on hard, 2 on grass, once on clay, once on carpet)

LttlElvis
12-01-2006, 03:50 PM
For people who never have seen McEnroe play, they should watch every round of his matches of Wimbledon 1983 and 1984. This may be the best display of grass court dominance ever. I don't think he even lost a set. Mac playing on grass was like a work of art. Actually, he was so dominant the matches were boring, but he was still amazing to watch.

You really had to watch him live to see how much pace he put on the ball. His strokes were so efficient it didn't look like much, but the pace, spin, and placement were like no other. Like Federer of today, everything Mac did looked effortless.

TonyB
12-01-2006, 03:58 PM
That's partly because he strung his racquets so low. He didn't have to pound the ball to generate pace. On his volleys, he just "aimed" them where he wanted them to go and they would automatically have a significant amount of pace on them. He was most definitely an artist.

Mac is my favorite player, by far. Sampras is a close second. Federer is also absolutely amazing to watch.

The Gorilla
12-01-2006, 04:08 PM
I have to disagree with this comparison. Henman, while a nice player years ago, wasn't the best at anything. Mac will go down as best hands, best volley, best lefty 1st serve, best lefty 2nd serve, and best balls-out temperament. That's got nothing to do with the eras they played in - Mac would be a great if he were in his prime now. All you've done is pick a current quality s & v'er, looked at his lack of success, and said that's Mac. That's not Mac.

Mac, like Federer, won through point dictation. Mac had a great court brain. He could pick out opponent weaknesses exceedingly well, and then pick on those weaknesses mercilessly. He had pinpoint control, and coming from the left side was a big part of his effectiveness. He had myriad serve placements, deep approaches, and dead-eye volleys. I still say I like his matchup vs. Federer.

More than one naysayer (and thanks for ALL opinions) has mentioned Lendl. Not only was Lendl already in the middle of his long prime period in '84, but he beat Mac in the French final that most agree was Mac's for the taking (nobody's perfect). Lendl played a power baseline game, was a righty, and played with a graphite racquet. Yes, there were years when Mac couldn't handle Lendl and was overpowered, but not in 1984. I think that shows that a 1984 Mac could be very, very great today.


In fairness I haven't just taken a random quality serve and volleyer,I've taken tim henman,a player who is just as good a serve and volleyer as mcenroe.The reason I selected Tim henman as opposed to a lefty with a big serve and great vollleys like mario ancic is because henman has exactly the same attributes (minus the left handed aspect of course),as mcenroe,mcenroe was a)blindinglyfast,b)had incredible touch,c)had no power from the baseline at all but was very consistent,d)had a serve that was very well placed that was in the 120-132 range,(in the early 90's,I'm using the serves of this time for easy comparison) that came through for him in tight situations and could be counted on the be a veryery high percentage,usually above 60%,e)lived at the net and was pretty much impossible to pass and c)was tactically very astute.
tim henman,if we're being honest with ourselves,is his equal in every respect,almost like a present day mcenroe without the attitude,the only diffence being that he isn't a lefty,and that isn't even a major difference as the backhand was mcenroes better shot,so the power,(relative to the nondominant shot),was coming from the same area of the court,as for the serve,he gets a similar number of aces and the ball is similarly well placed so I think that they are pretty much exactly the same player.(I'm talking about 90's henman,not todays baseline henman).Another interesting coincidence is the similarity of their success on grass after the graphite racquet mentality had truly taken off,just as henman always came just short,so too did john mcenroe.Don't get me wrong,I think they're both incredible players,in fact I think that back in the early eighty's henman would have been very successful,it's just that todays court surfaces and equipment don't reward those skills at all any more,I for one think that they should,but we'll just have to accept that mcenroe would be beaten by todays top players,and would probably have a very similar career to Henman's.

in regard to volleys,henman,edurg etc are just as good,so he wsn't the best at them.best lefty first serve has to go to ivansavic,you say you like his match up versus federer,why federer of all players?his passing shots would give mcenroe a lot more trouble than borgs or connors,and lendl had a winning record over mcenroe,which indicates that mcenroe coudn't handle those big groundstrokes,which feder hits about as well as lendl did,(by the way,why is lendl never metioned in these best of all time posts?,he was just as good as federer from the baseline,got to three wimbledon finals serving and volleying,wich is pretty damn impressive seeing as he was never given credit for being an all court player,even if he was an a--h-le,these things shouldn't be tured into favourite player of all time awards).Anyway,the point is,it was a fair,and dare I say it,brilliant comparison.Apologies in writing please:)

Chadwixx
12-01-2006, 04:08 PM
Are you saying Mac would have beaten Fed the majority of the time? LOL.

Fed would hit pounding topspin at his feet, or an off paced chip. Both give serve and vollery'rs fits. Footspeed and low returns = the death of serve and volley tennis.

I dont see jmacs backhand return doing him any favors vs fed either.

Jmac as goat isnt too far fetched, he has maintained a very high lvl for a very long time. Something the greatest player of all time should be able todo.

theace21
12-01-2006, 04:31 PM
His style would give the current crop of players fits. Because of racket and string technology the game has changed, and you really can't compare...But for you guys new to tennis, watch some of his matches from the early 80's. He was amazing!!!

LttlElvis
12-01-2006, 04:49 PM
Putting Henman in the same level of McEnroe, is like saying a Honda Accord will do the same things as a Porsche 911. Sure, both will get you from point A to point B, but....... come on.

Ask non tennis fans who Henman is, then ask who is McEnroe.

snapple
12-01-2006, 04:57 PM
Have to agree with Littlelvis. Henman is (was) a nice player but just has never come close to being the DOMINANT player that Mac was. Even if you strictly look at stroke production, Henman just doesn't have anywhere near the genius (touch, angles, athletisicsm, reflexes...etc.) that Mac routinely displayed. Though at times impressive, no one has ever marvelled at any of these traits from Henman.

The Gorilla
12-01-2006, 05:24 PM
Putting Henman in the same level of McEnroe, is like saying a Honda Accord will do the same things as a Porsche 911. Sure, both will get you from point A to point B, but....... come on.

Ask non tennis fans who Henman is, then ask who is McEnroe.

well that's probably because mcenroe was lucky enough to come into his prime just before the people realized what you could do with these new graphite racquets,how to change their playing styles etc...,how they could hit shots at pace that would land right on a volleyers toes,not to mention the improvement in returning as players no longer had to heave heavy racquets up to meet the ball they had a lot more time to give the ball a much better return,I know serves have improved hugely to but it's the speed at which the return comes in that's killed serving ad volleying off.

Have to agree with Littlelvis. Henman is (was) a nice player but just has never come close to being the DOMINANT player that Mac was. Even if you strictly look at stroke production, Henman just doesn't have anywhere near the genius (touch, angles, athletisicsm, reflexes...etc.) that Mac routinely displayed. Though at times impressive, no one has ever marvelled at any of these traits from Henman.

Henman,if we're being honest with ourselves has got the same touch and reflexes as mcenroe,I take it by athleticism you mean agility at the net?if so henman has that as well.It's just too bad,and I mean this sincerely,that touch,speed agility and on court intelligence aren't enough anymore.How could henman be dominant in todays game,with these slow surfaces and space age racquet materials?Even wimbledon's playing slow these days.It was lendls misfortune not to be playing today,with the newly predictable bounces of wimbledon,he could win from the baseline for sure.

LttlElvis
12-01-2006, 05:46 PM
Henman,if we're being honest with ourselves has got the same touch and reflexes as mcenroe,I take it by athleticism you mean agility at the net?if so henman has that as well.It's just too bad,and I mean this sincerely,that touch,speed agility and on court intelligence aren't enough anymore.How could henman be dominant in todays game,with these slow surfaces and space age racquet materials?Even wimbledon's playing slow these days.It was lendls misfortune not to be playing today,with the newly predictable bounces of wimbledon,he could win from the baseline for sure.

I respectfully disagree with your Henman being equal to McEnroe. Henman just has nothing skillwise compared to Mac. Not one stroke. Therefore, the whole premise of Henman's losing to players with current technology just does not fly.

McEnroe also had a lot of other intangible assets, including heart and intimidation.

Even present day McEnroe is impressive. How does a 47 yr old still be able to play ATP doubles? Even in the Champions tour he impresses. (OK, it is retired players). But he is a guy closer to 50 competing with guys in their early and mid 30s, like Courier, Goran, and Todd Martin.

The Gorilla
12-01-2006, 05:52 PM
much as I love the way mcenroe plays(ed) the game,it annoys me when people say he could still play today in singles,it's just pathetic to watch him play because he just can't seem to break into a sprint and get to the net or run fast enought to defend from the baseline,he can play doubles however as he doesn't have to run while serving or volleying,having the best (doubles) players in the world qeueing up to play with you helps too!

OrangeOne
12-01-2006, 06:06 PM
Seems this thread wants to morph a little into "who would you have play one match if your life depended on it (and they knew that)" ;).

For me: Hewitt, Hewitt, Hewitt, Federer, Lendl...in that order.

Yup - I know Federer is a *much* better player than Hewitt, but if there was someone with their neck on a chopping block at the side of a court, the fighting-bull-terrier that is Hewitt would be who I'd go for! (just look at his Davis Cup record).

In fairness I haven't just taken a random quality serve and volleyer,I've taken tim henman,a player who is just as good a serve and volleyer as mcenroe.

He isn't. If TH was as good as McEnroe, he'd have a W title to his name. As I write this, there's a Rafter commercial on, and he was a better S&Ver than Henman (by a long shot), and even he couldn't get a W title.

The Gorilla
12-01-2006, 06:28 PM
He isn't. If TH was as good as McEnroe, he'd have a W title to his name. As I write this, there's a Rafter commercial on, and he was a better S&Ver than Henman (by a long shot), and even he couldn't get a W title.

no he wouldn't have a w title to his name,that's the whole point,with todays slow surfaces and souped up racquets,incredible speed,touch,agility and on court intelligence aren't enough anymore, who knows,hopefully they'll start speeding the surfaces up as apparently the sport is declining in popularity.I've just thought of something just now as I type this article,there's a clay court season in the mediteranean,the other half of the year is the hard cort season of america,why don't they change it to one third clay court in the mediteranean,1/3 hard court in the usa,and 1/3 grass court season in britain?that'd be deadly:)
ps:I've just thouht of something else,could a major contributary factor to the plague of injuries to modern tennis players have anything to do with the fact that as they've slowed down the hard courts hugely,people are playing longer points on concrete?all those jolting steps on concrete aren't good for your joints,in the same way as vibration travels up your arm from the racquet,I'd say vibration from the hard,non shock absorbing hard courts of the us travel up your legs.just a thought,feel free to tell me if/why I'm wrong,or agree.

OrangeOne
12-01-2006, 06:35 PM
no he wouldn't have a w title to his name,that's the whole point,

To run with my point:

1. Rafter *very almost* scored himself a Wimbledon title.
2. I believe McEnroe was probably a better (in his day) S&Ver than Rafter (most would).

3. Therefore, if Henman was better than McEnroe, he'd also be better than Rafter, and better than Rafter would equal a Wimbledon title (or at least a W final or two like Rafter....

one third clay court in the mediteranean,1/3 hard court in the usa,and 1/3 grass court season in britain?

Australia and the *rest of the world!* thanks you for not offering us...anything! ;)

all those jolting steps on concrete aren't good for your joints

You're probably right. But don't forget every argument has a flipside - and people have much "surer" footing on hardcourts, so at least are less-liable to have slipping-injuries. I still agree with your point, however....

haerdalis
12-01-2006, 09:18 PM
Mac dominated in 84 with a graphite racquet yes, but with woodenracquet type shots. Nobody had arrived on the scene with more modern strokes at that time. Clearly mac shots and tactics were much better suited to the woodenracquet game but would not hold up in todays game. What kind of player he would have been had he been born 1981 we will never know.

dpfrazier
12-01-2006, 09:57 PM
Lendl was dominating Mac for awhile, until Mac started attacking down the middle instead of hitting approach shots to the corners (per a suggestion to Mac from Don Budge.) This cut down Lendl's angles for passing shots, and Mac ate him up after that.

This type of attack might work on Fed as well. It would certainly make it harder to hit all those sick angles Fed seems to find...

P.S. Nice thread! Lots of fervent discussion, and no name-calling/flames...

KFwinds
12-01-2006, 10:03 PM
Sorry, Gorilla - there is NO comparison between Tim Henman and Johnny Mac. They are both S&V'ers, and that's where the similarities end.

OrangeOne
12-01-2006, 10:14 PM
Lendl was dominating Mac for awhile, until Mac started attacking down the middle instead of hitting approach shots to the corners (per a suggestion to Mac from Don Budge.) This cut down Lendl's angles for passing shots, and Mac ate him up after that.

I'm a bit confused by your comments there dp? Lendl won 11 of their last 12 encounters (well, 10 of 11 if you discount the one not played). It doesn't seem Mc was able to consistently eat Lendl up based on that stat (or the career h2h of Lendl 21 - 15 McEnroe)....

dpfrazier
12-01-2006, 10:50 PM
I'm a bit confused by your comments there dp? Lendl won 11 of their last 12 encounters (well, 10 of 11 if you discount the one not played). It doesn't seem Mc was able to consistently eat Lendl up based on that stat (or the career h2h of Lendl 21 - 15 McEnroe)....
This was in '83, when Lendl had beaten Mac 7 straight times. Then Mac switched to a down-the-middle strategy, and went on an 8-0 run (until Lendl beat him in the '84 French). After that, Mac dominated the rest of '84, beating Lendl numerous times, and then faded away in '85, during which no tennis strategy could counteract the dreaded Tatum Effect...!

OrangeOne
12-01-2006, 10:55 PM
This was in '83, when Lendl had beaten Mac 7 straight times. Then Mac switched to a down-the-middle strategy, and went on an 8-0 run (until Lendl beat him in the '84 French). After that, Mac dominated the rest of '84, beating Lendl numerous times, and then faded away in '85, during which no tennis strategy could counteract the dreaded Tatum Effect...!

I see. (and from looking at the records, still, no 8-0 run for McEnroe against Lendl - there was a final loss that broke it up. Picky I guess....)

http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/headtohead/?player1=mcenroe%2C+john&player2=lendl

dpfrazier
12-01-2006, 11:38 PM
I see. (and from looking at the records, still, no 8-0 run for McEnroe against Lendl - there was a final loss that broke it up. Picky I guess....)

http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/headtohead/?player1=mcenroe%2C+john&player2=lendl

Picky, perhaps, but correct...

Mac must have forgotten that match. In his book, he mentions the 8-0 run, starting with the PHI Indoor...

slice bh compliment
12-02-2006, 04:31 AM
Seems this thread wants to morph a little into "who would you have play one match if your life depended on it (and they knew that)" ;)......

Whoa. Can you guys imagine a weekend of Hewitt versus Connors and Pancho Gonzales vs Federer? Blood on the streets.

Then winners play winner the next weekend.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 05:16 AM
To run with my point:

1. Rafter *very almost* scored himself a Wimbledon title.
2. I believe McEnroe was probably a better (in his day) S&Ver than Rafter (most would).

3. Therefore, if Henman was better than McEnroe, he'd also be better than Rafter, and better than Rafter would equal a Wimbledon title (or at least a W final or two like Rafter.....

well henman really should have beaten ivanisavic the year ivanisavic won,he probably would have beaten rafter in the final too,I never said henman was better than mcenroe,I said as good as mcenroe.Also when tim henman came into his prime the drip drip effect of the year on year increase in the size of the balls was just starting to have a noticable effects.


Mac dominated in 84 with a graphite racquet yes, but with woodenracquet type shots. Nobody had arrived on the scene with more modern strokes at that time. Clearly mac shots and tactics were much better suited to the woodenracquet game but would not hold up in todays game. What kind of player he would have been had he been born 1981 we will never know.

that's exactly what I was trying to say,tim henman also has a graphite racquet and plays with wooden racquet type strokes,and even the exceptional skill,speed,agility at the net and on court intelligence that tim henman,mcenroe and there ilk have,it just isn't going to win you 6 out of ten points against a very powerful baseliner who likes a target,eg tursunov or federer.I mean,mcenroe was having trouble with borgs wooden racquet passing shots for gods sake!

MordredSJT
12-02-2006, 09:28 AM
Am I the only one who saw Andy Roddick get match points against Federer in Shanghai using an attacking game that I would call rudimentary at best? Roddick obviously has more firepower from the baseline and his serve is bigger, but he is right handed and everytime he hits an approach or a volley I cringe (in fact I only remember one really good approach shot that Roddick hit all day).

Am I also the only one that noticed that Federer started missing what are usually routine passes for him when Roddick kept coming to net over and over again?

I can't fathom how anyone could have watched that match and still think that McEnroe at the very peak of his powers would be blown off the court by Federer. It would be close.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 09:51 AM
mcenroe is nothing like roddick as a player,he's more like tim henman,who got to some mickey mouse atp final recently,tried to serve and volley against federer but got hammered.

MordredSJT
12-02-2006, 10:03 AM
I'm sorry...but Tim Henman is not in the same league as John McEnroe. Simply repeating it over and over is not going to make it so.

I brought up the Roddick match not necessarily to compare McEnroe to Roddick. It merely illustrates that Federer is more vulnerable to a relentless attacking, pressuring, net oriented game than a lot of people seem to think. Roddick was merely employing the gameplan that some past champions said they would use against Federer (Laver and Sampras)...attack, attack, attack. It almost worked, and Roddick's net game is awful.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 10:26 AM
roddicks net game is not awful,he has excellent reflexes,positions himself perfectly,(the reason he used to lose all his points at the net,((I winced when I saw him hit a deep approach shot to the corner and then stand at the centre of the net against federer at wimbledon)),and hits the ball at wide angles with pace and slice at the earliest opportunity.Coming in behind 140mph serves helps too lol.mcenroe's serves didn't have that kind of pace,and he didn't have any weapons from the baseline apart from consistency.He's(roddick) a similar prospect at the net to sampras.
if you look at mcenroe and henmans respective strengths and weaknesses,you'll see that they are pretty much the same player.Your arguement amounts to nothin more than a bald statement of opinion,mine is backed up with explanation and reason.I am not simply saying that henman was as good as mcenroe over and over,I'm just restating the points I made in my second post to refute your poorly thought out objections to my conclusion.Before anyone who's thinking of taking this further posts,take a look at my second and third posts,(the really long ones),where I outlined my position and explained the logic behind my conlusion.Much as it pains you all to admit it,in the cold hard light of day,henman is as good as mcenroe,and mcenroe wouldn't beat federer.Apologies in writing please:)

Zimbo
12-02-2006, 10:27 AM
Mac won 13 events in 1984.
4 of them without dropping a set.
Won titles on 4 different surfaces-carpet,clay,grass,hard

Went 6-1 vs Lendl that year(5 of the 6 wins were in straight sets. He beat Lendl on twice on clay, 3 times on carpet, & once on hardcourt)

He was 3-0 vs Wilander(including a win on clay)

He was 6-0 vs Connors(4 were in straight sets, 2 on hard, 2 on grass, once on clay, once on carpet)

Good point. However, his win against Wilander on clay was a best out of three set contest in the Davis Cup after Swenden already cliched the cup. That said Mac was the man in '84. Can he beat Fed if both played their best. Maybe sometimes but i think Fed would beat him most of the time. Mac always had problems with players who had a lot of power.

bluegrasser
12-02-2006, 10:30 AM
Are you guys for real? This must be a joke. Johnny Mac had good touch around the net and that was really it. Average serve, less than average power and the biggest mouth in the game. Not even racquet technology would help his power game.

Just touch, how about genius and there's 7 slams I think to go on his resume.

snapple
12-02-2006, 01:47 PM
Gorilla, you remind me of someone on the debate team in school who has been assigned to argue a clearly untenable position. Often I feel that folks on these sites enjoy playing devils advocate merely for the sake of a spirited arguement or to hone their debating skills.

And just because you have presented a coherent case does NOT necessarily mean it has any merit. There must be a reason why Mac is considered one of the top two or three S&V players of all time while TH is barely a footnote in tennis history. And please, this whole business about racket tecnology and slower courts does not account for the giant disparity in their respective statures. For me it is hard to envison Henman even taking a set against a peak level Mac, much less ever putting them on the same pedastool.

OrangeOne
12-02-2006, 02:10 PM
Gorilla, you remind me of someone on the debate team in school who has been assigned to argue a clearly untenable position. Often I feel that folks on these sites enjoy playing devils advocate merely for the sake of a spirited arguement or to hone their debating skills.

And just because you have presented a coherent case does NOT necessarily mean it has any merit.

Ahhh - agreed. The only thing you may be missing is a significant element of (bias-inducing) patriotism - perhaps Gorilla is british? I can't go on much, but from this one bit (perspective AND phrasing, i think there's a chance...)

there's a clay court season in the mediteranean,the other half of the year is the hard cort season of america,why don't they change it to one third clay court in the mediteranean,1/3 hard court in the usa,and 1/3 grass court season in britain?that'd be deadly:)

As for....

in regard to volleys,henman,edurg etc are just as good,so he wsn't the best at them.best lefty first serve has to go to ivansavic,you say you like his match up versus federer,why federer of all players?his passing shots would give mcenroe a lot more trouble than borgs or connors,and lendl had a winning record over mcenroe,which indicates that mcenroe coudn't handle those big groundstrokes,which feder hits about as well as lendl did,(by the way,why is lendl never metioned in these best of all time posts?,he was just as good as federer from the baseline,got to three wimbledon finals serving and volleying,wich is pretty damn impressive seeing as he was never given credit for being an all court player,even if he was an a--h-le,these things shouldn't be tured into favourite player of all time awards).Anyway,the point is,it was a fair,and dare I say it,brilliant comparison.Apologies in writing please:)

How about, umm, err... "spelling please?" Edurg? Ivansavic?

For the record - Lendl isn't given enough credit for his grass abilities, you're right on that front. But you've given him too much credit - he made 2 W finals not three. Federer is much better than Lendl from the baseline imho, and I was a big Lendl fan (the difference is mostly due to the change in the way the game is played, and technology & strings that allow incredible spin, etc).

Lendl isn't mentioned in the GOAT discussions often (well, not for position 1, anyways) due to the lack of slams in comparison with Sampras. He was a more complete surface-player than Pete (he was much better on grass than Pete was on clay), but Pete won many more majors, it's that simple. If you're to wonder why Lendl doesn't get the comparison, also wonder about Agassi, who actually did complete the career-slam....

BUT please stop wondering about TH being in the same league as McEnroe (or Rafter, for that matter). It just isn't so...

TonyB
12-02-2006, 02:13 PM
It strikes me that several people who have posted opinions in this thread regarding Johnny Mac and Tim "I've Never Won Anything" Henman have quite probably NEVER seen either of these two ever play a single match.

LttlElvis
12-02-2006, 02:57 PM
A lot of the debate against McEnroe here is how he couldn't defend against stronger players of today with their better racquets and strings. You need to think of it the other way around too.

Now can you just imagine McEnroe at his prime with this technology. Of course. His serve would be faster and more spin. His volleys would be crisper. (Imagine that). And more pace on his ground strokes. I think the biggest factor would be the improvement on his serves and volleys, which were perhaps the best combo at the time. I cannot think of anyone since McEnroe who has the intimidating wide ad court serve and put away volley, and do it so consistently.

As was mentioned already, some people thought McEnroe had too much of an advantage because he was left handed, and they suggested rule changes to have lefties start on the ad side. You never here that anymore, but this was one of the factors that made him one of the greatest players ever.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 03:06 PM
I'm not british,I'm irish,'nuff said about that.The only reason I suggested britain was because generally speaking these court surface seasons tend to be played in particular regions and because it is the home of wimbledon,and because I could jump on a ryanair flight to some of these games for a few cents.I just think it's a shame that there is no grasscourt season any more,just the odd davis cup game and two or three tournaments.I think australian open should change back to grass.Tim henman is as good as mcenroe,in litreally every way,he has all the same talents,indeed,with todays racquets and power baseline generation it's just as much of an achievement for him to have gotten to the french semi's as it was for mcenroe to get to that final.If you look at it purely objectionally you see that they are pretty much equal in every regard:breathtaking touch at the net,blinding speed and excellent serves which,while not the biggest of their day are are guaranteed to throw a high number of aces and are difficult to deal with,perfect for serve and volleyers.Heman has shown himself to be just as adept at controlling the net as mcenroe,they are two hugely talented individuals,I am not comparing mcenroe unfavourably to him,I think it's fairly obvious that had henman been born 10-15 years earlier he would have a few grand slams under his belt.
But he wasn't.And I'm not fighting his corner or whatever the impression is that I've given you,I just think that mcenroe,as he was pretty much exactly the same player,exactly the same prospect to play,I think we can see how mcenroe would have fared today.I mean,he had a lot of trouble with borgs passing shots,he had even more trouble with lendl's,how do you think he would have fared against the sheer power of tursunov?I saw him play federer a while back,federer figured he'd finish the game quicker at the net,so 3 times he played a deep slice backhand approach.3 times he was passed.I think that,as hard as it is to admit it,there is no was he would have the same impact today as he had in his eighties heyday.

ps:I don't want to get into a debate about lendl on this thread,if you want to start a thread about lendl I'd be happy to contribute but for now lets stick with mcenroe.
pps:sorry about the spelling,I'm mildly dyxlexic and my computer spellcheck can't handle tennis players surnames to well so I just have to do my best.Doesn't really have any bearing on what I'm saying either does it?It strikes me as a little bit petty to raise that up to try and undermine my argument.

Colpo
12-02-2006, 03:22 PM
Gorilla, I have to hand it to you, every good thread needs a foil, and your continued insistence that Henman is as good as John McEnroe both strains credulity AND adds some needed spice to the topic. Will you at least concede that you're alone in this opinion, and that even Henman himself would have a good, self-deprecating chuckle at the comparison? Yes, we're comparing across eras, but we're talking the difference between multiple singles and doubles Slams and ... NONE on Henman's side. If anything, whatever Henman HAS ACHIEVED with a fraction of Mac's talent just goes to show how this style, when elevated to Mac's levels, would compete very tough today. Thanks for sticking to your guns though.

Re: Lendl's as GOAT, he gets zero credit for any talent, he was all about dominance and acquired skill. That's why people easily forget him despite his owning the men's tour for several years a clip at TWO different career stages (sandwiching Mac's Koufax years). All the GOAT candidates, and I like Mac on his best day, combined inate talent with Slam results. Don't blame me - that's just how the conversation goes down.

Henman is Mayotte, not Mac!

OrangeOne
12-02-2006, 03:32 PM
pps:sorry about the spelling,I'm mildly dyxlexic and my computer spellcheck can't handle tennis players surnames to well so I just have to do my best.Doesn't really have any bearing on my argument either does it?It strikes me as a little bit petty to raise that up to try and undermine my argument.

You have my apologies. Too many people talk crap about people they don't know, have never seen, and not even being able to spell their names - that's sometimes a clue. Too many other people talk crap in general and expect people to read their garbled BS posts because they're too lazy to write properly / don't take the time to spell check. Nonetheless, you have my apologies. Thanks for taking the time to care about spelling as much as you can, if only others did....

I'm not british,I'm irish,nuff said about that.

Y'see - that was almost my real guess - all based on the use of the word 'deadly' :). I've lived in both Britain & Ireland, and guessed the Ireland on that but the Britain on the Wimbledon preference.

The only reason I suggested britain was because generally speaking these court surface seasons tend to be played in particular regions and because it is the home of wimbledon,and because I could jump on a ryanair flight to some of these games for a few cents.I just think it's a shame that there is no grasscourt season any more,just the odd davis cup game and two or three tournaments.I think australian open should change back to grass.

Fair enough, I disagree, but fair enough. Biggest problem with grass in my humble opinion? It's not played on at club level anymore - it's just too expensive to maintain (well, in Australia, and we have good conditions for it). Most clubs struggle to pay for resurfacing as it is (with Synthetic Grass or Hardcourt) and those surfaces are only an every five or ten year expense. Grass? Requires probably a full-time curator. I know of only 1 or 2 major real-grass clubs in East-Coast Australia....

Then - there's the playability. Has to be covered in the rain, or it's useless for hours afterwards. Synth grass - hey - it's not my fave surface at all, but you can be on it only minutes or an hour or two after rain (even during it if it's only light).

So - grass isn't practical at the club level, therefore it's not as relevant. I love W being grass, but don't think 1/4 or 1/3rd of the year should be on a surface no-one can afford to play on!

Tim henman is as good as mcenroe,in litreally every way,he has all the same talents,indeed,with todays racquets and power baseline generation it's just as much of an achievement for him to have gotten to the french semi's as it was for mcenroe to get to that final.If you look at it purely objectionally you see that they are pretty much equal in every regard:breathtaking touch at the net,blinding speed and excellent serves which,while not the biggest of their day are are guaranteed to throw a high number of aces and are difficult to deal with,perfect for serve and volleyers.Heman has shown himself to be just as adept at controlling the net as mcenroe,they are two hugely talented individuals,I am not comparing mcenroe unfavourably to him,I think it's fairly obvious that had henman been born 10-15 years earlier he would have a few grand slams under his belt.

Rafter is a Serve & Volleyer, from the same era as Henman (two years older, turned pro two years earlier, was even beaten at W by Henman once in 98!).... made MUCH more of Serve & Volleying than Henman ever did. In the same Era. My contention for you is still that Rafter is better than Henman, and Rafter is not nearly as good as McEnroe. Hence:

McEnroe (much better than) > Rafter (much better than) > Henman

Rafter has two GS wins and two GS finals, any one of those four results is better than Henman ever managed! Both S&V players, both playing in the same era, neither massive off the ground (maybe Rafter bigger off the ground than Henman, but still).

there is no was he (McEnroe) would have the same impact today as he had in eighties heyday.

Correct. But would he have had the impact of say, at least Rafter? Yes.

ps:I don't want to get into a debate about lendl on this thread,if you want to start a thread about lendl I'd be happy to contribute but for now lets stick with mcenroe.

I have, a while ago: Would Lendl have won a W in today's conditions? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=88499&highlight=lendl)

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 04:23 PM
rafter was a beast,henman and mcenroe are weedy but make up for it in the touch department.Rafter was a different kettle of fish to mcenroe,he wasn't the same player at all,and by the way,if rafter was just coming on the scene now,I don't think he would be nearly as successful as he was in the 90's.Mcenroe suffered from the same problems as graphite racquets prospered and the game changed as henman has suffered.Tennis is no longer a game,it's a sport.It is now a physical battle as well as a contest of skill.Henman's fast,mcenroe's fast,henman's an incredible volleyer,so was mcenroe,henman has an excellent serve,not a dominant one but far higher than average,so did mcenroe,rafter was a beast,so was mcenroe.Oh,wait a minute,he wasn't!he was in fact less than 12 stone and never darkened the doors of a gym in his life.You have to admit,there is no place for that type of player in the finals of any grandslam anymore.I remember watching in amazement in '92 as mcenroe seemed to turn back the clock,seeing the draw against agassi in the semi's and mentally pencilling him into the final.Agassi had a crap serve,easily jumped on for the patented macattack giving mcenroe a license to live at the net,he also had HUGE,dmitry tursunov-like groundstrokes,and unfortunately for the spectators,for mcenroe,for tennis
itself,mcenroe's reflexes and touch just weren't enough.It was like groundhog day watching henman against tursunov,the game of tennis has changed,literally.DIfferent attributes are now required to win.Mcenroes talent would ensure that he was a presence in todays game,but never a champion.

Amone
12-02-2006, 04:28 PM
A lot of the debate against McEnroe here is how he couldn't defend against stronger players of today with their better racquets and strings. You need to think of it the other way around too.

Now can you just imagine McEnroe at his prime with this technology. Of course. His serve would be faster and more spin. His volleys would be crisper. (Imagine that). And more pace on his ground strokes. I think the biggest factor would be the improvement on his serves and volleys, which were perhaps the best combo at the time. I cannot think of anyone since McEnroe who has the intimidating wide ad court serve and put away volley, and do it so consistently.

As was mentioned already, some people thought McEnroe had too much of an advantage because he was left handed, and they suggested rule changes to have lefties start on the ad side. You never here that anymore, but this was one of the factors that made him one of the greatest players ever.

Just think, Elvis-- you don't have to imagine it: BAM! Senior Tour videos can be gotten off the interwebs with a quick google search, and a bittorrent client! :D

Mick
12-02-2006, 04:30 PM
about the Henman vs McEnroe comparison, Henman never had that aura of invincibility but McEnroe did for a time, just like Federer has right now.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 04:31 PM
actually,mcenroe played 'til 92 so you could see the improvement back then.His serve was considerably bigger,he was hitting as hard as 130mph,and his volleys were crisper,unfortunately it just wasn't enough in the face of the onslought of power baseliners.

The Gorilla
12-02-2006, 04:34 PM
about the Henman vs McEnroe comparison, Henman never had that aura of invincibility but McEnroe did for a time, just like Federer has right now.

I have explained,(sigh),exhaustively,why henman does not have that aura of invincability.It is because the surfaces are slower,the balls are bigger and therefore slower,and the increased importance of a phsical presence.

OrangeOne
12-02-2006, 04:56 PM
It's clear, Gorilla, that nothing will change your opinion. That's ok I guess, everyone's entitled to an opinion, but equally, everyone's entitled to be wrong.

I'm yet to see *anyone* agree with you that Henman is as good a serve & volleyer as McEnroe was, I, like most, feel McEnroe is simply a better player (who had better tenacity & a greater will to win, not just more talent & better results!).

So the ball's in your court, so to speak. Totally your decision:
- Stick with your opinion, and know that it's unique
- Think about changing it, given that many people who have interest and knowledge in the same area as you all seem to confidently disagree.

Either way, it's time for me to duck out of this one, as nothing is going to change your stance, and I disagree with it. Thanks for posting in the Lendl thread, good to know 80% of voters think he could have pulled a W or two in the current conditions.

LttlElvis
12-02-2006, 07:51 PM
OK, now it makes sense. Gorilla is from the U.K. That's why he is defending Henman so much. But now that is understandable.

It's OK. Because we in the U.S., defend McEnroe. (at least his skills). I just have been mystified how anyone can think McEnroe and Henman have equal skills. But a fan's love for his countryman is explainable. Henman is a good guy and it is easy to see why the U.K. loves him.

And by the way. As far as tennis skills, Henman doesn't even come close to McEnroe's level. LOL.

OrangeOne
12-02-2006, 08:03 PM
OK, now it makes sense. Gorilla is from the U.K. That's why he is defending Henman so much. But now that is understandable.

It's OK. Because we in the U.S., defend McEnroe. (at least his skills). I just have been mystified how anyone can think McEnroe and Henman have equal skills. But a fan's love for his countryman is explainable. Henman is a good guy and it is easy to see why the U.K. loves him.

And by the way. As far as tennis skills, Henman doesn't even come close to McEnroe's level. LOL.

But i'm not in the UK or US. I'm in Australia, and I'm happy to admit McEnroe was yards in front of both Henman & Rafter. I don't feel the need to put patriotism in front of judgement, partially because I don't even really believe in it!

joe sch
12-04-2006, 11:34 AM
Are you guys for real? This must be a joke. Johnny Mac had good touch around the net and that was really it. Average serve, less than average power and the biggest mouth in the game. Not even racquet technology would help his power game.

Average serve ?
His lefty hook often did not even need his volley putaways.
His S/V combination was one of the most effective weapons in tennis, ever.
Tough to support such a poor sport and dirty mouth.

Colpo
12-04-2006, 01:15 PM
Average serve ?
His lefty hook often did not even need his volley putaways.
His S/V combination was one of the most effective weapons in tennis, ever.
Tough to support such a poor sport and dirty mouth.

You said it, Joe. I recall how so many of Mac's first volleys were not so much "volleys" but essentially bunts into an open court, so effective was his serve to both the ad and the deuce. I think the best analogy is to think of a doubles net player whose partner is a strong server, and all the net player has to do is just contact the weak return for a clean winner. Mac would basically set up himself with his amazing serve, and with his quickness and court sense, he'd be in perfect position to contact a winning volley again and again. You still see shards of that one-two punch in Mac's Seniors matches - now imagine him in his prime today. There I go, convincing myself of my own point again ...

krosero
12-04-2006, 11:21 PM
I wish people would stop harping on Lendl's "power" being more than Mac could handle.
Mac completely dominated Lendl '83/'84(after being dominated by Lendl around '82)
Mac then went on a 6 month sabatical, married a crazy movie star, had kids, dabbled in drugs & returned to tour as a part time player. Lendl's game did not change at all in that time for the better, Mac's just turned for the worst. Imagine Federer taking 6 months off to do coke & coming back to a Roddick dominated tour. Thats sort of what happened.
Mac never fully dedictated himself to the game from that point on, so I wouldn't draw too many conslusions about the game passing him by, though a Becker type player was certainly an evolution of the game that Mac may have never solved, had he been fully dedicated(but not a Lendl)True, I would not say that Mac couldn't handle Lendl's power. He beat Lendl in '89, one of Lendl's best years, on carpet in the WCT Finals (a close four-set match).

Also you mention Becker as the type of player Mac might not have solved ... but Mac knew how to play against Becker. That Davis Cup match in '87, they were neck-and-neck for 58 games, and Mac was up two sets to one -- only then his endurance failed him. Maybe he might peter out against Federer after 58 games at Wimbledon, but maybe not.

Becker was a modern power player, and Mac knew how to play him (his stamina just wasn't good).

civic
12-04-2006, 11:53 PM
A lot of the debate against McEnroe here is how he couldn't defend against stronger players of today with their better racquets and strings. You need to think of it the other way around too.

Now can you just imagine McEnroe at his prime with this technology. Of course. His serve would be faster and more spin. His volleys would be crisper. (Imagine that). And more pace on his ground strokes. I think the biggest factor would be the improvement on his serves and volleys, which were perhaps the best combo at the time. I cannot think of anyone since McEnroe who has the intimidating wide ad court serve and put away volley, and do it so consistently.


I think one of the reasons McEnroe became so vulnerable in the late '80's was that the game was changing, and his game was not able to withstand the new spin/power play. That's probably why he could lose to the likes of Haarhuis.

skuludo
12-05-2006, 12:30 AM
McEnroe is capable of playing in this era. His technique will be a bit different.

Also he played in somthing called SuperSet playing a player from this era. Smoked him I believe 6-0.

Has McEnroe's forehand and backhand changed now?

I have never seen the 46 year old McEnroe play.

jamumafa
12-05-2006, 02:50 AM
Also he played in somthing called SuperSet playing a player from this era. Smoked him I believe 6-0.


That was Andy Murray.

PimpMyGame
12-05-2006, 10:09 AM
Mac was the best player of his era. His game however could not compete with today's power play. He was the last great tennis player before bigger graphite rackets and bigger players fused together to give us Becker. That guy's got a lot to answer for...

dman72
12-05-2006, 11:57 AM
Mac dominated in 84 with a graphite racquet yes, but with woodenracquet type shots. Nobody had arrived on the scene with more modern strokes at that time. Clearly mac shots and tactics were much better suited to the woodenracquet game but would not hold up in todays game. What kind of player he would have been had he been born 1981 we will never know.

Pretty much ends the discussion.

krosero
12-05-2006, 12:31 PM
Mac was the best player of his era. His game however could not compete with today's power play. He was the last great tennis player before bigger graphite rackets and bigger players fused together to give us Becker. That guy's got a lot to answer for...I would agree that McEnroe did not like facing powerful players. But what do make of his Davis Cup match with Becker in '87, which Becker won 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2? They both were extremely motivated, and Mac seems to have run out of gas, rather than being overpowered in the first three sets.

Moose Malloy
12-05-2006, 01:39 PM
I would agree that McEnroe did not like facing powerful players. But what do make of his Davis Cup match with Becker in '87, which Becker won 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2? They both were extremely motivated, and Mac seems to have run out of gas, rather than being overpowered in the first three sets.

Check out the rest of the head-to-head, most matches weren't that close, Mac had some serious problems with the Becker power. Heck, Lendl had some serious problems with the Becker power, it was unprecedented.

think one of the reasons McEnroe became so vulnerable in the late '80's was that the game was changing, and his game was not able to withstand the new spin/power play. That's probably why he could lose to the likes of Henri Leconte at USO ('89

Mac did not lose to Leconte in 1989. I don't think he ever lost to Leconte.
The reason Mac declined post 1985 was that he hardly played post 1985.
Its not like the guy was losing to Becker or Lendl every week, he hardly played those guys.
He was losing slam matches to Masur, Woodforde, Haarhuis, Annacone. Hardly power players. Mac's issues were mental(considering his wife, understandable that he wasn't focused on tennis) not physical.

I think he may have struggled with playing Lendl, Becker, Edberg back to back, but we'll never know since he wasn't decicated enough to keep his ranking high enough so he could play them in finals, semis, etc.
There was no reason he couldn't have stayed at least a top 5 player throughout the 80s(much older Connors stayed in the top 10, how come the game didn't pass him by?)

borg number one
09-20-2009, 11:45 AM
On a given day, when McEnroe was playing his very best, it would be difficult for anyone to beat him. The same holds true for many of the all time greats, but McEnroe is certainly unique in that his talent level did not produce more GS titles. Perhaps he lost some of his fire as Borg went away, and he was left with Connors, who he did not get along with at all. That probably put a damper on his spirits somewhat, but that's just a theory.

hoodjem
09-20-2009, 12:49 PM
Mac's 3 losses in 1984 were odd ones.

Benhur
09-20-2009, 07:42 PM
I wish people would stop harping on Lendl's "power" being more than Mac could handle.
Mac completely dominated Lendl '83/'84(after being dominated by Lendl around '82)
Mac then went on a 6 month sabatical, married a crazy movie star, had kids, dabbled in drugs & returned to tour as a part time player. Lendl's game did not change at all in that time for the better, Mac's just turned for the worst. Imagine Federer taking 6 months off to do coke & coming back to a Roddick dominated tour. Thats sort of what happened.


This is way off, Moose, and the worst part, the most insulting part, is suggesting that Ivan Lendl was the Roddick of the 80s.

The first interesting detail to notice is that, even though 83-84 was McEnroe's best period, and 1984 was, in terms of winning percentage and domination, the strongest year by any player in the open era, he still dropped the number 1 spot to Lendl 5 times during that period (3 of them in 1984) for a total of 32 weeks.

1983
Feb. 28 to May 16
Oct 31 to Dec 12

1984
Jan 9 to March 12
June 11 to June 18
July 9 to August 13

By comparison, once Federer reached the number 1 spot in February 2004, he kept it until August 2008, and during all those years nobody was even close to taking it away. This is not meant to undermine Mac’s achievements in 1984, but to suggest that on a week in week out basis there was someone performing almost as well as him. And that person was Lendl. Strong as Nadal was after 05, he never managed anything close to that during Federer's best years -- let alone Roddick!! !!

The truth is that Federer’s record is overwhelmingly superior to McEnroe's. And even if you reduced the whole thing to one year, Federer’s 2005 is virtually the same winning % as Mac’s 84. The difference is that Federer had three additional years almost as good (or even better if you consider he won 3 of the 4 majors in 04, 06, and 07).

Now to the second part. You may be tired of people suggesting that McEnroe could not handle Lendl’s power. Well, you better get used to getting tired of these suggestions, because he certainly couldn’t handle Lendl for the great majority of their careers, except 83-84. That’s two years out of the 12 they played. And the problem is not reduced to the period after his supposed self-induced demise. He could not handle him in 81-82 either, when Lendl was a relative newcomer and Mac was well established as the top player.

For my part, I am always a bit tired of people reducing McEnroe’s career to one year and somehow suggesting that nothing else really matters. It does.

You say that “then [he] went on a 6 month sabatical, married a crazy movie star, had kids, dabbled in drugs & returned to tour as a part time player” and that “Mac never fully dedictated himself to the game from that point on”

In the first place, you must keep in mind that before those hings happened, not after, Lendl beat him in straight sets at the USO final and took the number one spot from him forever.. This is an important point that fully contradicts the previous notion of a Roddick-like character sneaking onto the top after an imaginary drug sabatical by Federer.

In the second place, “dabbling in drugs” was relatively common in those days and will not necessarily cripple anyone’s game for life, as it didn’t cripple his.

But most of all, the notion that “Mac never fully dedicated himself to the game from that point on” is completely false, and you should know it. If anything, Mac made a more serious attempt at becoming fit and doing whatever it took to make it back to the top AFTER he came back, than at any time before. You yourself mentioned in another post that around 97-88 the tennis news were full with article after article on the latest McEnroe training regimes, and I know it also because I used to read those magazines at that time. It is not true at all that he never tried very hard. He tried harder than he ever had.

Someone at another thread expressed outrage that we should not count the last 15 matches between Lendl and Connors (after 84). There is some point to that, but in the case of Connors-Lendl, it seems to me justified to clip the front and back ends of their encounters because they were clearly of different generations. However, I do not believe any of this is justified in the case of Lendl-McEenroe. They were virtually the same age and played on the tour at the same for about 12 years. I remind you that Lendl dominated heavily their h2h, except during 83-84 period. Now why you want to reduce those 12 years to Mac's best 2 and forget the rest, is understandable. But not very serious for analysis.

The notion that “Lendl's game did not change at all in that time for the better” is also hard to agree with. There was an improvement after 84, and an even bigger one after 85, especially in the head department. The record shows it. Of course he wasn’t miles ahead of what he had been, he was still the same person. But by the same token, even though McEnroe’s game did drop considerably in 86, once he started training seriously to come back, his game did come back up to a level not at all far from what it had been prior to 84. And it kept progressing all the way through 89.

But really, the most astonishing part of your post is your notion that Lendl was sort of a Roddick sneaking in after a Federer imaginary slip with debauchery. You could not dream that stuff up.

krosero
09-20-2009, 08:35 PM
You may be tired of people suggesting that McEnroe could not handle Lendl’s power. Well, you better get used to getting tired of these suggestions, because he certainly couldn’t handle Lendl for the great majority of their careers, except 83-84. That’s two years out of the 12 they played.

Hey did you notice the date on Moose's post?

December 2006.

I've complained before about how threads are allowed to be revived after years of inactivity, and I've made my peace with it. It can be a good thing, in certain limited ways. But at least let's not address what someone wrote three years ago as if he wrote it yesterday.

If I see a post this old, I at least ask myself if the opinion has modified since then. I've certainly seen Moose give props to Lendl since then (he has said, in a debate between all of us, that he ranks Lendl higher than McEnroe). I have no idea whether he's "gotten used" to hearing about Lendl's power and I wouldn't presume to tell him that he needs, in the present tense, to get used to it. As I say, if years pass by you've got to think twice how you're going to restart a debate (or if it's worth restarting at all).

And you know what? You say this:

And even if you reduced the whole thing to one year, Federer’s 2005 is virtually the same winning % as Mac’s 84. The difference is that Federer had three additional years almost as good (or even better if you consider he won 3 of the 4 majors in 04, 06, and 07).

But in that same post you're replying to, Moose wrote this:

But LttlElvis makes a great point, Mac was crazy good for one year, while Fed has been crazy good for 3, so that counts for something, even in a 'what-if' matchup.

So I don't know if you read either the date or the full content of the post.

Finally, you're repeating what you said once in a debate you and I had on this: that McEnroe couldn't handle Lendl except for two of the 12 years they played (1983-84). But I'll say it again: McEnroe won the H2H in another one of those twelve seasons (1980).

borg number one
09-21-2009, 12:03 AM
I reiterate that McEnroe could have beaten any of the greats of the game on "any given day" (key phrase of this thread topic). Yet, I don't think his game would have translated as well to the current technology as say some other players such as Borg and perhaps even Lendl.

In my opinion, many overlook just how different the frames used by such players as McEnroe, Lendl, and Borg were from the frames of today. For example, his Dunlop of the 1980's is MUCH different than the most modern frames. In his prime, if he played witn say a modern, perhaps a 100 sq. inch face or so, that may have really helped his S&V game. Yet, I think that others he faced, such as Borg and Lendl, would have been even more dangerous, given their ability to play games that many top players of today simply could not match, given that Borg and Lendl would have adjusted and played very dangerously with the latest racquets. Fitness is also somewhat of a concern in McEnroe's case, but the key phrase is "on a any given day". His S&V game, when on, could have given anyone real difficulty, especially at Wimbledon, or front of his home crowd at he US Open. In terms of older players playing the greats of today,I do think Borg would have been the most dangerous, followed closely by Lendl, McEnroe/Connors. This is not open and shut debate though, as it's very tough to know for sure. The one thing I am certain of is: there's no easy answer to these questions, hence the fun of debating such issues in this forum.

big bang
09-21-2009, 02:04 AM
I bet Mac would make Fed cry:)

Benhur
09-21-2009, 06:32 AM
Hey did you notice the date on Moose's post?

December 2006.

I've complained before about how threads are allowed to be revived after years of inactivity, and I've made my peace with it. It can be a good thing, in certain limited ways. But at least let's not address what someone wrote three years ago as if he wrote it yesterday.

If I see a post this old, I at least ask myself if the opinion has modified since then. I've certainly seen Moose give props to Lendl since then (he has said, in a debate between all of us, that he ranks Lendl higher than McEnroe). I have no idea whether he's "gotten used" to hearing about Lendl's power and I wouldn't presume to tell him that he needs, in the present tense, to get used to it. As I say, if years pass by you've got to think twice how you're going to restart a debate (or if it's worth restarting at all).

My bad I didn't look at the date, as Moose's post appeared just above the new post from yesterday. Most of my comments would have been as applicable in December 06 as they are now.

On the evolution of Moose's perception of Lendl -I wasn't aware he had once been a despiser of Lendl. I myself have seen a spectacular evolution in my own perception of McEnroe and Connors. Their peronalities were so repugnant to me when they were playing that they often prevented me from frully enjoying their great tennis. Now that they have both grown more civilized, I have come to appreciate their tennis a lot more. I still think McEnroe's unearthly greatness is very exaggerated in the sense that it is so carefully constructed around one year of his career, and the presentation of his decline after that year as a kind of accident of nature. But yeat, he a great pleasure to watch. And so is Connors.

pc1
09-21-2009, 06:40 AM
My bad I didn't look at the date, as Moose's post appeared just above the new post from yesterday. Most of my comments would have been as applicable in December 06 as they are now.

On the evolution of Moose's perception of Lendl -I wasn't aware he had once been a despiser of Lendl. I myself have seen a spectacular evolution in my own perception of McEnroe and Connors. Their peronalities were so repugnant to me when they were playing that they often prevented me from frully enjoying their great tennis. Now that they have both grown more civilized, I have come to appreciate their tennis a lot more. I still think McEnroe's unearthly greatness is very exaggerated in the sense that it is so carefully constructed around one year of his career, and the presentation of his decline after that year as a kind of accident of nature. But yeat, he a great pleasure to watch. And so is Connors.

It was harder to enjoy McEnroe's great play because of his behavior. You're right.

Nowadays one of my favorite matches to watch is the 1984 semis at the US Open between Connors and Mac. What a fantastic match and such contrasting styles! Both played beautifully that day and I was amazed at the amount of times Connors passed McEnroe off the service return that match.

The movement by both players was great to watch. Super tennis.

Benhur
09-21-2009, 08:00 AM
It was harder to enjoy McEnroe's great play because of his behavior. You're right.

Nowadays one of my favorite matches to watch is the 1984 semis at the US Open between Connors and Mac. What a fantastic match and such contrasting styles! Both played beautifully that day and I was amazed at the amount of times Connors passed McEnroe off the service return that match.

The movement by both players was great to watch. Super tennis.

Great match. Who said McEnroe could not rally?
And that was at night. Then he comes back the next afternoon, looking fresh as a daisy, and dispatches Lendl in straights. Who said he was out of shape?