Mac and Connors need to give Lendl more credit

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sandy mayer, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I've noticed that Connors and Mac tend to always stress that each other and Borg were their greatest rivals. I think this is very harsh on Lendl: I think both should list Lendl along with Borg and each other.

    Mac especially: Lendl knocked him off the no.1 spot, is ahead in their head to head record and they are the same age. Lendl beat mac in 2 slam finals, more than either Borg or Connors.

    Connors' attitude is more understandable than Mac's because his peak and Lendl's peak were at different times: Lendl was at his best 85-90 while Connors was clearly past his prime then. Connors was great in 82-83 but Lendl wasn't quite at his peak then, though very good.
    However, even so Connors' 2 US victories over Lendl in 82-83 rightly show the greatness of Connors: this greatness is diminished if Lendl wasn't the rival Connors and Mac make him out to be.
    The huge no. of victories Lendl gathered against Connors shouldn't be totally underplayed. Yes Lendl dominated Connors after Connors turned 32 and was past his best, but nevertheless it was a great achievement to register so many victories against the veteran Connors, who even into his 30s was still formidable.

    Lendl's career is comparable to the careers of Connors and Mac. I slightly prefer the Americans' careers because in the 70s and 80s Wimbledon and the US Open were definitely the most important slams, but even so Lendl belongs in the same tier as his American rivals. Lendl was a great champion.
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Lendl's peak didn't coincide with Borg or Connors & arguably Mac. Its hard to include Lendl in that group, since Borg won his last slam in '81, Connors in '83, Mac in '84. They were fighting each other for slams, not Lendl really.
    Lendl won his first slam in '84. Mac basically retired after '85, and Lendl only became the clear #1 after that. Mac beat Lendl so many times in '83/'84, I don't think Lendl really got that much better in '85 or '86, just that Mac lost interest in the game.

    Connors & Mac are telling the truth, Lendl is a great player but his great rivals were Becker, Edberg & Wilander, not Borg, Mac & Connors.
     
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  3. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    both mcenroe and connors will always see lendl as a tanker and choker. for two men who alway fought to end, they will never look past this no matter what he did later in his career.
     
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  4. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Poor Lendl. I wonder if he saw The Squid and the Whale.
     
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  5. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    mac is just a media *****, he promotes himself relentlessly
     
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  6. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    So true. For example, Edberg and Lendl played 27 times (Edberg leads 14-13), and they had classic matches at the AO, Wimbledon, the USO and the Masters.

    Same for Wilander and Becker.
     
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  7. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    funny enough there are no clips of edberg being hit by lendl, because unlike someone like mcenroe for example he kept his hands up and relied on reflexes rather than guessing and influencing his opponents choice.I saw an old edberg lendl wimbledon semi yesterday, lendl drilled edberg full blast at point blank range and ederg deflected at an angle almost parallel to the net.

    Good times.Of course this was back in the days when it was possible for an amazing volleyers to compete with amazing baseliners on an equal footing.
     
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  8. BounceHitBounceHit

    BounceHitBounceHit Legend

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    Those guys seem to struggle to give credit to others............
     
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  9. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    Lendl did improve in '85 and '86. Imitating Navratilova, he became a fitness machine. Being so gangly -- all arms and legs -- he was never that quick, but he became really fast once he got moving, and he could keep going all day. Also, in his early career his backhand was like Steffi Grafs -- he avoided it as much as possible and when he had to hit it he just sliced it safely and tried harder to hit a forehand on his next shot. However, eventually he mastered a very powerful, accurate and reliable topspin backhand. It was not the equal of his forehand -- he could topspin it only if he let it drop to waist height (whereas anything high to his forehand was taken at the top of the bounce and pounded into dust). But in the latter part of his career he could and did hit winners with it.
     
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  10. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    #10
  11. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    ^I agree. Lendl's form on the backhand was a thing of beauty regardless of height.
     
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  12. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

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    Lendl was only 1 year older than Mac. Lendl beat mcenroe 9 or their last 10 matches. If I was mac I'd avoid bringing up that Rivalry too
     
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  13. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    #13
  14. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I disagree. Rivalries are most meaningful between member of the same generation. Borg and Mac were not the same generation. Mac and Lendl are a few months apart, came on tour on the same year and both made it to the top very quickluy. In the early 80s, when they were number 1 and 2 most of the time, Lendl was killing him in head to head for a while, something like 7 straight wins in 1981-83. Then Mac won 5straight till 84, and then, starting with the 1985 US Open, it was all Lendl for good. Their total Head to Head is 23-15 for Lendl. It is not true AT ALL that Mac "basically retired" after 85. It would be fairer to say he was bumped out of the top by Lendl. Mac kept trying to make it back to the top and never could. Closest he came was around 1989. That was the year he had his first and last win over Lendl after 1985, at the WTC Dallas. They played again at the Canadian Open that year, where they were the number 1 and 2 seeds, and Lendl absolutely destroyed him, almost embarrasing to watch.

    So of course Mac is not interested at all in bringing up the fact that he did have a longer and more meaningful rivalry with Lendl than he ever had with Borg, and that the rivalry is much more real because they are the same age. As a matter of fact, Lendl did to Mac what Mac had done to Borg. Except Borg really retired. Mac didn't.
     
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  15. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    If you consider how much younger Becker and Edberg were than Lendl, his success against them is that much more astounding. Edberg is a '66; Boris is a '67.
     
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  16. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    why don't you go to atptennis & check out mac's activity after 1985. He never played a full schedule from that point on. He was a very close #2 to Lendl in '85(& beat Lendl twice rather easily during the summer before the US Open so it seems rather a stretch to say that Lendl had his number at that point)
    I have an old tennis magazine from Nov '85, Mac was still ahead in the Grand Prix Points Race(similar to the race today) as late as November '85. Doesn't sound like Lendl was really pulling away from him. And then Mac took 6 months off in early '86, & was never the same player again(you can imagine what taking 6 months off did to his ranking), partly because he played so little(& was getting suspended when he did play). How could Lendl be responsible for Mac's "decline" in the 2 years after their '85 US Open meeting, they didn't play each other again until the '87 US Open!
    Blame Paul Annacone, Wally Masur, and some of the other lesser players that Mac was losing to regularly starting in '86 for his decline, not Lendl.

    Lendl was a great player, but his initial dominance was due to lack of a great rival. Even Becker was able to thrash him a few times when Lendl was supposed to be the dominant #1 in '86.

    btw, I'm not a Lendl hater at all, he was doing some remarkable things later in his career(at the age of 32 he was able to beat guys like Muster & Bruguera on clay & beat Sampras indoors, Goran at the US Open, etc, etc. He was a major talent who would be a force in any era. I think he still had a lot of great tennis in him, but his back held him back(the 'new generation' of Sampras, Agassi, Courier really weren't that much better than him, even in his advanced age.)

    But is is false to say that he was in any way responsible for Mac's decline. Or that he was Mac's great 'rival' since Mac stopped being fully focused on tennis after 1985. And the fact that they are the same age is irrelevant, Mac peaked at a very young age(the guy won the 1979 US Open at age 20, where was Lendl? Not even top 20)
     
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  17. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Lendl's career is indeed comparable to Connors, but not to Mac. Lendl had a much more remarkable tennis career than Mac. In general, I think Lendl is by far the most underrated tennis player of the Open era. From the beginnig, this "robot" image of him kept being pushed and repeated (and Mac contributed his share to that campaign), and simultaneously Mac was portrayed as a tennis "genius" and a "rebel". It was believed that Mac was all raw talent and Lendl no talent and all work. I never bought much into this bs. Sure Lendl took his training more seriously, but so what? There must be at any given moment thousands of tennis players willing to work as hard as Lendl, or harder, and they would never take a set from him, no matter how hard they work. Mac was indeed very talented, but so was Lendl in a different way. He was the first player to demolish his opponents with precision shotmaking from the baselin, an art that Federer has perfected to new heights.
     
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  18. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    Well Lendl beat McEnroe quite a few times in major events before McEnroe semi-retired after 1985. He beat him in the 1982 U.S Open semis, the 1984 French Open final (McEnroe choked but a win is a win), the 1985 U.S Open final, and the 1981 and 1982 Masters. He certainly deserves to be considered a rival to McEnroe even in his prime based on that.
     
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  19. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    No matter how you slice it, after Borg retired, Lendl was Mac's main rival by far. Mac's rivalry with Borg was pretty short: 1980 and 1981. Then Borg was gone. It is not true at all that Lendl was very far from peak at that time. He won 7 titles in 1980 and 10 titles in 1981. He reached the number 1 spot in early 1983. He was trashing Mac pretty regularly in those years. Mac's peak year was clearly 1984, which would have been a perfect year had Lendl not beat him at the RG final. Lendl's peak may have been 1985-87, but most of his career was like a long ridgecrest with very few bumps. Lendl and Mac were the number 1 and 2 for most of the first half of the 80s, till Mac took his 6-month break in 1986. Mac regained the number 1 spot after Wimbledon 1983 I believe, and kept it until he lost the 1985 US Open to Lendl. Then Lendl took it and kept it for most of the rest of the 80s, with a brief appearance by Wilander between Sept 1988 and Jan 1989 when Lendl took it again after winning the AO.

    The reasons that caused Mac to take a break in 1986 are no doubt complex, but the fact that Lendl had taken the number one spot from him in Sept 1985 must be among them. And I insist that Mac did make a real attempt at coming back in the late 80s but just couldn't do it. He came close in 1989 but never quite.

    Bottom line: you cannot seriously claim there was no rivalry between the two most dominant players of the 1980s.
     
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  20. realplayer

    realplayer Semi-Pro

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    As a player Lendl is often underrated by critics. Lets be honest. Lendl was in his prime in 1985 and had improved his game. That's why he knocked out Mcenroe in the U.S.-final. In 1985, 1986, 1987 Lendl was very dominating.

    John Mcenroe won "only" 77 tournaments ans was no. 1 for 159 weeks.
    Lendl won 94 tournaments and was 270 weeks no. 1 (only Sampras was longer no. 1).

    So I think he was a better player than John Mcenroe. It is possible to compare these players because they had the same age. Mcenroe was more talented but Lendl made more of his career and therefore is a greater player (so motivation also counts).

    Compare Lendl with Connors is not possible because Connors was 7 years older and in his prime in 1974-1978, a different period. But when you see what Connors made out of his career he is also better than John Mcenroe.
    His career is even a lot better than Mcenroe's.
     
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  21. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Let me start by saying Mac is my IDOL....or at least was back in those days. You stated that Lendl was not "in any way" responsible for Mac's decline....sorry but you are dead wrong. Mac could no longer handle Lendl after 1984. It used to kill me when Mac to play Lendl. He could not stop him...no one could. Lendl was domianting from 1985-1989. Mac was very frustarted he could not beat him and to this day he has a hard time giving too much credit to the guy. Lendl changed tennis...Mac did not.
     
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  22. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I checked his schedule(# is amount of singles tourneys) prior to 86 and after 86. Here it is:

    79: 23
    80: 25
    81: 22
    82: 19
    83: 18
    84: 20
    85: 18

    86: 8
    87: 13
    88: 12
    89: 14
    90: 16
    91: 20
    92: 18
    93: Retired...nothing listed from here on

    So to say Mac basically retired is a gross understatement. He actually played in 38 tourney's his last two years on the tour. Other than 86, he played a FULL schedule (according to ATP rules).

    Head to Head:

    Mac vs. Borg: 1978-1981 (7-7)
    Mac vs. Connors: 1977-1991 (20-14)
    Mac vs. Lendl: 1980-1992 (15-21)

    Mac is really full of himself. I sometimes get tired of hearing him talk about his rivalries and not mention Lendl. Its obvious Lendl and Connors are his GRATEST rivals. Borg played 4 season against Mac. Lendl played 13 and Connors 15. Mac never liked Lendl and still hates the guy. I read his book, he was not to kind to a great player. Sure, Lendl lacked charisma, be was a horse and a champion.
     
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  23. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    The Mac vs Lendl history has 3 distinct periods.

    The first one (1980-82) coincided with Mac’s emergence as the top player, while Lendl climbed to number 2, then number 1. This period was dominated by Lendl. After their first two meetings in 1980 (won by Mac), Lendl beat Mac 7 straight times in 1981-82.

    The second period (1983-84) was dominated by Mac, who won 10 of their 12 meetings. One of the losses to Lendl was at the RG final in 84. This is probably the most important meeting for both players. The result gave Lendl his first slam, and will forever remain Mac’s biggest obstacle to being among the greatest.

    The third period (1985-92) may be said to start with Lendl's victory at Forest Hills in 1985. Lendl took the number 1 spot after the 85 US Open and won 12 of their 16 meetings during this last period, including 9 of the last 10. In their last 6meetings, Mac did not take a single set or even got to a tiebreak.
     
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  24. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    The 1985 US Open was Mac's last slam final, and his last day as number 1. The name of the guy who put an end to those things is Ivan Lendl. That is the same guy who had been ranked #2 behind Mac (briefly #1) for the previous 4 years or so. In other words, that is the same guy who had been his main rival since Borg's departure after 81. Therefore, saying that Lendl had nothing to do with Mac's decline is obviously absurd. I have noticed *many* times that Mac studiously cultivates his rivalry with Borg. Never mentions Lendl. One time, when his tv sidekick Ted Something saw his head to head with Lendl on the screen, and commented: "I didn't know Lendl had this big an edge in head to head with you, John" (or words to that effect), Mac's response was a kind of dismissive grunt that clearly meant: "don't go there". And Ted dropped the subject like a hot potato.
     
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  25. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    There's nothing sweeter than watching Lendl nail Mac square in the chest that time. No love lost.

    Lendl has always been a very cool guy with a nice, dry sense of humour. I like the time (I think it was at the Aussie) where Mac semi-jokingly challenged Lendl to a tennis match (Mac was in the booth of course), while Lendl was being interviewed (the 'challenge' may have been relayed by another person). Lendl just kind of shrugged it off and said that he'd rather have Mac come bicycling with him if he was man enough.

    Lendl, of course, is also a pretty darn good golfer. The man has done good for himself in retirement, while Mac has been pathetically living off his accomplishments in the commentator's booth thanks to Mary Carillo's insistence upon patronage to form a dynamic duo of stupid.
     
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  26. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I liked his humor too. One time I saw him hit a shot that was just wide and the ball hit the linesman as he yelled OUT. Lendl comes to the net and asks the linesman (deadpan serious, with his check accent): "did you say out or ouch?"

    Regarding the golf, Mac's co-commentator, Ted, once threw some modest praise at Lendl's golf game. Mac quickly snapped: "stop saying he's a great golfer!".
     
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  27. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, but there is a difference between getting in the tournaments and playing. I agree that post '85(-ish?) McEnroe was basically going through the motions and for all intents and purposes was retired, just playing retired. He basically acted like he had nothing else to do.

    Now I fully agree with your second quoted sentence above.
     
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  28. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Looks like you proved my point, that Mac wasn't fully dedicated to the game after '85, that's a serious drop in events played compared to his prime years. And mentioning the amount he played his last 2 years is irrelevant, both Mac & Lendl to some degree were done as top players at that point as are most 30 somethings in the history of tennis. His years from '86 to '89 are most relevant, that was when he was still young enough to contend. Just wasn't willing to put the work in. The guy even skipped Wimbledon in '86 & '87! Since you read that book you know how important that event was to him. I hope you don't think him skipping it had something to with Lendl? The guy's head was no longer in the game post Tatum & kids. It happens. Look at Hewitt.

    oh and as far as Lendl having Mac's number past '84, check out these matches in the summer of '85, prior to the US Open, when Mac was still ranked #1(Mac was ranked #1 every week of '85 until after the US Open final, does that sound like Lendl was dominating in '85? He did start dominating in '86, when Mac was gone. Even then an 18 year old beat him rather badly a few times that year, so he wasn't exactly super dominant like Mac in '84 or something)

    August '85 Stratton Mountain Mac d Lendl 7-6 6-2
    August '85 Canadian Open Mac d Lendl 7-5 6-3

    I've seen both these matches recently, Mac was just toying with him. Lendl said in the post match interview that Mac at his best was just too much for him. I doubt he changed his mind after the US Open final a few weeks later, when Mac wasn't exactly at his best & Lendl was pretty much at the same level as these matches(guy always plays well)
    Even when they started playing again a few years later, Lendl admitted that Mac wasn't the same player anymore, didn't have the same pop on his serve or the same movement.
    Lendl beating Mac in the final of the US Open was a great win(which was helped by Mac having a 4 hour match with Wilander the day before under 100 degree weather, while Lendl got an easy win over an injured Connors under the lights) but it wasn't really the sign that their rivalry had clearly gone back in his favor. I mentioned how close the rankings were at the end of '85, if Mac had won a couple matches at the last event of the year, the Masters, he still would have been #1 for '85.

    I think Curren thrashing Mac at '85 Wimbledon was a bigger turning point for Mac than his US Open loss to Lendl, that was when it became apparent that a "new" type of player had emerged, one that could just completely serve anyone off the court. I never heard Mac sound more discouraged after a match. Had Mac been more dedicated to the game back then (think he actually is more dedicated today than then) I think he would have had far more trouble with Becker than Lendl from '86-'89, there's Lendl power(which has always been there & Mac was able to solve it many times in '84, its not like Lendl was hitting so much harder in '86) but then there's Becker power which is on a whole nother level(& Lendl admitted as much in '89, saying the guy 'just has more power than me')

    off course there was a rivalry, but it wasn't at the level of his rivalries with borg & connors(which was what the original topic was?)
    look at the head to heads with those players, so many 5 setters, epic matches that transcended that game. Tennis was at its peak in terms of participation & viewers from '77 to '82, so those rivalries were "greater" in that sense. Mac is always aware of what the public/media are talking about & they were talking a lot more about Borg & Connors than Lendl, so his comments aren't just sour grapes, they acuurately refect those times.
    How ever short the Borg-Mac rivalry was it was Ali-Frazier like, its about quality not quantity. I don't think the quality was the same with Mac-Lendl & the public/media certainly didn't embrace it the same way.

    well considering after '85, most of their last 11 meetings were when Lendl was #1 & Mac was ranked somewhere between 10-20, I would hope Lendl would have an edge. 'Great' rivalries shouldn't include that many QF matches.
    Playing in finals are what makes a rivalry great.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
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  29. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    I think lendl was pretty much as powerful as becker in every concievable way, and he was faster, more consistant and an incredibly intelligent tennis player, his ackhand was far more powerful, although becker had a great backhand himself.
    Becker did have a better tempermant in the slams though, possibly because the slams were actually important to Lendl, unlike the other events which were just his dayjob.
    I think Lendl's comment can be attributed to the fact that he had never seen the ball come in his direction that fast before.
     
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  30. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Sure Lendl was more consistent(which is partly why his career was so much better than Becker's) & faster, probably more intelligent. But Becker had far more power on all shots. I've seen him make Lendl look like a spectator on more that one occassion(check out the head to heads, someone as young as Becker shouldn't be able to beat the veteran #1 that badly in '86, he even won a set 6-0 indoors in '86! And Lendl was a 5 time masters champ, one of the best indoor players ever)
    Becker would just tee off on any shot from anywhere & could still make winners. And he could hit more clean winners off the return than Lendl as well, even though he was inconsistent. Lendl had to wait for his chances, court positioning, etc. Hitting from a tee, Lendl had as much power as anyone, but from awkward positions(he could even crush mishits for winners) Becker had superior power. Very strong man. I remember Wilander whining about Becker in '85(& did it again a few years ago!) saying that he didn't see how it was possible to win that way, just hitting so many winners & errors, & that it was 'boring' to watch & play against. Said the same thing after losing to Sampras in '89. Even when Wilander was blown out by Lendl, they were having 10-20 ball rallies on any surface. When Becker beat Wilander, he was hitting winners off the 3th or 4th shot.

    Becker was Sampras before Sampras, they both played a different game than most players of their time, going for low percentage shots from all areas of the court. Even when he played Sampras in '94 & '96, he averaged more mph on serve than Sampras in those meetings.
    Becker may be the strongest player ever.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
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  31. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    Lendl had a different style of game than becker though, which was not suited to indoor play, but he definitely had more power than becker, his forehand was gonzales like, becker's power was more like tursunov from the back of the court, (who has had very good results on grass).Becker just wasn't used to playing someone with that type of power.
     
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  32. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I do think Mac and Connors should give Lendl more credit.

    But McEnroe played 4 huge finals against Borg, on the two biggest stages in tennis, Wimbledon and the USO.

    It's the finals of the biggest events that everyone remembers, and he had more against Borg than anyone else.

    He split two Wimbledon finals with Connors. He split two USO finals with Lendl and also had that great French final (which McEnroe considers a choke, so in his eyes that match does not contribute to a "great" rivalry).
     
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  33. krosero

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    It's really true. To some extent McEnroe was an unconventional genius who couldn't be easily imitated, and it's not his fault that he didn't change the game more. But that takes nothing from the fact that Lendl did change it.
     
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  34. krosero

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    I recently watched the USO finals that Mac and Lendl split in '84 and '85, and I do think Lendl got better. His passing shots, which had always been strong, struck me as incredibly powerful in the latter final -- admittedly a subjective judgment, but there it is. And his volleys were clearly better, no doubt due to Tony Roche, whom he hired in between the two finals.

    And his training regimen, without a doubt, was increasing his physical strength and stamina -- as well as helping his self-belief.

    I have not seen the two matches that Mac won in straights over him in the summer of '85. I always figured that those matches were just the continuation of an unbroken pattern that rivalries can settle into, before the psychological edge is broken. I mean that Lendl was doing the preparation and getting better, but psychologically he didn't step up until the big match got underway at Flushing Meadow.

    Two-set matches in lesser tournaments, I think, sometimes reveal very little. For example, Mac beat Lendl in the spring of 1984 on clay, I think twice, each time in two straight sets. He took the first two sets at Roland Garros, too, but was unable to keep it up for three.

    I doubt that Mac would have beaten Lendl at Flushing Meadow in '85, even if he had not been tired from the Wilander semi.
     
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  35. Benhur

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    The notion that he was "playing retired" and "going through the motions" after 85 doesn't hold water. After his six-month break in 86, Mac was still ranked in the top 10 for the next 3 years, reaching as high as number 4 through most of 1989. Dropped out of the top 10 only in 1990, and was still ranked 20 at the end of 1992. In order to do that he had to play a full or near full schedule. You can't do that by "going through the motions" and "playing retired." During those years it was his explicitly stated goal to make it back to the top and hired a number of coaches and trainers to try to do so. Well, he did stay at the top, just not at the very top. Seems to me he wasn't trying any less than before 86. If you want to call that "going through the motions," fine. To most people, it looks like he was just trying to do the best he could. You could say Lendl was "going through the motions" when he dropped out of the top 5.
     
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  36. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    are you serious? Lendl was one of the best indoor players ever, it may have been his best surface(only he & Sampras have won the Masters 5 times)
    You should re-watch some Becker-Lendl matches, when Boris was on, there was nothing Lendl could do. He even said so himself. Becker always hit more winners than Lendl, & not just off the serves. Lendl had a huge forehand, but he also had a grinder's mentality, he was part of some ridiculously long matches with endless rallies, he didn't go for as much as quickly as Becker.

    Though I guess we don't really disagree that much, I don't see a big power difference between Tursunov & Gonzalez(I actually think Tursunov hits a bigger ball, I've seen them both live)

    maybe not, but you have to admit Mac was at a serious disadvantage. The Wilander match may have been the most physically demading match of his career, considering the heat, the opponent, & the surface. Not having a day to recover hurt him.

    His form in those matches was pretty much flawless, no different than '84, his serve was insane. Also he was close to perfect vs Nystrom in the QF's of the '85 Open as well, no one was giving Lendl much of a chance prior to the final. I doubt someone could go in a few weeks from some of the best tennis they ever played to being forced out of the game by a superior rival like some are claiming Lendl did to Mac in this thread(and before anyone brings up Borg, look up his schedule in '81, the year Mac passed him. He was a part-time player as well that year. Great players' generally decline mentally, not because of another's play imo)

    And I was just watching the Lendl vs Connors '85 US SF-who apparently many thought may not play due to an ankle injury- & they had an interview with Mandlikova during the match, they asked her who she thought would win the final, saying, 'are you picking your countryman?' She said, "No, Lendl has no chance, when John serves well no one can beat him."
    I don't think Mac served well in the final, he was pretty tired. Do you know what his 1st serve % was compared to the '84 final? I'm guessing not good. As his serve goes so does the rest of his game.

    But I want to reiterate, I'm not some Mac fanboy/Lendl hater. It really bothers me when some posters/commentators(like Chris Fowler saying Berdych was more talented than Lendl last week) say Lendl was untalented or mock his grasscourt play. He was a phenemenal talent, who was beating up on Jim Courier the year Courier won the French! His success wasn't all the result of hardwork or something, he had great hands from the baseline, could take the ball very early, & generate great pace/spin with a rather archaic racquet. Its a shame he got injured, I think he could have contended for more majors. And its a shame he played in such a strong era of grasscourt players(& played them on faster grass than today as well)

    In terms of all surface success, he & Fed are the best of the last 20 years.
     
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  37. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    The Mac-Lendl rivalry started in the very early 1980's when they were both vying for the number 1 spot, which they did through 1985, meeting many many times. Once a rivalry like that starts, it does not stop because one of them sinks in the rankings. When Mac took a 6 month break his ranking dropped to 14. When he returned he played full or near full schedule, coming back to the top 10 by 1987 and getting as high as number 4 in 1989. It is not true that he did not try seriously.

    Your method of analysis is curious. You barely acknowledge they had a rivalry. Then you say that out of the 12 year period they played each other (1980-1992), the only years that should be considered for rivalry purposes are Mac's best 2 and a half years (83, 84 and half of 85). The rest does not count, it seems, because they were not his best years.

    That is just not very serious.
     
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  38. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Once again you are making it sound as if Becker dominated Lendl, based on one or two matches. Their h2h is 11-10 in favor of Lendl, remarkable considering they kept playing wen Lendl was in his 30s.

    Their 1986 record is 3-2 for Becker, and that includes the Wimbledon final. The 6-0 set was the fourth set as the Sidney indoor, when Lendl ran out of gas. But Lendl beat Becker in straight sets three years in a row at the Masters (1985-86-87) with almost perfect play. Most remarkably, a 32-33 year old Lendl beat a 25-26 year old Becker the last two times they met.
     
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  39. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    You guys are just assuming that Lendl's game didn't improve over time, when that clearly isn't the case. While he didn't add more power he did add greater consistency, more variety, far more resolve and a greater understanding of tactics.

    Lendl would not have been able to win the 84 French Open if those things hadn't been in place. Pre-84 he would have folded due to lack of confidence and resolve (which is generally seen as a lack of heart - it isn't always quitting. often times it's confusion and lack of belief in your ability to win). However, he was able to rationalise that McEnroe couldn't play at the same level for a full three sets, on clay and was willing to bide his time (like so many other champions before him) until McEnroe lost his edge.

    Exactly the same thing that happened when Agassi beat Medvedev at the 99 French, Kramer beat Parker at the 47' USO, Gonzales beat Schroeder at the 49' USO, Laver beat Fraser at the 60' AO and Laver beat Emerson at the 62' FO. None of those guys (all of who won after being 2 sets to love down) had to deal with their opponent whinging to the press for the next 22 years.

    Lendl never had the same level of talent as McEnroe but he had a damn sight more guts. When things were going poorly for Lendl and he was losing every major he entered (not to mention the wholly erroneous and politically motivated character assassination done by the US media and eaten up by the public), he didn't pack it in. Instead, he worked his backside off to get into a winning position. When McEnroe passed his peak and it became harder and harder to find his touch, he didn't have the guts to fight back by changing his bad habits.

    However, anyone who uses McEnroe's schedule as an excuse for his results post-1985, should look at the events he played in those years. Very obvious that, rather than being 'part-time' on tour, he was trying to do what Jimmy Connors had done for years - play judiciously and do very well. Unfortunately, Mac didn't do that in 88 so he added more more events (believing that he always stayed fit by playing, not training) and began playing doubles. Add his doubles events to his singles ones and you'll find he, most likely, played more than Lendl.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
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  40. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    McEnroe would destroy Lendl if they played a tennis match today. Mac stayed in tennis, Lendl ran away from it.
     
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  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    He did look listless. But as you know, tests of stamina are part of the game. Had Lendl defeated Wilander in a marathon semi in '85, I'm sure he would have been stronger for the final than Mac was.

    They do decline, but that is just part of the game, too. You slip and then someone comes along and beats you when they hit their stride.

    I was surprised, it was not different from his '84 percentage. I have no some notes on the two finals, I'll post them separately.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
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  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Some notes I took down when I saw these matches recently:

    1984 USO final
    McEnroe d. Lendl, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1

    After two sets, McEnroe was serving at 57%, Lendl at 66%.

    At 3-all in the second, Lendl had been winning 72% of all points started on his first serve.

    McEnroe hit 8 aces and 6 doubles, Lendl 3 aces and 1 double.

    McEnroe was never broken in 13 service games. Lendl was broken five times.

    At love-2 in the third, McEnroe had hit 25 winners, Lendl 20.

    At 4-3 in the second, McEnroe was winning 64% of his approaches (as compared to 52% in his semifinal against Connors). At 2-love in the third, McEnroe had won 31 of 46 approaches (67%), Lendl 14 of 23 (or 61%, as compared to his 54% rate in the 54 games of the Cash match).



    1985 USO final
    Lendl d. McEnroe, 7-6,6-3,6-4

    McEnroe’s first-serve percentage in the 1985 final was nearly the same as it was in 1984. At 4-all in the third set, each man was serving at 57%.

    At 4-5 in the first, Lendl had won 12 of 17 points on his first serve (70%), McEnroe 8 of 9.

    Lendl made 4 doubles, McEnroe 1.

    Lendl was broken in his first service game and then held through the end of the match: 15 consecutive holds. McEnroe was broken three times.

    At 2-love in the second (15 games in), Lendl had hit 17 winners, McEnroe 9. (Compare that with Lendl’s 20 and McEnroe’s 25 winners after 21 games had been played in 1984).

    In the first 7 games of the second set, Lendl had won 6 of 7 net approaches, McEnroe only 7 of 21. Compare that to the first 21 games of the 1984 final, in which Lendl won 14 of 23 and McEnroe 31 of 46. Lendl approached no more frequently in 1985, but his winning percentage was much better; McEnroe approached far more in 1985, and his winning percentage was not only lower, but far below where it should be. Perhaps he was too quick to come in and made short approach shots. From what I observed, though, I’d say that if he was passed it was because he had fewer good chances to come in, so great was Lendl’s level of play from the baseline and generally.
     
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  43. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I never said that, you should re-read my posts(and who's comments they were directed to)

    I think Frazier could beat Ali in a fight today as well, since Ali has Parkinson's. Does anyone care? Its funny how tennis players are constantly judged post-retirement(like all the kids on this board who say they can beat Laver) in a way that no other athletes are judged. Guess it really isn't a sport, if we're talking about how 50 year olds can play.

    btw, Lendl retired due to severe back issues, he didn't run away from tennis, he couldn't play if he wanted to. and it wasn't like the networks were clamoring to give him a commentary job, so why should he care about tennis anymore?

    you really have trouble reading. all I said was that Becker had more power.
    its funny how upset you get when all I'm doing is using Lendl's own comments(like him saying that Mac wasn't the same player after '85, & him saying that Becker had more power than him) Doesn't mean that they were better than him, but it is worth noting.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
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  44. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    How can Lendl not be considered one of McEnroe's biggest rivals from 1982-1985 when McEnroe was still in his prime? Lendl was no worse then World #3 any of those years, and World #1 at years end in 1985 when McEnroe was World #2 at years end, and World #2 at year end in 1983 when McEnroe was World #1 at years end.

    Lendl beat McEnroe in the 1982 U.S Open semis, helping Connors to his 2nd slam title of the year and regaining supremency at the top of the mens game over McEnroe. Lendl beat McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final, a choke by McEnroe but a win is a win, denying McEnroe that always elusive title. Lendl beat McEnroe in the 1985 U.S Open, which led to him taking over McEnroe's #1 ranking. Lendl beat McEnroe twice at Masters event too those years, 1982 and 1983.

    He should be acknowledged as a very strong rival to McEnroe, as strong a rival as anyone outside of Connors perhaps, during McEnroe's prime post-Borg.
     
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  45. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Good information. Your information clearly shows Mac could not handle Lendl and they were almost the same age.
     
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  46. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I understand your point and could see it. He did seem to do well in majors and did play ok in some of the lesser tourney's, but you are right...seems he was more in it for the money than the glory at that point. Guess tatum crushed his balls by then.

    but still, he was competitive.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
    #46
  47. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    ^ehh maybe competitive, but dedicated and trying? I don't think so. I think after a certain point, McEnroe thought he could win because he had always won. I really think he was a ship at sea for a long period. He was a world class athlete and could semi-compete, he just didn't have anything else he could do.

    With regard to his record with Lendl, he was dead even until this period began. I think the '84 French Open final was the beginning for Lendl and the beginning of the end for McEnroe. He coasted through the '84 Wimbledon title and decimated..decimated I say...Lendl in the '84 US Open final. After that, much like Wilander after '88, he just kind of went away in terms of contention. He had won it all, Lendl had a taste and the two went in different directions.
     
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  48. alkibiades

    alkibiades Rookie

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    If you watch tapes of the pre-sabbatical and post-sabbatical McEnroe, I think it is clear that Mac never regained his former level of court coverage after he took the break from tennis. His serve, especially his second serve, also lost some of it's intimidation and effectiveness, but the real difference was how he covered the court. At his peak, Mac was extremely fast, even if he wasn't in the best shape, but it was his anticipation and positioning that allowed him to just blanket the whole court, and especially the net. I think that his insticts, for lack of a better word, never recovered from the time off. He lost his confidence, started thinking too much, and the whole package -- serve, footspeed, quality of approach shots -- stopped putting quite as much pressure on his opponents. Maybe the loss was only 10%, but it was enough.

    That '85 Open final is one of the most remarkable matches of all time, I think. You can actually see in real time one player losing his confidence and edge forever, and another seizing the baton, so to speak. It is an exact analogue to the '81 Open final in that way.
     
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  49. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    We will never really know why Mac declined so quickly. He still had fire though, but maybe lacked confidence...we just don't know. Maybe it was his family, the pressure, lost interest. Whatever it was, it ended at the US Open in 85....
     
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  50. TennezSport

    TennezSport Hall of Fame

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    Yes we can.....

    I can tell you why Mac declined so quickly......

    Navratilova and Lendl changed the game of Tennis in that they added the pure physical athletic muscle to the game. While Mac was on his Haagan-Daaz diet, depending on his natural abilities, Lendl worked on physical conditioning, motor skills and improved dietary habits. At one point Lendl was reportedly getting monthly blood tests to determine what he was lacking in attaining peek performance.

    Mac didn't decline, thanks to Navratilova and Lendl the game of Tennis evolved around him and Mac could never catch up.

    TennezSport :cool:
     
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