JMac's Strange Career

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by YouCantBeSerious, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. YouCantBeSerious

    YouCantBeSerious Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    968
    Location:
    Land of the Free Buffet
    Why does somebody like JMac have the best season ever in 1984 and then only gets a couple more slam finals for the rest of his career? Personal issues? I thought the guy was always goal oriented and after the 1984 season he lost focus or interest, but I'm not convinced this is a good explanation because he continued going deep up to the early 90s (it's not like he completely vanished.)
     
    #1
  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    A combination of things, really. For much of 1985, McEnroe was playing just as well as in 1984, but unlike 1984, he was coming up short in the biggest tournaments. McEnroe seemed befuddled by Curren at 1985 Wimbledon, and couldn't cope with Curren's power.

    McEnroe was strongly favoured to beat Lendl in the 1985 US Open final, especially after easily beating Lendl in Stratton Mountain and Montreal, yet McEnroe blew a 5-2 lead in the first set of the US Open final and ended up losing in straight sets, and lost the number 1 ranking also. He dealt with the loss badly, and by January 1986, after losing to Brad Gilbert of all people, he took a 6 month break. There must have been all sorts of problems in his personal life at the time as well.

    Once McEnroe returned, the game was changing in a big way, becoming more and more fitness and power orientated, with the likes of Lendl and Becker. McEnroe took some time to come to terms with this, but he had a rather good 1989 for the most part with commentators speculating that he could possibly get back to his former glories of world number 1 and winning another major. But he didn't keep it up apart from the odd tournament.
     
    #2
  3. YouCantBeSerious

    YouCantBeSerious Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    968
    Location:
    Land of the Free Buffet
    It was a sad turn of events. I feel that he should have won many more titles. That 6 month break was horrible for him. And the change to the power game paradigm definitely changed things around.

    I don't know if people realize, but JMac won a ton of doubles titles also. But nowadays people are so concentrated on singles titles that it's not even a factor.
     
    #3
  4. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    More than 30 single&doubles titles in same ATP tournament.. no one will ever come close to that
     
    #4
  5. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,006
    I still remember the 1984 French Open final. I was really rooting for him to win against Lendl...he was playing so well enroute to the final. Serve and volleying, chip and charging, had never seen anyone play that game so effectively on the red clay. Would have taken it in 3 straight sets, we're it not for a few calls in the 7th game, IIRC.
     
    #5
  6. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Hollywood baby...
    Two words -- Tatum O'Neal.

    'Nuff said.
     
    #6
  7. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    13,490
    Location:
    So Cal
    +1. Big time. Before her, he partied with the boys - but not in excess. She took him to a whole, new not very good (for a pro athlete) world.

    Not buying the game changing - Mac was talented enough to adapt.
     
    #7
  8. rofl_copter3

    rofl_copter3 Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Messages:
    851
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    Mcenroe blames it on borg's retirement in a big way... He said he really used borg as motivation much like magic and Larry bird
     
    #8
  9. YouCantBeSerious

    YouCantBeSerious Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    968
    Location:
    Land of the Free Buffet
    Playing that kind of game in the FO was amazing, indeed. JMac was at his best a genius.
     
    #9
  10. YouCantBeSerious

    YouCantBeSerious Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    968
    Location:
    Land of the Free Buffet
    I know he cites this often. And I'm sure it played a part. But, like has already been said, Tatum O'Neal seems to have had a pernicious effect on his game too!
     
    #10
  11. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    4,789
    A big factor was McEnroe got a graphite racquet in 1984. About a year ahead of everyone else bar Lendl.

    I think Cash would have beaten him at Wimbledon with a graphite racquet.

    Connors got destroyed in that Wimbledon final with his ancient flyswatter heavy steel T-2000. He went to Wilson and developed a graphite/kevlar racquet called the Wilson 6.0.85 you might have heard of. Using it in the USO semi a few months later he took McEnroe to a very tight 5 sets.

    A bit revisionist but it really was a big factor in my opinion.

    edit: When in 83 did he get it Mustard? Early or late?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
    #11
  12. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    McEnroe was using a graphite racquet in 1983. I think this one of the factors in McEnroe turning the tables on Lendl in their head-to-head, because Lendl was destroying McEnroe from 1981 up until January 1983. McEnroe also attacked the net relentlessly against Lendl from 1983, on the advice of Don Budge.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
    #12
  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    #13
  14. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,117
    Personal struggles certainly can mess with your game. I thought he was going to win another slam title until he got thrown out of the Australian Open. If the unknown Sampras hadn't been playing so great, McEnroe might have won that U.S. Open.
     
    #14
  15. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,391
    Eh, not sure if the Pro-Staff would've slowed Mac's domination over Connors in that Wimby final. The surface favored him and he was just deadly all the way around. The USO surface was more favorable to Connors and he was playing exceptionally well with the new racquet, no question. And, he was highly motivated after that Wimbledon debacle. But, moving to a graphite racquet was long overdue...even if he did not stay w/the Pro-Staff for long.
     
    #15
  16. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,836
    personal issues and burnout.. he even said in his book he was thinking about quitting in '86 but his parents yelled at him 'then what are you gonna do with yourself??" you could say the power game played a part in it with the emergence of boom boom becker and a fitter lendl, and others, but he was losing to players like annacone, gilbert, mecir, mayotte, edberg, etc... who were not the biggest power players in the game..so i wouldnt say it was that entirely tho it wasnt helping.
     
    #16
  17. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    1,690
    After Mac routed Lendl to win the 1984 US Open title I don't think many people thought that he would never win another slam again. His defeat to Lendl in the 1985 US Open final was the real turning point of his career (and Lendl's too). The tennis he had been playing in the summer of 1985 was pretty much flawless and as good as his 1984 standard. Unfortunately his 5 set US Open semi against Wilander in the brutal heat took a lot out of him.

    Like with Borg, the mental exhaustion would have taken its toll on Mac. In the 80s he was the best paid and arguably the most high profile athlete in the world (at least one of the top 3). He was being pestered everywhere he went and dealing with that day after day would have been tiring.

    He has the distinction of appearing in 3 of the greatest grand slam finals of all time, the 1980 Wimbledon and US Open finals and the 1984 RG final. It's a shame that he himself through the media has spun the 1984 RG final into being a huge choke by him, when in fact it was one of the highest quality slam finals from start to finish ever seen. He played very well in the 3 sets he lost in addition to the 2 that he won. Of course unlike the 1980 Wimbledon final, he lost the match to a guy he despised rather than one he idolised, and was never able to win that tournament or beat Lendl at RG in 3 attempts.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    #17
  18. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,208
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    You don't need to buy anything McEnroe admits it himself in his autobiography You Cannot Be Serious: " the combination of fitness and raquet power left me out in the cold." He also admitted that Kevin Curren simply overpowered him the the 1985 Winmbledon QF. That was an amazingly candid statement to make right after a match from a player as awesome as McEnroe.

    Mac also pulled his hamstring in the fall of '84 and it never quite healed 100% and he lost a 1/2 step which is evident in 1985 even though he was still a top notch player.

    So with the factors in play and throw in some of his lifestlye choices (for a time anyway) and he was unable to adjust.
     
    #18
  19. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Messages:
    2,173
    Drugs.
    10 char.
     
    #19
  20. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,208
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    I think his default (absolutely deserved btw) at the Australian Open in 1990 ended his best chance to capture a slam post 1985. For some reason he was in very good form and I think he would have beaten Lendl and gotten to the final.
     
    #20
  21. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    #21
  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    I still remember the deep dark circles under his eyes, and his gaunt face at the end of 1984. Not enough sleep and not enough food will do that to you.
     
    #22
  23. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Messages:
    15,768
    Location:
    VA Beach
    Funny, I was just watching an old McEnroe interview w Charlie Rose where he talks about it.

    http://youtu.be/99KOyJv1ZNU?t=49m

    It's a good interview if you have time to watch the whole thing, funny thing is he also mentions some issues that still exist now (season being too long, ATP as a clown organization, Sampras not playing enough Davis Cup, calling Ivanisevic a mental midget :lol:)
     
    #23
  24. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,208
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    Another funny thing is how McEnroe candidly admits how the power was a problem for him beginning in the mid -80's, mentioning Curren,becker and Lendl but some posters still insist the increase of the power in the game had nothing to do with his later struggles
     
    #24

Share This Page