Originally Posted by timnz
The French Open had regained full prestige of a Grand Slam since the mid to late 1970's ie well before the late 80's. It has equal status with Wimbledon and the US open in the period you refer to. The Australian Open started to regain it starting in 1983 when players like McEnroe, Lendl and Wilander came - that process of rehabilitation came to full fruition in 1988 with the change of venue and change to hard court and the expansion of the field to 128.
re. McEnroe - keep in mind that he competed at the event in December 1983 (only a month before his peak year and he was number 1), December 1985 (when he still was number 3) - he was only 24 and 26- all on Grass - which suited him. So if it was a lesser event - it should have been easier for him to win ....but he didn't. (having said that reading his biography his mind wasn't in the 1985 event - but that was his problem, it shouldn't be an excuse). So it is a bit of a myth that some hold that McEnroe didn't really compete at the Australian Open as a top player.
On the other hand, I am in agreement that more credit needs to be put against Mac for his WCT finals wins. His 5 wins tend to get swept under the carpet. Memory is short in tennis. The WCT finals was a very big event.
No doubt. The way they publicized it at the time in the 1970's you often would think the WCT Championship was the biggest tournament in the world. I think they did call the winner the World Champion of Tennis. It was a different value system in those days.