More respected: Lendl or McEnroe?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Paul Murphy, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

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    I say Lendl.
    Firstly his record.
    One hundred weeks more at No.1, one more major, more major finals.
    Dominant player of the 1980s.
    Either began the push to greater professionalism or accelerated it greatly.
    Fear factor: His cold on-court persona, power, clinical efficiency, willingness to hit an opponent if necessary made him one of the most intimidating opponents of all-time.

    Secondly, I would argue a mystique grew up around Lendl which really accelerated and flourished after he quit the game.
    We didn't see him for 15 years - a few interviews only no biography, nothing much.
    Mc has been highly exposed - DC coaching, TV show, TV commentary, biography, plenty of interviews, seniors tour etc etc
    He's had a lot to say - a lot of the time.
    We've had nothing like that from Lendl.
    Less is more, as they say.

    Finally, even though Lendl is back coaching one of the game biggest stars we still don't hear much from him.
    According to an Aussie TV commentator Murray was/is in awe of Lendl and treats him with a "king of reverence."
    I remember when it was announced that Lendl was going to coach Murray - there was discernible excitement in the tennis world and tennis sites like these.

    So opinions?
    Who is the more respected figure in the game?

    PS I don't discount Mac's great winning year or the Wimby titles, I just think they come up short in winning this debate for the reasons outlined above.
     
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  2. Dreamcastin

    Dreamcastin Rookie

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    Im sure it varies person to person, some of your reasons for liking lendl more are the same reasons I dont. I like Macs passion and the fact he will tell you whats on his mind,(even when he says something that makes me cringe, and think "what the hell is he talking about") You can tell Mac loves and cares about the sport. I dont dislike lendl, he was good for the sport in his own way, I just think Mac is better for the sport. Therefore its mcenroe for me.
     
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  3. Gizo

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    I agree that the respect for Lendl and the mystique around him increased during his absence from the sport.

    The main reason why McEnroe remained so prominent in the game was because of his giant ego and desperation to remain in the limelight, just like Navratilova. He couldn't let it go and was keen to remind people about how good he was at every opportunity.

    After Lendl retired, he moved on from the sport, did other things, kept a reasonably low profile, and is now back coaching Murray.

    The mystique around Lendl often distorts reality however.

    As I've said many times, his press conferences in the 80s were every bit as funny as Roddick's and Safin's have been over the last decade (but in his time they weren't publicised as much).The good and humorous parts of his personality didn't get covered as much as they should have been by the Western media.

    However his bad points in challenging line calls, arguing with umpires and acting like a jerk (like during his 1989 US Open semi-final against Agassi) almost as much as McEnroe and Connors did also went relatively unnoticed.

    In reality he was actually much more similar to McEnroe and Connors in terms of personality, attitude and behaviour on the court, than Sampras who he has often been (wrongly) likened to in those departments.

    He wasn't appreciated during his era because he played alongside big personalities such as Connors, Mac and Becker. Had he been on the tour nowadays, he would have been a much bigger star and celebrity in the sporting world. He would simultaneously be praised for being charismatic, one of the few genuine personalities in the game and giving the best press conferences, but criticised for being a bad boy (I would bet that he received more code violations in one season than Roddick and Safin have in their entire careers).

    In terms of achievements, as me and Urban were discussing a few days ago, he has the most well rounded tennis CV out of all the players who played in the 70s and 80s, given that he won almost every big tournament available to him in North America, Europe and Australia (as well as the Davis Cup in 1980) apart from Wimbledon where he still reached 2 finals and 5 more semi-finals.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
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  4. galain

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    An old colleague of mine was a sports journalist and used to cover the Oz Open each year as it rolled through town. She said the same thing - Lendl was the press conference that every journalist was trying to get to, simply because he was the funniest, wittiest person on tour at that time. It's shame his dry humour didn't translate well to the page.

    I remember at the start of his career his somewhat bland demeanor earned him a 'gentleman' description from a few people, and this seemed to stick, long after he hit the top of the game and became a little more belligerent. I'll never his turn against Woodforde in a Wimby semi-final once. As a fan i was a little embarassed that he was behaving like a child but he certainly never earned 'brat' status.

    In the end it's a comparison of personalities as to whom is more respected. I think Lendl gets plenty of respect, but perhaps not as much affection as Mac does from many people.
     
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  5. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes it was like an equilibrium with Lendl.

    Both his good qualities and his bad ones were either covered up or largely unnoticed. For much of his career, he was funny and charismatic but also argumentative and an a**hole. However he was wrongly remembered as an emotionless robot.

    It would probably have been much better for his image and marketability (not that he has any financial worries of course) had his rightful image been the one that stuck and was recognised.
     
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  6. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

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    Let me just say the question I've posed isn't "liking" it's "respect".
    I like Mc a lot.
    What's not to like - now?
    My contention though, for the reasons I've outlined, is that he's not as "respected."
     
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  7. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl could hit you on your face, which Mac didn´t...so, it must be Lendl.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Great post.Very very good insight on the true Lendl and how he´d be the most appealing charachter nowadays.
     
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  9. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Lendl charismatic? no matter how many years pass, that would be a real stretch. He was no angel, and as others have said, could be as bad on court as mac or jimbo...at times, tho' not as often as them.

    I do think his accomplishments have earned him more respect over the years, yet I think as a player, Mac is just regarded with a higher level of esteem.

    And, I'd still put connors ahead of both of them, based on career accomplishments, but that's just me.
     
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  10. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    McEnroe is more respected, however right or wrong that is.
     
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  11. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    No stretch at all. The guy was hilarious and one of most quotable players of his generation. The funny thing is that many of the journalists who were negative towards him actually loved attending his press conferences as galain has said, because of his wit and sense of humour. Despite that sense of humour being very weird (especially with his dogs), he was a big fan of the practical jokes in his camp as well. Plus there were some funny incidents like during his 1984 Wimbledon semi-final when he went over the net and joked if Connors called one of his shots out. He was very clearly charismatic.

    I think anyone who labels him as some sort of robotic character that lacked personality, either didn't follow tennis properly in the 80s, has a poor memory or placed far too much stock in how the Western media portrayed him. Without the internet and publicised press conferences in those days, the media were free to paint as negative as image as they liked of this guy who happened to come from Eastern Europe during the time of the Cold War. Many people were gullible enough to believe their inaccurate representation of him as well. And falsely describing him as boring and emotionless was worse for his image and ability to attract endorsements, than describing him as similar to Mac and Connors which he was in both the positive aspects and the negative ones.

    And with regards his temper tantrums I think he was very nearly as bad as Mac or Connors. There were so many examples of him losing his temper, like when he swore at the umpire against Cash at the 1988 AO, went beserk and refused to play after getting a docked a point against Mac at Dallas in 1989, threatened to walk out during the first set if line judge wasn't changed during the 1988 Toronto final against Curren etc. Gerry Armstrong and Richard Ings found his matches a nightmare to umpire because he questioned so many calls. He screamed ''You cheat me every time! Every time you cheat me!'' to Ings during his match against Chang at RG in 1989. The 1985 Montreal final when both Mac and Lendl lost their temper with the umpire and standard officiating so often, that they actually sympathised with each other, was very funny.

    Definitely not the attributes and characteristics of a guy lacking personality or emotion out on the court.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  12. Bowtiesarecool

    Bowtiesarecool Rookie

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    I have to say, growing up in the early 80's, noone in my house liked Jmac's, (and to some extent Connors') argumentative behavior. It carried with me and I honestly didn't like him until he started showing up in Adam Sandler movies.
     
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  13. Bowtiesarecool

    Bowtiesarecool Rookie

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    I woud argue that all the respect people give him comes from the work he does now, along with how entertaining he can be. His outgoing personality suits this role very well.
     
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  14. ACDC

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    To me Lendl...MC has the infinite capacity to collapse all bad thinking of all, and is also why he is so big.
     
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  15. Gizo

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    McEnroe is more respected for several reasons.

    - Along with Borg and Connors he contributed to a huge tennis boom and made the sport so popular in so many countries. He was huge sporting celebrity and icon across the globe, and for a period in the 80s, he was earning more money from endorsements than any other athlete in the world.

    - His unique style of play, hands at the net and incredible natural talent rightly won him so many plaudits. Lendl of course has been far more revolutionary as so many more people adopted his playing style than Mac's at professional and recreational level. However that's because Mac's style was so much more difficult to replicate.

    - Mac won the superbowl of tennis, Wimbledon, 3 times, and participated in the 1980 final which will continue to live long in the memory. Even now Wimbledon probably still gets more extensive worldwide media and press coverage than the other majors, but that the disparity was even greater during Mac's prime.

    - With all his commentary and punditry work, he has continued to ram himself and his opinion down peoples' throats on a regular basis since he retired, and has never left the limelight.

    - He has kept himself in such excellent shape since he retired, and has continued to play tennis to an incredibly high standard on the senior tour and in exhos against much younger players.

    - He came from the US rather than Czechoslovakia, which was a very big advantage when they were both on the tour. Not that Lendl could ever have reach McEnroe or Borg levels of stardom or anything, but I do think that if he had his exact same playing style, personality and demeanour etc, but hailed from an English speaking or Western European country instead of from behind the Iron Curtain, he would have been far more popular and marketable.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Compared to current stars, and from a charismatic point of view, I would say not only the 1970´s and 80´s were true stars, they also appealed to much more segments of people than today, who are just appealing basically to very young people, with a possible exception for the slighty more sofisticated Fed.

    Forget for a while about the big, big stars like Borg,Lendl,Vilas,Mac,Connors

    Guys like Amritraj,Gerulaitis,Pecci,Noah,Kriek,Clerc would be, record wise the equivalent of today´s Roddick,Berdych,Soderling,Tsonga,Haas...now, there is not any possible comparation...
     
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  17. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    More respected by whom?
     
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  18. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    he had a few good one liners but I did not deem him a funny guy; I think he was rather cold, robotic and hard to like. I would not be alone in that opinion. And I followed tennis in the 80's rather closely. Lendl was just not my cup of tea. he is a great player, regardless
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
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  19. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    If you were to ask their contemparies, I think Mcenroe would be remembered more fondly. Lendl by most accounts was a world class D-CK to almost everyone in the lockeroom.
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl thrived on the Cold war stuff...but so did connors and Mac Enroe...all of them beneffited of that....
     
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  21. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    This supposed "cold war" stuff has always baffled me. Lendl is a US Republican, much more right-wing than McEnroe and Connors. It seemed personal to me, i.e. McEnroe and Connors didn't like Lendl personally, and it had nothing to do with the cold war.
     
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac is a democrat but...Connors???
     
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  23. Gizo

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    Fair enough but many people who interviewed him and met him off court thought he was a hoot:

    “When he first started getting back into tennis, four or five years ago, he made an appearance at the US Open, and Bill Dwyre of the LA Times wanted to talk to him. When the interview was partway over, Dwyre said ’You’re really funny, when did you get to be so funny?’ And Ivan replied, 'I’ve always been funny, you just didn’t understand me then.’”

    His interview with Letterman in 1986 was pretty well received as well:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXyno8FeCrw

    Andy Murray has spoken of how much fun his training camp has been with Lendl in his corner with all his practical jokes.

    Nowadays you can access Andy Roddick's first round interview at Winston-Salem. If Lendl had that luxury during that career it would have helped his cause immensely.

    Really 'robotic' is one of the stupidest and most ridiculous words I've ever heard when describing Lendl. It's just gullible people falling for some silly stereotype. Was Connors also robotic because he worked and fought hard to accomplish so much? Was Federer robotic at his peak when he was destroying the rest of the ATP tour left, right and centre? Of course not. And Lendl just like Mac and Connors, regularly lost his temper even when he was ahead and winning matches as well, so it's not like he only showed emotion when he was losing.

    Ultimately what was the difference between the personality of Lendl and that of Connors and McEnroe? Nothing much at all. All three players had the same positive traits and the same negative traits. Why were Connors and McEnroe so more popular? Because they had the good fortune of being born and raised in a Western country where English was the main language. Almost an unfair inherent advantage. The other despite trying for so long to gain American citizenship which he eventually did, came from Eastern Europe. Really that's all there was to it. And it's not as if Mac or Connors were a laugh or minute or anything either. McEnroe's press conferences were often an awkward mess with his endless rambling, and Connors could often be dull and P.C in his interviews.

    It's like Andy Roddick has been regarded as one of the few personalities on the tour over the past decade, and he has right been praised for that. But he has been lucky enough to speak English as a first language. Many of the Argentine players for instant are every bit as funny and charismatic in their native language Spanish as Roddick is in English, but they are judged on their ability to convey their humour in English instead.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
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  24. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Jim Courier on Lendl at this year's AO:

    'Every joke he makes is at someone else’s expense, and I don’t find that funny.'

    we all know of his cruelty to warren Bosworth, which he thought was hilarious. very strange dude, that Lendl.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I believe McEnroe is more respected because people were in awe of his great talent. It's a shame because I think Lendl was an extremely talented player. People seem to think of him as a machine like player which I don't necessarily agree with.

    For their careers I would think Lendl have a little bit of a better career and in that way should be more respected than McEnroe. I forgot who it was, maybe Bill Talbert who compared Lendl's stroking ability to Don Budge.
     
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  26. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    I do think thought despite Lendl having a greater and more well rounded career (at least Lendl won titles on grass, while Mac won zero official titles on red clay in Europe), McEnroe certainly wouldn't trade in his career for Lendl's, but Lendl (even if he wouldn't admit it publicly) would trade in his career for Mac's.

    Wimbledon and the US Open were considered to be the two blue chip majors for a while, and Mac won 3 Wimbledon titles to Lendl's 0, and 4 US Open titles to Lendl's 3. In addition to Wimbledon, the US Open clearly meant more to Lendl than the French (to me least anyway) during his career.

    Heck I don't think Mac would trade in his career for Connors's either, despite Jimbo also being widely regarded as greater player as well. Mac wouldn't like 'only' being a two-time champion at the superbowl of tennis, Wimbledon, rather than a three-time champion. Also the Davis Cup struck such a deep cord with him and he is a legend in that competition, while Connors is the only great player of the open era along with Federer never to have won it (I don't think Connors's 1981 contribution was significant enough to call him a genuine Davis Cup champion that year).

    Lendl was cruel to Warren Bosworth and deserves to be widely criticised for that and his many other instances of acting like an utter jerk, like Mac did for the cruel way in which he treated Tatum O'Neil and his many other unsavoury moments. They were both a**holes who deserved a good punch in the face on so many occasions, as was Connors as well. But they were all incredibly entertaining though. God I miss tennis in the 80s.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
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  27. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    As for respect JMac has by far more from the press and his peers.....he has reverence for the game and it's past champions, he has been involved at the management level and stayed in touch with the game. Lendl ( and yes I am a fan) on the other hand really only cared about himself - little things like showing up in the 80s at the Gerulaitis kids camps (where just about every player at some time helped out with - Borg, JMac, Connors, Solomon, Noah, Willander...all took part) is something Lendl would not do. I worked at some of those camps and all you heard from the players who were there was what a S*** Ivan was.....Lendl would at the USO for example run back to his fortress in Greenwich to his dogs and high walls the second his matches were done. After tennis Lendl again pulled away from the game retired behind his walls and his killer dogs, playing golf, teaching his girls golf - now all of a sudden at 51 he shows up looking to open an academy and coaching a top player.........hmmmmmm you don't think one thing has anything to do with the other?
     
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  28. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    I'm kind of confused in what way was JMac cruel to Tatum....she was a major coke head and posed a danger to herself and their kids.....JMac was by no means an angel but considering what a freaking nutjob she was (poor girl didn't have a chance with her old man and the way she was raised).
     
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  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl hated Gerulaitis maybe more than he hated Connors and Mc Enroe.You should know that.
     
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  30. Great Uncle Bulgaria

    Great Uncle Bulgaria New User

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    Neither would or should trade their careers. At most McEnroe probably wishes he worked a bit harder and Lendl wishes he was less intense. But then they would not be McEnroe or Lendl.

    I don't think either are cruel people. Lendl was and is very good friends wth Bosworth and his son. McEnroe's marriage may have been difficult but nobody knows happens behind closed doors.

    Yes both could be proper bell-ends. But then so can most people.

    If Lendl and Gerulaitis did not like each other as has been mentioned in another thread, I am surprised Lendl would be asked to attend the camp in the first place. From what I have read Lendl did his bit for charity.

    Why should n't he run back to his home after his match at the USO? At the end of the day, a player should do what they feel is best for him/her to win the tournament.

    Why should he have stayed with tennis after he retired? Maybe he needed a break from the game that was his life for 14/15 years. Moreover maybe Mrs Lendl needed a break; her life had been on hold so far, this was Ivan's turn to make sacrifices.

    As long as Murray feels Lendl is doing his job and the parents and kids at the academy feel they are getting what the paid for - who cares what lendl's motives are?
     
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  31. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Yeah but the foundation and the stuff Vitas was doing was for the kids of NY......lots and lots of pros showed up, Lendl kinda hated everybody in the early to mid 80s - other than Fibak and his coaches I doubt he spoke or hung around with anyone ( ok his dogs.....).

    The question was who is more respected.....for Lendl to be able to suck it up and help with a charity event that was HUGE in NY would have helped Lendl in hat department especially considering his feelings.
     
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  32. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Vitas would reach out to EVERY player......these were charity events held all over the city for kids who would never have a shot of getting to the open.....it was In his contract with Snauwaert that they provide equipment for all no matter how many free of charge.....thousands would show up.

    For a Lendl to show up and do these kind of things would have put him in a much better light. Again the question was who is more RESPECTED - it's stuff like that and being part of the ATP or the players council...etc that gets players respect. No doubt Ivan his the respect as a player for what he did on court but I bet Vitas Gerulaitis has more respect from players, press and fans for what he did in addition to winning matches.
     
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  33. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I fully agree.Lendl was a one dimensional man, and Vitas a kind of sponsor, poliedric, multifacetic, king of the discos, and a great heart always willing to help.And you know what? Vitas was from Lithuanian origins, and Lithuania is very close to the Czech Republic which was Lendl´s homeland.
     
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  34. the green god

    the green god Semi-Pro

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    Mcenroe and Connors went to war, Lendl was a tanker and quitter. That is the way they looked at him.
     
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  35. ramos77

    ramos77 Semi-Pro

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    Mac is more respected because he's from the US.

    Lendl was the better player, better athlete etc
     
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  36. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    yes, remember when he hit the ball right at Vitas' head? Yeah, Lendl was a real peach of a guy.
     
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  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    even their exhibitions were very competitive and, of course, a great contrast of styles which made so interesting their matches.People remembers their 1981 USO quarterfinal, which Vitas won in 5 tough sets and their 1981 Masters final, which Lendl won after saving 2 match points in the third set whiles Vitas led 2-0.

    But there are also other matches: RG 1979 (Gerulaitis won easily), Geneva WCT 1982, Masters RR 1982 ( won by Lendl in close sets) and, last but not least, Toronto 1982, where Viats pulled of his last important title beating Ivan in three hard fought sets.After Toronto 1982, Vitas really declined and got out of the eleite where he had belonged for 6 years.
     
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  38. surfvland

    surfvland Semi-Pro

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    Lendl - more accomplished, Mac - more notorious and popular.
     
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