Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by realplayer, Jul 8, 2007.
Just look at the two USO finals and what 105 titles v/s 70 ? JC....
lendl had 94 titles
Lendl's prime was greater. 85-87 was a dominant period for him. Connors had a great 74, but never a three-year stretch like that.
At the same time, Jimmy's return to dominance between 82 and 84 (that's in his 30s) was incredible. What I also like about Jimmy is that he could win a match against any younger, stronger, faster opponent on a given day on the big stage. Lendl was kind of strange - he seemed to shy away from the big stage a bit and sometimes faltered under the pressure (at Wimbledon in particular).
That being said, I'm not as concerned about Lendl's lack of Wimbledon title as most are. He was actually a very good grass courter (sometimes bordering on great). People just don't remember how good he was. The big stage got to him in the final against Cash. But that's Ivan for you.
It doesn't really matter how good lendls record was/is, an 8-11 GS finals record and that terrible start of 1-6, will always make him the bridesmaid.
This is a tough one, Connors record of tournament wins was very impressive; however, what did he do to revolutionize the game? He was pretty unique with his shots and that crazy t2000 racket. Lendl took the lead on the mens side regarding personal fitness and should be remembered as the man most responsible for taking the game to a new level there (Martina similarly on the womens).
My verdict, Lendl over Connors in the 5th!
Which of them would you pick to win a big match?
The answer is obviously Connors.
For me Connors had the better career, though Lendl is often very underrated and I wouldn't say there was a huge difference in their careers.
This is my reasoning:
Grand Slams: both won 8, but in Connors era only Wimbledon and US Open mattered. He would have won more than 8 if he'd competed in all the Australians and French Opens that were available. I don't think Lendl would have won any more than he did: he rarely missed slams. Lendl's slams were won in an era when the Australian was nowhere near as important as Wimbledon and the US Open. People are wrong in saying that a change in venue made the Australian equally important to other slams overnight. lendl's 89 and 90 Australian wins were not as prestigious as winning the other slams. I would also say that even in those days the French wasn't quite as big as Wimbledon and the US Open, though it was more important than the Australian.
If you'd asked one of Lendl's contemporaries what they would rather win of these two options they'd all say Connors' slams rather than lendl's:
Connors: 2 Wimbledons, 5 US, 1 Oz
Lendl: 3 french, 3 US, 2 Oz.
I've little doubt Lendl would have been happier with Connors' collection of grand slams than the one he ended up with. Connors won more 'blue-chip' slams no question.
The slams is the most important criiteria for judging players' career success, but I think Connors comes top in other departments too:
Consistency/longetivity: Lendl was great, Connors even greater: more top ten finishes for Conors, more top 3 finishes, longer career at a high level, more tournaments won.
Lendl had a small no. of weeks more than Connors at no.1: this is marginal. I don't buy this idea Lendl was a more dominant no.1. Let's take their 3 best years:
Connors: 74, 76, 82.
Connors' 74 was clearly a better year than all of Lendl's years.
I think Connors' 82 was better than any of Lendl's years: An 80s tennis player would rather have Wimbledon and the US than the French and US.
Their weakest 'best' years are even: Connors 76 and Lendl 85. Their US final victories over their greatest rivals gave them the no.1 spot.
Having said all this Lendl deserves more credit, and I'm going to send a post explaining why!
The point about who you would pick to win one big match is a great one. You'd HAVE to go with Connors there. Grit, determination, heart. Remember Connors/Krickstein in the US Open when Connors was, what, 34? That was all heart and all wiley veteran experience.
Actually he was 39, yes?
But Connors had to deal with Borg & Mac in his prime, while Lendl had to deal with Wilander & a half committed Becker & burnt out Mac during his prime.
I think Lendl may have been a Wimbledon champ in any other era. Fed & Sampras faced very poor grasscourters during their reign, while Lendl arguably faced the toughest grasscourt competitition of the open era-McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Cash.
Not to mention it was the 'bad bounce' grass not the rye grass of today which would have greatly helped his game.
I think that Connors proved that his big '74 was a bit of a fluke (playing an ancient Ken Rosewall in back-to-back finals). He was expected to follow that up with big years, but was somewhat underwhelming in 75 and 76 while Borg was still a teen and McEnroe a junior.
Lendl definitely had a greater prime. Connors just didn't have Lendl's weapons. He seemed to capitalize on opponents that either underestimated him or were puking their guts out (Paul Harhuis anyone?).
That is a good point although Lendl came back to beat mac in the french when it mattered so he was capable.
Connors no question. 82 and 83 US Open finals are the clincher. Also, the 80 Masters, where Lendl tanked a match against Connors to avoid playing Borg in the semis, and Connors then called Lendl "gutless." Also, Lendl's 4th set in the 83 US Open final was the most egregious example of a a player giving up when he realized he couldn't win that's ever happened.
I agree, that the USO wins of Connors in 82 and 83 are the clinchers. Lendl was the best hard courter at least in 83, and had clear wins over Connors in the summer. But to lose the last set 0-6 against a flu-striken Connors, was really bad.It was more a mental thing, Lendl had a mental block against Connors, who had called him chicken a few years earlier.
Didn't Lendl absolutely destroy Connors head-to-head? Connors was old, but I've read in interviews that Lendl said it was too easy to beat Connors. Connors complained that Lendl was just "bunting" the ball. Lendl agreed that he was just putting the ball back, and then said to look at their head-to-head to see how effective that approach was.
This doesn't mean Lendl was greater, but it is a factor.
Yes, a few times, but Connors returned the favor in a bigger venue - as in two finals of the USO, also ate him for lunch at Wimbledon.
There was no love lost between these two. When Connors was declining, and Lendl at the top of his game, Lendl was relentless, playing the aging Jimbo. Once he beat him 0 and 0 at Forest Hills, and on another occasion, i saw on tv, in a warm up event to the USO, on a hot and humid day, Jimbo got cramps end of the first set. Now you could Lendl really see laughing in a diabolic way, he played dropshot after dropshot and made the wincing Jimbo really run. It was torture, and Lendl had fun of it. I think Connors gave up after the second set.
holy crapo, Lendl beat Connors 17 times in a row. That must be a record
And they were all past Connors' 32nd birthday, and from 32-34 Connors was handicapped by an obsolete racket.
Connors was not at his best after 32. It's not fair to compare their records in this period.
Not so. Lendl was ranked number 1 for a total of 270 weeks. This was exceeded only by Sampras (286). Connors was ranked number 1 a total of 268 weeks.
What a great post! I always thought Lendl had zero personality. It takes a real a$$hole to play this way against an American legend in the U.S.
(Maybe I have a little more respect for Lendl now )
Wilander was just as good a player as mcenroe.Becker was incredibly during that period of time, he went into safin mode about '92
Mac was so more dominant than Mats, its not even funny. Mats couldn't even make a Wimbledon SF, at least Mac made a FO final.
He was incredible every other year. Look at 1987, he lost to Doohan at Wimbledon & Brad Gilbert at the US Open & Wally Masur at the Australian. Hardly Mr. Consistency. Was great in '86 & '89 though.
it was a lot harder for a pusher baseliner like wilander to make a wimbledon semi back in those days than it was for a serve and volleyer like mac to get to the final of the french, aussie open back then was qiucker than todays wimbledon, mats didn't do to badly there did he?
gilbert was a very very good player, and it was over a 100 degrees that day, gilbert later wrote that he lost a stone that day.Gilbert wasn't exactly a volandri was he?
I was really surprised to read someone saying that, that Wilander was as good as McEnroe?? Unbelievable. Sure Wilander was solid in the groundstroke department, and his results were good in that he didn't have overwhelming power, or volleys or anything greater than others in his day. But compared to Mac?? No way, he was even as good.
But for the original question, the first thing many would bring up was Lendl not winning Wimbledon. Just for personal preference I would choose Lendl, he hung at the top an extremely long time. But in all honesty, I think Connors had more variety in wins, and ability. So officially I'd have to go with Connors, sad to say.
I'd agreed with that, quite true regarding Wilander.
Sorry, I meant to say Lendl had a small number of weeks more than Connors at no.1, not that Connors had more. I knew Lendl was no.1 longer (2 weeks more). To me it doesn't make Lendl's career greater forr easons given in my post.
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