Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dangalak, Sep 17, 2012.
There were quite a few memorable matches involving Connors from '85 thru '91....no question. I think he was determined to prove he could still win an event or two . It's easy to forget in '87, he was the #1 US player because Mac was a head case....and he was still playing some very solid tennis that year, reaching #4 position. Aside from the incredible '91 USO run, some very compelling matches against Becker and Edberg along the way too....and a few doozies vs. Wilander and Lendl at the old Lipton tourney. Always entertaining stuff, even when he was not winning.
IMO fitness and mental strength are basic elements, and significant improvements in those will make a much stronger player. That's putting it mildly, because in the most dramatic instances a player can become transformed, particularly if he overcomes mental obstacles. That certainly happened with Lendl.
And that was not all he improved. Under Roche he became a better volleyer and a smarter player, with a better chip backhand.
He could always wallop the ball, and on his best days even when he was very young he could overwhelm the best players (except Connors who loved that pace). On that point I agree -- his major strengths were already formed early on. It's just that he made critical improvements later.
This I don't understand, because Connors finished behind three players in the Slam events -- Mac, Lendl and Wilander. And he lost his H2H with all three players that year.
Without McEnroe, Connors would probably have taken Wimbledon, if he could get past Cash (not a gimme considering how spent Jimmy was after the semis). And he would have met Lendl in the USO final -- a match he could definitely have won, though I think it would have been more difficult for him than in '82 or '83.
But he would not have beaten Lendl at RG, and I'm not sure he would have even made the final there. One of the players McEnroe beat at RG was Jose Higueras, who swept Connors at RG in '82 and had Jimmy's number on clay in those years.
So yeah, if Connors takes both Wimbledon and the USO, he'd be #1 for the year. But it would not have been easy, and it would still have been close, since Lendl would have won both RG and the Masters.
With McEnroe out of the picture I can see Lendl beating Connors at both RG and the Masters, and Connors returning the favor at Wimbledon -- with a hell of a match at the USO going possibly to either one.
McEnroe, but Lendl used to struggle a lot with Edberg
Yes, I agree w/your assessment...I should've left out the word "easy" It would not have been easy for him, but certainly very possible to reach #1 in '84. I do think '84 Connors would not have been troubled much by Cash; Jimmy didn't start having those crises of confidence until a bit later on. And, assuming that he would've split Wimby and RG with Lendl, it would've come down to a USO slugfest that, at that particular time, could have gone either way.
I don't think Jimbo ever had a crisis of confidence! Over-confidence, maybe. I believe his decline after 84 was due to age and injuries. It had nothing to do with confidence.
That's just to show how much Lendl is so underrated on this forum while Jan Kodes or Margaret Court is so overrated.
Did I read right? KODES OVERRATED?
Yes, everyone in both forums acknowlege it except only one person.
And can you please explain to me your logic on why Margaret Court is overrated?
Lendl is underrated but the head to heads are quite misleading since many of these players were older than Lendl and were beaten consistently by Lendl after they went over the hill.
I've already explained it. Court 11 AO titles was against a weak fields and many experts have said it too. The establishment of the WTA in the 70s sparks the growing of women's tennis. Open era got stronger as it combines with pro and amateur as one tour. It continue to be a global sport as more athletes, more international events made it very competitive. There's NO WAY Court can win 11 AO and/or 24 slams in the open era. People don't even recognize her 24 slams as a benchmark, but it's Graf 22 slams.
Connors was older than Lendl, but Borg beat a young Lendl, then retire early so he didn't allow Lendl to have a chance to even the score, hence misleading h2h. Mac is about the same age as Lendl. Wilander and Becker are younger than Lendl, so they can't be over the hill when they met.
Don't necessarily disagree that the Australian didn't have full fields but the odds were very large she would have won many Australian titles anyway. She won the Grand Slam and 92% plus of her matches for goodness sake and had many years she won three majors against full fields. How overrated could she be? I don't think she is discussed that much here and it's a shame.
Indoors is a factor that equalizes
Red clay was pretty important and prominent surface, and Connors didn't win a single title on it during his career, and in-fact only reached 2 finals on it, both in 1981. If he was more well rounded than Lendl surely he would have been able to win at least one title in red clay on Europe, but he couldn't. The Italian Open, the Germany Open, the Monte-Carlo Open, the Spanish Open, all prestigious tournaments with a rich history and Connors has no titles at any of those events. And at RG he never really looked hugely comfortable on the surface there (I would say he looked less comfortable on the RG clay than Lendl did on the Wimbledon grass). Plus he didn't really score that many really impressive victories at the tournament, with his R4 win over Orantes probably his best one.
Also about 70% of Connors's titles came in his home country the US, and he didn't even win that many titles in mainland Europe. Lendl still won all of the most important North American tournaments than Connors did, but had a far better record than Connors across the the most important European tournaments overall.
Wilander never reached the final 4 at the biggest grass court tournament at Wimbledon, and never won the biggest tournament on carpet at the Masters. In fact he only won three indoor titles during his career, despite playing in an era when indoor and carpet tennis was very prominent and important.
Across all tournaments on all surface specifications in all geographical locations, Lendl was more of day-in-day-out threat than either Connors or Wilander were.
His '76 win over Borg at the USO was an excellent display of precision agressive tennis for that era.
He didn't play a crappy final by his own admission. Edberg blitzed him. It was an awesome performance.
You aren't giving Ivan enough credit. He beat Connors 17 times in a row. He had the smarts and the guts to change his tatics by junkballing Jimmy to beat him and frustrate him. Connors was not an ordinary over 30 "fading great player". If Ivan would have stuck to his old strategy of feeding Jimmy pace there is no way he could have run off 17 in a row on him.
Margaret Court dominated fields against true champions like Bueno,King,Cawley,Evert and young Navratilova not comparable with the current weak fields
IMO it is the same analogy to Laver who had to play Rosewall,Hoad,Gonzales, Newcombe,Asheand Nastase to name a few
Like Laver in Federer era, Court would have doubled her records in case she played the current field
Besides 2 WCT crowns and a Masters title Connors holds the record at Philadelphia, the biggest indoor event with 4 titles and he also won the US Indoors at Memphis at least 3 times
He won most important indoor events at least once and beat Lendl indoors. more than on any other turf like the 84 Tokyo final
Wembley,Brussels,Rotterdam,Sydney and several US indoor events all felt into Jimmy' s belt
in addition to what you wrote, he also won their last slam match, coming back from 2 sets to 1 at the US open in 1992 !
and in addition to the aforementioned rivalries with connors, mac, wilander, becker and edberg (maybe also with cash, even if -partly because of cash's injuries- they only played 8 matches ?), it's also impressive to see how well he "resisted" to the new generation of young players towards the end of his career (dominating records over agassi, ivanisevic, stich, courier and chang, for instance). but i'm going a bit off-topic, i think...
Not so sure about that...there were some weird losses in finals during 85 thru 87. Christo Van Rensburg? I mean, c'mon now. Not to mention the lapse in the '87 Wimby semi (yeah, Cash was hot, but Connors had just beaten him week prior). And, that Queens final loss against Becker? The old Connors would've won some of these, I think...most of them, actually. I think the long string of losses started to play games with his head..But, yeah, the injuries (back for instance) were catching up with him.
Connors never played the red Euro clay circuit with any regularity...certainly not in his prime years. So there is no simple way to factor it in. He won numerous US clay court titles. So, if you consider his results on the green stuff radically different and somehow inferior to what Lendl accomplished on the Euro red clay, that's your choice. I do not, in part because he did beat some of the very top Euro clay guys in his prime years of 74-78.
Lendl was miserable on grass, I am sorry to say. When did he ever really look comfortable? Against the best grass court players of his day, he simply looked BAD. And I'd attribute at least some of that to his decision to play an S&V game he was never quite comfortable with. Mac, Connors, Becker, Cash, even Edberg, at times made him look quite inadequate on the grass.
If I had to pick one guy across all surfaces, it would be Wilander. He was probably the smartest, steadiest and could mix up his game plan much more than all the others could. Wimbledon was a miss, no doubt, but he could surely play on the grass. And never looked as "off" as Lendl did on the turf.
It was, but I still thought Courier sucked. Sorry. He was not prepared to counter the S&V game of Edberg...that was very clear.
I don't disagree with that; Ivan would junk ball him, then wait to rip a winner when he could when Connors was out of position. But, maybe younger Jimmy could've coped better with that strategy? Yeah, I definitely felt that in their later matches Lendl went out of his way to slice the backhands and in many cases, took the pace off the forehand. He really did wise up; his early strategy of trying to blow Connors off the court was not a good one.
Chang...and his underhand serve.
That's total BS. After 84, Connors was finished. Lendl wasn't the only guy he was losing to. Heck, that's like saying Tsonga is better than Edberg because he beat him recently in an exhibition. :lol:
You are mistaking confidence for motivation and physical ability. Injuries and old age have a way of making you lose that desire to win when you're facing an uphill battle against a younger opponent who's ready to go the distance. I don't think lack of confidence was ever a problem for Jimbo. I'm a 4.5 player, and if I lose to a 5.5 player, I can assure you that confidence had nothing to do with my loss!
Yes and I thought his suspension in early '86 had a particularly negative effect on him, mentally.
And lost 11 career finals indoors. Not a good record at all.
Strange how he pushed a peak McEnroe to five sets in their Davis Cup match indoors in '82, but then had such an unremarkable career indoors.
Real grass is Lendl's adversary but he could've done very well in today's grass-like courts at SW19.:mrgreen:
So let's be fair here. Connors was number one in '82, beat Mac at Wimbledon, and Lendl at the USO. It was his last really good year, but he was good that year.
Now, just looking at the tennis skills, Lendl was better than Connors (sorry Jimbo). Lendl had the bigger serve, bigger forehand, and he could pound hard, deep backhands all day long.
But tennis is more than strokes. Connors took the 82 and 83 USO from Lendl. Lendl should have won both of those matches, but Connors won those matches with attitude. He was confident, got right into Lendl's face, and Lendl wilted.
Interesting rivalry between Mac and Lendl. In 82 Lendl beat Mac like an old rug. He just over powered him. Mac eventally got more aggressive, standing closer to the baseline and taking balls short with his incredible hands, using Lendl power, and then coming in at the earliest opening. Mac really turned around the rivalry and kind of owned Lendl for a year or so, especially 84. Then Mac came off the boil, probably due in some part to cocaine as Limpin mentioned. It was just a bit, but it was enough that Mac could not quite control all of the pace coming at him enough of the time. The way Mac plays it's a pretty fine line between genius and disaster. Those low spin, almost half volley strokes have to be very accurate to be effective, otherwise they kind of sit there waiting to be ripped.
All IMO, from 30 year old recollections.
Connors avoiding Euro clay events is a big knock against him. He had the choice to play them more regularly, but didn't take it. He is rightly praised for being such a fighter, but he systematically avoided playing tournaments on his weakest surface, which does highlight some cowardice. If Lendl had avoided playing grass court tournaments, imagine the outrage that would have caused. Lendl trying and ultimately failing to Wimbledon (but coming close) reflects better on him, than Connors ducking big European clay court tournaments (obviously not in 1974 though) during his prime and his career.
He preferred the more comfortable and cushy lifestyle of racking up titles at home in the USA (a lot of them relatively minor ones), rather than trying to conquer his worst surface in Europe. I can't blame him for that, but still you would think that a guy like him would be more up for the challenge, but obviously not.
Of course Connors deserve praise for his exploits on green clay, but green clay is no red clay. And as Borg showed right from 1973, facing Connors in the USA was a totally different proposition to facing him anywhere else.
Connors, like Becker and McEnroe, failed to win singles titles on all surface specifications available to them which is a blemish on their CVs compared to other greats.
Even Sampras who was clearly not as good at Connors on clay, was able to win a big title on Euro red clay.
LOL miserable on grass that is hilarious and shows a huge lack of perspective. He looked excellent on grass from 1983-1990, when he reached the final 4 at Wimbledon or better every year apart from 1985, losing to elite grass court players or dangerous shotmakers every year. He also looked excellent on grass when he beat Edberg at Wimbledon in 1987 and crushed Becker in the 1990 Queen's final (grass court perfection according to Dan Maskell).
If Lendl was miserable on grass, how would you describe Connors on the red clay at RG, absolutely useless?
And if Lendl was miserable on grass, why did he win 2 more titles on it than Connors was ever able to win on red clay?
Lendl was better at serve-volleying at Wimbledon than Connors was at handling the higher bounce, slower pace and different footwork requirements on the RG clay.
Wilander was a very tactically versatile player (as he demonstrated no less in the 1985 RG final when he completely outsmarted Lendl).
Still he was 'off' at Wimbledon many times. Unlike Lendl he never put himself in the competition to compete for the title, but was still blown away at Wimbledon by Cash and Mecir, only won one set in his 3 Wimbledon quarter-finals, and lost in the 1st round in 1985 to Zivojinovic.
And he also looked 'off' in his biggest matches indoors, when he only won 3 finals out of 14.
Yes 1992 was a good year for Lendl scalp wise, he finally beat Becker at a slam at the US Open, and beat Bruguera on clay at RG, Muster on clay at Barcelona, Ivanisevic on carpet at Tokyo and Brussels, and Chang all 4 times they faced each other.
His combined h2h against the best players of that next generation; Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang, Ivanisevic, Stich, Muster and Bruguera, was an excellent 35-13 (a 73% success rate). Very impressive stuff. Out of those 8 players he only had a losing record against Sampras, but still beat him on carpet at Philadelphia during his 1993-1994 absolute peak period.
Very well argued. Agree on all points.
That's right! He even told the press he was allergic to grass. Then they photographed him playing golf! :lol:
Lendl was the equal to Mc Enroe and Connors for mental games, a different kind of jerk but every bit of a jerk
Wilander or Connors.
Lendl didn't completely skip grass until 1983. He played at Wimbledon from 1979-1981 without much success, losing early to Aussie players each time. In 1981 he lost to the qualifier Charlie Fancutt in 5 sets in the 1st round, the last time he would lose in the 1st round of a major until 1993.
During that initial period he struggled a lot on the surface.
The only year he skipped Wimbledon was in 1982 (and famously so), and he was rightly criticised for that. He didn't have the right attitude towards grass court tennis back then, but he quickly saw the error of his ways, and from 1983 he was fully dedicated towards trying to win Wimbledon.
Overall he had a much better attitude towards grass court tennis than Connors did to European clay court tennis I would say, not to mention better results.
Connors was a homeboy and a great one too.
He was. He didn't like Europe too much, but not everyone does. LOL
The US Open was played on green clay in 75-77. All three years, Connors was in the final and in 76 he beat Vilas and Borg to win it. Vilas was in his prime. Borg was young, but he did win Wimbledon that year, so he was extremely formidable. Borg and Vilas were great on green clay, and they played a lot of tune-ups on green clay. I don't see why people are diminishing that as an accomplishment. I suppose some people can't be satisfied with anything.
It is curious I was thinking about american players who played a lot in Europe and alsp Australia and South Africa.Budge Patty, a kind of Hemingway in tennis shorts lived many years at Paris and Dibbs, Solomon, Gottfried and Gene Mayer played a lot there.
Mac used to play a lot in Europe (indoors and grass season) but my pick is Vitas Gerulaitis whose family came from Lithuania and every year he spent lot of time in Europe. Clay,grass and indoors he played it all, and also played the aussie and SAF events
Nobody was more international than Gerulaitis which fits great with his cosmopolitan image
And nobody was only US focused as Connors and Tanner were
Lendl lost to old fart Dibley in 1980 and unknown Fancutt in 81 but I can' t recall who beat him in 79
Dupre beat him at 1980 AO over a tough 5 setter
IMO the toughest rival for Jimbo in 82 may have been Vilas who beat him at 2 indoor finals in Spring
1982 not only saw Connors revival but also Vilas revival and both players freed from their conqueror Borg!!!
What a terrific year!!! Mac and Lendl struggling to take Borg' s crown, who found a heritier at Wilander and two classics dominating the tour!!
Vilas beat twice Connors and twice Lendl at great tournament finals and barely lost to Wilander at RG final and at the end of the year lost to Connors at the US Open semis, to Macat the Masters semis and to his former owner Lendl at the Detroit WCT winter finals
That was the effect of Borg's retirement
Vilas and Connors took Ivan and Mac role and Wilander squeezed into
A memorable season by any means
I'd like to put Lendl's winning percentage on grass up against Connors winning percentage on clay (red, green and both). Similar? Vastly different? Would be interesting to compare.
It's an unknown obviously, but if he had played the Euro circuit with more regularity, he might have won an event or two. He just did not put the effort into it....aside from a few attempts in the late '80s when he was well past his prime.
Lendl never looked comfortable on grass...it always looked forced for him...even when he was winning. And, I agree, Connors never looked totally comfortable on red clay. Both could be effective on those surfaces....sometimes. Connors dealt with "high bounces" by cutting them off when and where he could....no big question to answer there...Lendl took to serve and volley on grass, naturally taking advantage of his marvelous serve. Both had ways of coping.
Vilas had a very good 1982, this is true. He kind of faded after that.
How free both felt after their owner Borg retired!!!
While Mac and somehow Lendl could match the swede but got surpassed by the motivation and drive of Connors and Vilas
So can we conclude it was McEnroe?
Heck no! We went over this at length already. We will not get a consensus on anyone, and if we had a survey I don't think Mac would be on top of this list. Mac was a pushover early on, then he figured him out later, but it didn't last long enough because he left the game early for personal reasons and was never the same after that.
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