Originally Posted by Limpinhitter
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.
Originally Posted by Ramon
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.
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.
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.