Lendl v McEnroe - who was the greater player?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Paul Murphy, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Winning Wimbledon would be equal to winning a gold in the Olympics. I think we can all agree to that. Winning the lowly ranked Australian Open, for that time period, would be equal to winning a bronze in the Olympics. The French would equal a silver. Now add them up. Macks on top.
     
  2. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,863
    At their best... Mac was a better player than Lendl.

    Stats can be skewed anyway you want them. I watch them both at their best and there is no question in my mind that Mac at his best was the better player.
     
  3. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Nice win by Mack.

    Nice to see Lendl not yanking out his eyelashes anymore.
     
  4. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,541
    Location:
    OREGON

    I don't know how you skew all these stats. Lots of folks agree with that 'at their best' caveat but if that level is not consistent enough, for long enough as a percentage of the career, you end up throwing out too sludge in an effort to refine the oil.
     
  5. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Which takes more talent to be successful, a serve and volleyer, or a baseline basher?
     
  6. Kalin

    Kalin Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,455
    Talking about talent.... how much of JMac's superior 'talent' was actually due to being a lefty. Make John a righty where his corkscrew serve goes instead into the other guys forehand and a considerable chunk of his talent disappears. Being a lefty is not a talent, it's a fluke of Nature.

    And please stop this hilarity about doubles. Nobody gives a c**p about doubles; not then, not now. How many doubles titles did Borg win in the same era? Borg, BTW, was a better player than both Ivan and John

    Same thing about 'peak'. At their 'peak', Richard Krajicek and Joachim 'Pim-Pim' Johansson, just to name a couple, were both unbeatable by anyone. So frickin' what...
     
  7. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    You got anger issues? Take it somewhere else pal. We only engage in civilized
    interaction in this thread. Ask the wanker OP if you don't believe me.
     
  8. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    Well said.
     
  9. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    You are so funny.
    Please don't stop posting - where else could I get entertainment like this at no cost.
    Wacky, zany, crazy, you've got it all and more. :)
     
  10. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    4,092
    you love this stuff, don't you mate?

    I'm not weighing in to this one other than to suggest JMac lost very few matches to P. Cash, particularly not important ones...
     
  11. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Thanks mate wanker, but there is a cost.... your soul. :twisted:
     
  12. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    There you go again. Brilliant. :)
     
  13. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    By the way, have you tried holding your breath and stamping your feet? ;)
     
  14. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    2,090
    In their playing days, McEnroe was always considered the greatest talent. But then, S&V was still a succesfull style of play.
    In the 2000's, where it's all about baseline power and constistency, a young Lendl would be regarded more talented than a young McEnroe for sure. Great touch at net is a nice addition, but on itself it's not gonna win you singles slams anymore.

    Apart from the most talented issue, Lendl accomplished more with what he had, and stayed longer at the very top. So to me he was the greater player.
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Nobody hit the lines like John.

    " Chalk flew up".Glorious, insane superbrat.

    I don´t know on court, it can go both ways depending on criteria.But off court, Lendl was the better of the two.
     
  16. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,267
    Location:
    Western North Carolina
    Both great.

    Lendl, worked harder, better stats, longevity (open tennis), etc.

    Mac, better skill/mastery, less effort, longevity (the guy is STILL a master), etc.

    that was some good tennis.

    edit: for those that want to make wimbledon the difference, one could also argue the FO
    as a tough task. 1983 rings a bell.

    doubles, to me, is not a factor in this argument, but i dig that Mac was a more well rounded player
    in that respect. no doubt.

    I'm a fan of both but i'd give the nod to Lendl for the younger days and a nod to Mac for the lifelong
    achievement/overall (dubs included).
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  17. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,522
    Lendl was the better player. He also changed the game. The way players train.
     
  18. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,267
    Location:
    Western North Carolina
    the way they deal with rackets/strings (with Bosworth).
    fresh rackets wrapped in plastic. changing rackets
    as new balls are brought into play.

    but yes, training was his BIG addition to the game at
    that time.
     
  19. Kalin

    Kalin Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,455
    This pretty much sums it up
     
  20. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,391
    there's no simple answer to this...may as well throw Connors into the mix as well...GS singles titles are about comparable in#...each is missing 1 of the 4 majors, Connors at least covered all surfaces. Mac much better in dubs, Davis Cup. Total titles and overall longevity to Connors, Lendl right up there in titles as well. Weeks at #1 to Lendl w/Jimmy right behind. But raw skill and talent? That goes to Mac, who you could put right up there w/anyone on his best day. So, flip a coin, spin a bottle, whatever. The differences are really quite small.
     
  21. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,837
    i agree, at the end of they day they were pretty equal. at some points in their career, mac was the better player. then lendl was later on.

    interesting about lendl's consistency, gimelstob interviewed lendl on tv and asked him if hes proud of how consistent he was throughout his career. and lendl actually said it could be considered a weakness, because his game never went down too much but on the other hand he couldnt raise his game to a 5th gear in the big moments (ala, becker, sampras, mabye mac, etc..).
     
  22. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,208
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    I think John had the slightly better career but here is an equally difficult question: Both players were unpopular among their fellow players. Who was more disliked in the locker room: John or Ivan?
     
  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Mac was much more gregarious although in the leading position while Lendl was a clear individualistic guy.Of course, there were many reasons for that.Not only their own personality but also the fact that the tour was much more US dominated and there was much more common ground for John than there was for Ivan
     
  24. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,208
    Location:
    L. Island, NY
    True. Ivan went out of his way to be rude to his peers. I don't know if John did that. I do know John was disliked by many for his gamesmanship during matches. I.E timing his outbursts ( which always happened when he was losing) in a manner to disrupt his opponents momentum.
     
  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    John is the typical guy you dislike on court but you can get along fine off.Like Nastase, who was very popular among most of the top players.Not Lendl.He only had Fibak as a real friend and got along well with Mayer,Clerc,Gomez and Edberg but not really close.
     
  26. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,541
    Nope

    You know that 8-11 is vastly superior to 8-0 don't you? Unless you believe that losing in the first round of a slam is a better performance than making the final. After all if Lendl had instead lost in the first round in those 11 slams - then he would be sitting on a 8-0 ie 100% record! No, losing in the first round isn't better than making the final.

    In 1985 McEnroe failed before the final at the french open, in the same tournament Lendl was the losing finalist..but you make that count against Lendl but don't make the inferior result in that tournament count against McEnroe at all.
     
  27. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,541
    My pick is Lendl.

    I will say this though. I think McEnroe has the Lew Hoad factor ie very high peak play. I think Lendl had the superior record, but peak 1984 McEnroe was higher than peak Lendl.

    Even though Lendl is my pick...it is worth mentioning their records at the two indoor majors as well.

    Lendl - Masters - 5, WCT Finals -2
    McEnroe - Masters - 3 WCT Finals - 5
     
  28. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,117
    McEnroe had a higher peak level. Lendl had a better overall career in singles.
    Depends on what you value.
     
  29. Blocker

    Blocker Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    536
    Location:
    Melbourne
    To me that 1984 FO final match is the key in this topic. Had McEnroe won that (being 2 sets up), the H2H would be closer, 20-16 instead of 21-15 and the slam count would be 8-7 in McEnroe's favour. Plus McEnroe would have won all the important slams in that era, the AO not being considered worthy around that time.

    I give the nod to Lendl.
     
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Slam count is important now, not then.Mac won 8 major indoors and Lend 7.IMO, their number stands equal.In titles that mattered when they played which is the important thing.
     
  31. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,414
    mac had a better peak and looked like he was on pace to be greater but then came his break after which he never won a major again at age 25 or so.

    I give the nod to lendl because he kept winning majors till he was 30. mac could have been greater but lendl had a better work ethic and thus just edged mac out. lendl also has 100 weeks more at no.1.
     
  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    As opposed to Lendl´s one more slam ( equalized by John´s one more indoor slam) and more weeks and tournaments won, Mac brings to table his amazing DC and doubles record.

    Closest race.I´d say Mac dominated the first half of the 80´s ( with Borg and Connors ) while Lendl dominated the second half, with Becker, Wilander and Edberg.But when Mac peaked Lendl was there and when Lendl peaked Mac wasn´t there...
     
  33. Blocker

    Blocker Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    536
    Location:
    Melbourne
    My point was, that FO final was a pendulum swinger for both McEnroe and Lendl in the context of their respective careers.
     
  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I certainly agree with that.I´d say however the turning point was the 1985 US Championships.

    In any case, even if Mac had won that US Open, he´d have gone the way he did in 1985-1987.That is my belief.
     
  35. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    So very true.
     
  36. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    I agree with you here too.
    1984 for Mac was an extraordinary year but overall it's Lendl for all the reasons I've given.
     
  37. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    In hindsight it truly was a match of huge importance.
     
  38. Kirijax

    Kirijax Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,854
    Are we talking about better peak player or better overall career? There was no question McEnroe had something special and that 1984 year was amazing. He could do things with a tennis ball that no one else could. So if we 're talking about better peak player, it would have to be McEnroe.
    Lendl didn't have the talent McEnroe had but he more than made up for it with hard work. His career achievements outweigh McEnroe's I think.
    Also someone mentioned that they remember McEnroe's big matches more than Lendl's. That's because McEnroe had the worst on court manners of anyone and he made everything that much more flamboyant.
     
  39. degrease

    degrease Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2013
    Messages:
    218
    Obviously the stats say a lot but maybe because i am in uk with is wimbledon focussed but wen j talk greatest player from each era Mcenroe's name comes up before lendl's.. dont know if same in other countries.

    Macenroes S and V frequency gets talked about with misty eyed reverance.

    Btw i too young to remember either at the time
     
  40. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    How unfortunate you missed the point. Lendl was known as a "choker". Not just by me, but everyone else on the tour. Except for the French Open that McEnroe gifted to Lendl, Mack was by far stronger mentrally (hint greater) than Lendl.

    Mcenroe admired Lendls work ethic and dedication to fitness. But thought Lendl a stiff talentless mug who often would tank matches, calling Lendl a @u$$y on one occasion for not trying in an exhibition match in which they were paid a lot of money.
     
  41. Kalin

    Kalin Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,455
    So we've determined that Mac thought he was a better player than Lendl. What a surprise!

    I wonder what Lendl thinks about all this...
     
  42. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,837
    i think its hard to say whos greater since these 2 players both had two different careers pre-'85 and post-'85. lendl really got his mind and body together in 85 with the fitness, training, haas diet, new coach, strategy, etc.. and that helped him mentally too. mac on the other hand, you could say he suffered burnout from 85 on though he tried to get it together and did have some flashes of brilliance every now and then after.

    i remember macs last usopen win in 84 when he dominated lendl in the final and held his finger "no1" to the tv camera. this was the year he dominated everyone. its funny nobody in their right mind would have thought that was going to be his last grandslam win.
     
  43. Vensai

    Vensai Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,195
    Location:
    Mortis
    I never thought McEnroe really "choked" the French Open final. I always thought Lendl simply found his game and outplayed him. Though I suppose that's up to interpretation.
     
  44. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,493
    Location:
    Parts Unknown
    Just finished reading Macs book, "You Cannot Be Serious." Mac wrote several times that he felt like he choked the match away. Says he was cruising, up two sets and a break in the third, when a cameramas headset started making a buzzing noise. Said it distracted his train of thought, he became agitated and let negative thoughts and doubt enter his mind.

    Mack wrote: "But he didn't beat me. I beat myself. Lendl got his first major, and I took his title, Choker-in-chief , away from him. Temporarily."

    Mack did give Lendl credit "grudgingly" for being fit enough to raise his level of play as the match progressed.

    Mack also said that Lendls parents use to "leash" young Ivan to a fence when they played tennis, and that Lendl was a locker room bully.

    Really enjoyed Macks book, which was much more enjoyable reading than Connors semi-boring book.
     
  45. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    If only that pesky "buzzing noise" wasn't there then he would have won!
    Damn buzzing noise!
    How dare the French allow a "buzzing noise"!
     
  46. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    But I thought McEnroe was "far stronger mentally" (or "mentrally").
    Must have been a very, very loud "buzzing noise".
    Poor John.
    So unfair.
    Boo hoo.
     
  47. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926
    I suppose if McEnroe says it it must be true - I mean he's totally unbiased in this matter after all. :)
     
  48. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,926

    "I took his title, Choker-in-chief , away from him. Temporarily"

    Of course he did - poor Ivan only managed to win seven more Majors from this point and spend a measly five years as World No.1.
    Poor guy.
     
  49. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,837
    lendl did have a 'choker' reputation early in his career but i think the press misused the term or exagerated it a bit. alot of it had to do with losing so many gs finals up until the french, similar to andy murray. people thought he didnt give it his all and he couldnt win the big ones, esp after the usopen losses to connors. when he got fitter he got mentally stronger. i do remember him being really rattled against chang though at the french that one year where it looked like he mentally collapsed.
     
  50. PMChambers

    PMChambers Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    922
    Lendl in my experience watching them both live on several occasions, though I missed pre-84 Mac live as he did not like leaving the US.
    Lendl started as a base liner and developed into a great all rounder, Mac was extremely reliant on his volleying game which was problematic as the game developed away from the wooden racquet era into the graphite era.
    I don't believe their peaks where based purely on ability rather the state of the game at the time. Mac best was during the wooden (65") era though his best year was with the 200G (80") plastic noodle (sorry never like the limp feel), where as Lendl was better in the graphite era. To me this meant Mac was better when the net game was king, once the racquets became more rigid and powerful with larger head size for additional spin potential he was at a disadvantage benifiting Lendl all round game. The courts also assisted as Wim was a sand pit at the end of 2nd week in the early 80's. So if Mac at his physical and mental best played Lendl in 87 Lendl would win on all but Wim, and vise versa if they met in 83 for Mac except FO.
    I think Lendl's natural talent is heavily underestimated and Mac over exaggerated. Lendl had a hole in his game early on which was net play and he still performed great. He had the talent to develop the skill to a very high level to the point where he was RU in the most important volleying competition twice, though his volley never came close to Mac. Mac's base line game was no where near Lendl's. Mac got away with a pokey pushy baseline game during the low power era which was exposed when the game sped up. In the late 80's I'd never seen a player ever hit a ball as sound and as consistent as Lendl, that takes talent it's not bashing it's countering spin and feeling the power and touch needed to ensure the shot consistently lands deep. This in my opinion is where people misunderstand men's vs woman's tennis believing the woman have more touch because they play slower, not so in my book.
    Doubles does not count, doubles was meaningless when Mac played it. Doubles became meaningless in the 70's when top players stopped playing it. It's a different game and should be classed as such, same for mixed double where Mac also played well.
    A slight downside of Mac was he won nearly all his major event's in US, as one of the all time S&V he should have a better Wim record. Having the Masters in NY also helped as is evident when he won one year against Lendl hitting a ball through the net!

    Having said all of that there is nearly nothing in it, just one GS in my option. Both are great players who brought much joy to many people and still do. Lendl had chance to firm his record and Mac also had many chances as well. Both left great matches.
     

Share This Page