Ivan Lendl's Slam Finals Record

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by NEW_BORN, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    He did, Kiki, he did. I favoured Mac to win that one bigtime. This was still relatively early in Ivan's grass court learning and John was just a bit too good at the time. John was a serve-volleyer who loved the grass surface, of course, he had the left-handed service style which could give his opponents fits, and Lendl had not yet shown he could win the Grand Slam events. Mac had not long before beaten Ivan in that epic five set WCT final in Dallas too, as well as in Philadelphia earlier in the year, so Mac will have been confident of winning at Wimbledon.
    Great days.
     
    #51
  2. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I don't know if anyone would agree, but the impression I get is that in the finals, Lendl was not always the best in making things happen, he seemed to play a bit passively at times, allowing really top class opponents to take the initiative.

    But as has been metioned, perhaps Lendl didn't have that extra gear, he had a great serve but wasn't going to out ace anyone, also he seemed prepared to play one or two extra shots where he didn't have to, enough to allow guys of that calibre to attack him and get rewards.
     
    #52
  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, indeed.However, it was very close in the first set ( 7-6)
     
    #53
  4. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Didn't go through the whole thread, but the short answer is that as cool as customer as he was, my take was that he got conservative in slam finals.

    He should have won both of those USO in 82 and 83 against Connors. Connors won those titles by almost force of will. The Wimbledons I didn't see, but in those cases he was forcing himself to play in a style that was not his forte, S&V.

    Overall, a guy as good as Lendl, who was capable of just embarrassing opponents - totally blowing them off the court - should have won more finals. I just seem like he couldn't turn it on and really let it rip when it really counted.

    OTOH, know the feeling.
     
    #54
  5. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    This statement is interesting.

    Do you think Lendl would have done better had he not S&Ved in those Wimbledon Finals?

    Incidentally, did he S&V the whole tournament or just in the final where he thought he needed to, to stand a better chance against Becker and Cash.
     
    #55
  6. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    No, he would have gotten beat worse.
     
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  7. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Just watching Berdych versus Djokovic at Wimbledon it struck me how similar Berdych is with another Czech - Ivan Lendl - in the tone of their matches.

    They both manage to get outdone in tight situations the large majority of key matches in their careers. When they're on they totally roll their opponents but when it's tight you know it'll probably be them who disappoints.
     
    #57
  8. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I believe that Tim sums it up well.

    Here's a parallelism to help underline the point. Imagine if Lendl's only competition had been Cash (for instance), and everyone else was not in his league (like a Baghdatis, a Philippoussis, F. Gonzales, or a Roddick). If there had been no Borg, no Connors, no McEnroe, no Wilander, no Becker, then Lendl would have 18 slams.

    The 80s and early 90s were a highly competitive period.
     
    #58
  9. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    He played S&V the whole tournament. It seemed to take something away from his serve, or he was taking something off his serve to give himself more time to come in. Either way, his serve seemed way more hitable than it should have been. He could dominated on his serve on any surface, and on grass I think he should have been blowing balls by people.

    Also, if he was going to S&V at Wimbledon, I think he should have incorporated that into his game the rest of the year so he could really get comfortable with it. But I didn't see him do that. He's S&V for two weeks at the end of June, and then that's it. Honestly, it's amazing he did as well as he did with it
     
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  10. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Lendl did NOT serve and volley at Wimbledon in 83 or 84, but lost to Mac and Connors, respectively. At times, they made him look bad too! their strokes were just sharper, flatter, faster.. After that, he decided to transform himself into a serve and volleyer. It always seemed awkward, but he was not bad at it either. He just wasn't a natural...his entire game on grass just was not a good fit....again, not a natural transition to that surface for him. Mac and Connors, Becker and Edberg, and Cash, all were superior on the green turf. Perhaps in a different era, with a bit more luck....

    Otherwise, his GS record would be envied by most. Even in the finals he lost, there are no pikers in the bunch. Aside from Cash perhaps, 99pct of the playing field lost to the guys he lost to in those finals!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
    #60
  11. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the correction.

    Cash was a very good player when he wasn't injured. Cash also hated Lendl due to an event that happened early in Cash's carrier (google shoebreaker), so he was always very motivated to take him out.
     
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  12. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    This statement is interesting.

    Which aspect of his game held him back from becoming a dominant force on Grass? Is it his movement, ala Djokovic? Did he not possess a big enough serve to get cheap points at crucial junctures? Was he forcing the issue too much by committing too many UEs? Or was he too conservative in his approach thus allowing more offensive minded players to take the initiative?

    Incidentally, when Borg won his 5 straight Wimbledons, did he S&V the majority of the time?
     
    #62
  13. Top Jimmy

    Top Jimmy Semi-Pro

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    Just a theory but maybe if he didn't become obsessed with winning Wimbledon he would have won a few more slams. He changed rackets, practiced all the time on grass and even adopted a serve and volley game in an attempt to win it. He should have stuck with his game went the Agassi route, just keep bashing from the baseline.
     
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  14. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Yeah good point.
    Sometimes the more you want something, the more unattainable it becomes.
    Better to carve out your own path and let nature take its course.
     
    #64
  15. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Cash WAS very good, just not at the Mac, Connors, Becker level. Still, I think he should've picked up a few more GS in his day. What is "google shoebreaker"? What did Lendl do to Cash? Certainly, Lendl made no friends back in those days.
     
    #65
  16. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I tend to agree with you. His S&V game always seemed forced. Other baseliners won the event by merely playing more aggressively, incorporating S&V into their grass game, but not becoming full time serve and volleyers (ala borg, connors, agassi),. But Lendl's timing was lousy...he really faced some top notch grass players across 2 generations. I think '87 was his best shot at it, but Cash was red hot that year. Maybe if he had faced a 34yr old Connors in the final, but even then not a lock.
     
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  17. bilboa

    bilboa New User

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    Wow .... really great thread.
     
    #67
  18. andrehanderson

    andrehanderson Semi-Pro

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    I think the sample size is still relatively small to make any conclusions about why he lost at that rate. There are just too many factors that go into a win when the levels are so close that I think anything we come up with here--and there have been some great posts on this thread--is really just a guess.
     
    #68
  19. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Well Lendl has appeared in the second most number of slam finals in the open era, so i don't think the sample size is that small. I mean not many, if any, will ever make more than 30 slam finals.

    It's an anomaly because compared to other legends of the game, his finals record is out of the norm. In fact, if you look up the stats, you'll find that no one in the top 30 on the list of most slam singles titles has a negative slam final record, yet Lendl's is at an abysmal 42%.

    Consider:
    Federer - 17-7 (71%)
    Sampras - 14-4 (78%)
    Nadal - 12-5 (71%)
    Borg - 11-5 (69%)
    Lendl - 8-11 (42%)

    We have heard many reasonings so far, from having to face tough opposition, to playing on his unfavoured surfaces, but ultimately i think it comes down to Lendl himself relying far too heavily on consistency and not having that x-factor to call upon when the pressure situation is at its most intense.
     
    #69
  20. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    He did SV on every point against McEnroe, and against others earlier in the tournament that year (eg, Tanner). When he met Connors in the '84 semis he mostly decided not to follow his serve to net -- maybe out of respect for Jimmy's return.

    Moose did stats for Lendl's matches at '83 Wimby here:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=173138

    and the Connors match in '84:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=210703
     
    #70
  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Several other greats have similar records.

    - Sampras was the higher seed in 2 of 4 lost finals: 1995 AO (Agassi), 2000 USO (Safin)
    - Borg was the higher seed in 3 of 5 lost finals: 1978 USO (Connors), 1980 USO (McEnroe), 1981 W (McEnroe)
    - McEnroe was the higher seed in 3 of 4 lost finals: 1982 W (Connors), 1984 RG (Lendl), 1985 USO (Lendl)
    - Wilander was the higher seed in 2 of 4 lost finals: 1983 RG (Noah), 1985 AO (Edberg)
    - Becker was the higher seed in 2 of 4 lost finals: 1990 W (Edberg), 1991 W (Stich)
    - Edberg was the higher seed in 3 of 5 lost finals: 1989 RG (Chang), 1989 W (Becker), 1992 AO (Courier)
    - Courier was the higher seed in 1 of 3 lost finals: 1993 RG (Bruguera)
    - Agassi was the higher seed in 5 of 7 lost finals: 1990 RG (Gomez), 1990 USO (Sampras), 1991 RG (Courier), 1995 USO (Sampras), 2002 USO (Sampras)

    Lendl's win/loss record in Slam finals, overall, does stand out -- but he's not worse than others when it comes to losing as the higher seed.
     
    #71
  22. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    As we've seen again today, finals often do not produce the best tennis from at least one player and Ivan often struggled to produce his on the biggest day. Remember, Ivan would often crush nearly all his opponents prior to the finale. He finally learned to win some. Saw Lendl on tv today and he even cracked a smile!
     
    #72
  23. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Yes Murray has taught him well:grin:
     
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  24. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

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    Lendl could bring his "A" game to a very high percentage of his matches, but had trouble taking his game to the "A+" level that many of his opponents in major finals brought to the match. I think this was largely a result of the mechanical nature of his game.
     
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  25. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    This statement had me thinking what was Lendl's biggest weakness?
    And his worst match-up?

    My guess would be his volleying skills or touch around the net. Was he ever known to play many drop shots?
    And his worst match-up i reckon would be against someone with flair and an attacking mindset, given that his game is very robotic so to speak.
     
    #75
  26. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Could be right. Problem was, that there were quite a lot of players "with flair and an attacking mindset" in those days. On grass, Lendl had a clear weakness, that was his backhand volley, especially the middle high and deep volley played on the run. Becker had only to play the backhand cross return back, and he was sure, that Ivan would butcher the next shot.
     
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  27. Backhanded Compliment

    Backhanded Compliment Hall of Fame

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    Basically this... and the fact he did have a lot of pressure at Wimbledon.
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl thrieved on selfconfidence.That made him win the GS titles he won.But when he didnĀ“t feel everything was under control, including court conditons, public condiitions and so on, he really suffered.lacked that extra bit of flexibility.
     
    #78
  29. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I honestly don't recall Lendl playing S&V on EVERY point during the '83 match against Mac....just sometimes as a way of mixing it up....but maybe I'm just being forgetful :(
     
    #79
  30. struggle

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    tough competition, truly varied surfaces and some phenomenal grass and clay court specialists during his career.

    if the surfaces were homogenized then as they are now, who knows?

    I agree he didn't always bring his best game to the finals.
     
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  31. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    I believe this man fits the bill.

    [​IMG]
     
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  32. CEvertFan

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    Does anyone doubt that Lendl would be a Wimbledon champion if he played on today's slower, higher bouncing grass? I think he would have won it for sure - he certainly wouldn't have had to force himself to serve/volley every point...
     
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  33. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I doubt it would make much difference. Lendl's footwork seldom looked comfortable on grass. Apart from 1983, Lendl usually came through epic matches every year during his Wimbledon runs. It was his fight that stopped him losing earlier at many Wimbledons.
     
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  34. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    #84
  35. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Professional

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    Given all baseline winners at Wimbledon for the past 10 years, I think he'd have won more than one if the grass had been that slow. He looked awkward for several reasons, nearly all of which don't exist in the same way today: bad bounces, quick surface, low bounces, etc. He'd have won on "green clay."
     
    #85
  36. BTURNER

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    He was too close too many times, on that super fast slick herbe, to think he would not have made one or two more vital games on his way to to the top. he worked his way into a fine grass courter, who could take sets over many of the greatest there was on that surface. I don't doubt for a second he'd have have won at least won, maybe two on a slower grass court.
     
    #86
  37. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Lendl on Fast Surfaces

    I agree with you that Lendl would have won a few Wimbledon's with today's conditions. I would say though, that a surface being fast wasn't Lendl's problem though. Remember he was co-number 1 for the whole 80's decade on indoor carpet (with McEnroe) - 9 Masters finals in a row! I believe the problem was one of footing on grass for him. Also it wasn't holding service that was the problem is was breaking service. Somehow because his movement on grass wasn't that great he couldn't get set for the passing shots needed to break.
     
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  38. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    It's simple. Until he finally got over the hump he was a choker and was likely to give up if things were not going his way. This is what was thought about him at the time by most everyone. People try to rewrite his history or ignore it. I have the upmost respect for what he became, a GREAT champion, but he was mentally weak in his early career.
     
    #88
  39. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Lendl would obviously be far more comfortable on the current grass with his footing (more time to make those quick footwork adjustments), return of serve and ground game, and would enjoy the more consistent bounces.

    In those days the Queen's grass was truer and firmer than the Wimbledon grass, and he played his best grass court tennis there, so the current truer and firmer Wimbledon grass would suit him nicely.

    However he would still have had his hands full against the likes of McEnroe, Connors, Becker, Cash and Edberg in big matches there, all of whom were able to cause him a lot of problems in big hard court matches anyway.
     
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  40. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    If he was indeed labelled a choker, then isn't it ironic that he finally made his breakthrough as a result of someone else's massive choke.
     
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  41. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    McEnroe didn't choke away the 1984 RG final at all. That is one of the biggest tennis myths floating around. It was one of the best quality grand slam finals of the open era. No player can ever play flawlessly for 5 sets and Mac understandably couldn't keep up his incredibly high level of the first 2 sets, but he still played well in the sets he lost.

    Mac called it a choke because he despised Lendl and didn't want to give him any credit. He hasn't watched the match back since playing in it, and banned people from mentioning it in his company for many years.
     
    #91
  42. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    Bingo. Lendl finally realized he had nothing to lose and raised his game to another level. McEnroe got distracted and his level dropped, but he fought to end and had chances to win. An example of a choke would be Lendl at the 83 US Open. He basically said, f--- it and tanked the last set, because he let Jimmy and the crowd get to him. As his strength and conditioning improve so did his confidence, but he still lost a lot of big matches he never should have lost.
     
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  43. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Excellent post and 100% true. Lendl physically outlasted him and didn't wilt in the heat like Mac did. Lendl also changed his tactics after the first two sets. Normally his best plan to beat John was to cream every ball. That did not work the first two sets as John was absolutely razor sharp with is serve, volleys, movement and baseline play. Lendl switched to chipping back the return low and forced Mac to volley up. Ivan then began to mix topspin lobs in with passing shots.

    Mac had his chances as you said but Lendl rose to the occasion and Mac as he tired just wasn't quite as sharp.
     
    #93
  44. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    At the USO, Lendl gagged in the 3rd set w/that infamous double fault. After that, the "shark" in Connors smelled blood and went for the kill. I was watching that match on You Tube awhile back and you could see how "deflated" Ivan became and Connors just went on a roll...as he could, if you showed any weakness. In hindsight, that too, seemed like less of a tank job and just complete frustration (and exhaustion too...he seemed wasted in that 4th set, while Connors was running on adrenalin).
     
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  45. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    I've watched the highlights of this match recently and it appeared McEnroe simply wilted under pressure. Maybe it had a lot to do with Lendl upping the ante and playing some inspired, nothing-to-lose tennis but in a way this match reminded me of the Fed-Djokovic USO2011 encounter.
     
    #95
  46. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    If Nadal can do it, no doubt about Lendl.
     
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  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Specially given the huge gap at their respective first serves
     
    #97
  48. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Lendl took Borg to a fifth set in his first GS final ( 1981 RG ), a great achievement.

    In the 1983 US OPEN final, Lendl was hurt in the groin in the fourth and last set, and so his movement was hindered. Still he fought as hard as he could in the very last game, when 0-5 down in the fourth, he saved several match-points and it was a 20-something points game, about 10 minutes long, but finally lost it (he couldn't move properly by then).
     
    #98
  49. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl tested Borg very seriously at the 81 FO, But Lendl had nothing to lose, he was the challenger and the pressure was on Borg.
     
    #99
  50. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    the surface would have suited ivan for sure.

    but he stil has to prove he can beat federer and nadal at wimbledon. that is by no means a foregone conclusion given ivans record against his own contemporaries...
     

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