Originally Posted by AndrewD
Wholly innacurate. When Wilander won his first Australian Open it signalled a re-emergence of the tournament, a re-emergence which coincided with the best players in the world being from Europe, not the United States. 1984 was the last hurrah for both McEnroe and Connors. After that, they were supplanted by the likes of Lendl, Wilander, Edberg and Becker.
Also, take note that in 1983, when Wilander won his first Australian Open, he beat McEnroe in the semi-finals. If the tournament was so lacking in prestige at that stage (1976/77-1982 it certainly was a third-class field) what was McEnroe doing there? Probably, going on your thinking, trying to inflate his total of major wins. Unfortunately, he ran into Wilander who, subsequently, beat Ivan Lendl in the final. Not what anyone would call an 'easy win', was it?
Historically, prior to the emergence of Connors and Borg, the Australian Open had more prestige than the US event. Why? Quite simply because the best players in the world were Australian. However, with the emergence of Connors, Borg and, later, McEnroe (plus the larger number of top ranked Americans) the Australian Open became, naturally, less important to them. It couldn't draw on national ties to pull in the best players and it couldn't offer the financial rewards so it faded. When the tide turned and the European players began to emerge in the early 80's the Aus Open became relevant again.
Seriously, if you're going to arbitrarily down-play the accomplishments of men such as Wilander, Lendl, Edberg and Becker why not go the whole hog and say that McEnroe, Connors and Sampras inflated their totals by winning so many events on home soil?