Originally Posted by Gizo
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.
Lots of interesting debates here on the #2 slot for '84. It is not that clear cut, by any stretch. Has anyone looked at the ATP rankings for that year? I do recall Connors getting up there to #2 by year's end, which speaks to the consistency, if not the actual GS results, of his play that year.
Does Lendl's RG win outweigh Connors results? Arguably, yes. But, Mac was the biggest thorn in Jimbo's side that season, not Lendl.
At Wimby, it would've been hard to see Connor's not beating anyone other than McEnroe that year. A little too early for Cash to overcome Connors at that stage, IMHO. Maybe, but not likely.
RG, no question, would've favored Lendl in the final that year, unless Ivan gagged big time. I do think the crowd there would lean to Connors at that time, in all honesty.
USO, likely a toss up, however, Connors was in peak form all thru that tournament, not just in the match vs. Mac. So, I'd give him an edge there versus Lendl.
Re: wimby, yes, Connors did cite Lendl physically breaking down. It was clear he was exhausted, but not like Jimmy was a spring chicken, either. And, Lendl won the first set, so he had an edge. But, over the course of the match, I do think Jimmy's style on grass wore Ivan down...it was just a very fast court back then and Connors was infinitely more comfortable. It was easy to see that.
I saw that final from Tokyo as well...it was a very fast indoor court; Connors got a head of steam behind him and ran away with it, playing very aggressively. If Connors could rush Lendl's stroke production, that tended to make the difference, I think. So, Connors' aggressive/explosive service returns and ground strokes on a fast/uneven surface, could create havoc in Lendl's game.