Did Ivan Lendl have the toughest competition among ATG?

Milanez82

Hall of Fame
It's hard not to feel at least a little bad for them when you read threads like this where people will put Andre ahead of Mac on the basis of having 1 more slam. I've heard players like him not necessarily regret their decisions, but definitely bemoan the fact that years later their entire careers got boiled down to a single number with no other context.
Indeed
Big Mac was the man for a couple of years (not to mention the guy that sent Borg into retirement).
Agassi beside that 1999 run was always that other guy after Sampras.

McEnroe also won a bunch of slams in doubles. Something the likes of Lendl, Agassi never got close to.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
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.
not to pick nits but Jimbo won 2 USOs from -75- '78, both over Borg, one on har-tru clay, of all things. Of those lost finals, probably 1 or 2 W's were feasible, but the USO moving to Har-Tru hurt more than helped him. He really hit a dry spell '79-81 at the slams...Borg was dominant and Mac was ascendant, yet he should have reached a few finals at least, IMHO
 

BauerAlmeida

Professional
2011-2016 Murray often lost only to big 3 at the slams, in semi final, final.

Put that player in 1998-2003 and he may win 8-10 slams

AO - wins 98, 99, 00, 02, 03
RG - wins one of 02 or 03
W - wins 01, 02
USO - wins 98, 99

That’s 10 slams.

Murray doesn't beat Agassi on HC or peak Ferrero on clay. He doesn't beat Ivanisevic on Wimbledon 2001, that was a man on a mission. Wimbledon 2002 is a good call, he might win that but Hewitt was so much stronger mentally, it can go either way. He doesn't beat Sampras at the USO 2002. USO 2001, similar scenario to Wimbledon 2002, he can win or he can lose. Hewitt was a beast during those times, he beat Agassi and steamrolled Sampras, he CERTAINLY can beat Murray. Can he lose? Sure, but let's not act like Murray beating Hewitt is a sure thing. Murray is extremely consistent, but many players can beat him, especially on faster courts where opponents can hit through him.


He would probably still have 3 slams. Maybe 4, no way he makes 8 or 10 slams.
 

NoleIsBoat

Hall of Fame
Murray doesn't beat Agassi on HC or peak Ferrero on clay. He doesn't beat Ivanisevic on Wimbledon 2001, that was a man on a mission. Wimbledon 2002 is a good call, he might win that but Hewitt was so much stronger mentally, it can go either way. He doesn't beat Sampras at the USO 2002. USO 2001, similar scenario to Wimbledon 2002, he can win or he can lose. Hewitt was a beast during those times, he beat Agassi and steamrolled Sampras, he CERTAINLY can beat Murray. Can he lose? Sure, but let's not act like Murray beating Hewitt is a sure thing. Murray is extremely consistent, but many players can beat him, especially on faster courts where opponents can hit through him.


He would probably still have 3 slams. Maybe 4, no way he makes 8 or 10 slams.


“It is a rough generation to win a lot of Grand Slams.

“If Andy was in my generation he would have had probably three times the career.”
 

BauerAlmeida

Professional
Indeed
Big Mac was the man for a couple of years (not to mention the guy that sent Borg into retirement).
Agassi beside that 1999 run was always that other guy after Sampras.

McEnroe also won a bunch of slams in doubles. Something the likes of Lendl, Agassi never got close to.
That's not a good argument. Whoever ends with the lesser career between Nadal and Djokovic would be the 2nd best player of his generation (they're only a year apart so impossible to say they're from different generations), and that player would still be clearly better than others who were the best of their generation. Agassi was 2nd best because Sampras was that good, not because he wasn't.
 

BauerAlmeida

Professional
So? If I show you someone claiming Federer or Nadal are the GOAT and not Djokovic would you believe it's true because somebody said it? Murray is not better than Agassi or Sampras who he would have to beat in those slams. Just like he lost matches to Wawrinka at slams he would lose to Safin. Just like he lost to Roddick at Wimbledon he could lose at some of those slams. He could easily lose to Hewitt (just as he could win, nobody denies that). On clay, he's not better than Ferrero or Kuerten. To claim he would win 10 slams is ridiculous.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Murray doesn't beat Agassi on HC or peak Ferrero on clay. He doesn't beat Ivanisevic on Wimbledon 2001, that was a man on a mission. Wimbledon 2002 is a good call, he might win that but Hewitt was so much stronger mentally, it can go either way. He doesn't beat Sampras at the USO 2002. USO 2001, similar scenario to Wimbledon 2002, he can win or he can lose. Hewitt was a beast during those times, he beat Agassi and steamrolled Sampras, he CERTAINLY can beat Murray. Can he lose? Sure, but let's not act like Murray beating Hewitt is a sure thing. Murray is extremely consistent, but many players can beat him, especially on faster courts where opponents can hit through him.


He would probably still have 3 slams. Maybe 4, no way he makes 8 or 10 slams.
Why are you so confident he couldn't beat any of those players, especially Ivanisevic at Wimbledon (who almost lost to Rafter)? Murray was pretty formidable too when he was on a mission and has an excellent record against servebots.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
It's hard not to feel at least a little bad for them when you read threads like this where people will put Andre ahead of Mac on the basis of having 1 more slam. I've heard players like him not necessarily regret their decisions, but definitely bemoan the fact that years later their entire careers got boiled down to a single number with no other context.
Agreed. Only judging players like McEnroe, Connors etc, based on their grand slam counts / activity - a stat that wasn’t a big deal at all when they were active and especially in their primes, has never made any sense to me at all. It’s basically looking at their careers through 21st century glasses, and ignoring the context of when they played.

Indoor tennis was a very big deal when McEnroe played (it was noticeably more important then than it was even in the 90s let alone in future eras after that). The Masters in Madison Square Gardens became huge, and events such as the WCT Finals in Dallas, Philadelphia, Wembley etc which were discontinued a long time ago were extremely important when he was active and especially during his prime years. Stockholm is still around now, but thanks to Borg and then Swedish tennis’s ensuing golden age in the 80s, that tournament was also extremely highly regarded as were the indoor events in Tokyo and Sydney (both discontinued in the mid 90s). The Davis Cup was also a big deal as well. Davis Cup finals often felt just as big as major finals.

Lendl in the 80s was first player I saw use the ‘it’s only the slams that matter’ saying, but that attitude certainly wasn’t common place at all then, and it really went up a notch (or several) with Sampras in the 90s. Borg didn’t care about equalling / overtaking Roy Emerson’s record of 12 majors (widely considered to be meaningless) - that ‘pursuit’ was simply not a big deal at all. The majors significantly increasing their prize money relative to other tournaments (for example Connors received a bigger cheque after losing to Borg in the 1977 Pepsi Grand Slam final than after beating him in the 1976 USO final), was clearly a major driving force behind ‘slam counting’ becoming more and more of a big deal over time.
 

ElisRF

Hall of Fame
Why are you so confident he couldn't beat any of those players, especially Ivanisevic at Wimbledon (who almost lost to Rafter)? Murray was pretty formidable too when he was on a mission and has an excellent record against servebots.
The grass was a bit different back then.
 

ElisRF

Hall of Fame
Time travel matches - add closeness.

1. Murray Wim 12 final vs Djokovic Wim 14 final in 5
2. Federer AO 08 SF vs Murray AO 13 SF in 5
3. Nadal Wim 07 final vs Murray Oly 12 final
4. Hewitt AO 05 final in 5 vs Murray AO 13 final
5. Federer Wim 09 final vs Federer Wim 17 final
6. Del Potro RG 09 SF vs Soderling RG 10 QF
7. Hewitt USO 04 final vs Federer Oly 12 final
8. Hewitt AO 05 final vs Nadal AO 17 final
9. Roddick Wim 05 final vs Murray Wim 11 SF
The picks left are too close to call or around even.
 

RS

G.O.A.T.
Time travel tennis matches.

1. Lendl USO 85 final vs Murray USO 12 final
2. Roddick Wim 03 SF vs Murray Wim 15 SF
3. Nadal Wim 11 final vs Federer Wim 14 final
4. Federer AO 11 SF vs Murray AO 12 SF
5. Nadal AO 12 final vs Djokovic AO 15 final
6. Murray YEC 10 SF vs Federer USO 15 final
7. Federer Wim 04 final vs Djokovic Wim 11 final
8. Agassi AO 04 vs Djokovic USO 15
9. Roddick AO 04 vs Nalbandian AO 04
10. Davydenko AO 06 vs Roddick AO 09
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Time travel matches - add closeness.

1. Murray Wim 12 final vs Djokovic Wim 14 final - Djokovic in 5
2. Federer AO 08 SF vs Murray AO 13 SF - Murray in 5
3. Nadal Wim 07 final vs Murray Oly 12 final
4. Hewitt AO 05 final vs Murray AO 13 final - Murray in 5
5. Federer Wim 09 final vs Federer Wim 17 final
6. Del Potro RG 09 SF vs Soderling RG 10 QF - toss up
7. Hewitt USO 04 final vs Federer Oly 12 final
8. Hewitt AO 05 final vs Nadal AO 17 final - Nadal in 5
9. Roddick Wim 05 final vs Murray Wim 11 SF
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Time travel tennis matches.

1. Lendl USO 85 final vs Murray USO 12 final
2. Roddick Wim 03 SF vs Murray Wim 15 SF - toss up
3. Nadal Wim 11 final vs Federer Wim 14 final - dunno
4. Federer AO 11 SF vs Murray AO 12 SF - toss up
5. Nadal AO 12 final vs Djokovic AO 15 final - yeah I know, but Djokovic wasn't the same physical beast by then
6. Murray YEC 10 SF vs Federer USO 15 final
7. Federer Wim 04 final vs Djokovic Wim 11 final
8. Agassi AO 04 vs Djokovic USO 15 - Djokovic in 5
9. Roddick AO 04 vs Nalbandian AO 04 - toss up
10. Davydenko AO 06 vs Roddick AO 09 - toss up
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
He didn't win a Wimbledon Singles Title. On that basis alone, he cannot be viewed as the "Best".
He didn't win a Wimbledon Singles Title. On that basis alone, he cannot be viewed as the "Best".
Lendl's advantage over Mac, Edberg, Becker is that he won many tournaments on clay, hard, indoor and a few on grass. True, he never won Wimbledon but then Mac, Connors, Edberg, Sampras and Becker never won the FO. Becker never won any clay court pro tournament. Wilander won slams on clay and hard courts but did not do well at Wimbledon though he did win the AO on grass. Peak for Peak, though I was never a fan, I would rank MacEnroe, then Connors, then Lendl, then Edberg or Becker. Stefan though was more consistent than Becker-overall.
 
Tennis channel has Agassi ranked ahead of McEnroe not because of his one slam count. But because he is one of only seven players to win all four slams.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Not exactly nothing, but Murray isn't a better grass player than Djokodal to destroy a good Federer on grass like that.
Maybe he wouldn't have been able to do it like that if Fed had been on top form but he was good enough to take down a slightly underpar Fed like that. Don't think anybody else could have done so, probably not even Djokodal.
 

ElisRF

Hall of Fame
Time travel tennis matches.

1. Lendl USO 85 final vs Murray USO 12 final
2. Roddick Wim 03 SF vs Murray Wim 15 SF
3. Nadal Wim 11 final vs Federer Wim 14 final
4. Federer AO 11 SF vs Murray AO 12 SF in 5
5. Nadal AO 12 final vs Djokovic AO 15 final
6. Murray YEC 10 SF vs Federer USO 15 final -
7. Federer Wim 04 final vs Djokovic Wim 11 final
8. Agassi AO 04 in 5 vs Djokovic USO 15
9. Roddick AO 04 vs Nalbandian AO 04
10. Davydenko AO 06 vs Roddick AO 09
Left picks not sure about.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Maybe he wouldn't have been able to do it like that if Fed had been on top form but he was good enough to take down a slightly underpar Fed like that. Don't think anybody else could have done so, probably not even Djokodal.
Peak Djokodal would have torn that Fed to shreds, no doubt.

And besides them, there are others who would have beaten that Fed in straights.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Agree to disagree then (given that nobody else has ever done it in BO5 on grass).
Because Fed wasn't this poor all those other times ;)

Kafelnikov, Ancic also beat fed in straights in Bo5 on grass.

Maybe he wouldn't have been able to do it like that if Fed had been on top form but he was good enough to take down a slightly underpar Fed like that. Don't think anybody else could have done so, probably not even Djokodal.
slightly underpar? :-D

at the bold part:

the world's best comedians would be proud of that. :-D :-D :-D
 
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barone

Rookie
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..
What did Connors himself wait for then 82/83? Who didnt play that had beaten him 12 times in row or something, smile
 

barone

Rookie
Yeah, had Connors played the 10 Australian Opens and 5 French Opens he missed during his prime, he could have easily ended up with 12 or more major titles. The only 2 times he played the Australian, he won it once and was a finalist the other time.
Borg didnt play the australian either and no way Connors would have beaten Borg in Paris
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Murray doesn't beat Agassi on HC or peak Ferrero on clay. He doesn't beat Ivanisevic on Wimbledon 2001, that was a man on a mission. Wimbledon 2002 is a good call, he might win that but Hewitt was so much stronger mentally, it can go either way. He doesn't beat Sampras at the USO 2002. USO 2001, similar scenario to Wimbledon 2002, he can win or he can lose. Hewitt was a beast during those times, he beat Agassi and steamrolled Sampras, he CERTAINLY can beat Murray. Can he lose? Sure, but let's not act like Murray beating Hewitt is a sure thing. Murray is extremely consistent, but many players can beat him, especially on faster courts where opponents can hit through him.


He would probably still have 3 slams. Maybe 4, no way he makes 8 or 10 slams.
Agree that Hewitt was/is a bit under-rated. He really peaked fast and then fell back...Fed obviously played a role in that along w/his injuries
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Lendl's advantage over Mac, Edberg, Becker is that he won many tournaments on clay, hard, indoor and a few on grass. True, he never won Wimbledon but then Mac, Connors, Edberg, Sampras and Becker never won the FO. Becker never won any clay court pro tournament. Wilander won slams on clay and hard courts but did not do well at Wimbledon though he did win the AO on grass. Peak for Peak, though I was never a fan, I would rank MacEnroe, then Connors, then Lendl, then Edberg or Becker. Stefan though was more consistent than Becker-overall.
I think it become more of a prestige factor...do USOs and W's count for more than FO's and AO's? Some people say 'yes' while others weigh them equally. I'm in the 'yes' camp, but that doesn't take away from Lendl's overall greatness. But, I'd bet he'd have given up a few FO's or AO's to get one of those W's from the other guys.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
What did Connors himself wait for then 82/83? Who didnt play that had beaten him 12 times in row or something, smile
Huh? Prior to '82 - '83, he was not losing to Lendl regularly, that much is true. Borg was his kryptonite. He was still beating Mac actually, at lesser events, but falling short to him at the GS events. Borg's departure seemed to invigorate him, no question.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
What did Connors himself wait for then 82/83? Who didnt play that had beaten him 12 times in row or something, smile
Huh? Prior to '82 - '83, he was not losing to Lendl regularly, that much is true. Borg was his kryptonite. He was still beating Mac actually, at lesser events, but falling short to him at the GS events. Borg's departure seemed to invigorate him, no question.
yea at the time there was some sort of triangular rivalry going... borg>connors, connors>mac, mac>borg...
connors was saying it could have been more interesting if lendl was more invested in 4 way rivalry (at this time lendl was a choker and tanker..)
borg retiring did help connors win those extra GS titles in 82, 83.. definitely..
both in that he didnt have to play him anymore and it put mac in a slump..
 

Brad N.

New User
Nobody won the calendar Slam in the 80s. Lendl had the most majors and a positive head to head against all those players.
 
True, he never won Wimbledon but then Mac, Connors, Edberg, Sampras and Becker never won the FO. Becker never won any clay court pro tournament. Wilander won slams on clay and hard courts but did not do well at Wimbledon though he did win the AO on grass.
Nobody won the calendar Slam in the 80s. Lendl had the most majors and a positive head to head against all those players.
But as I said, Lendl never won the Wimbledon Singles Title. In the 1980s, all of the Top players wanted to win Wimbledon. Lendl was desperate to win that Title. And it is the one he didn't get.

McEnroe, Connors, Edberg, Sampras and Becker all placed much greater value on Wimbledon than they did on any Clay court Tournament. McEnroe, Connors and Sampras would have viewed the US Open as being important (cause it was their National Championship). But I would argue those three still viewed Wimbledon as the the pinnacle. (McEnroe certainly did because he idolised Laver. Sampras certainly did because he idolised Laver AND he radically modified his game as a junior with the goal of winning at Wimbledon)

Lendl did everything possible to develop a Serve / Volley game to help him achieve the Wimbledon Title. He became pretty good at it - he did make the Wimbledon Final - but he lacked the natural talent required to get over that final hurdle.
 

Nole Slam

G.O.A.T.
Maybe he wouldn't have been able to do it like that if Fed had been on top form but he was good enough to take down a slightly underpar Fed like that. Don't think anybody else could have done so, probably not even Djokodal.
Yeah, because peak Murray was some God on grass.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
But as I said, Lendl never won the Wimbledon Singles Title. In the 1980s, all of the Top players wanted to win Wimbledon. Lendl was desperate to win that Title. And it is the one he didn't get.

McEnroe, Connors, Edberg, Sampras and Becker all placed much greater value on Wimbledon than they did on any Clay court Tournament. McEnroe, Connors and Sampras would have viewed the US Open as being important (cause it was their National Championship). But I would argue those three still viewed Wimbledon as the the pinnacle. (McEnroe certainly did because he idolised Laver. Sampras certainly did because he idolised Laver AND he radically modified his game as a junior with the goal of winning at Wimbledon)

Lendl did everything possible to develop a Serve / Volley game to help him achieve the Wimbledon Title. He became pretty good at it - he did make the Wimbledon Final - but he lacked the natural talent required to get over that final hurdle.
I completely agree...70's - 80's, tennis became a big deal, and went from public network TV to major TV events (Breakfast at Wimbledon). Wimbledon did have an extra special air about it, even in the coverage. HBO had it exclusively, up until the semis, as I recall. It was a super big deal. Folks on the board have talked a LOT about Lendl's shortcomings there, the move to serve and volley, etc. Did it help or hurt? Hard to know. But, at the end of the day, I think it really came down to him facing guys who either won W already (Mac, Connors, Becker) or dealing with guys who had more affinity for the surface (Cash, Edberg). It's not like he lost to pikers, to be fair here. Lendl rarely had an easy time of it, ever; perhaps his easiest GS final opponents were Pernfors and Mecir, who are pretty tough themselves.
 
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