Originally Posted by jrepac
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.
Agreed to many of the points you make. A couple of things, though. The ATP computer placed Connors at #2 for 1984, but this was the same computer that only two years earlier (1982) had placed McEnroe at #1 and Connors at #2, despite Connors pulling down two Slam titles and McEnroe none. In '83 the computer put Lendl at #2, Connors at #3 and Wilander at #4, despite the fact that Lendl had no Slams for the year; moreover, Wilander is usually everybody's choice for #2 or even for #1 that year.
I might agree that Connors' #2 ranking in '84 reflects his consistency, but does it? Nobody was more consistent in '83 than Wilander, yet he ended up fourth on the computer that year.
On the hypotheticals, I give Lendl somewhat more chance at the USO than you do, but I don't really disagree strongly with anything you said about hypothetical meetings that year. And what you said about the actual meeting that Lendl and Connors had at Wimbledon, I agree with.
What I find very
problematic is this: "But, Mac was the biggest thorn in Jimbo's side that season, not Lendl."
That is exactly what you would expect. If you're the #2 or #3 in the world, the biggest thorn in your side is probably going to be the world #1. Not anybody else.
Why is Lendl expected to be the greatest thorn in Connors' side? Why is he being held to that standard? Lendl was not the top player in the world.
McEnroe was everybody's biggest thorn that year. That's why he was #1.
But the only player who did significant damage to McEnroe that year -- damage that John still has nightmares about -- was Lendl.
Besides, this statement about John being Jimmy's greatest thorn is true in reverse: McEnroe, not Connors, was Lendl's greatest thorn in '84. Lendl lost only twice to Connors. Lendl lost far more matches (6), and bigger prizes (the USO and the Masters), to McEnroe.
At that point the statement becomes meaningless. If somehow Connors gets brandished with honor, or something, for losing 6 times to McEnroe, well Lendl lost 6 times as well to McEnroe. The only reason it wasn't 7 is because Lendl took one of their meetings, which of course is credit to Lendl: huge credit to him.
It's astonishing to me that in all sorts of little ways Lendl's big victory at Roland Garros is not being allowed to carry its full weight. Lendl's actual wins are getting weighed against Connors' hypothetical wins. Or, Lendl's WIN over McEnroe is getting weighed against Connors' LOSSES to McEnroe -- and somehow Connors comes out looking BETTER because he actually did less damage to the world #1 than Lendl did. Is this for real?
Connors' losses to McEnroe carry no weight whatsoever apart from the hypothetical argument that with McEnroe out of the way, Jimmy would have won those tournaments. And then there is only weight there if we use hypothetical victories to judge the actual achievements of the year. But I think on this board all the best posters have a common agreement that we should be trying not to do that. We discuss many seasons here, like 1977, and try to judge the achievements on their merits, without letting hypotheticals give an edge to any player.
And if hypotheticals are set aside, Lendl stands with 1 Slam to Connors' none. That's huge. We all know the night-and-day difference between going Slam-less in a season, and managing to pull down one Slam. If you pull down two Slams you've gone from a great season and entered true heavyweight territory.
Those are the huge incremental differences that you gain with each additional Slam that you can win in a season.
By contrast, what is the difference between Connors' 5 tournament titles compared to Lendl's 3? Miniscule.
The only edge Connors has over Lendl in actual achievements is that they beat each other at Wimbledon and the Masters, and Jimmy's Wimbledon victory is bigger. Considering how great a tournament the Masters was back then, that is no great difference at all. And it is, at any rate, a mighty thin edge with which to attempt to cancel out Lendl's Slam victory.
For the sake of being diplomatic I'd like to agree that it was close, but for the sake of being honest I can't.