Did Ivan Lendl have the toughest competition among ATG?

BauerAlmeida

Professional
All this talk about strong era, weak era, etc had me thinking who had the toughest competition when it comes to the greats of the sport. I think it's probably Ivan Lendl. He had a really strong generation preceding him, so it wasn't easy to break through (hence the lost finals), he had very strong contemporaries, and he had a very strong generation coming after him making it tough to win slams in his decline. He never had an easy period to clean up the slams. That's why his slam count isn't THAT high (considering his amount of slam finals and weeks at #1), if not he could have ended up somewhere between Borg and Sampras, depending on how much luck he had.
 

tonylg

Legend
I think there's a lot of merit in that argument, except for the fact that Borg's retirement opened things up for him.

Having to content with McEnroe, then Becker and Edberg and Cash on proper grass really hurt.

Not to mention catching the tail end of Connors and all of Wilander.

He definitely had no shortage of tough competition compared to the Big 3, but I think it was tougher before the Open Era.
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
Lendl's peak levels were not good enough to win more slams, he is highly overrated.
He was an all rounder player and a great ATG but trying to put him in the Sampras-Borg league is silly.

I believe someone like Jimmy Connors faced the toughest competition, right from Borg the next gen teenage prodigy to the entire array of stars in the 80s, Connors won under the toughest conditions and he missed 24-26 slams as well in his time, had he played them all then adding another 5-6 slams to his tally of 8 would have statistically put him on 13-14 slams ahead of Borg who himself retired early or else could have been 15-18.
 

blablavla

Legend
All this talk about strong era, weak era, etc had me thinking who had the toughest competition when it comes to the greats of the sport. I think it's probably Ivan Lendl. He had a really strong generation preceding him, so it wasn't easy to break through (hence the lost finals), he had very strong contemporaries, and he had a very strong generation coming after him making it tough to win slams in his decline. He never had an easy period to clean up the slams. That's why his slam count isn't THAT high (considering his amount of slam finals and weeks at #1), if not he could have ended up somewhere between Borg and Sampras, depending on how much luck he had.
lol, no you silly
everyone here knows that Djokovic had the toughest competition
and he defeated all the 'would be an ATG in any other era with min 10 slams'

don't be salty pal
 

blablavla

Legend
His 2017 surgery is because of his style of play, not bad luck.
both, also luck

I mean, not that Nole and Rafa didn't havea any serious injury
but,
Nole: he had the elbow injury, which is probably not related to the style, and not much else, though he is a grinder like Andy
Rafa: all those knee issues, which somehow seem to be treatable, unlike the hip injury, and you're probably not gonna argue that Rafa grinds less

also, if take other grinders on tour, how many of them had hip injuries?

so, yeah, it's more of bad luck for Andy
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
Bad luck ???

If Andy really was an Alpha material then he would not have played a gamma role, the beta role itself was played by nadal. Federer and novak were the alphas of their decades ruling it ...... and you call it bad luck for andy ???

Andy even wasn't at a level to beat old Federer on most occasions, how could he be expected to beat Djokodal ??
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
This topic has been raised here before. I've always maintained Ivan had the hardest competition of any ATG and can lay out a thesis to bolster the claim:

Early career (1978-83) he had to face Borg, Mac and Connors. They have 26 slams between them.

Mid-career (1984-1987) he had to face Edberg, Wilander and Becker and they have 19 slams between them. They were also all three surface specialists, something that doesn't even exist in tennis anymore

Late career (1988-93) he had to face Andre and Pete -- 22 slams between them. And was still having to deal with Becker and Edberg on grass, as well as Wilander.

From the beginning of Ivan's career until its end, he never played one single year where he wasn't being bothered or challenged by multiple ATG's, usually in their prime.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I always thought Lendl out of all the ATGs had it the toughest. Losing more slam finals than winning is testament to that. And please don’t mention Mury.
Sorry, but I'm going to. Murray never lost a Slam final to a non-ATG like Lendl did at 1987 Wimbledon (straight sets too). :cool:
 
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BauerAlmeida

Professional
Lendl's peak levels were not good enough to win more slams, he is highly overrated.
He was an all rounder player and a great ATG but trying to put him in the Sampras-Borg league is silly.

I believe someone like Jimmy Connors faced the toughest competition, right from Borg the next gen teenage prodigy to the entire array of stars in the 80s, Connors won under the toughest conditions and he missed 24-26 slams as well in his time, had he played them all then adding another 5-6 slams to his tally of 8 would have statistically put him on 13-14 slams ahead of Borg who himself retired early or else could have been 15-18.
But he is above Borg or Sampras in several aspects, it's not just speculation.

Connors had some very tough but also some weaker ones before Borg and Mac showed up.
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
But he is above Borg or Sampras in several aspects, it's not just speculation.

Connors had some very tough but also some weaker ones before Borg and Mac showed up.
He was just better at the french open than Sampras, better on HCs than Borg.

Thats it.
 

Druss

Hall of Fame
Sorry, but I'm going to. Murray never lost a Slam final to a non-ATG like Lendl did at 1987 Wimbledon (straight sets too). :cool:
Common let’s be serious here. Cash was having the run of his life and he was no push- over on grass. The guy straight-setted Wilander/Connors/Lendl back-to-back...something Murray could only dream of doing. Besides grass was Lendl’s weakest surface by a long shot.
 

Turing

Rookie
Among ATGs, he probably did. But it's tough to evaluate him. While he did have to face many ATGs throughout his career, at the time of his retirement he still managed to hold the record for weeks at #1, YECs, and top 10 wins, and was second in total titles. That he managed to do so well in all these other important metrics but lost in so many slam finals tells me he underperformed and failed to bring a high level where it mattered most. And if you look at it, some of those losses were bad. Had no business losing three slam finals on three different surfaces to Wilander or to a 17 year old Chang. Probably shouldn't have lost to old Connors twice at the USO or Becker, who didn't exactly play that well there. Also failed to win WB, the most important tournament. So I don't know. I think he's certainly better than the other guys in his tier (Connors, Agassi, Mac) but not quite up there with Borg and Sampras since it was his own fault he lost so much.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Common let’s be serious here. Cash was having the run of his life and he was no push- over on grass. The guy straight-setted Wilander/Connors/Lendl back-to-back...something Murray could only dream of doing. Besides grass was Lendl’s weakest surface by a long shot.
Lendl was no pushover on grass either. He was a defending finalist and had beaten former 2 times champion Edberg in the semis. He would later go on to win back to back Queen's titles beating Becker (a 3 times Wimbledon champion) in the 2nd final. He doesn't need your excuses, something you are never prepared to grant Murray.
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
This topic has been raised here before. I've always maintained Ivan had the hardest competition of any ATG and can lay out a thesis to bolster the claim:

Early career (1978-83) he had to face Borg, Mac and Connors. They have 26 slams between them.

Mid-career (1984-1987) he had to face Edberg, Wilander and Becker and they have 19 slams between them. They were also all three surface specialists, something that doesn't even exist in tennis anymore

Late career (1988-93) he had to face Andre and Pete -- 22 slams between them. And was still having to deal with Becker and Edberg on grass, as well as Wilander.

From the beginning of Ivan's career until its end, he never played one single year where he wasn't being bothered or challenged by multiple ATG's, usually in their prime.
But if he was on the level or Borg or Sampras then he would have automatically emerged ahead of old Borg in the late 70s-early 80s because he was 4 years younger to Borg, he was 8 years younger to Connors and also some months younger to Mcenroe. Why doesn't he have a lot of slams until 1985 when he was 25 years old ? Just 1 slam ?
 

Sunny014

Hall of Fame
This looks like the resume of a guy who did not know that 40 years down the line skipping all these slams would ruin his chances of being rated among the top 5 of all time.

Jimmy Connors ....

not Lendl

 

BauerAlmeida

Professional
He was just better at the french open than Sampras, better on HCs than Borg.

Thats it.
He reached more slam finals overall than both Borg and Sampras. He has roughly the same amount of weeks at #1 as Sampras, more consecutive weeks at #1 than both.

He was great on all surfaces, at his worst surface he was far better than Sampras was on his. They were roughly equal on HCs. Not only he was better on HC than Borg, but he was also pretty close on clay, even if the Swedish was superior.
 

BauerAlmeida

Professional
This looks like the resume of a guy who did not know that 40 years down the line skipping all these slams would ruin his chances of being rated among the top 5 of all time.

Jimmy Connors ....

not Lendl

Yep, Connors missed a lot of slams that would have helped his resume, but that's another story, not competition. However, it's not like he would have had a realistic shot in all of them. The AOs he missed during his peak are his best chances. At RG he would have struggled in the late '70s against Borg and Vilas, and in the '80s he could have lost to several players at the AO like Lendl, Mac, Wilander, etc. His biggest issue was he wasted a lot of chances in slams he did play, like making 3/3 finals in '75 and losing them all, in slams he had won the previous year. If you blame Lendl for that, the same should apply to Connors. From '75 to '78 he made 7 finals and won only 1 of those. Then he made 8 SF out of 9 slams in 79-81 and couldn't make the final in any of those. He had that renaissance in 82-83, if not his resume would have looked a lot weaker. Both Connors and Lendl have poor conversion when it comes to slam SF and F. They reached very easily the latter stages but struggled to go all the way.

I put Lendl above Connors and only below Borg and Sampras when it comes to Pre-big 3 open era. Agassi, I'd put in the same place as Lendl, despite lesser consistency/dominance, he won the four slams (+OG and YEC) and made the finals of all of them in a row in a very heterogenized era.
 

Harry_Wild

G.O.A.T.
Lendl had a long career in the ATP and played against many of the legend of the modern era tennis players. The MSM treated him like dirty too. A total rebel of tennis. The tennis Terminator. Always aggressive questions that he need to answer all the time while the darlings get floaters and enlightened questions to build their market value to consumers and sponsors.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
connors said once lendl waited until he got old, borg retired, and mac went downhill to make a run for #1, and i can see why he said that..
lendl wasnt mentally or physically in top shape until '85 after working with tony roche, diet, etc... for a while and by that time the above happened..
i think lendls best years were '85-'87 when the old players were fading and the newer players hadnt reached their peaks yet so there was definitely a
window in there.. in that 80s era i actually think mcenroe had tougher competition because he had to dethrone borg and connors..
 

blablavla

Legend
connors said once lendl waited until he got old, borg retired, and mac went downhill to make a run for #1, and i can see why he said that..
lendl wasnt mentally or physically in top shape until '85 after working with tony roche, diet, etc... for a while and by that time the above happened..
i think lendls best years were '85-'87 when the old players were fading and the newer players hadnt reached their peaks yet so there was definitely a
window in there.. in that 80s era i actually think mcenroe had tougher competition because he had to dethrone borg and connors..
that sounds pretty much like Dimitrov, Goffin and Raonic waited until the Big 4 got old and retired, to make their run and sweep all the big titles
oh wait, I'm daydreaming here
never mind
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
Lendl had a long career in the ATP and played against many of the legend of the modern era tennis players. The MSM treated him like dirty too. A total rebel of tennis. The tennis Terminator. Always aggressive questions that he need to answer all the time while the darlings get floaters and enlightened questions to build their market value to consumers and sponsors.
Man, that avatar :cool:(y)
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
connors said once lendl waited until he got old, borg retired, and mac went downhill to make a run for #1, and i can see why he said that..
lendl wasnt mentally or physically in top shape until '85 after working with tony roche, diet, etc... for a while and by that time the above happened..
i think lendls best years were '85-'87 when the old players were fading and the newer players hadnt reached their peaks yet so there was definitely a
window in there.. in that 80s era i actually think mcenroe had tougher competition because he had to dethrone borg and connors..
Connors overrates himself. He was made second fiddle in his own era by Borg, and lost six out of seven slam finals which he competed in from the 1975 AO to the 1978 W.
 

zvelf

Professional
The “he’s not an ATG regardless of competition” argument also seems pretty compelling.
I think it depends on how one defines ATG or where the cut-off point is as to whether Murray is one. I'd say that, for example, if Courier and Vilas are considered ATGs, then Murray should be too, but if they're not, then Murray shouldn't be either.
 

Third Serve

G.O.A.T.
I think it depends on how one defines ATG or where the cut-off point is as to whether Murray is one. I'd say that, for example, if Courier and Vilas are considered ATGs, then Murray should be too, but if they're not, then Murray shouldn't be either.
Well, I don’t consider Courier and Vilas ATGs. To me (and to most of the people who don’t think Murray is an ATG), the cutoff is at Becker/Edberg with six Slams. If you reach Becker/Edberg level, you’re an ATG in my view.
 

UnforcedTerror

Hall of Fame
Well, I don’t consider Courier and Vilas ATGs. To me (and to most of the people who don’t think Murray is an ATG), the cutoff is at Becker/Edberg with six Slams. If you reach Becker/Edberg level, you’re an ATG in my view.
Why is the cutoff not at Agassi/Lendl with eight Slams?
 

Beckerserve

Legend
All this talk about strong era, weak era, etc had me thinking who had the toughest competition when it comes to the greats of the sport. I think it's probably Ivan Lendl. He had a really strong generation preceding him, so it wasn't easy to break through (hence the lost finals), he had very strong contemporaries, and he had a very strong generation coming after him making it tough to win slams in his decline. He never had an easy period to clean up the slams. That's why his slam count isn't THAT high (considering his amount of slam finals and weeks at #1), if not he could have ended up somewhere between Borg and Sampras, depending on how much luck he had.
No chance. Sampras had by far hardest ever era
 

Third Serve

G.O.A.T.
Why is the cutoff not at Agassi/Lendl with eight Slams?
You could certainly put the cutoff there as it’s a matter of opinion, but I prefer 6 Slams because as far as the Open Era is concerned, there’s a very neat split between those with over 6 Slams and those with under 6 Slams in terms of achievements and overall level. Once you jump down from Becker/Edberg, the next best player is Murray with 3 Slams: there isn’t even anyone out there with five Slams and only one with four Slams so the divide is even clearer. The difference between the Becker/Edberg lot and the Murray/Courier lot is significant enough to warrant splitting them into different categories. Meanwhile, the difference between the Agassi/Lendl 8-Slam tier and the Wilander/Edberg/Becker 6-7-Slam tier is much smaller. Seems only logical to me.
 

UnforcedTerror

Hall of Fame
Welp, Becker/Edberg/Wilander are much closer to Agassi/Mac/Lendl/Connors than they are to the Vilas/Murray/Courier tier. Seems logical to me.

A 5 Slammer with great results all around can probably be seen as an all-timer by exception too.
You could certainly put the cutoff there as it’s a matter of opinion, but I prefer 6 Slams because as far as the Open Era is concerned, there’s a very neat split between those with over 6 Slams and those with under 6 Slams in terms of achievements and overall level. Once you jump down from Becker/Edberg, the next best player is Murray with 3 Slams: there isn’t even anyone out there with five Slams and only one with four Slams so the divide is even clearer. The difference between the Becker/Edberg lot and the Murray/Courier lot is significant enough to warrant splitting them into different categories. Meanwhile, the difference between the Agassi/Lendl 8-Slam tier and the Wilander/Edberg/Becker 6-7-Slam tier is much smaller. Seems only logical to me.
I see where you're coming from but I'm not sure if the difference between Lendl/Connors & Edberg for example is much smaller than the difference between Edberg & Vilas.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Sorry, but I'm going to. Murray never lost a Slam final to a non-ATG like Lendl did at 1987 Wimbledon (straight sets too). :cool:
Ah, yes, meh Raonic as compared to peak Cash.
Also completely ignoring Lendl is 3/4 vs non-ATGs in slam finals. Murray 1/1. All it takes is one slam loss in 3 more slam finals vs non-ATGs for Murray to equalize.

A case where direct comparision is not decidable because of sample size (unlike Murray with only 4/11 well above average performances in slam finals compared to 3/4 or 3/5 for Stan/Roddick/Hewitt)
 
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