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View Full Version : Is there a case for Lendl being number one in 82 and 89?


David_86
06-20-2009, 08:03 AM
I'd be interested to here some opinions. The thing that gets me that even though Connors and Becker won Wimbledon and US Open in both those years there win-loss record was inferior to Lendl's. Not just slightly inferior, but vastly inferior.

If Lendl had won the US Open final, he would have been unquestionably ranked number one by every competent tennis historian for both those years.

My question is how can one match make so much difference? Think about it. If he had won that one match, he would have to be number one. No lawyer in the world would be able to make a plausible case for the other two being ahead of him. We're talking Lendl-daylight-Connors/Becker. But because he lost that one match no-one could ever bring themselves not to put Connors and Becker at the head of the pack.

Admittedly the ranking were pretty screwed up back then. McEnroe at 1 for 1982! Lendl was actually ranked 1 for 1989 although at the end of the year he said Becker deserved it (hard to imagine Becker being as complimentary about Lendl).

It's amazing how few people give Lendl credit these days. McEnroe and Cash seem to hate the guy, Becker seems to have revised tennis history (where the tennis crown is passed from McEnroe to him to Sampras). Wilander seems to be the only legend of that era who gives Lendl his due.

boris becker 1
06-20-2009, 08:08 AM
not 89 Becker won wimbledon, US Open Davis cup and the season ending masters

David_86
06-20-2009, 08:13 AM
I'm sorry for being picky, but Edberg won the Masters in 1989:)

egn
06-20-2009, 10:17 AM
82 he won a ton of small little tournaments and the masters, his major results were poor and although his overall record was outstanding it was a lot of small tournaments, he played like a workshorse but Connors should have been number 1 that year if you are going to give it to anyone he won 2 majors and had I believe 8 titles in total sure it is nothing like the 15 Lendl had but the big ones are where it is at.

Wasn't Lendl number 1 according to the ATP in 1989? He got it due to his consistency. He had the major that was what was missing from his 82 seasons. Becker only had 5 titles all year which is why he did not get it in the end, Lendl might have had only 1 major to Becker's 2 but it was his usual consistent week in and out dominance that pushed him over the edge. The difference from 82 was he had stronger major performances and actually won 1 of the majors, something lacking from 82.

CyBorg
06-20-2009, 01:07 PM
Let's look at the important wins...

For 1982:

Lendl
- wins Dallas (d McEnroe)
- wins Forrest Hills (d Dibbs)
- wins Cincinnati (d. Denton)
- wins Masters (d. McEnroe)

- fourth round exit in RG
- skips Wimbledon
- finalist at the US Open (loses to Connors)
- runner up at Monte Carlo and Toronto

Connors
- Wimbledon/US Open titles
- the closest he comes to winning a big non-slam title is Las Vegas, which is already declining in popularity

- quarterfinalist at RG
- semifinalist at the Masters
- runner up at the US Pro Indoor (Philadelphia)

For 1989:

Lendl
- wins Australian (d. Mecir)
- wins Miami (d. Muster w/o)
- wins Montreal (d. McEnroe)
* also wins Forrest Hills and Hamburg, though neither are all that important at the time

- fourth round exit in RG (Chang)
- semifinalist at Wimbledon
- finalist at the US Open (loses to Becker)
- semifinalist at the Masters

Becker
- Wimbledon/US Open titles
- wins second-consecutive Davis Cup with Germany
- wins the US Pro Indoor (Philadelphia), but it no longer gets the best draws

- runner up at the Masters, also Monte Carlo

***

You decide, but I think Becker's trifecta of Wimbledon/US Open/Davis Cup is enough to overcome Lendl in 1989. I admit that Lendl did seem like the better player who just didn't come through in some important moments.

1982 is a bit more tricky - I think a lot rides on how much value we allot for the Masters.

pmerk34
06-20-2009, 01:26 PM
Let's look at the important wins...

For 1982:

Lendl
- wins Dallas (d McEnroe)
- wins Forrest Hills (d Dibbs)
- wins Cincinnati (d. Denton)
- wins Masters (d. McEnroe)

- fourth round exit in RG
- skips Wimbledon
- finalist at the US Open (loses to Connors)
- runner up at Monte Carlo and Toronto

Connors
- Wimbledon/US Open titles
- the closest he comes to winning a big non-slam title is Las Vegas, which is already declining in popularity

- quarterfinalist at RG
- semifinalist at the Masters
- runner up at the US Pro Indoor (Philadelphia)

For 1989:

Lendl
- wins Australian (d. Mecir)
- wins Miami (d. Muster w/o)
- wins Montreal (d. McEnroe)
* also wins Forrest Hills and Hamburg, though neither are all that important at the time

- fourth round exit in RG (Chang)
- semifinalist at Wimbledon
- finalist at the US Open (loses to Becker)
- semifinalist at the Masters

Becker
- Wimbledon/US Open titles
- wins second-consecutive Davis Cup with Germany
- wins the US Pro Indoor (Philadelphia), but it no longer gets the best draws

- runner up at the Masters, also Monte Carlo

***

You decide, but I think Becker's trifecta of Wimbledon/US Open/Davis Cup is enough to overcome Lendl in 1989. I admit that Lendl did seem like the better player who just didn't come through in some important moments.

1982 is a bit more tricky - I think a lot rides on how much value we allot for the Masters.

I think if you asked the top players in 1982 the most important events it would be 1)Wimbledon 2)US Open 3)The Masters. Davis Cup would be up there so would WCT in Dallas.

CyBorg
06-20-2009, 03:04 PM
I think if you asked the top players in 1982 the most important events it would be 1)Wimbledon 2)US Open 3)The Masters. Davis Cup would be up there so would WCT in Dallas.

Roland Garros was much more important than the Masters. It was one of the 'top 3', along with Wimbledon and the US Open. The Masters would be quite far removed from these three.

jimbo333
06-20-2009, 04:46 PM
No there isn't.

(I am a fan, but no)

David_86
06-20-2009, 04:57 PM
Really? Jimbo333 (who, by the way, is on the lookout for rare Jimmy Connors rackets) doesn't think there's a case for ranking Lendl above Connors in 1982. I'll try and contain my amazement

jimbo333
06-20-2009, 05:15 PM
Really? Jimbo333 (who, by the way, is on the lookout for rare Jimmy Connors rackets) doesn't think there's a case for ranking Lendl above Connors in 1982. I'll try and contain my amazement

See above.

(I am a Lendl fan though)

pmerk34
06-20-2009, 05:55 PM
Roland Garros was much more important than the Masters. It was one of the 'top 3', along with Wimbledon and the US Open. The Masters would be quite far removed from these three.

LMAO. The French was nowhere near the Us Open and WImbledon in terms of importance back then.

Benhur
06-20-2009, 06:01 PM
Not in 1982, but in 1989, yes. (He was in fact ranked number 1 from mid-January 89 until mid summer 1990.)

I remember this often-discussed topic, I even wrote a few brief comments on it on this thread:)

http://tinyurl.com/myb94b

A couple quotes from Moose:


http://tinyurl.com/lk6q98

I looked through my old tennis magazines recently & found the points differential for 1989. The ATP ranking didn't count any WCT events or the Year End Masters. It was a system that averaged the points you earned at all other events by the amount of events you entered.
The final standings:

Lendl 213.214 from 15 events
Becker 189.916 from 12 events
Edberg 150.857 from 15 events

Using the points listed on the player activity for '89 for these players on the website, the average I came up with matched the average listed in Tennis Magazine.

Also Tennis Magazine published the totals of the players under the Grand Prix Race system for 1989(this includes WCT & the Year End Masters) The top finishers in this system qualifed for the Year end masters:

Lendl 9,831
Becker 7,039
Edberg 6,355

Under both ranking systems, Lendl had a big lead over Becker. But Edberg gets closer with the 'race' system(not surprising since he won the Masters that year) I'm curious as to how different the atp ranking for that year would be if the Year End Masters was included(in which Becker made the final)
And who knows, Wilander may have not passed Lendl in '88 if it had, since Lendl was so dominant at that event, an event which gives so many points today.

Also looking at the player activity page, you can see how many points were given to the majors back then. I'm assuming bonus points were used since they all gave different amounts to the winners of each, though there does seem to be a big gap in points with the AO compared to other majors.

Becker got 466 points for winning the USO in '89
He got 488 for winning Wimbledon.
Lendl got 335 points for winning the AO.
Chang got 455 for winning the French.
-----------------

Lendl Becker 1989
http://tinyurl.com/myb94b

I agree that Becker deserves the title of 'Player of the Year' for 1989, but it is unlikely that he would have finished #1 under any of the 'fairer' ranking systems used since 1990. And I agree with Benhur, its very possible for this scenario to happen today(Fed was incredibly dominant week in, week out in '05 & '06, but what if someone else won 2 majors & he won 1 those years? no way would that 2 major winner have finished #1 with Fed's leads)

Also, I have a lot of old Tennis magazines with ranking points listed in the back pages.

On Jan 1, 1990, the ATP switched over to their new 'best 14' system, & adjusted all 1989 results to this system in the rankings that week. I will post the rankings & points from the January issue of the magazine later, but I can tell you that Lendl had a big lead in this 'revised' ranking as well, not just the 1989 system. I think that is very telling.


Lendls and Beckers record

BECKER 1989

Australian Open, Australia
Grand Slam, 16-Jan-89, O, Hard , Draw: 128
ROUND OF 16
This Event Points: 35, ATP Ranking: 4
======
Milan, Italy
GP, 13-Feb-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 32
WINNER
This Event Points: 168, ATP Ranking: 4
======
Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.
GP, 20-Feb-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 48
WINNER
This Event Points: 201, ATP Ranking: 3,
======
Indian Wells, CA, U.S.A.
GP, 13-Mar-89, O, Hard , Draw: 56
ROUND OF 16
This Event Points: 24, ATP Ranking: 3
======
Monte Carlo, Monaco
GP, 24-Apr-89, O, Clay , Draw: 48
FINAL
This Event Points: 155, ATP Ranking: 3,
======
Hamburg, Germany
GP, 8-May-89, O, Clay , Draw: 56
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 96, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Roland Garros, France
Grand Slam, 29-May-89, O, Clay , Draw: 128
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 219, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Wimbledon, England
Grand Slam, 26-Jun-89, O, Grass , Draw: 128
WINNER
This Event Points: 488, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Cincinnati, OH, U.S.A.
GP, 14-Aug-89, O, Hard , Draw: 64
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 102, ATP Ranking: 2
======
US Open, NY, U.S.A.
Grand Slam, 28-Aug-89, O, Hard , Draw: 128
WINNER
This Event Points: 466, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Paris Indoor, France
GP, 30-Oct-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 32
WINNER
This Event Points: 295, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Stockholm, Sweden
GP, 6-Nov-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 48
ROUND OF 16
This Event Points: 30, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Masters, NY, U.S.A.
WC, 28-Nov-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 8
FINAL
This Event Points: 0, ATP Ranking

================================
LENDL 1989

Australian Open, Australia
Grand Slam, 16-Jan-89, O, Hard , Draw: 128
WINNER
This Event Points: 335, ATP Ranking: 2
======
Dallas WCT, TX, U.S.A.
GP, 28-Feb-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 8
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 0, ATP Ranking: N/A
======
Scottsdale, AZ, U.S.A.
GP, 6-Mar-89, O, Hard , Draw: 32
WINNER
This Event Points: 169, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Key Biscayne, FL, U.S.A.
GP, 20-Mar-89, O, Hard , Draw: 128
WINNER
This Event Points: 296, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Tokyo Outdoor, Japan
GP, 17-Apr-89, O, Hard , Draw: 56
FINAL
This Event Points: 126, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Forest Hills, NY, U.S.A.
GP, 1-May-89, O, Clay , Draw: 56
WINNER
This Event Points: 212, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Hamburg, Germany
GP, 8-May-89, O, Clay , Draw: 56
WINNER
This Event Points: 213, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Roland Garros, France
Grand Slam, 29-May-89, O, Clay , Draw: 128
ROUND OF 16
This Event Points: 72, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Queen's Club, England
GP, 12-Jun-89, O, Grass , Draw: 64
WINNER
This Event Points: 157, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Wimbledon, England
Grand Slam, 26-Jun-89, O, Grass , Draw: 128
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 211, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Montreal / Toronto, Montreal, Canada
GP, 14-Aug-89, O, Hard , Draw: 56
WINNER
This Event Points: 223, ATP Ranking: 1
======
US Open, NY, U.S.A.
Grand Slam, 28-Aug-89, O, Hard , Draw: 128
FINAL
This Event Points: 362, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Barcelona, Spain
GP, 18-Sep-89, O, Clay , Draw: 56
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 84, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Bordeaux, France
GP, 25-Sep-89, O, Clay , Draw: 32
WINNER
This Event Points: 125, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Sydney Indoor, Australia
GP, 9-Oct-89, I, Hard , Draw: 32
WINNER
This Event Points: 126, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Stockholm, Sweden
GP, 6-Nov-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 48
WINNER
This Event Points: 274, ATP Ranking: 1
======
Masters, NY, U.S.A.
WC, 28-Nov-89, I, Carpet , Draw: 8
SEMIFINAL
This Event Points: 0, ATP Ranking: N/A
---------------

GS TITLES
BECKER 2
LENDL 1

GS RUNNER-UP
BECKER 0
LENDL 1

GS SEMIFINALIST
BECKER 1
LENDL 1
-------
TOTAL TITLES
BECKER 5
LENDL 10

RUNNER-UP
BECKER 2
LENDL 2

SEMIFINALIST
BECKER 3
LENDL 4

pmerk34
06-20-2009, 06:12 PM
I'd be interested to here some opinions. The thing that gets me that even though Connors and Becker won Wimbledon and US Open in both those years there win-loss record was inferior to Lendl's. Not just slightly inferior, but vastly inferior.

If Lendl had won the US Open final, he would have been unquestionably ranked number one by every competent tennis historian for both those years.

My question is how can one match make so much difference? Think about it. If he had won that one match, he would have to be number one. No lawyer in the world would be able to make a plausible case for the other two being ahead of him. We're talking Lendl-daylight-Connors/Becker. But because he lost that one match no-one could ever bring themselves not to put Connors and Becker at the head of the pack.

Admittedly the ranking were pretty screwed up back then. McEnroe at 1 for 1982! Lendl was actually ranked 1 for 1989 although at the end of the year he said Becker deserved it (hard to imagine Becker being as complimentary about Lendl).

It's amazing how few people give Lendl credit these days. McEnroe and Cash seem to hate the guy, Becker seems to have revised tennis history (where the tennis crown is passed from McEnroe to him to Sampras). Wilander seems to be the only legend of that era who gives Lendl his due.

From Bruce Jenkins in the SF Chronicle June 2007 article:

Most every Grand Slam-tournament winner makes a foray into the Friends Box these days, no matter the obstacles, but Cash was the first to do it. In a recent interview for the Sunday Times, Cash said he was aware of the possible backlash, since such a move shows up the losing player, but that he had so much for disdain for Lendl -- as a player and a person -- he figured the hell with it, I'm going up to see my father and my coach.

"I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Lendl's plight," said Cash. "He was never an opponent with whom I felt any sense of friendship. My dislike for the man was born out of an incident a couple of years earlier in Monte Carlo. Lendl thought he was being hilarious by pulling a pair of my shoes to pieces in the middle of the locker room. I had to be pulled off him on that occasion. Then he was going through all the phobia about whether he would ever win Wimbledon, and I was more than happy to deepen his agony."

CyBorg
06-20-2009, 07:49 PM
LMAO. The French was nowhere near the Us Open and WImbledon in terms of importance back then.

The French, Wimbledon and the US Open were commonly referred to as the "big three" by the media. These were the three big events. This is a fact.

Simply saying what you said above doesn't change this. I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here.

capriatifanatic
06-20-2009, 08:11 PM
Lendl was gifted the year end #1 in 1989, certainly not robbed of it in 1982. Why would he deserve #1 in 1982 when he didnt even win a slam title and Connors won the two biggest events out there.

David_86
06-21-2009, 12:31 AM
I would like to know what people think of this.

If Lendl had won the US Open finals in 82 and 89 would you have considered him to be the clear cut number one for those years?

kiki
05-04-2011, 03:49 PM
The French, Wimbledon and the US Open were commonly referred to as the "big three" by the media. These were the three big events. This is a fact.

Simply saying what you said above doesn't change this. I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here.

Thats true.Wimbledon was n 1, USO and RG more or less at the same level, then Masters and WCT, tied and, a bit below the Australian Open, The Italian Open ( both not so strong as in the 60s and even before) and Id also include the Philadelphia Indoors event.

kiki
07-29-2014, 02:13 PM
Lendl was the stalwart of the 1982 WCT tour, the first time in years WCT ran their own tour separated from the GP

He won ALL tournaments she entered, 10 regulars + 3 finals.Because it was a merry go round tour, it had the classic spring Finals at Dallas, where Lendl beat Mc Enroe in 4 sets, then the Autumn Finals in Naples, where Lendl straighsetted Johan Kriek, and finally, the Winter Finals at Detroit, held in jan 1983, with Lendl destroying Vilas.

eldanger25
07-29-2014, 04:33 PM
I'd have been comfortable naming him player of the year in '82 if he'd won the US Open. But he didn't, and he bailed on Wimbledon to play golf. ("grass is for cows"). Certainly not the version of Lendl you'd like to be the standard-bearer for the game of tennis - a guy who gobbles up the small titles and shrinks in front of (or outright skips) the biggest stages.

1989 is a different question, and Lendl had rounded himself into tougher stuff by then. I've generally endorsed the split PoY '89 concept between him and Becker, but if push came to shove he's got a solid case for '89 - great distribution of titles, a major in Australia, big events like Miami etc.

Depends on how you feel about the fact that as usual for Lendl's career, his yearly rival punched him in the mouth on the biggest stages (in this case, Becker losses at Wimbledon/US Open). Threw a big mopey "why me" sh*t fit during that SW19 Becker loss to boot.

AngieB
07-29-2014, 08:16 PM
Why would he deserve #1 in 1982 when he didnt even win a slam title and Connors won the two biggest events out there.
I don't even understand why 1982 is in question. When you win the two biggest grand slam tournaments of the year, you are the best player in the world. Connors spot is historically-cemented.

The problem with Lendl historically was his inability to play the larger events better than what he played the small events. Wimbledon was his ruptured achilles tendon because the short grass-court season never gave him enough to effectively adjust his game to grass. For someone who began his grand slam career having difficulty breaking through with a win, overcoming Wimbledon grass was too much for him mentally.

#PraiseMuffins

AngieB

Gizo
07-30-2014, 02:46 AM
Connors was clearly the top dog in 1982 with his big Wimbledon-US Open double, getting the better of both Mac and Lendl when it really mattered.

1989 was weird. Becker played the best tennis and had the best accomplishments that year, although Lendl had a pretty strong lead over him in the rankings. Even had the modern day ranking system been transplanted back into 1989, he still would have had a clear lead.

There have been quite a few years in the open era in which the US Open final has been contested between two contenders for the 'player of the year' mantle, and the result of the final has been crucial there; 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1995, 2003 and 2013 all spring to mind.

kiki
07-30-2014, 04:49 AM
I disagree on 1976.Borg had already secured the BOY award by getting to the USO finals.

I agree for the rest, though Lendl enhanced his position by winning the YEC in 1985

SpicyCurry1990
08-04-2014, 09:52 PM
I'd have been comfortable naming him player of the year in '82 if he'd won the US Open. But he didn't, and he bailed on Wimbledon to play golf. ("grass is for cows"). Certainly not the version of Lendl you'd like to be the standard-bearer for the game of tennis - a guy who gobbles up the small titles and shrinks in front of (or outright skips) the biggest stages.

1989 is a different question, and Lendl had rounded himself into tougher stuff by then. I've generally endorsed the split PoY '89 concept between him and Becker, but if push came to shove he's got a solid case for '89 - great distribution of titles, a major in Australia, big events like Miami etc.

Depends on how you feel about the fact that as usual for Lendl's career, his yearly rival punched him in the mouth on the biggest stages (in this case, Becker losses at Wimbledon/US Open). Threw a big mopey "why me" sh*t fit during that SW19 Becker loss to boot.

pretty much this

fezer
08-05-2014, 02:49 AM
as for 89
lendl was no1 in the ranking, because he collected the most points. but does that mean, that he was the superior player?
becker beat him twice in grandslam tournaments. becker had a better result in 3/4 gs tournaments, because he also reached sf at rg, when lendl had his rd16 exit vs chang.
becker missed the chance of a year end no1 ranking, when he took a long time off after winning the usopen. becker only played (and won) bercy, but the autumn always was his best part of the year. had he played stockholm, sidney and tokyo as well, i think he wouldve climbed to no1.
but boris had a tough schedule with the masters and davis cup final (in germany), so he decided not to waste too much energy - and he was only one win away from an even more impressive year, becaus he also reached the masters final. but keep in mind: in the 80s the masters was the best payed tournament, but there were NO RANKING POINTS!
imo becker was the best player of the year in 89, and it clearly showed that ivan's reign was over, although lendl collected enough points to stay at no1.