how did connors and borg beat lendl when he was playing with graphite?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sandy mayer, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    1981 FO Final Borg with wood defeated Lendl who played with graphite.
    1982 US final Connors with T2000 defeated Lendl who played with graphite.
    1983 US final Connors with T2000 defeated Lendl who played with graphite.
    1984 Wimbledon semi Connors with T2000 defeated Lendl who played with graphite.
    How? I find it absolutely incredible, given the huge advantage of graphite over wood and steel.
     
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  2. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    graphite wasn't very good then
     
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  3. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    When did graphite drastically improve?
     
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  4. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    it gradually improved
     
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  5. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    If your frame has the right weight distribution, it doesn't matter what it is made of.
     
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  6. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    stiffness?
     
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  7. Mickey Finn

    Mickey Finn Rookie

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    Before Lendl played with the Adidas GTX, he played with an aluminum Adidas racquet that was the same as the Head PDP (I think it was called a PDP). Lendl didn't fully utilise the potential of the new graphite racquets, as his game was based upon the smaller hitting zone of the racquets he used as a junior.

    Lendl hit the hell out of the ball, but had to hit through the strike zone longer than today's players. There is no way that guys like Nadal could play their games with Lendl's racquets.
     
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  8. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    When didd Lendl switch from aluminium to graphite?
     
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  9. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    maybe graphite improved, but not Lendl's graphite. wasn't he using the same adidas racquet from '81-'83(when those losses occured) as he was when he was when winning slams from '84 on?

    Graphite gradually changed the game(not overnight), players of the 80s did grow up with wood, so all their mechanics/grips/strategies were still similar to wood era players, but just with more power. Chris Evert beat many players using graphite while she was using wood.

    and Connors & Borg were great players with plenty of power of their own regardless of equipment. and lendl's graphite was pretty low-powered even as far as 80s graphite racquets go. really he was an amazing talent to get so much power/spin with that racquet.
     
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  10. Mickey Finn

    Mickey Finn Rookie

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    Lendl used aluminum when he was a junior. He was around fifteen when he played with the Adidas aluminum racquet.
     
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  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    One striking example: she beat Martina in the Australian Open final in 1982.
     
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  12. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    the thing is that you could hit a wooden racquet just as hard, it was just riskier due to the smaller headsize, tiny sweetspot and spinless strings.

    here is proof

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byORNQDbNac
     
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  13. Jonny S&V

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    They were just more talented, duh!
     
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  14. volleyman

    volleyman Semi-Pro

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    I think the difference was mental. Lendl didn't start winning majors until he developed the mental discipline and plain old courage needed to beat fierce competitors like Borg and Connors. At the point in his career we're discussing, he didn't have it; later, when he was winning slams and routinely beating Connors and McEnroe, he did.
     
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  15. theace21

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    He was a head case...
     
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  16. Benhur

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    I think from 1981 to 1986 he played with the GTX Pro, then switched to the GTX Pro T, which had a slightly larger head, I believe, but still only 80 sq in. He never played with a mid-size racquet until 1990 when he started playing with a Mizuno.
     
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  17. JW10S

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    The PDP racquet was not a HEAD. PDP stood for 'Professionally Designed Products' which was the name of the company. Roscoe Tanner also used the PDP for a time. You are correct though that the Adidas aluminum was the same as the PDP, it's just that PDP was not a HEAD racquet.
     
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  18. CEvertFan

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    The difference between pre '84 Lendl and post '84 Lendl was mental much more than anything else. Once he beat McEnroe to win the 84 FO he never looked back and was a totally different player mentally and wound up turning around his rivalries with Connors and McEnroe as well as becoming #1 in the world. Sometimes it happens with players that when they finally win their 1st major they become a totally different player. Federer is a prime example of that.
     
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  19. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I wasn't aware that Lendl ever played with the adidas aluminum frame. There were 3 or 4 rackets that were basically identical, the Head Master (Red Head), PDP Open, and the adidas ADS 660, which is the racket referred to above. Ilie Nastase used this frame breifly after he quit playing with the Haillet. I have one of these frames in 9/10 condition and played with it back in the day.

    Lendl's first racket on tour as I remember it was the Kniessel White Star which basically morphed into the adidas GT-Pro.
     
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  20. gmonfils

    gmonfils Rookie

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    That is correct Lendl did use a Kneissl White Star for a while. He is on the cover of Tennis Magazine sometime in 81 or 82 with a Kneissl. From what I understood he was still contracted to use Kneissl for a short period of time while also using Adidas.
     
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  21. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    With all due respect, the HEAD Master had a blue plastic throat. The ''Red HEAD'' was the HEAD Pro.

    Re: early Lendl. Yeah, he had that Kneissl White Star Twin, iirc.

    When I played in the Rolex / or it could've been the Easter Bowl (whichever one he won when he was a junior), they had a photo of him playing there. He had a Slazenger Challenge No. 1. Same here, so that was cool, which is probably why it is burned into my memory.
     
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  22. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    http://www.woodtennis.com/lendl/
    Ivan Lendl Racket History:
    Lendl played with the Kneissl White Star Lendl model thru 1980. In 1981, he started to play with the Adidas GTX Pro model, which he would used thru 1985. He played his French final in 1981 against Borg with the this GTX Model. Note: Lendl's early batches of GTXs were paintjob Kneissls, but that ended and the Adidas GTX manufacturing moved to France. In 1986, Ivan started to play the Adidas GTX Pro-T, until 1990. In 1990, he entered a multi-year, exclusive deal with Mizuno, and used that Mizuna Ivan Lendl model. The Mizuno was actually different racket mold from his Kneissl & Adidas frames, and added 10-15% headsize increase over his former racquet models. This change was suppose to help Ivan win Wimbledon :)
     
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  23. JohnnyF

    JohnnyF New User

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    Obviously its not all about the racquet. Racquets don't play the match.
     
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  24. Polaris

    Polaris Hall of Fame

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    That is bunk. The truth is that, gamewise, and mentality wise, Lendl wasn't invincible at the time.

    It took him until 1984 to sort things out and enter God mode, posting a win-loss record that would remain unrivalled for two decades until Federer came along.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2007
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  25. Moose Malloy

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    interesting that he only entered 'god mode' when mac went on a 6 month sabatical
     
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  26. Polaris

    Polaris Hall of Fame

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    Yes. Interesting indeed. The observation mitigates but does not negate the observation that, statistically, he went into God mode.
     
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  27. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    False. To begin with, in 1981-1982 Lendl was already winning pretty much everything he entered except the majors. 10 titles in 1981. As for 1982, he entered 23 tournaments, reach 20 finals, and won 15 of them. I am not aware of any other player in the open era with a year like that. Also, I bring to your attention the fact that he beat Mac *every time* they met in 1981 and 1982. They met often. They were the top two players during most of that period, and until 1986.

    So whatever "god mode" is meant to be, Lendl was never far away from it. And it certainly wasn't Mac's 6-month sabatical that engineered this "god mode". That is pure hogwash. Lendl's taking the number one spot at the 85 US open, and keeping it, may be precisely what sent Mac into a sabatical, not the other way around. He came back from sabatical and didn't do that badly, stayed in the top 10 for over three years, made it all the way to number 4 in 1989, but never could really bother Lendl or the top 3 players again, even though he tried harder during this period than he had in his pre-1985 years. I used to read tennis magazines in the late 80s and a very common story was Mac's new training strategies, a new one every 6 months or so, to make it back to number 1. He even trained with weights at some point. At some point he hired Peter Flemming as a manager, while working with long-time coach Palafox. It all produced some good results, mind you, but not the main objective: to be number one again. The notion that he "semi-retired" after 1985 is groundless and demonstrably false. Its only purpose is to minimize Lendl's dominance during the 80s and minimize Mac's relative brevity at the very top. Mac was in the top 2 (with Lendl) from most of 1980, 81 and 82, and he was number 1 from 1983 through August 85. That was it. Lendl was number one considerably longer, and he was in the top 2 most of the decade. Mac's sabatical had nothing to do with his "god mode" whatever that is.
     
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  28. The Gorilla

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    well said .
     
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  29. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Of course he wasn't invincible. Noobdy was. But the point that the very early graphite racquets such as the one Lendl used were not THAT different from wood is a valid one. The main question of this thread rests on the assumption that his racquet was so much more powerful it is incomprehensible he could not beat everyone still playing with wood. This in turn rests on the unsaid but inevitable assumption that all those players still playing with wood were morons. There were several materials around, graphite being one of them. If the difference had been so obvious, they would have had to be very silly to stick to wood. Players didn't start changing to graphite until 1984. In the 84 US Open semifinal against Lendl, Pat Cash is still using wood (a larger than usual frame) if I remember correctly. He did very well with it. As is often the case, the technology advanced fastest in its early stages, and 1984 graphite racquets were considerably better than in 1981.
    You could turn the question around and ask how Lendl managed to stay on top of the game until 1990 playing with a prehistoric graphite racquet like the one he used until he changed to a midsize in 1990.
    Even more remarable is what Connors did with the T2000 well into the mid 80s. That thing is like a springboard. How he could play with it the way he did is a mystery to me.

    Maybe all this shows the racquet is important, but not nearly as much as the player.
     
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  30. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I stand corrected! You are right, it was the Pro. For some reason, I always got those two names mixed up.
     
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  31. 35ft6

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    It's not just the materials of the racket, Lendl had serious mental issues with certain players for a while. And they weren't all the same age. Borg had 4 years of tour experience over Lendl, and Connors is 8 years older than Ivan.
     
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  32. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Last edited: Jul 28, 2007
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  33. Benhur

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  34. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    ^ Nice post, Benhur.
     
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  35. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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  36. Benhur

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  37. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    I always thought that those adidas were in fact built by Kneissl on some sort of enterprise agreement.
    you live and you learn....
     
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  38. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Final atp rankings for 1982:
    1.McEnroe
    2.Connors
    3.Lendl

    final grand prix race points(probably the more accurate ranking of the time)
    1. Connors 3355
    2. Vilas 2495
    3. Lendl 2313
    4. McEnroe 2305

    Regardless of how many titles Lendl won in 1982, most were pretty minor(its kinda like Muster in '95, he won more titles than Sampras & Agassi combined that year, yet still finished #3)

    Implying that Lendl of '82 was anywhere near the level of the Lendl of '86, is pretty absurd. He was not in the same ballpark as far as 'quality' wins(not just talking slams here, his '82 was filled with tournamts lacking many of the top players) as in '86.

    Connors' year was clearly way above Lendl that year regardless of his winning half the tournaments that Lendl did that year. Lendl played a lot in '81/'82/'83, he was like Davydenko. Connors & Mac played far less.
    Plus as sandy mentioned, Wimbledon was so far ahead of the other slams in the 80s, & Lendl skipped it in '82. I think using his head to head vs Mac that year to argue he was his equal is a little misleading, considering his performaces in the big events that year.

    one other thing about lendl(since we compare accomplishments so often here)
    he is on record as saying he would give up all his FOs & at least 2 of his us opens for one wimbledon. that shows how far ahead wimbledon was compared to the other majors in the 80s. I can't imagine anyone today blatantly putting down some of the majors that they won the way lendl did(which is to his credit) & being that honest(Agassi never puts down his AO titles, but I'd bet anything he'd give up 1 or 2 or more of them for one more W or US title) and his comments also show that the 'career slam' or all surface excellence wasn't considered as important in the 80s. basically it was all about w & the us open.

    The lack of a wimbledon title is a major blemish in comparing Lendl to Connors or Mac, which even his own comments prove. And Lendl lost to Leconte early
    in '85 Wimbledon. Mac didn't play in '86 Wimbledon, Lendl making the final that year may have been helped by him knowing that he knew he wouldn't have to deal with the best grasscourt player of that era. Mac was a very close #2 to Lendl at the end of '85, I doubt anyone on the planet talking about '86 at the end of '85 would have given Lendl any chance of beating him at Wimbledon '86, if they played. But then Mac took 6 months off...

    Lendl at his peak was a great player(probably better than anyone sampras faced) but he did take advantage of a lull at the top in his peak years(which many all time greats did, like Sampras, or Connors in '74, even Fed to some degree-until Nadal showed up)


    he dropped out of the top 10 many times during that time. & was suspended more than he ever was during his prime as well. whatever tennis magazine said about his dedictaion to the game may not be the whole story.
    Regardless of how hard Mac trained post '85, Lendl & many others said he wasn't the same player, didn't have the same movement or pace on his serve after '85. and mac wasn't playing a full schedule post '85(by his standards)
    had a very troubled marriage, kids, drug problems, etc. I don't see how anyone could say his head was in the game the same as it was it was pre '85.
    If even Lendl admits Mac declined post '85, why can't you? And it wasn't like mac was even playing lendl a lot post '85, he was losing to low ranked guys like annacone, masur, etc, guys that he was beating pre '85, so its a bit misleading to say, he just couldn't handle lendl anymore, he couldn't handle lots of guys, which shows how dedicated to the game he was(the guy skipped Wimbledon in '86 & '87, he valued that event so much more than any other, if that doesn't show he lost interest in the game, I don't know what does?)

    You can't dismiss what Lendl himself said about Mac post '85(& its not like those 2 are buddies or anything, if Lendl wanted to elevate his own career he could have said in '87,"John is still as good as he was in '84, I'm just so much better now," which he didn't, he just told the truth, that mac was washed up, slow, etc. And Lendl could have tried to argue that the French was the equal of Wimbledon in the 80s(which many players today argue) since he was so great on clay or say that Australia was the equal of the US Open in the late 80s. He didn't. Very straight shooter, that Lendl, was the "Truth" as snoop said.

    interesting what the "race" standings were as of November '85.

    1 McEnroe 3903
    2. Lendl 3808

    mac went on sabatical after losing to gilbert in the masters, not after losing to lendl at the open.

    I saw his masters final of '86(december) recently, it seemed like it was more about how poorly becker played than how well lendl played. stolle, drysdale, laver were doing commentary & agreed. lots of errors by boris that day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2007
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  39. Benhur

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    He won a whole bunch of WCT finals that year. Those were not minor tournaments. In any case, 15 titles and 5 runnerup appearances is out of this world by any standards. Show me what is the closest count in the open era to that record. Still, I never argued that Connors was not number 1 that year. He was. Because he won Wimbledon and the US Open.

    It’s not absurd at all. He was not that far back in 82. And he was meeting top players alright. He managed to beat Mac every time they played in 81-82, seven straight times.

    About Lendl’s “peak” I will say this. Lendl held the number 1 spot in the ATP rankings from September 9, 1985 until August 6, 1990 with the exception of a five-month interval between Sept 88 and Jan 89, when Wilander had it and Lendl was number 2. That can be therefore legitimally seen as Lendl's *peak* period (1985-1990)

    Lendl's "prime" can be viewed as 1981-1991 when he played his first and last grand slam finals respectively.

    Both in his “peak” (5 years) and his “prime” (10 years), he faced formidable competition. First Borg, Connors and Mac. Then Wilander, Becker and Edberg, and even a bit of early Sampras who beat him at the quarterfinals of the US Open.

    There was no lull to speak of. If you think he took advantage of a lull, then you had to admit Mac had a much better lull than him in 83-84.

    Year end rankings by Mac:
    1985: 2
    1986: 14 (bouncing back from 20 after taking a 6 month break)
    1987: 10
    1988: 11
    1989: 4

    Didn’t drop out of the top 10 for good until October 1990.

    Those were years when Lendl, Wilander, Edberg, and Becker were all in their prime. And Sampras and Agassi were starting. Doesn’t sound to me like someone who is “awol” or "semi-retired” as has been said here often. He was there all right. It's not so much that he slacked his pace, but rather that the head of the pack quickened theirs and left him behind. But not THAT far behind, as you can see in the rankings.

    I am not really interested in the drug and love problems. Much less in arguing to death a year by year breakdown of the relative *prestige* of each major in the heart of so and so.

    Much more interesting, and historically meaningful are the ATP rankings. I was clearly talking about the ATP rankings. Again, Lendl took the number 1 spot on the ATP on September 9, 1985 and kept it for 5 years with a five-month interruption in between.

    I saw that recently too. Your hearing is very selective. As the match progresses, all the commentators mentioned several times, especially Drysdale, that Lendl was playing perfect tennis, making no errors, and that most likely this had something to do with Becker’s tribulations.

    In the 1987 final against Masters final against Wilander he played even better.
     
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