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Old 12-02-2012, 08:07 PM   #34
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Originally Posted by kiki View Post
I agree with Mustard that it would have been interesting to see Lendl , still to win a major, against declining Connors.

But bear in mind that Lendl amde an enormous menthal effort against a man that had whipped the floor with him in all his former matches that year and was stil doing two sets at the famous RG final.Lendl had to overcome NOT ONLY MAC´S BRILLIANT PLAY but alos, the fact that Mac had beaten him handily at Phily,Masters,Forest Hills (ˇˇ on clayˇˇ), Dusseldorf ( ˇˇ on clayˇˇˇ), Brussels...and was two sets up.1981 or 82 Lendl would hace surely yielded and Mac would have easily win a straight sets final and would have his RG title by now ( and would inmediately be considered a GOAT contender).

But Lendl refused to yield.

IMO, it is much more difficult to overcome that deficit against 1984 Mac ( with all the former defeats I mentioned) than beat a declining Connors, whom Lendl ahd thumped in their former matches (Masters,Rotterdam,WCT Tournament of Champions), even if Connors had had in the past the menthal edge over Lendl.

In other words, a declining ( yet dangerous ) Connors would have almost no chance to win the 1984 RG version of Lendl on clay.He was still better on grass and about even on hard, so a 1984 USO final between both would have been a great match to see ( and I think Lendl would´ve won it, finally)
Like your reasoning here

Originally Posted by kiki View Post
I would agree if only Lendl had beaten Connors once.But he lost a lot of consecutive matches to Connors , from 1979 to 1981 and only beat him in 1982, for the first time.Connors reached the semis at Wimbledon, the USO while Lendl took the Masters and lost the FO final, but was beaten by Fancutt at Wimbledon and Gerulaitis at New York...
I see what your saying about the rivalry in general, but if we focus only on '81, Connors beat Lendl, but only in two relatively minor matches: at LaQuinta and in a dead Davis Cup rubber.

That's a very thin edge for Connors, compared to the large leads that Lendl has over Connors in number and quality of tournament victories: 10-4 in total titles, with one of Lendl's victories being the Masters.

Not every one considers Dallas and the Masters to be majors equal with the Slams, but I know you do. So going with that, this is what we have for '81:

McEnroe - 3 majors, no runner-up finishes, 10 titles overall.
Borg - 1 major, 2 runner-up finishes, 3 titles overall.
Lendl - 1 major, 1 runner-up finish, 10 titles overall.
Connors - no majors, no runner-up finishes, 4 titles overall.

I can't see Connors even being close to Lendl this year. I even have to admit that Lendl has an argument to leapfrog over Borg. I do think that Borg's argument is stronger, but it's closer than I had ever assumed -- partly because I, like most people, always regarded Lendl as the outsider in the Borg-Connors-McEnroe triangle. Those 3 players, to me, were self-evidently the three best players for years on end, right up until Lendl took the #1 spot in '85.

But you look at Lendl's achievements and he actually broke into that triangle fairly early.

Originally Posted by Gizo View Post
The hypothetical discussion over who would win between Connors and Lendl at RG and the US Open in 1984, if Mac was out of the picture, is interesting.

I think Lendl beats Connors pretty easily in a hypothetical RG meeting. At the US Open, both players were of a fairly similar standard on hard courts, but there was a hugely pro-Connors and anti-Lendl American crowd at play as well. At Roland Garros, Lendl was a much, much better player than Connors on red clay, and there was no partisan crowd rooting against him and for Jimbo.

Aside from those first 2 sets in the final against Mac, the tennis that Lendl had been playing throughout that fortnight at RG had been outstanding. I know that Lendl-Wilander matches on clay were a snoozefest for many people, but Lendl was truly excellent when he destroyed Mats in their semi-final that year (better than Mac was against Connors in the other semi I think), not to mention those last 3 sets in the final. Compared to a peak Mac, the Connors of 1984 would have had very little to hurt Lendl with on red clay I think. Lendl 'bunting' the ball to Connors on red clay would lead to a lot of trouble for Jimbo.

However in a hypothetical 3rd consecutive meeting at the US Open in 1984, with Connors back at his favourite tournament and home turf, and with that crowd rooting so strongly for him, I think Connors wins once again. If Connors was to play as well against Lendl as he did against Mac during midnight madness, he wins in a big hard court match.
Strongly agree, particularly with your point about Lendl's level of play in the RG semis.

Yes I think Lendl's bunting the ball would have been a huge problem for Connors on red clay.

A USO meeting would have to be close, though I don't think there was much chance of Connors playing in the final as well as he did in the night-time semi against McEnroe. I just think that in general, the quality of play in USO finals has suffered from the fact that the players get no day of rest after their semis. I think a third-straight Connors-Lendl USO final may have been the least well played of all, considering what they both went through on Saturday.

And in a match full of errors, with both players hurting, and Lendl slicing the ball as much as he can, playing cautiously -- I think Lendl has a good chance of getting a lead, in that kind of match. Connors got on top of him when the slugging began and he could get his blood up. In a slow, tired match, Connors can get into a lot of trouble against Lendl, regardless of venue.

If the match turns "hot," then of course you have to like Jimmy's chances. But I think all that can be exaggerated too. We know that Jimmy was tough as nails. But his 5-set record is not as good as Lendl's, and he was vulnerable in tight matches. On the one hand, when it got close he'd be fighting like a bull. On the other hand, at Wimbledon in '77 when he robbed Borg of a 4-love lead in the fifth set and took the momentum, smelling blood and vulnerability (we know how worried Borg was at that moment), he didn't capitalize. He double-faulted at 4-all and, in his own words, "played like a dummy."

Then in the fifth-set tiebreak against McEnroe at the 1980 USO, despite the fact that the match was on fire and Jimmy was rocking the stadium, he played a poor tiebreak. I like Lendl's chances against Connors in any tiebreak they play at Flushing, at any point in the match -- largely because of Lendl's superior serve.

Lendl and Connors played only two tiebreaks in their Slam meetings (at '83 USO and '84W), but Lendl took them both.

I still think it's a toss-up, a Lendl-Connors meeting at Flushing in '84. Good arguments either way.
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