Who was Lendl's biggest rival?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dangalak, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    I always wondered.
     
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  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    John McEnroe.
     
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  3. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    #3
  4. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Lew Hoad. Ask Dan Lobb!
     
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  5. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Jan Kodes.
     
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  6. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    No seriously. It's probably between Becker, McEnroe, Connors and Wilander.

    If McEnroe is Lendl's biggest rival, was McEnroe's biggest rival Lendl? :?
     
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  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tough to say. Lendl, Connors and Borg all have good cases to be McEnroe's biggest rival. I was more certain that Lendl's biggest rival was McEnroe because McEnroe was the best player in that period where Lendl was looking to take over as the world's best.

    When McEnroe was looking to become the world's best, Borg stood in his way, but McEnroe and Borg got along personally and the rivalry was shortlived due to Borg's early departure from the sport. McEnroe's rivalry with Connors was fiery and intense, while McEnroe's rivalry with Lendl was more of a disdain for one another. McEnroe and Lendl are from the same generation, so that's something else to take into account.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
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  8. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Yeah Johnny McEnroe for sure.......those WCT finals from Reunion Arena were classics and you could feel the hate from both of them in the stands.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac in general terms.but terrific rivalries with Becker indoors and grass,Wilander on clay and Connors on hard
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac in general terms.but terrific rivalries with Becker indoors and grass,Wilander on clay and Connors on hard as well as Cash on hard
     
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  11. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I don't think he's his biggest rival, but I always felt Becker sort of played the foil to Lendl, much like Nadal did to Federer. Lendl was superior to Becker as a player, just as I feel Federer is superior to Nadal, yet Becker won the majority of the big matches....although Lendl led the overall head to head 11-10, he was 1-5 in majors and 0-3 at Wimbledon.
     
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  12. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    Well said :)
     
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  13. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Thank you. :)
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    During his first years could be as well
     
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The only guys of the big names of the 80 that Lendl did have a small rivalry were Borg and Edberg, with Borg it would have been huge but Borg quit before it reached epic proportions
     
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  16. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    McEnroe because of the hate factor.
     
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  17. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Lendl had a winning h2h record with many of his rivals

    Lend vs rival
    . 21 - 15 ... J McEnroe
    . 22 - 13 ... J Connors
    . 13 - 14 ... S Edberg
    . 15 - 07 ... M Wilander
    . 11 - 10 ... B Becker
    . 02 - 06 ... B Borg
     
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  18. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I know you're joking but years ago I heard a radio interview with Gilbert in which he said Lendl was the player he found toughest to play.

    Gilbert thought Lendl had perhaps the best serve in tennis not necessarily because of the power but also because of the variety.
     
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  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hahaha! Of course.
     
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  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Connors was past his prime before Lendl came into his. Although Connors continued to compete for another 7-8 years after he was passed his prime, he was clearly not as great as he was in the 70's up to 82'.

    You might make the same argument for McEnroe. Lendl's prime began in about 1984. After 1984, Mac's level of play dropped off just enough to make him something less than an all time great from there on out. IMO, it was caused by cocaine abuse. If not for that, both McEnroe's and Lendl's careers would not look like they do in retrospect.

    Wilander's prime coincided with Lendl's and, IMO, Lendl was clearly the better player.

    Becker's peak also coincided with Lendl's, although Becker was a bit younger. Becker may have had a slightly higher level of play at his absolute peak, but, Lendl was the more consistent champion between the two.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
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  21. Limpinhitter

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    Maybe it was Lendl, and not McEnroe, that prompted Borg to retire. Borg's FO win over Lendl was a real battle for Borg and he knew Lendl would only get better.
     
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  22. Ramon

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    Those stats are very deceiving. Connors was past his prime in most of those encounters, but even in '82-'84 when Connors was losing most of the time and clearly past his prime, he found a way to beat Lendl when it mattered the most. Despite those stats, I think Connors had Lendl's number.

    Borg retired before Lendl reached peak form. I think the numbers would have been closer.

    Mac, Edberg, Wilander, and Becker were closer contemporaries to Lendl. Early on, Mac had a hard time figuring out how to beat Lendl who seemed to push him around a lot. Mac finally figured out that he had more success by staying aggressive and their matches were more even after that.

    I don't think Lendl ever really established a big rivalry in the manner of Borg/McEnroe or Connors/McEnroe. The McEnroe rivalry was starting to build up steam, but then McEnroe suddenly retired. Lendl is a figure that bridged two different eras of tennis. He was competitive in the era of Borg/Connors/McEnroe and also in the era of Wilander/Edberg/Becker. By the time Sampras peaked and Agassi finally got it together, Lendl was through.
     
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  23. Ramon

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    I disagree. I read an interview with Borg just before he announced he would try to make a comeback. It seemed that he politely dismissed Connors and Lendl, but McEnroe was the one who truly had him worried.
     
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  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I was being a bit facetious. I don't think any of them had Borg genuinely worried. He would have continued to be the favorite at the FO and any other clay event for years to come, and a threat at Wimbledon, the USO and AO (if he wanted to play there). I think he was just burnt, wanted a lighter schedule, and the majors wouldn't give him a free entry into their events without qualifying. So he just quit.
     
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  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree, best cc match of the 80 along the 1984 final
    Lendl had already beatem Borg in a 5 sets final at Basle,months before their RG final
     
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  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Amen I must say
     
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  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Lendl vs Clerc,Gerulaitis,Vilas and Noah were almost as good
    Tremendously competitive era
     
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  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you Limpinhitter.

    The RG final that Borg played against Lendl which Borg won in five sets really wasn't indicative of Borg's normal play. I believe Borg was hurt when he played the French in 1981 and despite that he beat Lendl.
     
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  29. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Grass was his biggest rival.
     
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  30. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I'm well aware that Connors was probably past his prime with many of his meetings with Lendl. I have not yet looked closely at their h2h encounters to determine the trend/exact nature of their rivalry. In sheer numbers tho', with 35 encounters, I believe that it may be second only to Lendl's encounters with J Mac = 36 meetings.

    J Mac won his first 2 encounters (1980) with Lendl but then lost the next 7 (81-82). However, with his wins over Lendl in 83-84, McEnroe took the h2h lead 12-9. J Mac dropped to #2 in 1985 but maintained his edge over Lendl, 14-12. J Mac took some time off in 86 (married Tatum) and never regained his dominance in singles. They met again starting in 87 but J Mac won only 1 of their last 10 encounters.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lendl%E2%80%93McEnroe_rivalry

    Lendl's contemporaries who primes roughly coincided with his own included Edberg, Becker (starting in the mid-80s) and Wilander. Lendl's rivalries with Edberg (13-14) and Becker (11-10) were fairly even overall. Altho' Lendl ruled Wilander in the long run, their early encounters were fairly even. In their first 10 meetings (1882-84) they were even at 5-5. From 85 thru 87, Lendl won 8 of their 9 encounters. Wilander had a stellar year in 1988. He prevailed over Lendl in the final at the 88 USO. After 88, Wilander's performance dropped off sharply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lendl%E2%80%93Wilander_rivalry
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
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  31. Ramon

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    On the Connors rivalry, I don't have all the numbers, so I'm basically just giving you my subjective impression and why I think Connors got the better of it. When Lendl first burst onto the scene with upset victories over Borg and Mac, tennis writers and analysts were wondering why Connors dominated him. Something about Connors' style just bothered Lendl. As Connors aged and Lendl improved, it's no surprise that Lendl began to win against Connors, but if you look at their H2H in grand slams, even when Connors was nearing the end of his career he knew how to beat Lendl when it really counted. If you ask Connors or Lendl if they would trade any 10 tournaments for 1 grand slam tournament, I think they would unhesitatingly say "yes".

    Good analysis of the Mac rivalry, BTW. Mac was never the same when he came back from retirement (and neither was Borg for that matter).
     
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  32. kiki

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    Connors took the ball early and 'used Ivan power against him.Looked like Ivan was playing against himself,that was not the case with Borg and Mc Enroe
    Lendl played Connors first at 79 Indianapolis qf and a few weeks later played first time Borg (Toronto sf)
    He had played Mc in the juniors but their first pro match were the qf of the Milan 1980 event which was part of the WCT tour
     
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  33. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Rewatched the 1988 US Open final recently. Amazing tennis.

    Mentally, maybe two of the toughest players at a particular moment in time. Wilander was so locked in, as was Lendl.

    Lendl may have played better in that match than in most of his finals wins. But still lost.
     
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  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Only Orantes had stretched Borg to five at Paris and that just before Borg peaked and only Panatta twice at RG and Connors twice at FH would ever beat Borg at a cc major

    And Pecci beat him at Montecarlo where Borg never lost since the start of mankind
    Lendl showed he was the only possible rival for Borg at a short term
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Panatta and Pecci, the only men to beat officialy Borg on clay since many years had a great mixture of touch,net reach and great S&V ability being the only s&v players raised on clay until Noah developed latwr

    On US faster clay only Connors defeated Borg and that is due to the extremely bold and agressive all court attack that middle 70 Connors was able to play consistently and with unmatched confidence,as well as har tru being a bit
    faster than red clay
     
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  36. Paul Murphy

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    I would agree with that.
     
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  37. Paul Murphy

    Paul Murphy Hall of Fame

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    Lendl is a figure that bridged two different eras of tennis. He was competitive in the era of Borg/Connors/McEnroe and also in the era of Wilander/Edberg/Becker. By the time Sampras peaked and Agassi finally got it together, Lendl was through.[/QUOTE]

    Indeed his career bridged two eras.
    I would have thought his greatest rivalry was with Mc.
     
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  38. ramos77

    ramos77 Semi-Pro

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    the saw dust
     
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  39. Down_the_line

    Down_the_line Legend

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    I would have to say McEnroe, although tennis history is not exactly my forte.

    If this counts, remember too that McEnroe's and Lendl's games were almost polar opposites of eachother, much like those of Sampras and Agassi. McEnroe was one of the best S&V'ers to play the game and had perhaps the best hands at the net, while Lendl pretty much pioneered the modern power baseline game.
     
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  40. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I don't know about that. I thought Wilander made his win a lot harder than it could have been. Wilander was well in control at 6-4, 4-1 up, when the umpire called Wilander for a time violation and Wilander's form disappeared until the third set. The fourth set was winnable for Wilander, yet he lost it, and he also went from 2-0 up to 2-3 down in the fifth set, before eventually coming back to lead 5-3 and then win it 6-4 in the fifth set.

    It was a great match though, yes.
     
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  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Indeed his career bridged two eras.
    I would have thought his greatest rivalry was with Mc.[/QUOTE]

    Lendl may have been the most longevous player of the Golden Age
     
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  42. Ramon

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    I think Lendl/McEnroe could have been a great rivalry but fell just short because of McEnroe's early retirement. I actually watched a match live (I forgot where it was), which was a turning point in their rivalry. Lendl was expected to win easily because he had a string of consecutive victories over Mac. Lendl was ahead and won the first set, but in the middle of the 2nd set, Mac got angry at a line call and then just turned it up another notch, constantly attacking. He won it easily after that. After that match, it looked like Mac was getting the upper hand more often than not, but he soon retired after that.

    I had an anti-Mac fan sitting in front of me. It was just so amusing to me how Mac had a way of making people feel a real bitter hatred toward him, especially when he would cry like a baby over a line call and then use his anger to win! That was priceless!
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
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  43. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I saw many matches live and even in exos you would not catch the difference
     
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  44. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    No. That's Connors.
     
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  45. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    If WIKI is correct, Jimbo was 5-8 vs. Lendl from '82-'84. His last win over Ivan was in the Fall of '84 in Tokyo. I remember that was a very good match from Connors, indoors, on fast carpet to boot...which was one of Lendl's very best surfaces.

    They had some close ones in there after that, but the balance clearly shifted as Ivan ascended to #1 in '85-87.
     
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  46. Mustard

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    Connors won all the big matches against Lendl at Wimbledon/US Open from 1982-1984, despite Lendl taking Connors apart in previous meetings in smaller tournaments.
     
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  47. 10smonkey

    10smonkey Rookie

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    i would say the broom
     
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  48. jrepac

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    After Mac took the layoff, he was never the same; he started losing to Connors again in the late '80's as well.
     
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  49. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Connors was at his peak in the mid 70's....Borg had not yet found out how to consistently beat him...on har tru, Connors was quite formidable.
     
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  50. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Well, Connors was not afraid of Lendl's power, that much is sure and he always seemed able to get a good bead on Ivan's serve, even better than Agassi did in later years, I felt. Basically, Lendl could not easily "outhit" Connors. Really, he learned how to beat Connors by taking pace off the ball...lots of slices, making Jimmy generate the pace. That combined with "father time" began to push the rivalry to Lendl's favor.
     
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