better career/whom would you rank higher overall?: Lendl vs Connors

better career/overall better player

  • Lendl

    Votes: 22 51.2%
  • Connors

    Votes: 21 48.8%

  • Total voters
    43

arvind13

Professional
I think its extremely close. there are good reasons for picking one over the other for either player. i'm curious to hear TTW members' opinions.
 

arvind13

Professional
Lendl. I think he had a better career, was number one for several years in maybe the most competitive era ever. Connors is close behind, though.
so was connors. lendl had slightly more overall weeks as no 1: 270 as oppossed to connors 268. but connors had more consecutive weeks as no 1. and had more titles than lendl
 

Olli Jokinen

Semi-Pro
so was connors. lendl had slightly more overall weeks as no 1: 270 as oppossed to connors 268. but connors had more consecutive weeks as no 1. and had more titles than lendl
But not in maybe the most competitive era ever. And a lot of Connor's titles are a bit dodgy.
 

boredone3456

G.O.A.T.
Connors won more majors and arguably wins the longevity at the top argument. Jimmy's 1974-1978 was pretty fierce, entered 12 majors and made the finals of 11 winning 5 of those finals. Some of his titles arguably are well....

Lendl played his best against arguably fiercer competition to win his majors. His wins at the biggest non major tournaments are also amazing. he also leads the H2H between the 2 fairly convincingly I think.

I'm probably a give the edge to Lendl vote, but Jimmy is literally RIGHT THERE
 

urban

Legend
Close case. But Lendl should have won at least one of the US open finals 1982 and 1983. Connors was a bit past prime, and Lendl had beaten him badly before. In the later final, Connors had the flu, but nevertheless came through, i think 6-0 in the fourth, which was a shame for Lendl. Jimbo is an underrated hard hitter on hard courts, he could outplay Lendl with his own baseline game, but also outmanoever him with better court coverage and cross driving. Lendl had the way better serve on hard court, but played too reluctantly, and gave Connors the opportunity to come in more. Lendl had a great career, but his biggest failure was imo not his Wim performance, but his only 3 out of 8 performane at his best venue Flushing.
 
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Sunny014

Hall of Fame
Had Connors not skipped the Aus open and French OPen for so many years he would have been the 1st to break Emerson's record.

Connors is ahead in my opinion.
 

Olli Jokinen

Semi-Pro
Connors won more majors and arguably wins the longevity at the top argument. Jimmy's 1974-1978 was pretty fierce, entered 12 majors and made the finals of 11 winning 5 of those finals. Some of his titles arguably are well....

Lendl played his best against arguably fiercer competition to win his majors. His wins at the biggest non major tournaments are also amazing. he also leads the H2H between the 2 fairly convincingly I think.

I'm probably a give the edge to Lendl vote, but Jimmy is literally RIGHT THERE
Agreed. Connors is close.
 

CyBorg

Legend
Connors won more majors
They both won eight grand slam titles.

I voted Connors, but it's close and sometimes I feel Lendl was better.

Whether one votes Lendl or Connors I think can depend on the value we assign to Lendl's Masters wins. He won this tournament five! times, with some of these titles coming at a time where this was the fourth biggest event in the world - just behind Wimbledon, the French and US Opens.

But he never won Wimbledon.
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
(Grand Slams + WTF wins + Years ended as Rank 1 + Alternate Tour Finals wins )

01. Federer (20+6+5+0) = 31
02. Djokovic (18+5+6+0) = 29
03. Sampras (14+5+6+2) = 27
04. Nadal (20+0+5+0) = 25
05. McEnroe (7+3+4+5) = 19
06. Lendl (8+5+4+2) = 19
07. Borg (11+2+2+1) = 16
08. Connors (8+1+5+2) = 16 (Skipped 26 majors in his career ....)
09. Becker (6+3+0+2) = 11
10. Agassi (8+1+1+0) = 10
11. Edberg (6+1+2+0) = 09
12. Wilander (7+0+1) = 08
 

paolo2143

Rookie
(Grand Slams + WTF wins + Years ended as Rank 1 + Alternate Tour Finals wins )

01. Federer (20+6+5+0) = 31
02. Djokovic (18+5+6+0) = 29
03. Sampras (14+5+6+2) = 27
04. Nadal (20+0+5+0) = 25
05. McEnroe (7+3+4+5) = 19
06. Lendl (8+5+4+2) = 19
07. Borg (11+2+2+1) = 16
08. Connors (8+1+5+2) = 16 (Skipped 26 majors in his career ....)
09. Becker (6+3+0+2) = 11
10. Agassi (8+1+1+0) = 10
11. Edberg (6+1+2+0) = 09
12. Wilander (7+0+1) = 08
The trouble with that is no one who was around believes the ATP rankings were correct at end of some of those years. Everyman and his dog had Borg as No1 from 78-80 without a doubt. In 1977 it was split between Vilas & Borg in most expert opinions although Connors would have been a close 3rd.

Also Borg retiring so young was a big thing. I think most experts and fans would have Borg ahead of Lendl, Connors & Mcenroe although not by much, if we are talking about dominance at their peak years. Borg reach an incredible 14 GS finals out of 17 events between 76-81. That was with him having to withdraw from US open in 1977 when in great form, after shoulder injury during his 4th round match with Dick Stockton.
 

paolo2143

Rookie
Jimmy also reached `11 out of 12 slam finals between 74-78 which was fantastic.

Overall i think Borg was better on all surfaces than the others. Even his weakest surface which was hardcourts he had some pretty good results and his ability to adapt from the incredibly slow courts at Roland Garos to the then slick lightning fast and low bouncing Wimbledon courts in just 2 weeks was astounding.
 

paolo2143

Rookie
I suppose if we are talking about better overall careers though it is not Lendl, Jimmy or John's fault that Borg retired so young and it can definitely be argued they had better career records.

However, if we are talking about their overall greatness i would probably say Borg was just ahead of the other three who are so close to call.
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
The trouble with that is no one who was around believes the ATP rankings were correct at end of some of those years. Everyman and his dog had Borg as No1 from 78-80 without a doubt. In 1977 it was split between Vilas & Borg in most expert opinions although Connors would have been a close 3rd.

Also Borg retiring so young was a big thing. I think most experts and fans would have Borg ahead of Lendl, Connors & Mcenroe although not by much, if we are talking about dominance at their peak years. Borg reach an incredible 14 GS finals out of 17 events between 76-81. That was with him having to withdraw from US open in 1977 when in great form, after shoulder injury during his 4th round match with Dick Stockton.
Borg is Borg but even if we keep him aside then in a direct comparison with Lendl we should not ignore the fact that Connor skipped 26 majors in his career, lot of french opens (at his peak when he could have won 1 or 2...he was competitive vs Borg on clay in those years) and a lot of Aus open, from 74 till 90s he skipped it, a big mistake.

If Connors knew that 40 years down the line the GOAT Race would be based on Slams then he would have reached 13 or 14

Lendl already maxed out, he could not win more than 8 by any calculation.

Thats why for me Connors is the champ, his longevity is SECOND TO NONE ! (except Federer maybe)
 

urban

Legend
Lendl would have more slam events, if Australia had turned to hardcourts earlier than 1988. On the other side, imo Connors would have won USO 1975 and 1977 on hardcourt. Slam count is no good for the 1970s and early 1980s., regarding both (lack of) participation and surface changes.
 
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NAS

Professional
Lendl would have more slam events, if Australia had turned to hardcourts earlier than 1988. On the other side, imo Connors would have won USO 1975 and 1977 on hardcourt. Slam count is no good for the 1970s and early 1980s., regarding both (lack of) paricipation and surface changes.
This is not how the example work, it is Edberg and Sampras who became victim because of surface change, Edberg never won another AO.
Actually Lendl took benefit from that change as he never won single slam on grass .
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Lendl. He had a bigger impact on the game.
no way...at least not in the US..he was part of the 70's popularization of the game...and he actually boosted the game again in the 90's w/his USO run.

It's a close race between the 2 and the age/era difference plays into it. Lendl ran away w/the head to head only from 1985 onwards and there were still some close ones (and not close as well). But, young Lendl seemed to struggle w/30 year old Connors at the big events, that's just a fact. Nerves, fitness, whatever reason, Connors beat him at USO and Wimbledon Jimmy was somewhat (slightly?) past his prime (but still formidable). Plus, more titles, 2 Ws, greater longevity, nearly equal weeks at #1, got to give Jimbo an edge here. In his prime, he could stand up to, or surpass, Lendl's ground game and was far better at net, even with his far inferior serve.
 
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Devtennis01

Legend
no way...at least not in the US..he was part of the 70's popularization of the game...and he actually boosted the game again in the 90's w/his USO run.

It's a close race between the 2 and the age/era difference plays into it. Lendl ran away w/the head to head only from 1985 onwards and there were still some close ones (and not close as well). But, young Lendl seemed to struggle w/30 year old Connors at the big events, that's just a fact. Nerves, fitness, whatever reason, Connors beat him at USO and Wimbledon Jimmy was somewhat (slightly?) past his prime (but still formidable). Plus, more titles, 2 Ws, greater longevity, nearly equal weeks at #1, got to give Jimbo an edge here. In his prime, he could stand up to, or surpass, Lendl's ground game and was far better at net, even with his far inferior serve.
Ok. I was meaning Lendl changing the game to make it a baseline war. Isn't it generally recognised he's responsible for the modern game, Lendl?
 

BGod

Legend
Connors not playing French in his prime and skipping AO creates a lot of questions as to his Slam count. I mean he probably has more than the 8 he did let's face it.

That said it was his choice (FO ban notwithstanding but I believe only for 2 years) and Lendl's prime overlapped with the most competitive era. He was a machine in a way Connors wasn't outside 74. Plus Connors weeks at #1 are dubious because Borg was clearly the better player. For Lendl the only question was Becker at odd times.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
as an american i think id rather win 5 USO and 2 W than what lendl won...
they might even name a USO court after connors some day, i dont see
anyone naming a court anywhere after lendl.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
I've always considered Connors to have been better than Lendl at the majors, and Lendl to have been better than Connors away from the majors.

At the majors there's no doubt to me that overall Connors' 8 > Lendl's 8. He was far more impacted by the reduced importance of certain majors (notably the AO). The darkest days of the tournament were from 1976-1982 which cut right through what I considered to be his 11 year prime from 1974-1984. His 1974 AO title was clearly lightweight, while Lendl was pretty lucky to win his 1990 AO title with Edberg injuring himself during the final game of his flawless SF destruction of Wilander, still serving for a 2 sets to love lead in the final anyway, before eventually retiring. Connors won a major on clay (the QF line-ups at the USO from 1975-1977 were not too de-similar to QF line-ups you’d expect to see at RG), thumping Vilas in the semis before beating Borg in the final. Lendl on the other hand wasn’t able to win a set in a major final on grass. Also both players clearly considered the USO to be the most important major and it’s 5 > 3 in Connors’ favour there with him winning their 2 finals when they were both in their primes. And of course he won the big W twice while Lendl wasn’t able to despite his well documented obsession with that goal.

I think that Lendl's body of work away from the majors was clearly superior to Connors', not least thanks to his insanely good indoor record, plus his strong record in the European clay court events. Quality over quantity his 86 officially recognised 'other titles' are definitely superior to Connors’ 101 IMO, with a better collection of good quality tournament wins across Europe and North America. And including invitational tournaments (I counted at least 30 extra titles that Lendl won after coming through 4 or 5 matches along the way), I think he actually won more titles overall than Connors. Plus he led Czechoslovakia to Davis Cup glory in 1980, while Connors is the only open era ‘legend’ not to play a major role in winning the competition.

Now I certainly don’t agree with only judging players’ legacies based on their activity in majors and ignoring everything else. So how much weighting to place on results in majors vs. results elsewhere is a difficult balance. Overall I’d lean towards Connors, but I understand arguments in favour of Lendl.
 
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encylopedia

Professional
Lendl. He had a bigger impact on the game.
OH man.....why do I even occasionally come here now? I thought maybe this poster was being sarcastic.

NO. It's not even remotely close. Connors had by FAR...BY FAR the greater impact on the game. So many players, and observers have noted that over the years, but probably nobody said it more succinctly than Arthur Ashe (who was no buddy to Jimmy) who said: he was the most important player of the open era - no question about it. It was Connors who created so much press, so much controversy, so much attention in the rest of the sporting world, - when Connors started playing the entire sport was kicked up a notch. Lendl was the opposite. Between Borg, Connors, and Mac all had IMMEASURABLY greater impact in growing the game (rec and pro), and in bringing tennis up the sports pecking-order than Lendl. None of that is to knock Lendl - it's sad that incredible players like a Lendl or Sampras did not get as much attention - but...nobody said the media or marketing world was fair.

I also think the modern day myth of Lendl being the progenitor of the current game only partially true at best - with Connors, Agassi, and Borg deserving at least as much credit. People look superficially (this is the word that should summarize thinking these days - myth after myth, historical revision after revision) at the power Lendl and think: oh the players hit hard today - that must have been it). The reality is that the current players took keys from the Agassi/Courier/Krickstein/Arias Bolletierri evolution. They in turn were highly influence by the topspin of Borg, the two-handed Borg and Connors, as well as Connors playing early and taking the ball and return on the rise. Lendl was largely his own anomaly existing outside the lines. Was his power game appealing and did it influence kids and coaches to some degree? Sure, no doubt, but it was contributing at best. Agassi has cited Borg (and a couple times grudgingly acknowledged Connors) as idols.....much more of the next generations were citing Agassi - not Lendl as influences. By the time Agassi and Courier arrived the effectiveness and of power baseline tennis was already established (yes Lendl deserves credit for that, but he wasn't the reason the Bolletierri baseliners developed).

Now I do think Lendl was more inspiration for some of the European players who developed - Korda for example (who doesn't actually play anything like Lendl, but there are othes), but as a whole, they didn't play the trademark power baseline game or influence the next generations as much as the Bollletierri crowd.

But really the entire notion of "inspiring" the next generations is overrated anyways. WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Nobody successfully played like John Mcenroe after Mac (though hordes of juniors and club players tried) - should that diminish him in any way? Are Edberg and Becker less great because the next generations were trained as two-handed baseline blasters? It's fun and interesting to note how Lendl played the current game as well or better than most of the players today, but does it make him greater than Connors (even if he had been THE influence) - nah.
 
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Gizo

Hall of Fame
as an american i think id rather win 5 USO and 2 W than what lendl won...
they might even name a USO court after connors some day, i dont see
anyone naming a court anywhere after lendl.
As a Brit, if I was a pro tennis player (in my dreams), I’d also definitely much rather have Connors’ career achievements over Lendl’s, especially due to their respective records at Wimbledon. Connors’ career achievements would earn considerably more kudos (and endorsements) in the UK (and globally) than Lendl’s would.

I’d actually prefer to have McEnroe’s career achievements over Connors’. They both won 7 Wimbledon / USO titles and Connors’ lightweight 1974 AO title is not a big deal at all. Both players were dominant at the USO, but Mac was also dominant at Wimbledon and dethroned Borg there, while Connors wasn’t / couldn’t. That extra Wimbledon title is a big deal, at least from a Uk perspective. The 1980 Wimbledon final is a more famous / legendary than any match that Connors played in, and Mac’s 1984 season is typically more highly regarded / acclaimed than any season that Connors had. Plus he had a superior record in the big (and very highly regarded) indoor tournaments available to them, and is a Davis Cup legend, while Connors usually couldn’t be bothered to play in the competition. Connors of course had far superior longevity, won a major on clay (beating Vilas and Borg back to back no less), and doesn’t have any career regrets that come remotely close to Mac’s RG final defeat in 1984. But still I’d choose Mac’s achievements if I was a pro.
 

BumElbow

Rookie
Connors. He won 5 U.S. Opens on 3 different surfaces including defeating Borg on Har-Tru green clay and Lendl twice on hard courts. Connors won Wimbledon twice including defeating John McEnroe on grass. Lendl's U.S. Open record is VERY impressive - he won it 3 times and lost in the finals many times too. The big strike against Lendl is that he never won Wimbledon though he came close. Connors also holds the record for most men's tournaments won. Both players are legends and it's nearly pointless to choose who was best because it's so very close.
 

CyBorg

Legend
(Grand Slams + WTF wins + Years ended as Rank 1 + Alternate Tour Finals wins )

01. Federer (20+6+5+0) = 31
02. Djokovic (18+5+6+0) = 29
03. Sampras (14+5+6+2) = 27
04. Nadal (20+0+5+0) = 25
05. McEnroe (7+3+4+5) = 19
06. Lendl (8+5+4+2) = 19
07. Borg (11+2+2+1) = 16
08. Connors (8+1+5+2) = 16 (Skipped 26 majors in his career ....)
09. Becker (6+3+0+2) = 11
10. Agassi (8+1+1+0) = 10
11. Edberg (6+1+2+0) = 09
12. Wilander (7+0+1) = 08
As has already been said, the ranking system has changed significantly throughout the open era. In many years, the ranking system did not even account for the same year-end masters you include here. So throw that out.

This approach also ignores the fact that what we know today as majors (AO, RG, Wimbledon, USO) varied in terms of prestige. That's precisely why Connors and Borg almost never played the Australian Open. The same is true, to a lesser extent, about the year-end Masters. Not always well attended in the 70s.

Tennis history is much more messy than many people realize and looking at it through contemporary lenses can lead one to draw false conclusions.

To understand what the big events are at any point in time, look no further than prize money and the draws. Pre-standardized era tennis was wild, wild west - money being the one common demoninator. Grand slam events were frequently outbid in terms of money and that affected everything.
 
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Sunny014

Hall of Fame
I think Connors was the 1st post Laver era GOAT, then Borg arrived and Borg-Connors were the 1-2 for a long time until Sampras arrived to become 1 and then Federer arrived to dethrone Sampras and then 2 young hunters arrived to form the big 3.

Lendl and co in the 80s never really threatened Borg-Connors 1-2 standing I think so, they skipped many slams and still they were like 11 and 8 which was quite high until Sampras raised the bar with a 14.

Lendl is clearly inferior to Connors.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Ok. I was meaning Lendl changing the game to make it a baseline war. Isn't it generally recognised he's responsible for the modern game, Lendl?
Some believe that, I don't, really. In terms of "power baseline' play, it was him and Connors before him...but JC's backcourt game was quite different. Borg hit topspin before Lendl showed up, as did many others. And, there were equally good servers, even better ones (Tanner). If anything, he took a comprehensive approach to diet, fitness, training etc., so in that sense, yes, he was a precursor to today's guys w/an entourage of folks. But, I could also attribute that to Martina, who did it before he did in '84.
 

fezer

Rookie
I think Connors was the 1st post Laver era GOAT, then Borg arrived and Borg-Connors were the 1-2 for a long time until Sampras arrived to become 1 and then Federer arrived to dethrone Sampras and then 2 young hunters arrived to form the big 3.

Lendl and co in the 80s never really threatened Borg-Connors 1-2 standing I think so, they skipped many slams and still they were like 11 and 8 which was quite high until Sampras raised the bar with a 14.

Lendl is clearly inferior to Connors.
The clearly inferior Player Lendl did beat Connors 22 times... Once he delivered a double bagel. That's not what I call "clearly inferior".
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
The clearly inferior Player Lendl did beat Connors 22 times... Once he delivered a double bagel. That's not what I call "clearly inferior".
Anchor that by distinct 3 year periods or so and it's a very different story.
Lendl did not run away w/it until '85 onwards.
Connors had a lead late 70's to early 80's.
But, to say Lendl was 'clearly inferior' is a bit much.
Unless it's on a grass court, perhaps!
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I think Lendl would have beaten Connors on grass after '85. We'll never know, though.
Maybe, maybe not. Connors game on grass was a headache for Ivan.
But their '84 W semi was competitively played vs. their Queens match
Expected them to square off in '87 W final, but Cash had other ideas.

But Connors was more than just 'decent' on grass...guy won 4 slams on the surface!
Plus 3 other GS finals.
Essentially = Lendl on clay
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
I think the challenge with comparing the two is that it took Lendl until 1984 to fix his “between the ears” problems, and that coincided with Jimmy’s decline. Unlike many posters, I don’t think it was just a age thing.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I think the challenge with comparing the two is that it took Lendl until 1984 to fix his “between the ears” problems, and that coincided with Jimmy’s decline. Unlike many posters, I don’t think it was just a age thing.
Likely a blend of factors, I'd agree. Even peak-to-peak, it's pretty close; surface would make the difference, I'd think.
 

arvind13

Professional
Likely a blend of factors, I'd agree. Even peak-to-peak, it's pretty close; surface would make the difference, I'd think.
hard court is where its pretty close. on clay, hands down its lendl, on grass hands down connors. us open peak to peak would have been interesting, although i think connors edges that one out after a tough five set battle
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
hard court is where its pretty close. on clay, hands down its lendl, on grass hands down connors. us open peak to peak would have been interesting, although i think connors edges that one out after a tough five set battle
I'm inclined to agree. It was always weird w/Lendl, because he was playing at a very high level in '82 and '83. I think he blitzed Connors a few weeks before the '82 USO on hard courts, actually. It just seemed like he couldn't hold up under the stress/pressure at Flushing. Still, Connors played strong tennis to take those 2 titles right out of Ivan's pocket. '83 was a huge collapse on Lendl's part and Connors is nothing if not a shark.
 

arvind13

Professional
What's wrong with Lendl's personality? A pretty cool guy and dryly funny.

Much more personable than Jimmy too.
have you seen him in the 80s. he wasn't cool or funny in interviews. jimmy was a ***** and that made him more interesting
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Lendl. Just a better player. Peak Lendl dominated a pretty good Connors.
However, "pretty good" Connors is not peak Connors. Lendl did not dominate until mid-80's and yes, Jimbo was still 'pretty good' but not top notch. Not even 1982 levels.
It's easy to watch some of his earlier matches vs. Lendl, even the '83 USO final, vs. later GS semis and you can see a visible difference in the back court play.
Some have suggested that Jimmy was simply rallying against Ivan rather than playing offensively from the backcourt, the way he did in his prime.
Obviously, mere 'rallying' from a 35yr old Jimbo would beat most guys, just not someone like Ivan Lendl.
 
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However, "pretty good" Connors is not peak Connors. Lendl did not dominate until mid-80's and yes, Jimbo was still 'pretty good' but not top notch. Not even 1982 levels.
It's easy to watch some of his earlier matches vs. Lendl, even the '83 USO final, vs. later GS semis and you can see a visible difference in the back court play.
Some have suggested that Jimmy was simply rallying against Ivan rather than playing offensively from the backcourt, the way he did in this prime.
Obviously, mere 'rallying' from a 35yr old Jimbo would beat most guys, just not someone like Ivan Lendl.
I was just talking about things that have happened.

In terms of pure game, peak to peak, Lendl is just a better player than Connors.
 
Lendl was massively disappointed at not winning Wimbledon in an era where the 4 slams were not equally valued. I don't think Connors felt anywhere near as much disappointment at any holes in his CV. That tells you something. Connors' 2 Wimbledons, 5 US Opens and 1 Australian were better than Lendl's 3 US Opens, 3 French Opens, and 2 Australians because the Australian was less important than the others in their eras. When you think Connors skipped the French and Australian in the 1970s because they were not big then, that tells you his 8 slam total was more impressive than Lendl's 8 slam total. Both great champions, but I have to give the slight edge to Connors because of his better slam record.
 

CyBorg

Legend
have you seen him in the 80s. he wasn't cool or funny in interviews. jimmy was a ***** and that made him more interesting
Jimmy's mass appeal is unmistakeable, but I've never found him interesting. He's always been a transparent insecure narcissist.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Jimmy's mass appeal is unmistakeable, but I've never found him interesting. He's always been a transparent insecure narcissist.
Wasn't that the key to his success? :p
Can't deny him his due....great player, one of the best competitors, ever.
Even if he was a grade-A jerk at times, he was never boring and filled the seats.
1991 USO viewership, ticket demand and coverage was not a fluke...Connors was the one guy that drove all of that
Mac was the hometown boy, but the crowds loved to watch Connors (at least in Flushing, they did)

I think the voting so far is spot on....just a slight edge to Connors...his GS portfolio is a tad more prestigious than Ivan's, in addition to titles, longevity, etc.
You can claim that Lendl has the better game overall, but other things always factor in when you compare them.
Both icons of 80's tennis, regardless.
 
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