Ivan Lendl's Slam Finals Record

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

  1. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    Lendl may have led the overall head-to-head with Becker, but I think it was something like 5-1 to Becker in slams. Becker lived for the big stage.
     
  2. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    McEnroe wilted under the pressure but on him by Lendl's change of tactics and masterclass as pmerk said, the heat the physicality of playing in a long 5 set match clay match where he couldn't end points as quickly as he would of liked. By that stage, Lendl who had been working harder than him at the gym, was the fitter player and was able to outlasted him.

    McEnroe didn't succumb to his nerves or the pressure, he succumbed to a superior clay court player getting a grip of the occasion and tiredness.

    Don't forget that Lendl had been in excellent form during that tournament, in particular destroying Wilander in the semis.

    The full match is on youtube, and highlights often don't tell the full story at all.

    When people talk about Lendl on the modern grass, I think they are talking about how he would do on it in his own era against McEnroe, Connors, Becker etc, and not 20 years later against Federer or Nadal.

    I think he would be able to reach finals and semi-finals a lot more comfortably and endure less 5 set scares in the earlier rounds. However he would still have a tough time, against peak Mac in 1983, Connors in 1984, peak Becker and Edberg and an in the zone Cash in 1987 etc on any type of grass. He was very comfortable on hard courts but still had his struggles against all of those guys in big matches on hard courts.

    Wilander I think would have been no major threat to him on the slick Wimbledon grass had they met each other (of course Wilander wasn't good enough to get far enough to play him there). However on modern day slower and firmer grass, Mats suddenly becomes a bigger threat to Lendl as well.
     
  3. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    You could argue that Lendl's head to heads against Becker and Edberg are skewed by surface distributions, as Lendl was a much more versatile player than either of them.

    Thus he played Becker 4 times on grass and once on green clay and never on European red clay where he would have had the big advantage.

    Similarly he played Edberg 3 times on grass but 0 times on clay, red or green, where he also would have been the strong favourite to win.

    Still Becker beat him comfortably in 4 sets in their 2 big matches on hard courts, and rose to occasion against him in big matches. One big plus point for Lendl though was winning their final 2 matches to turn a 9-10 losing h2h into a 11-10 winning one, despite being 7 and a half years older.
     
  4. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I thought it was interesting that Lendl was the one that needed an IV after the match, not Mac. Wish they had some of the modern graphics back then that they have today(I imagine Lendl did a lot more running in that match than Mac, who took the ball earlier, S&Ved, etc)

    Lendl in '84 was very fit, but Lendl by '86 was insanely fit. What was it he once said? "Physical fitness helped my mental toughness, knowing that I would never get tired."

    and to all those who keep going on about Mac's choke, collapse etc in the final:
    how often do you see best of 5 set matches on clay where a player never loses serve? I can hardly think of any, esp in the later rounds of the French Open. Mac never lost serve in the first 2 sets of the '84 final, was it really reasonable to think he wouldn't get broken that day? by the #2 player in the world? and Mac's 1st serve % in the 1st two sets was 55%, which is good, but not something in the realm of being unbeatable - for comparison Mac was at 75% vs Connors in his Wimbledon final a few weeks later. On clay, nothing is ever easy. The word choke is used far too often, losing from being up 2 sets to love is not automatically a choke(& esp if you're commenting on a match you haven't even seen, like some in this thread are admitting)
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  5. 1477aces

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    not really. becker folded against edberg in the big stage despite owning him the rest of the time.
     
  6. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Becker beat Edberg in all 3 of their Davis Cup matches, 2 of them very one-sided. Becker also beat Edberg twice in the WCT Dallas event. The biggest of all for Becker over Edberg was the 1989 Wimbledon final, of course.
     
  7. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Edberg was unbelievable in the '88 Wimbledon final from what I recollect 25 years later.
     
  8. egn

    egn Hall of Fame

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    Agreed Becker normally whipped Edberg, minus wimbledon. Although speculation I always felt as if Becker felt immense pressure at Wimbledon due to his early success. I've read alot and heard alot that prior to his 86 win people spoke as if he was going to easily match Borg's record. The hype machine behind the young Boris Becker was huge there. Becker was just bad in big matches at wimbledon. He made 9 semifinals and has only 3 wins. The only player I can think of in the open era who has more is Connors. When Becker won wimbledon you realized that he might nautrally have been the greatest grass court player ever. It's just shocking to think he does only have three wimbledons because he was always going deep.
     
  9. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    He made 7 finals but didn't have the insane winning % Sampras had. Becker's serve was able to be figured out by players over time. His serving % never seemed that reliable to me in big finals. His second serve was a marked drop off as well unlike Sampras or Edberg. It;s funny when you win early but do not keep winning at the same rate your career is called disappointing but if you come n strong late you "matured" as a player.
     
  10. 1477aces

    1477aces Hall of Fame

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    I'm talking about slams. 88 final, 90 final, 89 Roland Garros semifinal (an event he was much better at than Edberg overall). Only win in a slam match is the 89 Wimbledon final I believe. So I don't think it is untrue that Becker choked in the big stage against Edberg.
     
  11. carpedm

    carpedm New User

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    I understand the counter-arguments to the choke and I love Ivan. He's underrated and fantastically talented. But it was choke.

    Lendl's fitness had something to do to the 84 French but Mac's level was something to behold.

    I'm sorry, John was slapping the number 2 seed around for most of the match with a 55% delivery. Can you expect him not to be broken? Yes, I can. Because he wasn't getting broken and he wasn't even serving his best.

    For most of the match, there wasn't a thing Lendl could do better than Mac. John out-served him. He hit a bigger backhand. He hit a bigger FOREHAND. And he played a better all-around game. The only thing Lendl could do was hope his fitness allowed him to hang in there, which it did.

    There is no other way about it. In the end of the match, Lendl wasn't playing any better he was playing about even - hence the close scores. For much of the first two sets, Mac obtained a level of tennis on clay that I've yet to ever see from an attacking player. This is not hyperbole: John went to another level.

    Yes, Ivan had to raise his game but he was down a break in the fourth to the best closer on the planet that year. Unfortunately, Mac wasted a lot of energy to finish the job and his level came down, hence the choke was on. His serve didn't quite snap out as wide, he snatched at volleys with suspect footwork and he allowed himself to emotionally implode.

    In the end, when you look at all that John was able to do in 1984 ( how confident and how skillfully he played the game) - I'm sorry but it really is true: the only person who could beat McEnroe that year McEnroe himself.

    Credit to Lendl for being around when he did.




     
  12. krosero

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    There was no bigger stage for Becker than winning the Davis Cup for Germany. The entire country went tennis-crazy with his first Wimbledon victory and fixated on him as a sort of hero. I doubt anyone in Davis Cup, at that time, had as much weight of expectation placed on him by his home country as Becker did.
     
  13. krosero

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    It's an unreasonable expectation. If McEnroe had taken the third set 6-4, he would have had to hold serve 14 consecutive times: and I can't think of anyone who had done so up to that time on clay. In that year's semifinal McEnroe had crushed Connors and had served 14 times, but he got broken once; the best he could do against Connors was 9 consecutive service holds.

    Moose is right: going 3 sets on clay without getting broken is an extraordinary feat and we don't know of any such instance before '84, though you do see it occasionally today when service hold rates are much higher.

    As it was, Mac was broken by Lendl after holding in his first 11 service games. In the '79 French final Borg had started with 11 consecutive service holds -- and he got broken when serving for the match in the third set. He didn't choke; it's just extremely unlikely that anyone can keep up a perfect pace for 3 sets on clay.

    Even Borg couldn't do it; and he was facing an opponent (Pecci) inferior to Lendl.

    If anyone could do it, it would have been Borg, who was playing a far less risky style. McEnroe's aggressive style was practically impossible to maintain at a perfect level; you go for winners, and errors are bound to come sooner or later.

    And you see players getting broken very commonly (not just in chokes) when they're serving for a set or a match. You call Mac the best closer in tennis in '84, and that's true; but when he beat Lendl earlier that year on clay at Forest Hills, he got broken serving for the match at the end of the second set (he won 6-4, 6-2).

    That was on Har-Tru clay, a bit faster than red, a bit more favorable to Mac's style: but even there he couldn't hold for two sets without getting broken, to say nothing of three.

    What McEnroe was doing at the start of the French final was extraordinary for anyone (equaling what Borg had done in '79), but particularly for a serve-and-volleyer. That's why I think your argument works against itself: you're right, McEnroe was playing unearthly tennis. He HAD to come down from there.

    I strongly agree with those who don't view that match as a choke. McEnroe's level stayed high, but it slowly deteriorated, largely due to physical fatigue. The NBC commentators all observed it and called it physical, not mental; not a choke. McEnroe admits himself that he tired; he says in his book that he was worried about the heat on the final weekend.

    On the other side of the coin, Lendl's quality of play slowly rose in that match. He had his first love service hold to open the third set: long before there could have been any choke by McEnroe. Slowly he was working his way into the match and into McEnroe's service games; and he said later that early in the third set he felt confident that he could break. Soon enough he did, and his confidence rose further.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  14. carpedm

    carpedm New User

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    All good points. And I concede to your argument that it is difficult to hold serve that many times in a row on clay. And I'll even give you that Mac's level coming down from being so high may not constitute a choke, although we still should consider how he was able to maintain such a level in his other matches that year so there was precedent. He played mercurially during the Wimbeldon and US Open finals and his level didn't falter then. Still, for the sake of argument we'll et his level drop pass on being a choke.

    I have one glaring piece of evidence: it's not all the break points he failed to convert in the fifth or even that he didn't capitalize on his momentum in the third when he broke back.

    My most damning evidence of a choke: Mac was up a break in the forth.


     
  15. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    I agree. Also, I think it would wrong to say Becker choked in the slams against Edberg like the other poster said. He met an Edberg who happened to play very good tennis in those indivudual matches. There was no choking, in the proper sense of the word.

    Also Edberg and Becker's head to head were a lot closer up until the 90 W final. All but two of Edberg's wins came between 87 and 90. 15 to 9 after that match, I believe. Then Becker ran away with it for some reason. But they never met in the slams after 90.
     
  16. krosero

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    Exactly, Becker ended up with a 25-10 edge over Edberg, but after the '90 Wimby final it was only 15-9. Becker, for whatever reason, won their last 10 (completed) matches.
     
  17. krosero

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    His Wimb/USO matches were on fast surfaces so they don't establish precedents for how many times someone can be expected to hold on clay. The best precedents he set on clay that year were the ones I mentioned: the Forest Hills victory over Lendl and the RG semifinal over Connors. In the former he was broken before two sets were completed; in the latter he was unbroken for two sets, but not for three.

    Also, even though McEnroe went unbroken in his Wimb/USO finals, his opposition in those matches was of less quality than the player he was facing at RG. Old Connors came out flat for the Wimbledon final, with an old racquet, and was crushed; Lendl came out for the USO final utterly drained from Super Saturday, and after two sets he had no more left in the tank.

    In the USO semis Connors was just about as good as Lendl was at RG. Roughly speaking. And Connors broke McEnroe 7 times over the course of five sets.

    McEnroe played some of the best tennis of all time in '84 but he was far from unbreakable in a best-of-five match, even on fast surfaces.

    McEnroe straight-setted Cash in the Wimbledon semis but was broken early in the third set: same thing that happened in the French final.

    McEnroe earned only two break points in that fifth set. In fact Lendl won his last 12 service points of the match.

    This is not evidence of a choke; it just means that one way or another there was a break-back.

    In the first two sets McEnroe was at his best and Lendl was not yet confident, so naturally all the breaks belonged to McEnroe.

    In the third and fourth sets there were a lot of breaks in both directions, because the pendulum was swinging and the two players were struggling to establish control: very different from the image of one player getting all (or most) of the opportunities and choking them away.

    Lendl broke for a 4-2 lead in the third set but was broken right back. In the fourth set McEnroe broke at 1-all and was broken right back; he broke in the next game and held, which put him up 4-2; but he was broken back. At 4-all Lendl nearly got broken again but managed to pull through.

    Essentially, they were trading breaks in the third and fourth sets.

    Lendl lost a 4-2 lead in the third just as McEnroe lost a 4-2 lead in the fourth; but neither player was choking. It's just that both men were being forced to do more work: Lendl was forced to do more if he wanted the third set, and likewise McEnroe in the fourth. Neither situation was like when someone HAS won clear control over his opponent and simply lets it get away; both men, in the third and fourth sets, were still struggling to gain control; they were each pulling ahead by no more than a nose -- which is why you saw so many breaks back-and-forth in those sets.

    Ultimately I can't agree with the idea that the loss of a service break lead constitutes a choke. I can't even agree to that on a fast surface, much less on clay where you see more service breaks.

    I looked again, btw, at the 4-3 game in the fourth set in which McEnroe was broken. McEnroe saved one break point with a strong, deep second serve (a gutsy one at that stage of the match) and a forehand volley winner.

    He made his first serve successfully on two key points: when he reached 40-30 and on the last point of the game. Each time he sent his serve out wide to Lendl's backhand. But both times Lendl put in hard crosscourt returns that made McEnroe hit a low forehand volley. Each time McEnroe missed his volley; and I would score each one as a forced error.

    By that time in the match McEnroe probably found it particularly difficult to get down for low stretching volleys. That's physical fatigue, but not a choke.
     
  18. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    ^^

    I agree. that was not a choke.

    The first two sets JMac was at his best, including his serve % being ~60.

    I think his serve % dropped to a combined 35-40% in the last 3 sets and he ended up at ~45% for the whole match.

    Lendl promptly took advantage of his level dropping ( in part due to fatigue ) , including the serve % in particular and fought back.
     
  19. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He was also 2 points from match point against Connors at 82 Wimbledon, yet still lost.
     
  20. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    #h#t happens....particularly when playing against guys like Connors on grass and Lendl on clay. It's not over until it's over.....
     
  21. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes I agree with the consensus that being a break up in a set on clay is really not that big a deal at all, considering that breaks happen all the time on that surface and the serve is less of an advantage. As Krosero pointed out, Lendl had already broken Mac in that 4th set, and a couple of times in the 3rd set, so was it really unreasonable to expect him to break again.

    All the bogus talk about the match being a choke detracts from how excellent a final it really was. Mac has played in 3 of the best slam finals of the open era in my opinion, his 1980 Wimbledon and US Open finals against Borg and this match.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  22. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    About 55% combined in the first two sets; 39% combined in the last three; and 43% for the whole match (compared to 47% in his semi vs Connors).

    I posted my stats here: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=174085.

    I'm surprised actually that I have so little in that thread; I got detailed service stats 3 or 4 years that I never posted. Will try to do that sometime.
     
  23. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yep it was instantly regarded as one of the best matches of the year and in that rivalry. It's arguably their best match; I'm not sure what match I'd put above it for drama and quality of play combined.

    The NBC commentators -- Enberg and Collins -- felt it was a great match and, interestingly, they had trouble afterwards identifying what had been the turning point. I think that's because the match turned gradually. Identifying such a moment would not have been difficult if it had been a genuine choke (in such a case it would have been more likely that someone stepped up to serve for the match, for example, basically in command of his opponent, but clearly lost control due to nerves).
     
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1983 WCT final match.This time, Mac won over 5 sets.
     

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