During the 80s Lendl was The Man. He dominated the way Federer or Nadal can dominate. Final after final after final. He re-invented tennis fitness and brought a new power game into play, which in turn raised everyone’s game. His love/hate relationship with grass was also as famous. He should have won Wimbledon no question, especially in 1987 when he lost to Cash, and if he had would have a claim for the GOAT title.
Lendl was also the big man on campus in the locker room. Agassi recalls him parading around the locker room just in his socks and his smackdowns were just as legendary as his play. Lendl probably deserved the title of ‘utter bastard’ in the 80s but he is much more like-able than Connors and McEnroe ever were. He respected players that deserved respect, like Borg and is a family man who knew that Tennis is just a game and that there are more important aspects to life. He knew that to win all the time, he had to work physically and mentally to break players, since he did not possess the sheer raw talent, so he took his fitness to a level that could break down other players.
Sharp-tongued, one of his famous quotes was describing Andre Agassi as “a haircut and a forehand”. He later, like everyone else had a different opinion of Andre going on to say ,“I think if you look at Andre then and now, you look at two different models. Of course it’s personal preference, I think Andre now is a great role model for the kids. He has started training differently than he was before, and so on and so on.”
These days we’re seeing a small renaissance from Lendl, playing exos and popping up in the media for interviews after checking out for years to raise his daughters and play golf. He’s mellowed and it’s good to have such a great champion chiming in. Next he’ll be on Twitter!
Classic Lendl Quotes:
“I really don’t have one with him. I wish we could. After all this time, you would think it would be reasonable.” On his (lack of) relationship with John McEnroe
“On my deathbed with a 110-degree temperature, I wouldn’t lose to you.” On beating Brad Gilbert for 16th straight time in the locker room
“After living in Czechoslovakia so long, I can’t understand how anybody who wants a free life can go the liberal line. As much as I like and respect Martina, I just cannot see her point of view. Liberal is just a different name and a different stage for Communism.” On the difference between himself and Martina Navratilova
“I am not playing Wimbledon because I am allergic to grass.” On why he skipped Wimbledon to play golf in 1982
“Until I win or die.” On how long he would keep trying to win Wimbledon
“He is a sportsmen and gentleman. on the court and beyond.” Bjorn Borg
Career Titles/Finals: 94/52
Win/Loss Record: 1071/239
Career High Ranking: 1
Finest moment: The 80s in general
Famous For: Tennis magazine named him as one of the ten greatest tennis players since 1966, calling him “the game’s greatest overachiever” and emphasizing his importance in the game’s history.
Watch: Lendl cracking 4 baseline winners
Watch: Lendl on Letterman