Mac's Prime Years?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I just read a thread, which mentioned that McEnroe was past his prime when Becker was in his prime. It started me thinking abut when was McEnroe's prime?

    It seems that Mac didn't do much after 1984--his great year. But I was wondering what we thought of when he came into his prime.

    (Heck, maybe 1985 is too early to cut it off.)
     
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  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    1979 probably. It ended when Lendl beat him in the 1985 US Open final. McEnroe wasn't playing as well in 1985 as his dominant 1984, but he was still winning many tournaments in dominant fashion even in 1985.

    McEnroe had a small revival in 1989, getting back to world number 4, but he couldn't get back to the very top.
     
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  3. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    I guess the range is 80 to 84.
     
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  4. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    McEnroe is underrated by many here, I have him as about the 7th best player of all-time. I know his record doesn't suggest that, but at his peak he was brilliant!

    He just stopped concentrating on tennis it seems in the mid-late 80's and when he couldn't win in the 90's he retired. He was a winner and didn't want to just play for 2nd place, i do respect that, but if you look at the standard that he STILL plays at, you do wonder that with a coach he actually listened to, how much better his career stats could have been. He really was an amazing tennis player.

    Prime 79-84 I would say.
     
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  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1979 to 1985.He played very well in 85, till the USO final, but he had beaten Lendl in the two previous events.

    In 79, he clearly consolidated his position as the second best player, and the only one able to speak on equal terms with Borg, besides beating Connors left and right.He won the WCT Fianls, the Masters ( though it is a 78 event) and, of course, the US open, without the loss of a set, I think.

    In fact, he won more events in 79 than in 80.
     
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  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    he is underrtaed for many people posting here never saw him play or, at least, they watched him at the very end of his career.

    Jmac is, as you mention, an amazing tennis player, IMO, one of the most talented ever and certainly, one of the best and most brilliant players of all time.Period.
     
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  7. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    I think of McEnroe's prime years as 1979-85 too.
    I think we all knew he was going to be special from late 78 onwards.
    He was winning Masters and WCT titles beating Connors and Borg and rising very quickly to displace Jimmy as number 2. The US Open 1979 confirmed that.
    Mac really should have more Slam singles titles to his name with his talent, can't believe he didn't win more after 84, he was awesome that year and going into 85, he was still winning plenty of Grand Prix tourneys.
    When he lost to Nystrom in Dallas, I thought hmm, is Mac going to be as good this year? That was a bad defeat, and he had a few in the Slams that year, though he did rebound to crush Lendl twice in the summer hard court season before he fell apart a bit in the USO final, tired or not. That was the end of prime Mac, summer 85.

    John did have somewhat of a renaissance in 1989, getting back up to number 4, reaching the Wimbledon semi finals and winning WCT Dallas.

    Loved McEnroe's doubles partnership with Fleming too. What a good team they were, when doubles still really counted. That part of John's career gets overlooked.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    When I think of Mac, I think of him as a great contributor to the game - besides his unique talent-.He renewed interest in the DC when this event was falling, and he did it alone.he was just DC, because guys like Borg,Connors,Vilas and some others ( lendl did not take it too seriously after 1981) skipped or disdained this competition.

    And he alone, and again, set new standarts for doubles play, with Fleming and also some other guys.He gave a whole lot to tennis, that easily overcomes his tantrums. And, of course, he was the fix part of some of the greatest rivalries, not only in tennis, but in sports.This guy, like it or not, was really a very very special guy.He did everything in a unique way, for the good or the bad.
     
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  9. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

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    Although, imo Edberg was a better pure volleyer than him (he had a better kick serve and covered the net better too), he had that kind of brilliance that you only see emerge every 10 or 15 years. Players that could do the impossible with a racquet. Federer, Nastase and Laver are the other players that come to mind when i think of improvisation on the court. Whatever you throw at them, they can handle it. They had/have so many options it seemed/seems almost impossible to get them out of their comfort zone.
     
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  10. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    He was brilliant when he was on, and he was on a lot between 79-84.

    Watch the 84 Wimbledon final against Connors. Remember that Connors was still one of the best players in the world at that time. McEnroe just completely dismantles him. He makes it look so easy. Mac committed just a couple of unforced errors in the first two sets.

    Great serve for the time, and such incredible hands. And he did all of this with a pretty lame training regime.

    If he had been really willing to devote himself to the game and put the time and focused energy into his training that a guy like Lendl was, I think he could have kept winning. But that wasn't McEnroe. He took a lot of 86 off, and bumped his way through the rest of the decade. Meanwhile the players were getting bigger, stronger and hitting harder. Guys like Lendl and Becker were changing the game. That incredible serve was not quite the weapon it had been, and volleying the returns that were screaming back at him was harder. 89 was nice for him - he still had those hands - but he could never bag another major.

    Today he's incredible. Seems like he plays about as well as he possibly can given his age. But, it kind of seems like he plays like someone who didn't leave it all on the court in his prime. But I don't know.
     
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  11. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Agree that prime yrs between 79 and 85.........may have the best hands ever in tennis......had terrible work ethic and hated practice - felt it was a huge waste, so tight that he couldn't touch his toes and hardly stretched - and during one famous press conference in 84 when asked about Martina and her Haas "eat to win diet" that was all over the news JMac said he prefers the Haagen Daz diet.....not one person thought he was kidding (and he wasn't).
     
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  12. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    79-85 were his best years ...
     
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  13. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    1978-85..won his first couple of masters events in 1978 plus the already mentioned 1978 world tour finals (jan 1979)..

    mac rose to the top quickly..was world no3 or 4 by the end of 1978 i think..also 85 was still at a high level although he was starting to lose the plot on and off the court..QF wimb, SF french, F usa open, QF aust in 85 plus his last 2 masters titles (of the 19 he won).
     
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  14. Frankc

    Frankc Semi-Pro

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    All said well... brilliant to watch... Was it Ashe who said much about Mac's best ever talent? I have heard that the classic Aussies loved to watch his talents at serve & volley - a Renaissance in that classic game. From my readings of the Classic Greats, I remember references to their respect for his greatness and hands.

    Just enjoying a doubles Davis Cup replay - and great talents are on the Court in an important match - LeConte, Noah, Fleming and Mac. Honestly, his reflexes and variety makes them all look like they are standing still. Truly a man among boys...

    Love to watch him play - often(not always) he really gutted out some great wins, especially on the Big Stage (Wilander-Davis Cup; Wilander - 5 sets - 97 plus degrees, semis US Open; E. Sanchez - 5 sets - US Open with Mac's late Renaissance; and others that are past my memory).

    On another topic, I always enjoy reading the Classic Greats as they talk of the challenge of jumping to the Pro Tour out of the amateurs. And how Rosewall, Hoad, Segura, and others learned so much and gathered new skills. I think that Mac in '79 was obviously gifted, but just beginning his learning experience - and when I watch a'79 match and then a "84 match - his learning and addition to his skills are phenomenal and a joy to watch. What a reservoir of talent he must have had - whew..

    He has got to have some thoughts of what if...
     
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  15. Onehandedbackhand

    Onehandedbackhand Professional

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    There's no question about this. Every interview he has, and in his book, he talks about regretting not putting his all into a training regimen until it was too late. He's in phenomenal shape now, but at 54, so he plays with his own chip on his shoulder. He'll have this the rest of his career, and even his life.
     
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  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks everyone. The consensus seems to be 1979-1985.
     
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  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    AMOF, only in two of those years ( 82 and 85) mac did fail to win either a GS title or an indoor major.Lendl took both indoor majors in 82 and 85, and Connors won the Wimbledon and US Open of 1982.
     
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  18. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    i remember when he played becker in the SF at paris-bercy (at the end of 1989)... too bad he couldn't beat him, he wasn't far ! ;)
     
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  19. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    yes, that was his best year, 1989, post sabbatical..world no4 rank last app in a masters final but was wasted by lendl..last app world tour finals, and remember watching him lose a tight 3 set wimbledon SF to edberg..shame mac lost those 2 tiebreaks.
     
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  20. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    I still feel bad remembering the '84 French Open final...he had it, and lost it... :(
     
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  21. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    McEnroe had a fantastic win over Lendl in the semi finals of the 1989 WCT Dallas tournament. It was a great match.
     
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  22. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    thats the now defunct world championship tennis isnt it..?? a rival to the masters cup/ world tour finals..

    i dont know much about that tourney, it was a big event way back..luckily the tour sorted itself out from 1990 onwards and we ended up with the world tour finals and thats it.
     
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Welcome to the Golden times
    That is what WCT finals meant
    BTW Mac had one last flash of brillance at 92 Wimbledon where reached semis
     
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  24. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    his last match where he played close to his best was probably when he beat defending champ Boris Becker @ the AO in 92 ... he had a good run in wimbledon 92, but agassi took him apart in the semis
     
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  25. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    I see his best years in this order:

    1984
    1981
    1980
    1983
    1979
    1985
    1982
     
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  26. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    McEnroe had a great run in 1978 on the European indoor circuit. He won besides other wins Cologne and Stockholm, where he defeated Borg, then the first winner over Borg who was younger than him. I remember, that Ashe called him the worlds best player at that moment. I thought he would make his big breakthrough at Wimbledon, bcasue his game was suited to grass. But he had some rough experiences there with his favorite status, before coming through to the finals in 1980-1984. He had a bit of a letdown, after Borg retired, but in 1984 with the new racket, he played some of the most impressive tennis i have seen in the open era.
     
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  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He also won LA, Wembley, Masters and DC in late 78
    Before Stoclholm 78 Borg had never lost to a younger guy
     
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  28. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

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    Certainly his "prime" years have to be in the '79-84 range (that's when he won all of his slams).

    However, he is a difficult player to rank for me. We always look at numbers and slams, but Mac is a guy that should be higher than his bottom line numbers suggest.

    He won the US Open 4 times between '79 and '84. He made 5 straight Wimbledon finals ('80-84), winning 3.

    He only played in 5 Aussie Opens with the first one being in '83. That is the only Australian Open he competed in during his peak years. It is hard to imagine him not winning at least one or two of them had he played every year. He missed a couple of French Open's during his peak years as well, although I'm not prepared to give him a title there, but you never know. He did make the finals and SF's in '84 and '85.

    After 1985, he was done. He burned out mentally, because he could still compete at the top. He was never the same after that.
     
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  29. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    yes i remember watching some of that 92 sf..sadly agassi trounced mac so there was no wimby final for him at 33.

    its a bit sad he didnt make a major final after his 1986 sabbatical..its like he came back but was an inferior version of his earlier self.
     
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  30. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    There were also important technological changes taking place in 1986, during the time when McEnroe was out. Power was becoming more and more of a presence.
     
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  31. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Didn't he win his big matches in '84 with the Dunlop Max 200G?

    So he was able to make the switch to graphite, yes?
     
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  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    mac was fantastic at Dallas.5 wins ( record) and 2 times a beaten finalist.Defeated Borg in 79, Connors in 84 and Lendl in 83.His best tournament so far.
     
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  33. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    I agree, this is very similar to what I said earlier in the thread. Don't forget McEnroe was only 26 years old in 1985:shock:

    He had so many more great years in him if his mind had been on tennis, rather than other things, later in his career. He is even playing at a high standard now, 28 years later, amazingly!
     
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  34. alegare

    alegare New User

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    I agree with 79-85. When he got back after his break from the tour, he just wasn't the same player
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    If there is an over 50 or over60 player that plays at such level, it doesn´t surprise me if this one is Mac, since he is all talent and minds on court.Will play terrific tennis till 70 or so.You´ll see.
     
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  36. alegare

    alegare New User

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    And move like he's still 40. The guy is in shape
     
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  37. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I think 1979 until 1984 and perhaps some of 1985 are McEnroe's prime years in tennis. In 1985, he did reach the U.S. Open final, but that was the last year he reached the final at a major. He also reached the SF at the French Open in 1985. He lost to Curren in the QF at Wimbledon, who could be very dangerous when he was serving great.
     
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  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac's climbing to top started after US Open 78 where he reached semis and won 4 or 5 titles in the fall indoor season concluding with Masters
    He played great till US Open 85
    So it really goes from USO 78 -USO 85
    Healso won big Dallas title in 89 which was his best non peak year
     
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  39. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Yes Kiki, 1978 was his first year as a pro and he did win 5 titles. He was also the NCAA champ in 1978. I agree that you could say his real climb in terms of playing level began that year. Great signature by the way, with the "Stairway" line.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
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  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Thanks Borg n1, its always a pleasure to post with you
    I may change it, what do you think about
    " Let the sun beat upon my face"?
     
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  41. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    You too Kiki. I always enjoy hearing your perspective. You know with Led Zeppelin, you have a treasure trove of great lines to choose from but you're right. That's a great line from the epic "Kashmir".They have brought me a lot of joy with their music which remains the gold standard for rock bands. I have often thought that two guys I'd like to talk to are Robert Plant and Bjorn Borg! Exceptional talent/genius.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
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  42. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    yep¡¡ Plant is Borg, Page is Laver, Bonzo is Hoad and JPJ is like multitalented Rosewall.

    Best band ever.But that is too simplistic for them, they are much more than " the greatest band " ever.
     
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  43. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    You see, there´s many common things between Borg ( and Connors,Mac,lendl) with Zepp.They set new standarts for their sport/art, revolutioned the whole world, defined a new reach for superstardom...and are the central characters of the best era...and more important, even if you could get a bit much of them in their absolute peak, with the prespective you can see just their inmense greatness, and the void they have left.it is a matter of perspective...and, last thing, which is the most important, they kept absolutley loyal to themselves and their personality.Maybe that also defines genious...

    BTW, I posted it also in another thread by mistake..but it was a very appropiate one: Borg vs Connors in 1978.
     
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  44. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I like it! Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are a special foursome now, but so were Connors, Borg, McEnroe, and Lendl. You could make an argument for all 4 of those greats to be in the top 10 of all time. They were four tough customers that really impacted tennis greatly in their own respective ways. Also, like Led Zeppelin, a band that stopped making albums when they lost John Bonham because it just wasn't right to keep going on with someone else, those tennis greats were true to themselves. They were four very strong personalities. Also, think about this for a second, have you ever seen anyone play quite like Jimmy Connors? Very unique right? Well the same really goes for Borg and McEnroe. Lendl seemed a bit more conventional, but even with him, the guy is really quite unique with his personality and other elements. You had real variety with those players, in personality, playing style, fashion..you name it. They each did things their own way, just like Led Zeppelin as well. Those were definitely interesting times. I'm hoping that for us tennis fans today we'll get Federer continuing to play well, Nadal back strong and in the mix, and also an improved Murray, with Djokovic continuing to play great tennis. That will make for another great year of tennis.
     
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  45. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I wish I could have seen this era live. It is not the same to see highlights on youtube, when you know already the outcome. For me they are clearly in the all time great top-10.
     
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  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    " Let the music be your master..."

    I agree mostly with Borgnº 1, since both bands ( the big four and zep) lived on their unique way of doing things that turned out just more brilliant than anything else...
     
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  47. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    Mcenroe won $200'000 for winning the 1989 WCT final..runner up got $100'000,

    anyone know what the winner/runner up got in the 1989 U.S Open..for direct same country / same year comparison ???.
     
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  48. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    #48
  49. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    thanks, the money went up quickly about $46'000 in 1980 to around $500'000 by 1990/91...i was looking at 1989 wct sf mac vs lendl i found the whole match on youtube but the quality is poor cant see the ball too well..

    funny listening to the commentators going on about the history of wct at the start..little did they know that year was the last one ever.
     
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  50. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    You're welcome Goosehead. That is a big jump in prize money during the 1980's. It increased $1 million from 2002 to 2012 ($900,000 to $1.9 million), but that's less of an increase percentage wise.

    On the WCT, that was a big tour back then. With the ATP Tour beginning in 1990, that was it for the WCT. I looked up 1989/1990 WCT info and I learned that in 1990 they did play one final WCT event, which was the WCT Tournament of Champions played at Forest Hills. Ivan Lendl won that final WCT tournament.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
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