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Old 12-01-2012, 10:31 PM   #28
Mustard
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Originally Posted by krosero View Post
Then you stack Wimbledon semi against Masters semi; those were the two biggest matches of all. Again, you can argue that Connors' wins were bigger (because Wimbledon is bigger than the Masters), but it's basically close. Not far from a split, and certainly not the kind of contrast that you saw in the hardcourt seasons in '82 and '83.
In 1984, we had Connors not winning a single game against Lendl in Rotterdam and Forest Hills, and then beating Lendl at Wimbledon. Different surfaces, true, but again a drastic difference in the biggest match. You mention that Lendl's mentality wasn't a factor here, like in their 1982 and 1983 US Open finals, but the fact remains that Lendl was outplayed by a guy he had been bagelling at will in their previous couple of matches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
This argument is problematic, because Connors lost three times to McEnroe in Slams. Lendl only lost one Slam final to McEnroe. You see that as giving Connors some kind of edge, but Lendl only lost one Slam final to McEnroe because he beat McEnroe in one of their Slam meetings. Credit to Lendl.
Absolutely. Lendl won the 1984 French Open.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
If Lendl had lost to Mac at RG, then we'd have Mac beating Connors in 3 Slams and beating Lendl in 2 Slams. Not sure what kind of decisive difference can be made out of that.
The difference is that Connors was an 8-time major winner, amongst many other titles that he had won, and was beating Lendl in majors despite getting battered by Lendl in their previous, smaller, match. Lendl had 40 titles, including a couple of Masters titles and a WCT Dallas title, but no majors at all before the 1984 French Open. I know that you are well aware that Lendl was getting a lot of stick for this. This clearly left a question mark over Lendl's mentality, without using hindsight of Lendl's future dominance from 1985-1987.

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Originally Posted by krosero View Post
Leaving hypotheticals aside, it's a fact that Lendl scored a huge win against McEnroe, getting a Slam, while Connors could not do so.
I haven't denied this. It was a fantastic victory for Lendl, but I disagree with the analysis by many people that this victory changed Lendl's career. I think that was the 1985 US Open final. Despite Lendl's big win at the 1984 French Open, Lendl was still getting bashed silly by McEnroe throughout their matches that year, and was still losing to Connors in their biggest match.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
The fact that Connors lost 3 times in Slam events to McEnroe works only in conjunction with hypotheticals -- namely the idea that Connors would have won those events if not for McEnroe standing in his way.
Maybe not at the French Open, as the conditions suit Lendl much better, but there would still have been that question mark about Lendl's mentality. With Connors on the other side of the net, it would have been a different mentality entirely to a McEnroe who had started brilliantly but then faltered as Lendl fought his way back into the match and eventually won.

Connors would have smelt blood about Lendl's insecurities, like he had at Flushing Meadows. Now, Lendl might still have won, but I'm not totally convinced in this hypothetical that he does. Their 1985 French Open semi final was different for the reason that Lendl was now defending champion, which gives the situation a different perspective. It's a semi final rather than a final, Connors is a year older and Lendl is defending champion, which leaves Lendl in a stronger position to the hypothetical meeting in the final from a year earlier. Lendl is more secure in his position by this point, although those insecurities of old would return after Wilander beat him in the 1985 French Open final, Leconte completely outplayed him at 1985 Wimbledon, and McEnroe did likewise in the finals of 1985 Stratton Mountain and 1985 Montreal.

I think it's a real shame that Connors had no chance of winning their 1985 US Open semi final after he had badly injured his ankle. That would have been a fascinating match. That's the way it goes sometimes, though. Lendl's win over McEnroe in the 1985 US Open final is what changed him. I believe that Lendl truly believed himself after this that he shouldn't be losing to anybody any more, whereas previously, the really big occasions against players like Connors, Wilander and McEnroe would unsettle him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
I think you can agree that the hypothetical there is necessary, because if we think that Connors was going to lose to other people anyway, if he didn't face McEnroe, then the fact that he lost to McEnroe is meaningless. He would have lost to other people anyway.
But why would anybody think that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
So that's the hypothetical on the table: Connors would have won those 3 Slam events if not for McEnroe. We had this debate before, and I agreed as far as Wimbledon. I said the USO was a toss-up, and I still believe that.
Okay, but I would have favoured Connors in both in this hypothetical, and the recent history backs it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
But I don't think there is any good reason to believe that Connors would have beaten Lendl at RG. I have strong doubts that he would have even reached the final.
Lendl is an obvious favourite at the French Open. My doubts are about a big final against Connors when Lendl has yet to win a major. Connors smells insecurity and exploits it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
If McEnroe had not beaten Jose Higueras at RG, then Connors would likely have had to face Higueras, who beat him at RG, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in 1982: one of Connors' best years. I believe you have named '82 as the year in which Connors played his peak tennis.
Yes, I do think that 1982 was Connors' best tennis, even though 1974 was the most dominant statistically. Higueras clearly played a brilliant match.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
When Lendl and Connors did finally meet at RG, it was a blowout for Lendl. As I said before, I can't see how things would have been much different twelve months earlier.
I've explained this above. The fact that it's a semi final instead of a final, and that Lendl is now the defending champion instead of being majorless, changes the whole scenario, the whole mentality surrounding the match. Lendl never had issues with major semi finals. Even in 1982, he could beat 3-time defending champion, McEnroe, in straight sets in the semi finals of the US Open. The fact that Roland Garros is a much better natural venue for Lendl than Connors on top of all the other factors, only increases the likelihood of a Lendl victory, which is what happened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
But my basic stance on this is that Lendl won RG, and should be given full credit for it, rather than having his win questioned with the possibility that Connors would have beaten him there if not for McEnroe standing in the way.
I'm sorry, but I haven't questioned Lendl's winning of the 1984 French Open. The suggestion about Connors was purely hypothetical, not actual reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
Connors never showed he could challenge even Higueras at RG, or reach a RG final, or push Lendl there when they did meet.
But what Connors had showed, and several times recently, was that he would beat Lendl in the biggest matches, especially when Lendl had not won a major and the media were criticising him. The big match occasion is what favours Connors, even though the surface playing conditions taken on their own favoured Lendl.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
And if Lendl is given full credit for his RG victory, then by all usual evaluations he stands clearly above Slam-less Connors in '84.
Connors won more titles, was constantly thwarted by McEnroe in the biggest events, and still had the big match edge against Lendl. That is why I favour Connors for second in 1984.

Quote:
Originally Posted by krosero View Post
Plus, the question of Wilander/Connors remains. Wilander had Connors' number more completely than Connors, even in your view, had Lendl's number. Wilander swept Connors in big and small matches and on all surfaces, in '84. He won a Slam while Connors didn't. So why do you rank Connors ahead of Wilander?
Wilander won less titles and had losses to Cash at Wimbledon and the US Open, with the Wimbledon loss being in the second round.

Anyway, that's my say

Last edited by Mustard : 12-01-2012 at 10:37 PM.
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