Mats Wilander: The most underrated champion ever? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Mats Wilander: The most underrated champion ever?

salut235
05-05-2009, 05:34 PM
For someone that has won 7 grandslams on all 3 surfaces, I really never heard of him until a few years back, and that's mainly through internet. I hear about tons of other players from time to time, like Lendl, McEnroe, Connors, Becker, Edberg, Courier, Vilas, etc. Anyway, why doesn't he get enough props??? He didn't win Wimbledon, but Lendl and many others didn't either. To win 7 slams is HUGE!

aferlo
05-05-2009, 05:44 PM
He was a good player, altough too defensive, but not excellent. He won 1 GS tittle per year during four years and had a very good year (1988) winning 3 GS tittles, but nothing more from there and retired rather early. His style was very similar to Borg´s and looked more a copy than a player with real personality.

Serenidad
05-05-2009, 05:45 PM
He would be more "rated" if Borg hadn't JUST preceded him or even existed at all.

Action Jackson
05-05-2009, 05:52 PM
Lendl is more underrated relative to what he achieved. Wilander did very well since he was never the best player of his generation, it took 7 Slams on 4 different surfaces before making #1.

Hahaha, Wilander too defensive, he didn't have the year in 1988 by being a chicken shit.

scoobs
05-05-2009, 06:24 PM
Lendl.

kafemotor
05-05-2009, 09:05 PM
4 surfaces in GS?

Burrow
05-05-2009, 09:08 PM
He was a good player, altough too defensive, but not excellent. He won 1 GS tittle per year during four years and had a very good year (1988) winning 3 GS tittles, but nothing more from there and retired rather early. His style was very similar to Borg´s and looked more a copy than a player with real personality.

although too defensive? it obviously worked for him so obviously not too defensive...

cocrcici
05-05-2009, 09:19 PM
I loved to watch Wilander,he was smooth.

vince evert
05-05-2009, 09:58 PM
Mats was also a Wimbledon doubles champion one time. Might've been in 1985. Anyone know what year it was and what was the score? Interesting that he never got past the quarters at wimbledon but could win the Australian open twice when it was on grass. Yeah I was a huge Wilander fan as a kid. Love the Swedes!!!

kingfederer
05-05-2009, 10:20 PM
sorry but lendl is a choker, lost 11 slam finals and won 8. the guy lost more than he won. nadal at 22 already is only 2 short of lendle's mark. coming close isnt enough, u have to win it. lendl was a poor big match player.

kingfederer
05-05-2009, 10:22 PM
wilander isnt that special, nadal is close to most of his records. mind u, at the pace nadal and federer are going, most past players look like mugs compared to these 2 freaks of nature.

rocketassist
05-05-2009, 10:25 PM
Lendl was number one for 275 weeks in a competitive era of tennis.

Next....

vince evert
05-05-2009, 10:32 PM
Yeah that's correct. Lendl was a choker only once in the 1983 U.S. Open final where he held set point in the third set vs Connors and double faulted. Then he lost that set 7-5 and the fourth, 6-0. A little bit more research on your facts kingfederer OK?

out_here_grindin
05-06-2009, 01:30 AM
wilander isnt that special, nadal is close to most of his records. mind u, at the pace nadal and federer are going, most past players look like mugs compared to these 2 freaks of nature.

Nadal is the new measuring stick for every player of the past. wilander and lendl were compared to Nadal.

Priam
05-06-2009, 02:12 AM
Mats' level of play dropped off somewhat after winning 3 slams the previous year. His results suffered and he was never really the same after. What is the best explanation for this?

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 02:18 AM
Yeah that's correct. Lendl was a choker only once in the 1983 U.S. Open final where he held set point in the third set vs Connors and double faulted. Then he lost that set 7-5 and the fourth, 6-0. A little bit more research on your facts kingfederer OK?

Please, you are new around here, don't even think of taking kingfederer seriously.

vince evert
05-06-2009, 02:28 AM
It dropped off a lot - not just "somewhat" during 1989. I guess it was due to the fact he worked so hard to reach the pinnacle after 7-8 years on the circuit that the only place he could go was DOOOOOOWWWWN! You need to also consider he did not have a powerhouse serve like Becker or a big forehand like Lendl and his game was all about patience from grinding matches, good solid groundies, good vollier and speed around the court. '89 was about the time that Sampras and Courier arrived on the scene. So the competition got tougher for Wilander.

vince evert
05-06-2009, 02:30 AM
Quote Action Jackson - "Please, you are new around here, don't even think of taking kingfederer seriously."

Thanks for the warning my friend. Should I give him a black eye like my avatar? Hahahaha

Frank Winkler
05-06-2009, 02:45 AM
Wielander had the greatest nerves and made fewer mistakes than anyone. That is how he won his Grand slam tournaments.
However he faded away after he won three slams in one year.
He had absolutely no chance of winning on grass while other such as borg mcenroe lendl were in the final and very close to winning.
The only other top guy who had no chance of wiinning on one surface was Pete sampras on clay. But he made up for it on the other surfaces.
Also part of the reason for Wielander winning was because lendl did his choke in grand slams Lendl was way better than his record but lost a few finals that he should not have However dont forget Lendl won 8 more than most and in addidition he was in more finals than anyone else So lendl was definitly one of the very great greatest.
He does not get enough credit.
But Wielander was pretty convincingly beaten buy the other top player at times eg lendl.

Frank Winkler
05-06-2009, 02:49 AM
It was nothing like Borg's style.
Borg was offensive with defense like nadal.
and won wimbledon and french five times in succession in other words he dominated for 5 years not one. He would have won more french but there wqas a strike of players which he obeyed and some mugg one the french open that year.
He also went to the net which wielander never never did.
its just totally silly equating wielande in any way with Borg except that they were sweedish and played well on clay.

FairWeatherFan
05-06-2009, 03:09 AM
Not a fan, because he played too passively, but a great player of course. For some reason it seems to be a very common conception that Agassi won slams on hard, clay and grass, but not that Wilander did this. With that said, he never won Wimbledon, and that was definitely the highest prize in tennis in the 1980s. A huge gap in his CV.
He also did not adjust well at all to the emergence of power tennis and this was his demise.

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 03:10 AM
He had absolutely no chance of winning on grass while other such as borg mcenroe lendl were in the final and very close to winning.
.

Yes, that's why he defeated Lendl in the final of the Aus Open on grass.

Har-Tru
05-06-2009, 03:23 AM
It was nothing like Borg's style.
Borg was offensive with defense like nadal.
and won wimbledon and french five times in succession in other words he dominated for 5 years not one. He would have won more french but there wqas a strike of players which he obeyed and some mugg one the french open that year.
He also went to the net which wielander never never did.
its just totally silly equating wielande in any way with Borg except that they were sweedish and played well on clay.

what a gem.

kingfederer
05-06-2009, 05:43 AM
lendl who? wilander who? who are these old mugs? rafa is only 2 short of lendl and 1 short of wilander in slam total at 22 yrs age. boys and girls, rafa rules the sport, he is lord rafa. rafa would mug these mugs anyday, any surface, anywhere. lendl and wilander isnt good enough to hold rafa's undies.

NEXT!

vince evert
05-06-2009, 05:44 AM
Mats also won the following year on the grasscourts at kooyong defeating big-serving Kevin Curren 6-7,6-4,7-6,6-2.
Interesting that at Wimbledon he never got passed the quarterfinals. Cash stopped him in '87 and Mecir in '88.

finishingmove
05-06-2009, 05:48 AM
lendl who? wilander who? who are these old mugs? rafa is only 2 short of lendl and 1 short of wilander in slam total at 22 yrs age. boys and girls, rafa rules the sport, he is lord rafa. rafa would mug these mugs anyday, any surface, anywhere. lendl and wilander isnt good enough to hold rafa's undies.

NEXT!

:worship:

Priam
05-06-2009, 06:24 AM
How big a difference was there in OZ and wimbledon grass in the 80s? Mats was pretty effective on clay though with 20 titles including 3 FO.

duong
05-06-2009, 08:45 AM
Yes, that's why he defeated Lendl in the final of the Aus Open on grass.

you know that it was before Lendl really practiced on grass,

and you also know that Kooyong's grass was different from Wimbledon's.

Especially it was easier to move on Kooyong's grass.

But Wilander also beat better players than Lendl on this grass, especially Cash and Edberg.

Not mentioning what I already said, that Kooyong tournament came out of nowhere in the season, whereas Wimbledon was a key-part of the season.

duong
05-06-2009, 08:47 AM
'89 was about the time that Sampras and Courier arrived on the scene.

no (91 for Courier, end of 90 for Sampras ... and not number 1 before 1993).

the reasons for Wilander's decline are not about that, but this topic has been discussed a lot on this forum with a quick search.

Besides, yes, under younger generations, Lendl is more underrated than Wilander.

Bazooka
05-06-2009, 11:29 AM
Yes, that's why he defeated Lendl in the final of the Aus Open on grass.

True, lol, Wilander won twice the Aussie on grass, plus a final that lost to Edberg. If that's not being able to win on grass... :rolleyes:

However, to be fair, he was no grasscourter, just by will, focus and overall good quality as a player he managed to get those results. He won just those 2 grass titles out of his 33 total, in an era in which grass was still not rare.

Wilander was a top baseliner, a factor in clay that won 2 of his 3 french opens defeating in the finals two of the greatest claycourters ever. He managed to win in other surfaces and when in 1988 competition flickered a little, he devoured the tour. Overachiever? not really, just took his chances, but with his skills and game it's true that others wouldn't have won 7 slams. but just as easily he could have won a couple more french.

ToniTennis
05-06-2009, 11:29 AM
To many people he was considered to have a cold personality, much like Lendl for instance, that is, sometimes after a crucial point it was hard to say whether he had lost or won it (a nordic feature, maybe? Soderling excluded). Perhaps that's why I get the impression he never had a fanbase as solid as other players. I admit I never saw him being interviewed at that time (my English wasn't any good, plus there weren't as many TV channels as today) so I can't really judge. However, now that I regularly see him commenting on Eurosport I find him a nice, charming guy and enjoyable to watch.

duong
05-06-2009, 11:39 AM
To many people he was considered to have a cold personality, much like Lendl for instance, that is, sometimes after a crucial point it was hard to say whether he had lost or won it (a nordic feature, maybe? Soderling excluded). Perhaps that's why I get the impression he never had a fanbase as solid as other players. I admit I never saw him being interviewed at that time (my English wasn't any good, plus there weren't as many TV channels as today) so I can't really judge. However, now that I regularly see him commenting on Eurosport I find him a nice, charming guy and enjoyable to watch.

in interviews he was also quite charming in that time, not at all as much as now though.

but not at all as cold as Lendl that's sure. And more talkative than some other Swedes of that time.

ToniTennis
05-06-2009, 12:12 PM
in interviews he was also quite charming in that time, not at all as much as now though.

but not at all as cold as Lendl that's sure. And more talkative than some other Swedes of that time.

You may be right. Him being depicted as cold-mannered might probably be a cliché that we in Spain usually put as a tag to people from less socially open societies. Nothing wrong with him, as I said, I find him quite nice.

DhammaTiger
05-06-2009, 01:09 PM
Mats Wilander was a great player, and a joy to watch. In fact all the Swedish players of that generation were wonderful : jarryd, Sundstrom, et al. Those who denigrate Wilander have no idea what good tennis is even if it hits them in the face.

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 01:38 PM
You may be right. Him being depicted as cold-mannered might probably be a cliché that we in Spain usually put as a tag to people from less socially open societies. Nothing wrong with him, as I said, I find him quite nice.

Yes, it's a cliche, just like all Italians talk with their hands and the Spanish are all short and dark haired with fiery temperaments.

Har-Tru
05-06-2009, 01:48 PM
Yes, it's a cliche, just like all Italians talk with their hands and the Spanish are all short and dark haired with fiery temperaments.

Reported.

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 01:50 PM
Reported.

Go and get my tortilla.

Har-Tru
05-06-2009, 02:10 PM
Go and get my tortilla.

Just a sec, I need to finish skiing.


Back on topic though, I never thought Wilander could be considered as being underrated. He gets his share of recognition as one of the greats of the 80's and for being one of the few to win slams on three surfaces. And yes, winning in Australia when he did it was no small feat, it wasn't like in the 70's where doubles specialists like John Lloyd were making it to the final.

Having a cold personality, be that true or not, really doesn't enter into it, since Borg was the ultimate Iceman and he certainly got himself many fans.

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 02:32 PM
Just a sec, I need to finish skiing.


Back on topic though, I never thought Wilander could be considered as being underrated. He gets his share of recognition as one of the greats of the 80's and for being one of the few to win slams on three surfaces. And yes, winning in Australia when he did it was no small feat, it wasn't like in the 70's where doubles specialists like John Lloyd were making it to the final.

Having a cold personality, be that true or not, really doesn't enter into it, since Borg was the ultimate Iceman and he certainly got himself many fans.

I see your point, but he and Lendl are both underrated as champions and shouldn't be. Then again some will say it comes down to personalities, though how much is dependent on viewpoint. Edberg expressed himself through his tennis and was more boring than either Wilander or Lendl, most exciting thing Edberg did was steal Wilander's girlfriend. At the same time he, Becker and Agassi are rated higher than these two, and this would come down to 2 things, one was their playing styles and secondly, right or wrongly as Fairweather mentioned, the previous 3 won Wimbledon and the other two didn't.

He won Slams on Rebound Ace, grass, clay and hardcourt, so personally I think it's 3, but technically it counts as 4 different surfaces. Before Fed did it a few times, he won 3 Slams in a year, that never got the kudos.

At the same time it's not a surprise, but both big Ivan and Mats are underrated, though Lendl being the funny guy he is decided to beat Wilander 0 and 0 in a Barcelona exho.

Har-Tru
05-06-2009, 02:59 PM
I see your point, but he and Lendl are both underrated as champions and shouldn't be. Then again some will say it comes down to personalities, though how much is dependent on viewpoint. Edberg expressed himself through his tennis and was more boring than either Wilander or Lendl, most exciting thing Edberg did was steal Wilander's girlfriend. At the same time he, Becker and Agassi are rated higher than these two, and this would come down to 2 things, one was their playing styles and secondly, right or wrongly as Fairweather mentioned, the previous 3 won Wimbledon and the other two didn't.

He won Slams on Rebound Ace, grass, clay and hardcourt, so personally I think it's 3, but technically it counts as 4 different surfaces. Before Fed did it a few times, he won 3 Slams in a year, that never got the kudos.

At the same time it's not a surprise, but both big Ivan and Mats are underrated, though Lendl being the funny guy he is decided to beat Wilander 0 and 0 in a Barcelona exho.

I guess it depends on many other things as well, like personal experiences (if I read a website where a guy has this column where he constantly praises Lendl, I'll hardly have the impression that he's underrated), or the times. Those three guys you mentioned are younger than both Lendl and Wilander, and we know how quickly people forget and tend to overrate younger generations.

Rating Becker and Edberg higher than Wilander and Lendl, as much as I love the guys, is borderline ridiculous. And mind you, I don't have the impression that they are, perhaps due to the reasons above or a thousand others. You mention the good old Wimbledon factor. Well, needless to say Wimby isn't considered down these latitudes so clearly the "big prize" as in other regions.

Agassi is a different story though. I would rate him at least on par with Wilander, given his career slam and longevity.

In any case, Mats should have definitely got more recognition for winning three slams in the 1988 season, but I think he was unlucky Steffi Graf won all four AND the Olimpic Gold in the exact same year. History should have already given him what he's due though, and it isn't.

Action Jackson
05-06-2009, 03:20 PM
I guess it depends on many other things as well, like personal experiences (if I read a website where a guy has this column where he constantly praises Lendl, I'll hardly have the impression that he's underrated), or the times. Those three guys you mentioned are younger than both Lendl and Wilander, and we know how quickly people forget and tend to overrate younger generations.

The personal experience thing is the same in most contexts of life and sport is no different in this case. As for Wilander being underrated, where I am from, the answer then would be no, because he got a lot of praise, considering he was the leader of the golden generation that followed after Borg, but in a global context, he definitely is. Lendl well he was the father of modern tennis and the funny thing is that he isn't that impressed with the product.

Yes, of course younger generations are overrated, we have seen this enough times in this place, this week as it happens.

Rating Becker and Edberg higher than Wilander and Lendl, as much as I love the guys, is borderline ridiculous. And mind you, I don't have the impression that they are, perhaps due to the reasons above or a thousand others. You mention the good old Wimbledon factor. Well, needless to say Wimby isn't considered down these latitudes so clearly the "big prize" as in other regions.

Agassi is a different story though. I would rate him at least on par with Wilander, given his career slam and longevity.

In any case, Mats should have definitely got more recognition for winning three slams in the 1988 season, but I think he was unlucky Steffi Graf won all four AND the Olimpic Gold in the exact same year. History should have already given him what he's due though, and it isn't.

In the English language press Becker and Edberg at the time got a lot more praise for achieving the same, if not less than Wilander or Lendl. The Wimbledon factor, the fact that those had more aesthetically pleasing games according the tennis press at that time.

Wilander was the man to peak for Slams, that is what he was about, everything else was just prep for the big 4.

duong
05-06-2009, 03:44 PM
I think there's a matter of time or period.

Lendl and Wilander emerged when McEnroe and Connors were still there, and just after Borg. It was a very hard comparison (especially for the swedish one) : people had been spoiled.

Becker and Edberg emerged when the older generation was going and people wondered who would success. Also as Lendl was not very well appreciated and people were eager for a new one. This was especially Becker's story.

As for Wilander, I think the first poster is a young guy who noticed that he had nearly as many grand slams as McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Becker and Edberg. Then he considered them as quite equal regarding this criterium.

However, for those who lived this period, I think most of them would consider that McEnroe, Connors and Lendl were clearly above him. If you want a measured, numerical, simple and objective reason (which is a too short argument imo comparing to what you know when you have lived the whole period), they were all long number ones, whereas Wilander was a short one. Also Wilander has spent a lot of time behind them in the rankings.

As for Becker and Edberg comparing to Wilander, I think it's more a matter of period and also tennis style ... and Edberg also was quite a long number 1 but didn't have the same competition which Wilander had in his time.

vince evert
05-06-2009, 10:49 PM
quote duong -"no (91 for Courier, end of 90 for Sampras ... and not number 1 before 1993)".

My friend, who was the player who eliminated Mats in the '89 U.S. Open?

Answer: Pete Sampras.

duong
05-07-2009, 07:13 AM
quote duong -"no (91 for Courier, end of 90 for Sampras ... and not number 1 before 1993)".

My friend, who was the player who eliminated Mats in the '89 U.S. Open?

Answer: Pete Sampras.

yes, I guess you will also find some number 100 players who eliminated Wilander that year :shrug:

Bazooka
05-07-2009, 09:48 AM
The main problem with Wilander popularity as a champion (or lack of)is that he didn't dominate an "era". Just had one spectacular year, after a long career as #2 - #4.

Also people remember the matches between the great players, look at how hard we are all with Fed for losing to Djokovic, while the loss to Wawa a few weeks ago was overlooked in comparison.

HtH of Wilander vs. greats:

Wilander-Lendl 7-15
Wilander-Edberg 11-9
Wilander-Becker 3-7
Wilander-McEnroe 6-7
Wilander-Sampras 1-2
Wilander-Agassi 2-5

So he really dominated no one, except those too old and still around (Connors, Vilas), and the new generation punished him badly. In cold numbers he may have 7 slams as Mac, but he never truly dominated and was "the man to beat" except in clay.

The other player with 7 slams, McEnroe, was a dominator of the tour in comparison. He won over twice the tournaments of Wilander, dethroned Borg from grass and was the best player for 3 years (but due to ranking system managed to end #1 for 4 years) so he had an "era". He had a good HtH against many of his contemporaries. Plus an agressive tennis that usually appeals more the crowd than grinding. Not to mention doubles. His career is so superior to Wilander's if you look at more than just slams...

Action Jackson
05-07-2009, 09:52 AM
Wilander beat Becker at the Slams, it's like Becker and Edberg, at the biggest stage Edberg had a better record.

He and Lendl were at the same level on clay.

Voo de Mar
05-07-2009, 10:43 AM
For me one of the most interesting players in the last 30 years. I mean the process of his career, for example the fact he was fullfiled at the age of 24 whe he was on the Top.

He was a good player, altough too defensive, but not excellent.

He wasn't too defensive, I suppose it's a bad lebel for anyone who won more than one GS on clay.


His style was very similar to Borg´s and looked more a copy than a player with real personality.

It was nothing like Borg's style.
Borg was offensive with defense like nadal.

In this issue I fully agree with aferlo. Watching early-Wilander I've got impression he was growin' up in full admiration of Borg. It's the same way of thinking about the tennis: amazing calmness, patience, stamina and great physicall preparation; from technical/tactical point of view: almost the same backhand (early skipping of the left hand), on clay the same game-plan based on the baseline, on grass - attack to the net after 1st serve (IMO Wilander had better volley than Borg, really nice stroke).

miura
05-07-2009, 11:05 AM
lendl who? wilander who? who are these old mugs? rafa is only 2 short of lendl and 1 short of wilander in slam total at 22 yrs age. boys and girls, rafa rules the sport, he is lord rafa. rafa would mug these mugs anyday, any surface, anywhere. lendl and wilander isnt good enough to hold rafa's undies.

NEXT!
Maybe if you followed tennis more than one year you'd be able to apreciate the history of the sport. You've without a shadow of a doubt the most retarded poster on this entire forum. Post a picture of yourself so I can laugh even more at you please.

Bazooka
05-08-2009, 08:25 AM
As a side note, this (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19960320/ai_n14037058/)didn't help his image as champion a lot either.

Action Jackson
05-08-2009, 08:28 AM
Johnny Mac took cocaine, it's not like it's a performance enhancing substance.

Bazooka
05-08-2009, 08:35 AM
Johnny Mac took cocaine, it's not like it's a performance enhancing substance.

I know. My point is, he finished his career by testing positive on drugs and being banned. Mac didn't. We're talking about why people "looks down" at Wilander despite his 7 slams.

Action Jackson
05-08-2009, 08:37 AM
His career was finished after 1989 in reality, with the odd decent result.

Action Jackson
07-16-2009, 07:04 PM
The famous day in 1988.

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/09/12/sports/wilander-outlasts-lendl-to-win-us-open.html?pagewanted=all

Wilander Outlasts Lendl to Win U.S. Open
By PETER ALFANO
Published: Monday, September 12, 1988

In retrospect, this was the perfect setting for Mats Wilander to erase any lingering doubts that he lacked the courage or desire expected of the No. 1 player in the world. The United States Open is more than a tennis tournament, it is a survival course, two weeks of constant distractions that test the mental, as well as the physical mettle of the top players in the world. Flushing Meadows is not a place for the faint of heart, Wilander had heard, or for a Swede.

Bjorn Borg had tried and failed 10 times to win the Open, losing four times in the final, three times in the raucous atmosphere of the National Tennis Center. Wilander had also been unsuccessful in the seven years since he emerged as Borg's heir apparent. But on a drab afternoon that turned into a chilly, memorable September night, he played what he called the biggest match of his career, ending Ivan Lendl's three-year reign as the Open champion and No. 1 player.

The winner and new champion is Wilander, who outlasted Lendl yesterday in a five-set tug-of-war, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The match lasted a record 4 hours 54 minutes, which was 7 minutes longer than the match Wilander and Lendl played in last year's four-set final.

It was a match that brought out the emotion that these two players supposedly lacked, an exchange of clenched fists, raised arms and victory dances, as much as it was a test of wills between avowed baseliners who usually are reluctant to come to the net.

''I realized tonight why it was hard hard for Borg to win,'' Wilander said. ''It is so tough, mentally and physically. Because it's a tournament that I've never won, or a Swede has never won, and because I'm going to be number one, it's the biggest match I ever played. It meant so much.''

Wilander, who is 24 years old, has been ranked among the top four for the last six years. It was said that this suited him well, enabling him to become a tennis millionaire without having to handle the burden of being the best. Wilander argued that it simply wasn't time yet for him to be at the top.

He has hit the ball better in previous years, he said, but never with the success he has enjoyed in 1988. The Open victory gave him three of the four Grand Slam titles, the Australian Open and French Open being the other two. His countryman, Stefan Edberg, won Wimbledon, thus this is also the year of the Swedish Grand Slam. 'Much Stronger Mentally'

''To win three Slams in the same year beats all of my dreams,'' Wilander said. ''You've got to have a lot of luck to do it. And it shows that I'm just much stronger mentally.''

Lendl had come to regard the Open as a personal possession. This was his seventh consecutive final; he was trying to become the first player since Bill Tilden to win as many as four United States championships in a row. Tilden won six from 1920 through 1925.

The Open was also Lendl's final opportunity to salvage a disappointing, injury-plagued season. He was shut out of the Slam events and has won just three tournaments over all.

''It was a tough year for me, but you have to look at it and accept it,'' he said. ''Losing the number one ranking has not sunken in it. But I'm not going to sit back worrying about it. I'm going to think about getting it back.''

Lendl felt that his inability to make many of his passing shots cost him the match. In fact, he had 83 unforced errors, compared with 36 for Wilander. He also made only 43 percent of his first serves, while Wilander played it safe, putting the ball in play 86 percent of the time. Wilander Surprises Lendl

Wilander surprised Lendl with his willingness to come to the net. Lendl attributed that to his errant passing shots, but Wilander's aggressiveness may have caused that usually reliable forehand to stray wide or land over the baseline. Wilander had played it safe in last year's final, and all it got him was a handshake and second-place prize.

''I've changed my thinking a little bit this year,'' Wilander said. ''I'd rather get beat by someone hitting passing shots than staying back, trusting my own ground strokes. I wanted to see what I could do.''

At times Wilander punched home volley winners that had Lendl mumbling to himself. He broke Lendl in the 10th game to win the first set, Lendl's passing shots sailing wide.

Playing with the lead, Wilander was emboldened, breaking Lendl in the second game of the next set with a pair of forehand volley winners. In his next two service games he lived dangerously, saving a total of five break points. What was impressive was the way he did it: a backhand passing shot, ace and backhand volley winner, giving him a 4-1 lead. It was beginning to look like straight sets.

Lendl, though, has grown into his role as No. 1. He may lose now and then, but no longer does he concede a match. He broke Wilander in the seventh game and again in the ninth. He closed out the set at love, an abrupt turn of events.

Wilander broke through in the second game of the third set, again breaking Lendl with a forehand volley winner. He made the break stand out and looked ready to close out the match when he broke Lendl to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth set, his aggressiveness forcing uncharacteristic errors. 'I Was Down Mentally'

Then Lendl broke back in the eighth game, eventually winning the set when he broke Wilander with a forehand winner. The ups and downs played with the emotions of the 13,000 or so fans who remained.

''At times, I was down mentally,'' Wilander said. ''I had so many chances. It was hopeless.'' Those were Lendl's sentiments exactly.

Wilander broke Lendl to begin the fifth set, but he knew it would not be as easy as all that. Lendl's last stand came when he broke back in the fourth game, pumping his fists in a challenge to Wilander. After all this, the match was back on serve.

The deciding break came in the seventh game, Wilander's presence at the net once against forcing Lendl's passing shots to stray. On break point, Wilander nailed a forehand winner down the line. He came to the net 131 times during the match, compared with 77 for Lendl. He won 58 percent of those points.

With the crowd finally sensing the end, Wilander served out the match, but not before surviving two break points. A backhand winner gave him his second match point and this time he made good, Lendl's backhand return plunking into the net.

Wilander thrust his arms upward one more time, and walked on weary legs to the net to greet Lendl. A new reign had begun.

''It's a great feeling,'' he repeated, ''and there will be some more pressure. But then, being number one will give me more confidence, too. It's not going to be that much of a difference for me. I've always been close to it.''

oz_boz
07-16-2009, 07:50 PM
I agree in general with Jackson and duong :yeah:

Wilander is underrated in general. If some blame it for not being a long lived #1, then what about Becker?

Lendl is even more underrated though, being a very steady #1 during a time when the top was arguably better than any other era - I think that's the reason why every one of Lendl, Wilander, Mac, Edberg and Becker "only" have single digit slam count. That's also why comparing Nadal with 6 slams, as many as Mac or Becker, might be a bit unfair to the former greats also considering that 4 of Rafa's 6 are RGs in a time where clay tennis is not in the best state, at least IMO.

(BTW Lendl would definitely have had a chance of more slams in the present era when s/v has become obsolete due to slowdown of conditions and better rackets, at the same time clay not quite as slow which would favour powerful shots on the clay like Ivan's.)

Action Jackson
07-16-2009, 07:57 PM
The clay is quicker now and Lendl would love playing on this grass.

predatore2005
07-22-2009, 11:34 AM
Mats was incredible! see the Australian Open against Pat Cash here:
http://www.tennisdvdvideo.com/australian-tennis-open-final-1988-mats-wilander-vs-pat-cash-10

Unique! :wavey:

vamosinator
07-22-2009, 12:06 PM
wilander isnt that special, nadal is close to most of his records. mind u, at the pace nadal and federer are going, most past players look like mugs compared to these 2 freaks of nature.

Although those "mugs" aren't here to play Federer/Nadal, instead its just Murray, Djok, Del Potro, Haas etc.

I'd think Nadal and Federer would win a lot less if those "mugs" of the 80s were here, since they surely would have a lot more skill than Djok/Del Pot etc.

Har-Tru
07-22-2009, 12:11 PM
That 1988 Final is a perfect example of an excellent tactical display winning the match for a player that had everything going against him.

Awesome match.

ORGASMATRON
07-22-2009, 12:18 PM
I dont know whose most underrated but i know Rafalafa is most over hyped. Talentless mug who has to kill his body to win the big ones.

peribsen
07-22-2009, 07:16 PM
Wilander is one of the great players (together with McEnroe, Agassi, Lendl, Connors, Newcombe, etc) that Rafa is trying to catch; not there yet, but getting closer.

But there are more things to tennis than GS, I wonder why the Masters gets so little attention on MTF. Lendl has 5 Masters in his bag (a record he shares with Sampras), McEnroe 3, Agassi and Connors 1 (and you may add Becker and Edberg with the same GS as Rafa but 3 and 1 Masters respectively). Nadal has never won the Masters. I'm a Nadal fan from his native island, but if he wants to be compared with Lendl he doesn't only need another 2 majors, either he wins some Masters or goes to >10 GS before he surpasses Lendl´s 8 GS + 5 Masters.

ballbasher101
07-22-2009, 07:28 PM
I don't think he is underrated, it is just that there have been a lot of champions who have achieved greater things.

MacTheKnife
07-22-2009, 07:34 PM
I don't know about under rated, but I would put Wilander and Lendl as the two guys who seemingly get the least credit for very solid careers.

rocketassist
07-22-2009, 07:36 PM
Wilander is one of the great players (together with McEnroe, Agassi, Lendl, Connors, Newcombe, etc) that Rafa is trying to catch; not there yet, but getting closer.

But there are more things to tennis than GS, I wonder why the Masters gets so little attention on MTF. Lendl has 5 Masters in his bag (a record he shares with Sampras), McEnroe 3, Agassi and Connors 1 (and you may add Becker and Edberg with the same GS as Rafa but 3 and 1 Masters respectively). Nadal has never won the Masters. I'm a Nadal fan from his native island, but if he wants to be compared with Lendl he doesn't only need another 2 majors, either he wins some Masters or goes to >10 GS before he surpasses Lendl´s 8 GS + 5 Masters.

Lendl >>>> Nadal. Always. No matter what Nadal does.

peribsen
07-22-2009, 07:40 PM
Lendl >>>> Nadal. Always. No matter what Nadal does.

That's hardly an argument, and you know it. Seems not all of us place the same importance on fairness, some would seem to feed on hate alone.

Action Jackson
07-22-2009, 07:43 PM
I don't know about under rated, but I would put Wilander and Lendl as the two guys who seemingly get the least credit for very solid careers.

This.

rocketassist
07-22-2009, 07:50 PM
That's hardly an argument, and you know it. Seems not all of us place the same importance on fairness, some would seem to feed on hate alone.

It's not hate, it's the era Nadal is playing in right now and the era he will be playing in for a few years as Federer gets old and slow.

Lendl was no 1 for 270 weeks in a great era and reached 8 USO finals in a row and 8 Masters finals in a row.

Nadal can win 20 slams in this Mickey Mouse era but he will never be as good as Lendl for the reasons I have stated.

Myrre
07-22-2009, 07:57 PM
The most boring champion ever.

peribsen
07-22-2009, 08:01 PM
It's not hate, it's the era Nadal is playing in right now and the era he will be playing in for a few years as Federer gets old and slow.

Nadal can win 20 slams in this Mickey Mouse era but he will never be as good as Lendl for the reasons I have stated.

Are you saying Federer is a fluke? Besides, even if what you say was true (I think there is some truth in it, but wildly exagerated), we wouldn´t know how Nadal would have fared in an era he didn´t play in, now would we? We'd be left to subjective opinions, which is the very reason why comparing pleyers from different decades is so difficult. I mean, if Lendl were playing today, who's to say he wouldn´t have lost all his 3 RG to Nadal and all his USO to Fed (without taking a single WB from the Swiss?) I'm not saying he would have, but I don't think the possibility can be dismissed as absurd.