Originally Posted by Xavier G
I like the Mac-Wilander rivalry. Mats was really a great player for most of the 80's and gave John a few surprising defeats in my eyes like the AO semi final in 83 for instance. That was a good chance for Mac to win the Australian Open. The USO semi of 1985 was another classic which McEnroe just closed out, but it took a lot of him for the final.
McEnroe often seemed to have more trouble with Wilander than with Borg. Even in their first meeting, when Wilander was still only 18 and in some ways still a claycourter, McEnroe needed 6 hours to beat him in that Davis Cup match -- and that was on indoor carpet.
I think two things helped Wilander. He stood in closer to the baseline than Borg; and he showed McEnroe fewer second serves than Borg did. He could do that because he didn't do as much with the first serve, tending to spin it in; but that meant that McEnroe had fewer chances to attack a second ball and get into net.