Interview with Ivan Lendl: Article added #73 and #74

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 10:37 AM
I took the best bits and posted in the stupid interview thread, but here it is in full.

Q. Ivan, is this a true story: Last year ‑‑

IVAN LENDL: Probably not (laughter).

Q. Last year, when Serena Williams got a very poor call against Jennifer Capriati and the USTA apologized to her publicly, you phoned the tournament and said, "What about an apology for my call in 1991?"

IVAN LENDL: Yeah, that is a true story (laughing).

Q. You were kidding.

IVAN LENDL: I was kidding, yes. But I found it very strange.

Q. What year was it that that called happened?

IVAN LENDL: I got bad calls every match, and I never got an apology. So I thought it was rather strange.

Q. Who was it that you phoned?

IVAN LENDL: Oh, I called Jim Curley just to bust his chops a little bit. I figured he just works too hard, doesn't laugh very much during these weeks, so I figured I'd give him something to chuckle about.

Q. Did he call you back and have a funny response?

IVAN LENDL: Oh, yeah, he always does. We know each other for a long time, so...

Q. How did you feel when you learned about this particular ceremony out here today?

IVAN LENDL: Nice shirt.

Q. Thank you.

IVAN LENDL: Color suits you well.

Q. Nice to have you back, as well (laughing).

IVAN LENDL: Well, obviously, it's great honor. I mean, this is a tournament I have always played well at, and probably my best Grand Slam. So it's great honor, and looking forward to it.

Q. What was the greatest moment you had in your career?

IVAN LENDL: I'm sorry?

Q. The greatest moment you had in your career, your greatest tournament.

IVAN LENDL: I don't really know. I never think about it too much. And people always say, well, when I beat John at the French Open in '84, is that the best moment? I say, no, it's not, and it's not the worst either, of course.

I always say each Grand Slam for the first time is more special than the others. I'm not going to put US Open above the Australian or the French above the US Open. I'm not going to do one or the other. Every time I won the Grand Slam for the first time, it's more special than the others, and the ones behind that were not too shabby either. They were very enjoyable.

Q. What do you think of how Andre Agassi has been able to extend the life of his career and what he's doing now?

IVAN LENDL: Well, it's phenomenal, of course. You know, you can sit down and think about why, but why bother with it? It's just fantastic. He's a great player. He is hitting the ball extremely well. Hopefully he has a lot more left in him.

Q. If he somehow finds a way to win this match today, can you try to put into perspective his place in history?

IVAN LENDL: That's why you guys are here.

Q. Did you expect that he could do so well? I remember back in '89 when you said if you had a child, a son, you would rather have maybe Pete Sampras son than an Andre Agassi. You said that at the Masters in New York. They are very different?

IVAN LENDL: 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.

As I said, he's phenomenal, fantastic.

Q. So he changed a lot?

IVAN LENDL: I believe so.

Q. From what you expected at that time?

IVAN LENDL: I believe so, yes.

Q. A lot of people say Federer is the most talented guy ever. Do you agree with that?

IVAN LENDL: He's certainly ‑ how would I put it? ‑ he's certainly right up there. You could look at some other players who were extremely talented, but I think you have to ‑‑ you can very safely say he's one of the most talented players who is producing the wins which are expected of those talented players. Because there were some talented players and they never produced, in terms of records, what he's producing right now.

Clearly, I think the popular opinion is he's not done with what he's doing (smiling).

Q. What do you think of Rafael Nadal?

IVAN LENDL: I have never seen him play. I don't know much about him, but from the results, I think it could be quite interesting to see over the next few years between Federer and Nadal and maybe Roddick, Hewitt, Safin and so on and so on.

But I think he's going to be tough to beat on clay over the next few years.

Q. You never watched him on TV?

IVAN LENDL: I saw part of the matches, the semis of the French and the finals of Key Biscayne.

Q. What about Blake's comeback?

IVAN LENDL: I'm sorry?

Q. Blake, James Blake.

IVAN LENDL: Oh, Blake's comeback. I thought you were talking about mine, wow (laughing). It was scary thought.

Again, I think it's great. I think to overcome adversity like that, many times you come back better. It's great that he's back and playing well.

Q. Do you miss Czechoslovakia at all? Do you ever go back?

IVAN LENDL: Well, I don't, from Italy, you should know, it's Czech Republic and Slovakia. There's two countries now.

Q. Still Czech. Say Czech Republic then.

IVAN LENDL: Yeah, every now and then. I haven't been back in a while. I have not been back in about four years. It just gets very difficult with the kids' golf schedules during the summer. I just travel all the time. And I was just looking at the schedules now and starting the first week of October I will be every weekend with somebody at tournaments through Christmas. So it gets very difficult to just go away and not do that.

Q. Who's more talented: You in tennis, or your daughter in golf?

IVAN LENDL: Well, which one?

Q. This is what I ask. Is the oldest the better one?

IVAN LENDL: Well, they all have certain talents. You know, if you talk about hands, that's one talent. Hard work is talent as well. I think they all have certain talents. It's just the question is how can you calculate it and produce ‑‑ or make it come out so they can produce the best results with what they have.

Q. They are better than you on grass.

IVAN LENDL: I don't know. They still haven't beaten me from the same tees.

Q. Hi.

IVAN LENDL: Hi, Cindy. I saw somebody who knew you the other day. Somebody said they knew Cindy Schmerler; I turned around and ran (laughter).

Q. Funny. I do the same things with you. Are you as tough on your girls as your parents were on you? And, secondly, do they play any tennis?

IVAN LENDL: They don't play any tennis, that's the easy part.

I don't know, it's hard to tell. They tell me they want to be the best, so I try to show them what it takes. That's all. And sometimes you have to use your judgment, sometimes you step down hard, and sometimes you just let something go because you think the time for it isn't right so...

Q. Roger Federer, from what you've seen in degree of difficulty to play against, can you compare and contrast some of the people you played against?

IVAN LENDL: No. Because if you wanted to do that, you would have to be on the court against him to feel that ball. It's very easy to sit back and say, well, you could have done this, you could have done that. Unless you have been on that court and feel how that balls feels coming to you off the serve, off the forehand, how low the backhand stays and how hard it is to recognize where he is going with the shots, you should really not be making those comparisons.

Q. How about as far as completeness goes, being able to make shots and doing everything well?

IVAN LENDL: Well, I don't see any glaring weaknesses, let's put it that way.

But to be fair, if you take players from my era to now, the game has changed and the players have many more shots. They use them differently than we did. The speed of the game has changed. Stamina is not as big of a factor as quickness and strength right now because the points are much shorter, whether it is because the boys are bigger and stronger or it is because the balls and racquets; you can argue that for as long as you want.

So there are ‑‑ the players are more complete players now than they were 20 years ago, there's no question about that.

Q. Going back to before '84, you obviously had some problems in the Grand Slam finals. Did you ever have any doubts that you would break through, and what was the key to breaking through and having a good run?

IVAN LENDL: Well, I didn't ‑‑ I wouldn't say I had problems in Grand Slam finals; I had problems, period, with certain players. I had trouble beating John at that time. I was way down in the matches with Jimmy.

So what I did is I sat down and looked at it and says, "What do I need to do to get better so I can overtake them?" I was between 2 and 3 in the world for two, three years. That's not exactly where I wanted to be.

So in order to get better, you have to figure out how you're going to get better. So I worked on that and I took care of it.

Q. Specifically, was it the fitness and condition?

IVAN LENDL: Well, quickness. Mainly quickness. Because in order to beat Jimmy, I had to get around the ball a little bit quicker so I wasn't always on defensive and catching the ball on last stride, that I had little more time. Once I was able to get little bit quicker, then it has helped me a lot.

Q. You play tennis every now and then?

IVAN LENDL: I played first time in nine years about three weeks ago.

Q. How did you play? Horrible?

IVAN LENDL: Was interesting (smiling).

Q. Why did you decide to play?

IVAN LENDL: I auctioned an hour of my time for a charity.

Q. That's what they wanted to do?

IVAN LENDL: That was the only reason I played, yes.

Q. I just wanted to ask you about what Tony Roche brought to the latter stages of your tennis career. Secondly, what you think he might be able to help Roger with through his consultancy.

IVAN LENDL: Well, I think Tony was ‑‑ we never really worked on any technique too much ‑ very little, if any. But Tony was fantastic at getting my feet going well. He always was concerned about my rhythm and timing of my feet. As I just said, when I moved well, you can't ‑‑ you know it better than anyone, if you don't get to the shot, I don't care how good you are, you can't hit it properly.

And so he was concerned about me being in good position so I can hit any shot I choose to hit at that time from what I had.

And I'm sure he's doing the same thing with Roger; we never discuss it, what he does with Roger, because it's none of my business, that's between the two of them and I don't want to get involved.

But he is fantastic at that. He just has the feel, how much you should move, if your timing is right, and so on and so on. He was great at preparing me for the majors.

Q. About Federer and talent, would you say you feel sometimes it's more difficult to be successful when you're too talented than successful when you're less talented?

IVAN LENDL: Did I say that?

Q. No, no. It's a question I ask.

IVAN LENDL: Oh, you're saying that.

Q. That talent can be dangerous.

IVAN LENDL: I think talent is dangerous to have if you take it for granted. If you use it well and put hard work with it together, it's hard to catch that guy. And I think that's what you're seeing right now.

Just like you can talk about Tiger Woods, how much talent he has and how much work he puts into it, and he's tough to beat. Same thing with Roger.

Q. Going back again, 25 years ago, you make your debut in Davis Cup tie in Argentina against Vilas and Clerc. It was surprise for us because you beat them.

IVAN LENDL: You didn't like that (laughter)?

Q. How do you remember that tie?

IVAN LENDL: Well, actually, there are few things that I remember about that tie. Obviously, winning. My friendship with Jose Luis. We came there, it was really cold, he brought us jackets. A really good, nice gesture on his part.

Funny people never talk about that, I think that was ‑‑ certainly early on it was one of my biggest achievements, and it may have stayed that way because I had never beaten either Guillermo or Jose Luis. To beat them in Argentina at that tie for the first time, it was very special. It was certainly unexpected. I always think very sort of fondly of that tie.

Q. Between former tennis players, who do you think is the best golfer? Maybe now Kafelnikov is a good competitor?

IVAN LENDL: Well, I don't know how good Yevgeny is. I saw the scores from the Moscow Open.

But it's very difficult, I can tell you ‑ I played the Czech Open a few times ‑ and it's very difficult just to go on to a scene where the course is prepared differently ‑ when the greens are fast and he's not used to it and they're hard as a rock and he's not used to it.

So I have seen the scores. I wouldn't say I'm better than him because I know how difficult that is, and if you not used to it, your scores go up by seven, ten shots just like that because of the conditions of the golf course.

But there is easy way to find out, isn't there (smiling)? I'm still competitive, I promise that.

Q. Although you said you wouldn't put the French or the Australian or the U.S., one over the other, I think a lot of us that were here in those days probably thought you becoming the US Open champion was probably the biggest achievement for you to do. What is your abiding memory of that day and winning the US Open here in New York?

IVAN LENDL: Well, again, that was just the tie in Argentina. It was a little unexpected because I was clearly the underdog to John at that time. He has beaten me twice that summer. He was ahead in the first set, had a set point. I was able to save that set point, I believe, with a passing shot. And then take the match.

And two things I remember from that: A, that it was little bit unexpected, and, B, once I got a first set and a break, how great I felt on the court. I felt like I was really sort of flowing on the court.

It's a feeling which everybody strives for and it's extremely difficult to get at all times. You can get a certain extent of it. But that day it was right up there.

Q. To have it against McEnroe on this particular court here.

IVAN LENDL: Yeah, you get into, you want to call it a zone or whatever, or subzone, below that, you can get into the subzone a lot. To get into the zone fully, it's very special on any given day. I have done that few times. But to get into the zone on a big occasion is truly special. That day certainly was it, especially after the first half of the first set.

Q. Do you remember just big Slams, big wins, or also the small tournaments, the minor tournaments you played? Do you remember also the small details, or you have forgotten about them?

IVAN LENDL: I still remember some. I try to forget some of them, I promise. Your buddy Camporese still probably remembers I had two matchpoint on him in Rotterdam, and I didn't like losing that.

But I remember some. Some of them slip.

Q. You don't remember, for instance, when you had to travel all the night and then reach a tournament in Florence and you had to ‑‑ I had to ask to a player to wait for you in order to make you play. And then you won.

IVAN LENDL: No, I don't remember that one, no.

Q. Okay.

IVAN LENDL: But thank you (smiling).

Q. Can you relate at all to Kim? She lost four major finals before finally winning last night.

IVAN LENDL: No, the games are so different and the times are different. You know, you just go out there, do your best. Sometimes it's good enough and sometimes it is, and sometimes it stays your only one and sometimes you win bunch others behind it.

Many times the players get in there and it's just about as well as they could have done, and other times they get in there and they favorites and they don't win.

So I don't know what her situation was in terms of should she have won more or not, that's hard to judge. But let's see what happens in the future.

Q. As little as you are involved in tennis right now, can you take special pride in this honor?

IVAN LENDL: Oh, absolutely. As I said, it's the Grand Slam where I probably had the best record and from all the four Grand Slams for me. It's great honor.

Q. You had a great rivalry with John. You saw his fiery personality up close a lot. Does it ever surprise you to see what he's evolved into now, being the commentator on all the networks, former Davis Cup captain? Does it seem like a natural progression or does it sometimes surprise you?

IVAN LENDL: It must be natural for him, yes. I know I couldn't do it. I just couldn't sit that long. It just would drive me crazy.

But John does a great job on television. I think he is one of the very few guys who really see the match out there the way it is. As long as he enjoys it, that's all what counts.

Q. Ivan, when Andre ‑‑

IVAN LENDL: Are they allowed to move from side to side

(referring to the journalists)? (Laughter).

Q. When Andre was young, you famously said with some humor or insight that ‑‑

IVAN LENDL: I have no humor, so disregard that.

Q. Yes, you do ‑‑ that he was a forehand and a haircut. Have you been surprised about his change, and how do you think he did?

IVAN LENDL: I'm not sure where you're heading with that, with his ‑‑

Q. His change as a man.

IVAN LENDL: As I said earlier, yes, I think he has worked on his game, he has worked on his fitness, and he is a great role model. It's great to see that he's still playing well, yes.

Q. How do you see the future and the present for the Czech tennis?

IVAN LENDL: Good question. I'm sorry, I have no idea (smiling).

Q. On first Sunday of July, looking for ‑‑

IVAN LENDL: This year?

Q. Usually in the last years, "Breakfast at Wimbledon."

IVAN LENDL: Oh, okay.

Q. Always looking for that, maybe have a good breakfast, you never won Wimbledon, so might be a nightmare for you?

IVAN LENDL: Actually, you will be surprised. I don't lose any sleep over that. I don't make a habit of watching tennis matches, but I try to watch all the major finals. I try to make time for that. So unless I have something going with the kids where I can't, I try to watch, and I enjoy that.

You see, I think the point ‑‑ two points I should really make is when I'm saying that, that this tournament is probably the best record among the four Grand Slams I have had, the reason I'm saying that is because in England, getting to finals twice and semis on five other occasions, it was much harder for me than winning here. And so, you know, yes, I would have liked to
won. No, I don't lose any sleep over it. And, yes, I'm very proud of the record.

Q. Can you give me your opinion about Coria and Nalbandian, please.

IVAN LENDL: Well, I think they're tough competitors, from very little I have seen on them, of them.

You don't get to be where they are by not being great players either, so they're great players, great competitors. I'm sorry, that's about all I know. They play right‑handed (smiling).

Q. Before you said that your children want to become best in their sport. Are you ever afraid that if you try to be best in one sport, you miss a lot of other, let's say, opportunities or...

IVAN LENDL: Such as? Such as? Sitting by the mall smoking (smiling)?

Q. Well, what's wrong with smoking?


Q. ...different sports. To get a more balanced life. Today, sports is much more demanding than it was 20 years ago maybe.>

IVAN LENDL: Yes, well, I think you have to give them their freedom as well. If you go to school and practice for five days a week, it still gives you two days you can go and see your friends, you can go to the movies, you do whatever you like to do.

I'm certainly not sorry that there were some things I missed. You may think you're missing something at that time but later when you look at it, you didn't miss anything.

Q. With Wimbledon, what do you think was your best opportunity? Was it the year you lost to Becker in the semis?>

IVAN LENDL: I think you're right of whatever year that was. I think that may have been '89 or '88, I'm not sure.

Q. '89.

IVAN LENDL: '89, I was two sets to one up and had a break, I think. That's the year you're talking about?

Q. Yes.

IVAN LENDL: Yes, I think that was.

But, again, to say that, it's little bit unfair to Stefan. Because, you know, when you say that, it almost sounds like saying, "Yeah, I would have beaten Stefan." Well, that's certainly not a foregone conclusion, but I think that it was the best I felt on grass with a transition game where I was moving forward the best out of all the years I played, that year.

Q. The early '80s are remembered, I guess, as a ‑‑

IVAN LENDL: I'm sorry, start over.

Q. The early '80s.

IVAN LENDL: The early '80s, yes. Your accent throws me off (smiling).

Q. It was a time of really strong, almost bitter rivalries at the top of men's tennis. What happens now when you run into McEnroe, Connors around the tournaments?

IVAN LENDL: I haven't seen Jimmy in I don't know how long. I have seen John the other day for the first time probably in ‑‑ since he retired.

So nothing really happens. No fist fights break (smiling). Just normal two guys who pretty much respect each other, how good they were.

Q. Did you read John McEnroe's book?

IVAN LENDL: No, I did not.

Q. He talks about you.

IVAN LENDL: No, I did not.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports...

Mrs. B
09-12-2005, 11:04 AM

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 11:10 AM

Yes, the man that handed out so many hidings and was underrated to boot, treat the media like the fools that they are.

09-12-2005, 11:26 AM
Thanks for that interview. It was very interesting to read. :)

09-12-2005, 11:33 AM
Interesting read. He's just a fat porker now. Has he been talking to Kafelnikov?

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 11:40 AM
Interesting read. He's just a fat porker now. Has he been talking to Kafelnikov?

Yes, for you anyone that would be 2kg overweight would be a porker :)
He isn't that bad actually, considering he had back problems and then again he doesn't need to be as fit as he was.

He has the golfing look.

09-12-2005, 12:02 PM
Interesting read. He's just a fat porker now. Has he been talking to Kafelnikov?
Well, to tell you the truth, I was more :eek: by the haircut than by the weight difference. But there's nothing new in that for those who know me I guess! ;)

09-12-2005, 12:55 PM
nice interview :yeah: but it's too long to finish it at my job :o I can't wait to get back home to read it. I admire the guy a lot. It's a pity they didn't ask him a bout Brad Gilbert :tape:

09-12-2005, 02:46 PM
Thanks ;) Nice interview. :yeah:

09-12-2005, 03:35 PM
.LENDL: As I just said, when I moved well, you can't ‑‑ you know it better than anyone, if you don't get to the shot, I don't care how good you are, you can't hit it properly..

Easily biggest problem Agassi is facing - he is just a half-step-to-a-full-step slower... so, say, the running backhands DTL he used to absolutely punish, he now has to guide just to stay in the point. His opponents are giving him that shot all day long and he is lucky if he comes up with 5 BH winners per game in that spot, which is at least 10-12 BH winners DTL fewer than he needs if he wants to beat someone like Federer. Plus the extra UE when the ball tails away from the line at last split-second because of less-than-ideal positioning at impact...

09-12-2005, 04:01 PM
cheers for the post

09-12-2005, 04:19 PM
Easily biggest problem Agassi is facing - he is just a half-step-to-a-full-step slower... so, say, the running backhands DTL he used to absolutely punish, he now has to guide just to stay in the point. His opponents are giving him that shot all day long and he is lucky if he comes up with 5 BH winners per game in that spot, which is at least 10-12 BH winners DTL less than he needs if he wan't to beat someone like Federer. Plus the extra UE when the ball tails away from the line at last split-second...
:hug: give him a break. He's older :sad:

09-12-2005, 04:28 PM
The Terminator :worship:

it always befuddled me how a humorless moron like Budd Collins could say that Lendl had no sense of humor. It was the press who had no humor, not Lendl.

09-12-2005, 04:30 PM
Thanks for the interview, the great man is still quite sharp.

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 04:30 PM
What a day vogus has said something that I can agree with, wow there is progress.

09-12-2005, 04:31 PM
Easily biggest problem Agassi is facing - he is just a half-step-to-a-full-step slower... so, say, the running backhands DTL he used to absolutely punish, he now has to guide just to stay in the point. His opponents are giving him that shot all day long and he is lucky if he comes up with 5 BH winners per game in that spot, which is at least 10-12 BH winners DTL less than he needs if he wan't to beat someone like Federer. Plus the extra UE when the ball tails away from the line at last split-second...

that's the biggest difference between Agassi now and Agassi three years ago, when he was still pretty much at the top of his game. His backhand is not the same shot, the weapon that it was during his prime because he's not fast enough anymore to get in position to hit it. His forehand is just as good as before and his serve is just as good, but his backhand is exploitable, which never used to be the case.

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 04:34 PM
Thanks for the interview, the great man is still quite sharp.

He was multilingual during the day, but the press wouldn't have known that. Lendl spoke Czech, Slovak, Russian, Polish, German and English, though not sure how often he uses all of them.

09-12-2005, 04:41 PM
It was funny that the journalist did not appear to be aware that the Czech and Slovaks are different but then again they stereotyped Lendl in the 80's as boring, humorless and one-dimensional.

Action Jackson
09-12-2005, 04:49 PM
It was funny that the journalist did not appear to be aware that the Czech and Slovaks are different but then again they stereotyped Lendl in the 80's as boring, humorless and one-dimensional.

Well Lendl liked having fun with the journalists.

09-12-2005, 05:27 PM
Quite funny and insightful. :yeah: thanks for that. :)

09-12-2005, 06:42 PM
It's a pity they didn't ask him a bout Brad Gilbert :tape:
:tape: :o

09-12-2005, 09:15 PM
nice interview, it really brought some beautiful memories when i saw Lendl yesterday, and though the guy gained weight that changed his looks..but i guess he still has that beautiful mind ,and ability to argue.. :)

It was funny that the journalist did not appear to be aware that the Czech and Slovaks are different posted by Merton

yes, quiet strange...but i think Lendl gave him the info in a good way.. ;)

09-12-2005, 10:02 PM
Q. Do you miss Czechoslovakia at all? Do you ever go back?

IVAN LENDL: Well, I don't, from Italy, you should know, it's Czech Republic and Slovakia. There's two countries now.

:haha: :lol:

great interview ..thanks george

09-12-2005, 10:07 PM
Thanks for this Jorge.

09-12-2005, 10:30 PM
Great interview.

09-12-2005, 11:51 PM
What a day vogus has said something that I can agree with, wow there is progress.

when you posted this thread title, i completely missed the irony. I've always been a massive Lendl fan.

Corey Feldman
09-13-2005, 01:17 AM
good interview with J.mac and Pat Cash's bestest bud..

09-13-2005, 01:26 AM
I skipped the Lendl yrs. what's the deal w/BG?

09-13-2005, 03:52 AM
That was a great interview that Lendl gave. It always amazes me that he wound up in Greenwich, Connecticut. Anyone on this board who has been there or lives in the NYC area knows what I am talking about.

09-13-2005, 07:26 PM
Great interview - thanks for posting it!

09-13-2005, 07:28 PM
Lendl always believed the brain was like any other muscle and needed to be 'exercised' and stimulated. He had avery ironic sense of humour at times.

09-13-2005, 07:39 PM
What a great player. I stopped watching tennis for a long time after he retired. Thanks for the interview posting.

Action Jackson
09-14-2005, 01:05 AM
No problem in posting this interview at all, Lendl wasn't necessarily one of my favourite players, but I could admire what he achieved and the way he handled stupid questions.

09-14-2005, 01:08 PM
Q. Do you miss Czechoslovakia at all? Do you ever go back?

09-14-2005, 03:41 PM
when I saw him on court at the mens final at Flushing I thought "who's the fat man?" - My god - I would not have recognised him even if I'd tripped over him. He looks completely different.

Action Jackson
12-14-2005, 03:53 AM

It hasn't been like that for years and I think Lendl had just about retired when it broke up.

12-14-2005, 04:54 AM
Lendl sucks.
Boo Lendl.

12-14-2005, 05:08 AM
Lendl still as :yawn: as ever, I see.

Action Jackson
12-14-2005, 05:20 AM
Lendl still as :yawn: as ever, I see.

You are like an excellent wine.

12-14-2005, 10:10 AM
Lendl still as :yawn: as ever, I see.

Action Jackson
06-10-2006, 11:39 PM
when I saw him on court at the mens final at Flushing I thought "who's the fat man?" - My god - I would not have recognised him even if I'd tripped over him. He looks completely different.


Action Jackson
08-17-2006, 03:17 AM
Good to see Lendl still has his record of 18 consecutive finals.

Action Jackson
11-03-2006, 09:02 AM
One of the best Lendl moments, giving McEnroe a reminder of who he was.

Lendl what a guy.


Sunset of Age
11-03-2006, 03:07 PM
Great guy, great interview!

Quite a character, still. He'd give Mr. Disney nightmares if he'd be playing the ATP now... :devil:

Dancing Hero
11-03-2006, 03:29 PM
The McEnroe-Lendl rivalry was great. Both disliked one another when they played and two contrasting styles and personalities.:)

I'm glad the cheerless Lendl never won Wimbledon now!:devil:

Action Jackson
11-04-2006, 07:30 AM
I'm glad the cheerless Lendl never won Wimbledon now!:devil:

Not as good as McEnroe choking at RG which still eats him up.

Dancing Hero
11-04-2006, 11:30 AM
Not as good as McEnroe choking at RG which still eats him up.

True, but Mac is remembered more by the general tennis public.:)


Action Jackson
02-24-2007, 11:43 AM
True, but Mac is remembered more by the general tennis public.:)


Who had the greater overall achievements? In other words game set match Lendl.

02-24-2007, 12:54 PM
Grand slam titles - Lendl 8, McEnroe 7
Weeks at no. 1 - Lendl 270, McEnroe 170
Career Titles - Lendl 94, McEnroe 77

Therefore Lendl is greater than McEnroe fullstop.

Action Jackson
02-24-2007, 02:02 PM
Some pics.

02-24-2007, 02:05 PM
16-0 :worship:

Dancing Hero
02-24-2007, 03:53 PM
Who had the greater overall achievements? In other words game set match Lendl.

Er yeah, if YOU say so, boss.:devil: Methinks you need to lighten up a bit, pal.:p

Action Jackson
02-25-2007, 05:38 AM
Er yeah, if YOU say so, boss.:devil: Methinks you need to lighten up a bit, pal.:p

Thanks for the advice fanboy.

Dancing Hero
02-25-2007, 11:07 AM
Thanks for the advice fanboy.

Lighten up, boy, and chill out. :devil: You really have no sense of humour either. Like Lendl. :p

02-25-2007, 05:33 PM
Always admired how Lendl was able to overcome so many tough GS defeats earlier in his career, to become the great champion that he was.

Action Jackson
09-07-2007, 05:54 AM
Will Federer be able to match Lendl's 8 US Open finals in a row?

Action Jackson
09-07-2007, 05:55 AM
Lighten up, boy, and chill out. :devil: You really have no sense of humour either. Like Lendl. :p

You are a Man U fan and that means gloryhunter to the extreme. You wouldn't watch them in Div 3 and dance the conga line after a loss :)

09-07-2007, 06:34 AM
Will Federer be able to match Lendl's 8 US Open finals in a row?
rather not, it's 3 in a row now, possibly 4 if he beats Davy (90% sure), 6 is quite realistic but 8 in a row is a little much, considering his age. Secondly, more young guys will be coming into the mix, which obviously doesn't make the task easier. Anyway someone can bump in in few years time to porve me I was wrong :)

Action Jackson
09-07-2007, 06:36 AM
rather not, it's 3 in a row now, possibly 4 if he beats Davy (90% sure), 6 is quite realistic but 8 in a row is a little much, considering his age. Secondly, more young guys will be coming into the mix, which obviously doesn't make the task easier. Anyway someone can bump in in few years time to porve me I was wrong :)

It's not Lendl won all of the finals either, but 8 finals in a row at this and the Masters is a very impressive achievement.

Good comments from Ivan saying that he'd go and watch Federer train.

09-07-2007, 11:59 AM
Thank for article. Lendl sounds like a great guy whose sense of humour was seriously underappreciated. The youtube clip of him hitting McEnroe with that body slam shot was just brilliant :).

01-16-2008, 04:56 PM
Thought to post this article on Ivan and his daughters in here:

Lendl girls keep dad on his toes
Ivan Lendl has divided rooting interests with daughters, from left, Marika, 17, Isabelle, 16, and Daniela, 14, in the Doherty Cup. (Sun-Sentinel/Lou Toman / January 15, 2008)

January 16, 2008
Ivan Lendl is one of the fiercest competitors who ever lived.

This tennis giant could look like a ruthless machine in his prime, a hyper-alloy combat chassis intent on bludgeoning his opponents with his powerful forehand.

He seemed cold and merciless on his rise to the No. 1 ranking in the world.

After he won the U.S. Open in 1986, Sports Illustrated put his photo on its cover under the caption: "The Champion Nobody Cares About."

That characterization sounds amusing when you see him this week at the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women's Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge Country Club.

He's a golf dad now who is beloved by his three gifted daughters.

Marika, 17, Isabelle, 16, and Daniela, 14, giggle at the depiction of their father as Ivan the Terrible.

"I knew he won the U.S. Open, but until last week I didn't know he won three U.S. Opens in a row," Isabelle said. "That's pretty incredible. I'm still learning about him, but he's just my dad. I still don't view him as a famous person."

The girls find their father's reputation as a cold-hearted competitor entertaining. In fact, they couldn't stop laughing when they recently found a video of their dad on YouTube while surfing the web. It is titled Ivan Lendl KOs Johnny McEnroe. The highlight from a match in Dallas in 1989 shows Lendl smashing a forehand at the net so hard off McEnroe's chest that it knocks McEnroe on his back in obvious pain. The announcers speculate Lendl did it on purpose, and you can see McEnroe sneering at Lendl as he wobbles to his feet.

Lendl is shown staring back without remorse.

"Dad's face is blank, but if you know him, you can see he's laughing to himself inside," Isabelle said. "It's pretty funny. We watch that over and over again."

Witty, charming and engagingly funny, Lendl is nothing like the dour Czech he was perceived to be at the height of his career. That doesn't mean he has gone soft, though. He's still a competitor intent on teaching his daughters how to excel in their sport. That means striking a balance between pushing and nurturing, something he will tell you he doesn't have perfected.

"I don't subscribe to the theory that kids should not be pushed at all," Lendl said. "I think there are times when they have to be pushed, and times when you don't push at all. If you don't push them into something, they will just end up doing a zillion things and not be very good at anything. Sure, sometimes I probably push too much, and sometimes where I should push, I don't. Everybody makes mistakes, and I'm sure I do, too. I just try to do my best."

The Lendl sisters, who all attend the Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, are making some noise in their quest to win the Doherty Cup this week.

All three won their first-round matches Tuesday, setting up the first of what could be two Lendl showdowns.

Isabelle meets Daniela in a second-round match today at 10 a.m. The winner could meet Marika in the semifinals on Friday.

Ivan is caddying for Daniela, the youngest. She goes by the name "Crash," which she earned driving a golf cart into a tree when she was 8. Ivan isn't exactly fretting about seeing his daughters compete.

"Isabelle is another opponent," Ivan said. "That's how it was with me. I didn't have any siblings in tennis, but when I played my best friend, I just wanted to beat him."

Ivan told Isabelle and Marika that he would caddie for Daniela to start the week because she's the youngest and most inexperienced.

"Yeah, that stinks," Isabelle said. "Because I know how good he is as a caddie. I wish he could caddie for me as well."
Ivan might chuckle hearing that, because compliments aren't easy to come by from his daughters. He's a typical father in so many ways.

He possesses rare and valuable knowledge. He knows the secrets that go into becoming the best in the world at a sport. He won eight Grand Slam titles and reigned at No. 1 for 270 weeks in his prime.

And yet his teenage daughters often treat him the way most daughters treat their not-so-famous fathers.

"Daniela is becoming a teenager, and so she knows everything," Ivan said. "You tell her something, and it's, 'Yeah, Dad, I know, I know.'"

Daniela affirms this.

"Sometimes I think because he played tennis, he doesn't know golf," she said. "But I know how smart he is."

Marika won the Doherty Cup last year. She joked that she didn't give her father credit for knowing anything about golf when she was younger, but wisdom's taking hold of her now.

"I can tell you that I worship him now," Marika said. "I listen to everything he says."

The Lendl girls may have a famous father, but they're typical sisters as well. They have some major league arguments over clothes. Daniela wasn't very happy when she saw Isabelle wearing one of her purple golf shirts when they left the house to play Tuesday.

"We fought over this shirt," Isabelle said. "She said, 'Hey, that's mine,' but I told her I packed it, so it's mine this week.

"Marika's not going to let me wear her clothes, so I don't ask. I just take them. We're all the same size."

Ivan Lendl is one of the greatest tennis players who ever lived, but his life as a father of teenage daughters can be refreshingly ordinary.


01-16-2008, 09:48 PM
Hello Doris :wavey: Thanks for posting this interesting article. It's really nice to read about Lendl, I used to be his fan in the eighties.

01-16-2008, 11:25 PM
Lendl looks great. Unlike Kafelnikov he doesn't have the 'fat face'. A bit more round around the waist but who isn't after a while, you know? Fine interview with a very dumb, uninformed member of the media which only makes it that much more enjoyable because Lendl just eats him up and spits him out. It's too bad that fine threads like this always get infested by a couple of fanboy trolls. Things weren't all that much different in '05 on MTF.

Sunset of Age
01-17-2008, 12:03 AM
Hello Doris :wavey: Thanks for posting this interesting article. It's really nice to read about Lendl, I used to be his fan in the eighties.

Me too! :D
The guy has some beautiful daughters. :worship:

01-17-2008, 12:39 AM
The guy has some beautiful daughters. :worship:

Yes. And they resemble their father, especially Isabelle and Daniela. :D

Corey Feldman
01-17-2008, 12:50 AM
Lendl's wife must be a stunner ..

01-17-2008, 01:56 AM
Superb interview of Lendl. I have never seen the man play, though.

03-26-2008, 04:05 AM
On these forums and in the media, there's this constant mention of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe as being "the greats" of the past yet Lendl is rarely mentioned, even though he matched Connors and surpassed McEnroe in slams, and even though he was successful at the FO and reach the finals of Wimby twice. Is there any explanation for this?

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 04:13 AM
There is a big Ivan Lendl interview in here and I will bump it for you.

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 04:15 AM
Lendl's wife must be a stunner ..

She was very pretty, too bad Ivan didn't have any male kids.

Sunset of Age
03-26-2008, 04:16 AM
I happen to respect Ivan Lendl a lot, but then I'm not an 18-year old. Perhaps that makes some kind of difference.

03-26-2008, 04:17 AM
It probably has something to do with the "blackrock" series (McEnroe) and a job as a tennis trainer (Connors). People see players like McEnroe from time to time and Connors even more as he got interviewed after matches of Roddick.
I guess if Lendl would join the "blackrock" series he would get the same amount of attention as McEnroe or Conors do.

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 04:18 AM
This was posted by Jole.

New York / June 26, 1989


Ivan Lendl's Lonely Quest for Perfection

It was about three in the afternoon, and Ivan Lendl had walked into the lobby of a Hilton hotel in suburban Atlanta, dressed in shorts, a T-shirt, and running shoes. He was there for an exhibition tournament, and he'd just raced through a match against the Ecuadoran Andres Gomez. The workout wasn't sufficient: Now Lendl intended to take a three- or four-mile run.

As he walked toward the parking lot, Lendl met Andre Agassi, the young sensation who blew into the top five in the world in 1988 but has yet to win a tournament this year. Agassi was hanging out with a player named Derrick Rostagno.

"Hey, Ivan, how ya doin'?" Agassi said. Lendl, six foot two and very soldi, towered over Agassi, who is five foot ten and borders on the frail. Agassi looked as if he might ask Lendl for an autograph. Lendl looked as if he might not give him one.

"Ya wanna seee the car I'm gonna buy?" Agassi asked, tagging along. "I've been working out. I got a trainer who's traveling with me. Next year, I'm gonna have legs like you."

"You need a trainer at home, not on the road," Lendl said, conclusively. "Have him give you a workout you can take with you. Don't waste your money taking him on the road."

"Nah, he does more than just a workout," said Agassi. "I've even been watching my diet, if you can believe it."

Suddenly, they were standing in front of a huge Winnebago in the far reaches of the lot. It belonged to Rostagno.

"Great, huh?" said Agassi, opening the door and climbing into the driver's seat. "I'm gonna get one of these."

"How can you buy a car, Andre?" Lendle said, smiling. "You're not even old enough to have a driving license."

"Get real," said Agassi.

"How old are you?" said Lendl, enjoying the tease.

"It's my birthday Saturday, I'm gonna be nineteen."

Lendl smiled. "You wanna take a run with us?"

"Nah," said Agassi, still in the driver's seat. "Not right now." Lendl shrugged. It was perhaps 85 degrees and equally humid. Weather that separates the men from the boys. Being fit is one of Lendl's many obsessions, and he wasn't about to take Agassi's nouveau training regimen very seriously. "The guy doesn't do anything for eighteen years," Lendl said as he set off on his run, "and then he thinks he can turn it around in a few weeks. It doesn't work that way." Lendl is even more disdainful of the women players on the tour. Except for Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, he thinks, the women just don't pay attention to fitness. They eat terribly, they camp out in the backcourt and hit moonballs, and they don't move at all. Lendl may hit from the baseline, but he can move. He's fit. You can count on it.

A week later, Lendl played the Tournament of Champions at Forest Hills and trounced Agassi in the semifinals. In the finals, playing in chily, overcast 50-degree weather, he beat a clay-courter named Jaime Yzaga 6-2, 6-1. That night, Lendl was scheduled to fly to Hamburg, Germany, for the start of two months of play in Europe. Despite his tight schedule and the unpleasant weather, he returned to his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, wheeled out his ten-speed bike, and celebrated his seventy-seventh professional-tournament victory by taking a grueling 37-mile ride.

Lendl, 29, has been the top tennis player in the world for nearly four years. He has won seven grand-slam titles, including the French and the U.S. Open three times each. He is also the all-time leading prize-money winner in tennis--nearly $14 million, and that represents just a small part of his earnings. this year alone, he'll take in nearly $3 million for exhibition play and another $3 million or so in endorsements--including deals with Adidas, Hertz, and Gatorade. Lendl lives with his twenty-year-old girlfriend, Samantha Frankel, in a 16,000-square-foot Georgian mansion in Greenwich and owns another 45 prime acres nearby. But even Greenwich has begun to feel a bit crowded. If all goes well, he'll soon begin building a 30,000-square-foot house on an 800-acre working farm that he's negotiating to buy in northern Connecticut. Now that he's ready to become a gentleman farmer. If he stays healthy, Lendl believes he can remain at the top of tennis for another three or four years.

His success, to understate it wildly, is no accident. More than any other tennis champion in recent years, Lendl has systematized what it takes to perform consistently at a peak level.

Three great and very different champions preceded him. Jimmy Connors seemed to play by animal instinct--hitting the ball as hard as he could every day and not thinking a whole lot about how or why he did it. Bjorn Borg, born with preternatural calmness, let handlers plan his every move, leaving him free to focus solely on playing tennis. John McEnroe was a natural--an artist with such incomparable feel for the game that it compensated for his erratic moods and his disdain for training.

Lendl, by contrast, is the ultimate grind. Believing that his natural skills alone weren't enough to make him a No. 1 player, he set out to win by working harder than anyone else. He has turned his life into an ongoing scientific experiment, using himself as a guinea pig. He cannot remember a time during the past decade when he took two consecutive weeks of pure vacation. Every hour is scheduled, not just for practice--three to four hours a day, nearly every non-match day of the year--but also for a brutal fitness-training program and a regimen of exercises aimed purely at improving his mental toughness.

His rituals on the court--the number of times he bounces the ball, the way he straightens his strings between points, even the application of sawdust to his grip--are purposeful and unvarying. His racquets are strung, weighted, and balanced to precise specifications, since Lendl can detect even minute differences. He monitors his diet rigorously, and he had his blood chemistry checked regularly to ensure that he's getting exactly what he needs. He even takes naps on schedule.

"The men's tennis tour is a brutal existence," says Robert Haas, a nutritionist and the author of Eat to Win, who has worked with numerous top players, including Lendl. "If you are sensitive to your surroundings--the bed you sleep on, the people you have to deal with, the jet lag, the press, the last loss--then you might as well hang it up. Most tennis players are too neurotic to be champions. They worry about too many things. To get on top and stay there, you have to be an animal. You have to be the type of person who can shut out everything."

The players who find that easiest are those who don't have much on their minds in the first place. But Lendl is far more thoughtful and sensitive than he lets on. The irony is that making himself into a machine has been a hard and painful process--not just physically, but also emotionally. Pushing aside conflict and shutting out distraction don't come to him naturally. Just as he has worked relentlessly on his physical fitness, so has he taught himself to master his mind.

What was perceived early in his career as coldness and arrogance was often just the public face-the competitive mask--that Lendl wore to cover his fear and insecurity. He was an only child from Czechoslovakia, alone in a new country, unfamiliar with the language. But he was determined to play tennis at the top. For him, that required suppressing feelings of vulnerability, presenting to the public a picture of strength that he himself eventually began to believe.

Lendl's style of play is called artless, predictable, and dull. What isn't appreciated is how hard he works to accomplish the sort of consistency that inspires such comments. He cannot, he believes, smile and joke on the court the way some players do, because he needs all his focus to play tennis. He cannot take time off from playing, practicing, and training, he says because he loses his hard-earned feel so quickly and then must struggle so long to get it back. He even seeks to reshape his liabilities into assets. He uses fear, for example, to drive himself harder. Even when he is far ahead of a weaker opponent, he tries to play as if he's behind, knowing that what may at one moment seem to be control of a match can slip away during a single key exchange.

Lendl learned all this through painful experience. For many years, he was saddled with a reputation as a player who couldn't win the big matches--a choker. He never accepted the tag, always had logical explanations for his losses. By working harder, he reasoned, he would eventually prevail And to a remarkable degree, he has.

The one variable Lendl has not been able to eliminate is the fact that he's still human. Even the most meticulous planning will not produce all the answers. When you count on being able to use logic to remain in control and then something illogical occurs, the computer can crash. The whole system can go haywire.

Until a fortnight ago, Lendl was on a remarkable roll, playing the best tennis of his life. He had already won five tournaments this year, including the Australian, the first leg of the grand slam. He went into the French Open the overwhelming favorite and raced through his first three matches without losing a set. In the fourth round, he came up against Michael Chang, a seventeen-year-old who is improving fast but was scarcely seen as a threat. Sure enough, Lendl won the first two sets easily.

But in the thir set, Lendl made several unforced errors and began to unravel. Odd as it may seem, Chang's relative lack of fitness may have been the factor that cost Lendl the match. In the fourth set, Chang began to suffer from muscle cramps. Bye the fifth set, they were so severe that Chang resorted to serving underhand and hitting soft, high lobs to stay in points. Unnerved by his inability to quickly put away an opponent who was so clearly on the ropes, Lendl made one inexplicable error after another, culminating with a double fault at match point.

"Ivan is a very structured thinker," says Alexis Castori, a Florida psychologist who has worked with Lendl on the mental aspects of his game. "When Chang began to cramp and mix things up, I suspect it was not anything Ivan had imagined could happen. He has gotten much better about taking a situation as it is, rather than how he'd like it to be. But apparently this was a constellation of events he just wasn't able to format in his mind. And as a result, he lost control of the match."

One of the marks of Lendl's reign as champion has been his resilience. Even after the loss to Chang (who went on to win the tournament), he immediately managed to see a bright side to the defeat. By getting knocked out so early on the French clay, he explained to reporters, he had an extra week to prepare for Wimbledon, which begins on the grass next Monday. Since he does not change surfaces easily and since his baseline game is not ideally suited to grass, that time could prove crucial. After all, he's already won the French three times. Winning Wimbledon is one of the few goals that he has not achieved.

Less than half an hour after his loss, Lendl was on the phone to a good friend who helps arrange his schedule. They spoke for twenty minutes about how Lendl could travel most quickly to England, whether the house he's rented at Wimbledon could be readied for earlier occupancy, and what it would take to get him a wild-card entry into a tune-up grass-court tournament. Never once during the call did Lendl mention the match against Chang. He may have been hurting, but he would not allow himself to look back. The machine was back in working order.

On a beautiful Florida afternoon, Lendl was steering his Range Rover off the island of Key Biscayne, where he was scheduled to play a first-round match the next day in the Lipton International. He was headed to play eighteen holes of golf at the Riviera Country Club. In the seat next to him was Warren Bosworth, a short, rotund, bespectacled 53-year-old businessman whose company is responsible for customizing Lendl's racquets and who has also become one of his closest friends. During the two weeks of the Lipton, Lendl and Samantha Frankel had arranged to share a condominium with Bosworth and his wife.

"The first time I met Warren was in 1980," Lendl explained. "He was traveling with Brian Gottfried, and Gottfried had just beat me 7-6, 6-2. I remember Warren coming over to me in the locker room and saying, 'Oh, don't worry about it, you're going to be okay. You're going to be a top player someday.' All I felt like saying was 'F--- off.' Did I say that to you, Warren?"

Bosworth laughed, "You did. You did."

"If I was nice to Warren," Lendl said, "then he wouldn't feel good. I don't know what it is. Warren just invites abuse."

"My mother taught me that every so often you need lessons in humility," said Bosworth. "So occasionally I step out of my normal role and pal around with Ivan, just to sharpen those skills."

At the golf course, Lendl and Bosworth were joined by a mutual friend and business colleague, Bob Miller. Lendl, who always prefers to bet on his golf, suggested they play skins--$2 a hole, plus $5 for birdies, $100 for eagles--even up. That gave Lendl an edge, since his handicap of ten is several strokes better than either Bosworth's or Miller's.

"Are you ready, girls?" Lendl said.

"He always tries to rush me," Bosworth says. "Ivan always tells people, 'Warren is the worst golfer.' I don't know why he does it, but I kind of like it. Because then beating him is so much sweeter."

Of course, it's not easy one-upping Lendl. Three days earlier, he and Bosworth had played another round of golf. As is Lendl's wont, he was razzing Bosworth mercilessly about his game. Bosworth generally tried to ignore such comments, but on this day, he finally decided to retaliate. He picked up a cup of water, turned around in his cart, and tossed it back toward Lendl. He missed, but that isn't what amused Lendl most. Rather, it was that in turning around, Bosworth failed to realize that he still had his foot on the accelerator. No sooner had he tossed the water than his cart smashed head-on into a tree.

"It just cracked me up," said Lendl, smiling broadly at the memory. "Warren, show them all your cuts."

"We go at each other all the time," Bosworth explained. "My wife, Barbara, thinks we're two little children."

"I have a sick sense of humor," Lendl says. "I can laugh at a lot of things other people don't find funny."

His own nightmares, for instance. When Lendl wakes up with a bad dream, his first reaction is to laugh. This year, he was playing John McEnroe in Dallas. McEnroe has made many nasty comments about Lendl's play. "We don't love each other; there's no secret about that," says Lendl. McEnroe came to net, and Lendl drilled a ball at him so hard that McEnroe couldn't get out of the way, and the ball knocked him down. Lendl had to turn around so McEnroe wouldn't see him laughing.

Sometimes, because English isn't Lendl's first language, his jokes don't quite come off the way he intends. But mostly he means what he says, whether you like it or not. His favorite comedian is Sam Kinison, master of malice. Lendl himself is an equal-opportunity offender. He tells jokes about Jews, Poles, Italians, gays. Humor seems to serve him in several ways. One is one-upmanship; it keeps him in control. Joking also provides a means of coping in social situations where he might otherwise be uncomfortable or self-conscious. But most of all, Lendl's teasing and sarcasm seem to be his own odd way of showing affection. The closer the friend, the more relentless the ribbing he's likely to get.

One time, Lendl was playing in a golf foursome against Bob Miller and a partner whom Miller had brought along. Lendl's team trounced Miller's and won a few dollars for the effort. At the end of the round, Lendl went off to a pay phone and dialed Miller's wife. "Bob just asked me to call," Lendl told her, totally deadpan. "He's on his way home, but he just lost a lot of money playing golf with us. He didn't have the cash to pay up for today, and he wants to play with us again tomorrow, so he asked if you would go to the bank before it closes and take out a couple thousand dollars for him." When Miller got home, his wife gave him hell. Lendl couldn't have been more tickled.

More recently, Lendl was visiting Bosworth, and Bosworth's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, a car collector, showed up in a Ferrari GTO worth $2.5 million. Cohen asked Lendl if he wanted to drive it. "No way," said Lendl. So they all sat around and talked for a while. As he was leaving, Cohen asked Lendl to autograph a racquet cover. Lendl obliged. "To Stanley," he wrote. "F--- you and your Ferrari." Far from offended, Cohen framed the cover and hung it on his wall. Men act like awed boys in Lendl's presence. Pleased just to be around him, they are only too happy to be on the receiving end of his jokes.

By the end of the fifth hole, hitting long shots off the tee, Lendl was one under par. Just to keep himself busy between holes, he'd also taken responsibility for finding the errant balls hit by Bosworth and Miller.

Lendl took up golf seriously just four years ago. In part, he was looking for something to relieve the boredom of hanging around in the locker room. He doesn't enjoy reading books (in part because he is a very slow reader), and taking up a more physically demanding sport would have cost him energy he needs for tennis. Once he began to play, he became obsessed.

"Ivan has an addictive personality, but fortunately his addictions are positive," says Robert Haas. "He may not have the innate tennis ability of a John McEnroe, but he has enormous sheer athletic ability. With coaching and training, Ivan can master and execute any kind of stroke or movement with the skill of a champion." Indeed, by the end of two weeks of playing nearly every day after his matches at the Lipton, Lendl was regularly shooting in the high seventies. Once he retires from tennis, he fully intends to make himself a scratch golfer.

"I don't play sports, and the only one I'm good is horseback riding," says Samantha Frankel, who has been living with Lendl for the past three years. "Ivan told me that if he took up riding, he'd be better than me in a month. I said, 'Well, you're probably right.' He's just got an incredible will to win in everything. And he doesn't do anything unless he can do it well."

Castori remembers visiting Lendl during a stage when he was collecting miniature racing cars. No sooner did she comment on them than he challenged her to a race. Another time, when he'd put up a basketball net, Castori mentioned that as a kid she'd played one-on-one with her brother. "Great," said Lendl. "Let's play three out of five." During the winter, Lendl lets the water in the swimming pool at his home freeze over and then plays ice hockey against Janek Mars, the caretaker at his house. Any forum will do; it's the competition Lendl craves.

Lendl won the round with Bosworth and Miller, shooting a very respectable 82, and they retired to the clubhouse for a drink. While the two older men ordered beers and gobbled down peanuts, Lendl sipped at a diet 7-Up--no sugar, no caffeine. Lendl almost never drinks alcohol. Being high means being out of control.

It was getting on toward seven when Lendl and Bosworth returned to the condominium. Samantha was out taking a run when they walked in, and the immediate object of Lendl's attention was Cayden, one of his three German shepherds. Because Lendl knew that he'd be spending nearly three weeks in Florida, he'd arranged to re-create home life more than he usually does. Janek's wife, Litka, who cooks for Lendl, flew down to prepare his meals. Samantha and a friend of hers drove the Range Rover down from Connecticut, with Cayden in the back.

Lendl takes great pride in his dogs. Earlier in the day, after he finished his practice, Samantha had been standing with Cayden on a leash when Lendl came off the court. "Did you explain," he asked her, "how, he's fully trained?"

"Fully trained" is a euphemism for Cayden's capacity to attack on Lendl's command. But Lendl's relationship to the dogs is more complex than that. The primary reason for getting his first dog, Misia, was companionship. "I was 22, I was living alone, and I was lonely," Lendl says. "I was injured, and I wasn't playing. I went to Bermuda, and I just spend 24 hours a day with Misia. And then eventually I go another dog. As with everything that catches my interest, I went deeper and deeper and deeper, and now I'm stuck in it. And I love it."

When his newest dog arrives from Australia, Lendl will have four. He hopes to breed German shepherds, and flying to tournaments, he often studies pedigrees and genetic-breeding charts. "I guess because I'm a perfectionist," says Lendl, "I think my dogs should be the best-looking dogs, the smartest dogs, and the best-trained dogs."

As it has been for Lendl, discipline is the key to successful training. "Dogs are probably just like kids," he says. "They push you and see how far they can go. You should always encourage them and you should never yell at them. But the most important thing is to make the dog understand that when you say something, it has to be done."

The payoff is extraordinary loyalty. "Many times you don't know if a person is loyal or is just faking it," says Lendl. "With dogs you always know that they mean what they're doing. And they have great sensitivity. If I'm in a good mood when I come in, they will run over to play. If I come back from the U.S. Open after I have lost and I'm in a bad mood, they will sense that and leave me alone."

Actually, all of those closest to Lendl become very sensitive to his moods and learn when it is best to leave him be.

"When you're talking about a guy who is at combat in a major tennis tournament," Bosworth says, "he simply has no room for anyone else's schedule or thoughts or feelings."

"I call it his monster personality," says Samantha Frankel. "He recovers a little faster now when he gets off the court, but Ivan can be very difficult and demanding and short-tempered during tournaments. I'm very easygoing and I don't like to fight, so I take the brunt of it when he's upset. If I have something I'm upset about, I don't bring it up during a tournament. I save it."

Lendl has become accustomed, for example, to Frankel's presence at every match he plays. Except for exhibitions, she can't remember a match she's missed during the past four and a half years. Once, however, she was watching a doubles match, and toward the end, she began to feel so physically ill that she left. Afterward, the first thing Lendl asked her was where she'd gone. It was clear to her that he was upset. Now Frankel won't even get up during a match to go to the bathroom.

Dinner was waiting for Lendl on the dining-room table when he returned to the condominium from golf. He sat down by himself and began to eat the nondescript-looking Polish food that Litka cooks for him--a noodle dish, a thick, white soup, fresh fruit for dessert. He ate a lot, but quickly and with no great passion. "If I could get fed by injection, I would," Lendl says. "Some people live to eat. I eat to live. It gives me more pleasure to go and play street hockey than to eat, no matter how good the food is."

After dinner, Lendl walked over to a couch in the living room and flipped through USA Today. Then he turned on the television. If there had been a hockey game on, he would have watched it. Lendl is at least as passionate about hockey as he is about golf, and he serves on the advisory board of the Hartford Whalers. At home in Greenwich, he has a satellite dish, and he can usually find a hockey gave at any hour. On this evening, however, he had to settle for watching Family Feud and calling the USA Today sports line every half-hour for hockey scores.

At 9 P.M., a masseur arrived. Lendl disappeared into the bedroom to get his rubdown. By 10:15, he was asleep.

Order was the order of Ivan Lendl's childhood. Growing up in the city of Ostrava, he was ruled by authorities: his parents--most of all his mother--and, later , the government. He would rebel against all of them in time, but never against the order. That he imposed on himself. It gave him comfort.

Both of his parents were tennis players. His father, Jiri, a Lawyer, was ranked in the top fifteen in Czechoslovakia; his mother, Olga, far more driven, reached No. 2 among women. "My father was the one who used his mind better when he was playing," Lendl says. "He played a smart game, but he didn't have the will, so when the going got really tough and he started feeling tired, he would just let go. My mom was the one who would never give up. Ever. She was kind of a bully. She'd say, 'I'm going to break you down.' And she would."

Even today, Lendl sees his game as much more like his mother's than his father's. "She didn't have all that much talent, even less than I do. For her, it all came from work. If she doesn't play, she can't hit a ball properly. Neither can I. If I don't play for two weeks, I can't hit a topspin. I just lose the timing, I can't move on court; I lose everything. that's why I can't take a long break. I would love to, but I can't."

Lendl's mother worked part-time as a secretary, and when she got off in the afternoons, she took her infant son along to the local tennis club in a stroller. By six, he was hitting a ball against a backboard with a wooden paddle. At eight, he was playing with the other local boys. The coach began pairing him with older players. "He always had me play above my head. You were forced to improve or you would get kicked every day. Nobody likes that."

Mother and son would stay each day at the club until dark. "I loved it," Lendl remembers. "I had a habit of biting my nails. My mom didn't like it, and she would check them every week. How many nails I bit was how many days I wouldn't go to the tennis courts. And that was the worst for me."

His parents both coached him, but he fought with his mother. "We never got along on the court. My father could always explain things to me. With my mom, she would ask me to do something I wouldn't think was right, and I'd ask why, and she would get frustrated and just throw me off the court. She would use force. She didn't know how to make it fun."

Lendl had a weak backhand growing up, and to compensate, he would rush net as often as possible. "My mom would say to me, 'We're going to practice backhand crosscourts, and you can't come to the net.' My dad would say, 'We're playing backhand crosscourt and you can come to the net on the eleventh shot.' He would make it into a bit a of a competition with a reward at the end. That was the difference."

The struggle with his mother continued at home. She insisted that he eat vegetables, and he refused. She would put a timer on the table, set it at ten minutes, and leave the room. "She'd say to me, 'If you don't eat, I'm going to call the zoo, and the elephant is going to come and get you.' I was scared of the elephant. So I always tried to push her as far as I could, but then when it was a minute to go, I would just swallow everything."

If the pressure on Lendl was intense, it was partly because he was the only child. "It is good because you get a lot of attention, and it is bad because you get too much attention," he says. "At times, I wished there might have been another kid. But maybe I would have changed my mind then. There would be too much attention for a baby, and I would be jealous."

Even now, Lendl speaks to his parents, who still live in Czechoslovakia, nearly every day. When he was playing the exhibition in Atlanta not long ago, he failed to call home one evening after a match. The next day, when he called, his mother was upset. "She wants to know every day what happens. I said to her, 'Mom, it was four o'clock in the morning for you when my match ended. And it was an exhibition.' She said, 'I don't care. I needed to know. I couldn't sleep.'" Several times a year, for the major tournaments, Lendl's parents come to watch, and stay with him. But even now, he resists looking toward them during a match, reluctant to catch a disapproving look on his mother's face.

Still, he has come to view his mother more sympathetically as he's gotten older. "She was always very critical because she wanted me to do better," Lendl says now. "That's why I do as well as I do in tennis--because I will never be pleased. I'll always want to do it better. If I go to school and get an A, I shouldn't be complimented, because that's my job. If I get an F, I should be in trouble."

Between school and tennis, leisure was rare for the young Lendl. "There was always something to do, and I had to plan carefully," he says. "My mom always had me do certain things. You come home from school and change your clothes, you put your shirt and pants into the closet--you don't just throw it on the chair. You finish your lunch and dry the dishes. The garbage is full, you go and empty it. If I was disorganized, I wouldn't have had enough time in the day. If I had two and a half hours of homework, I would say to myself, ' Okay, I'll do an hour after school, and that leaves me one and a half for the evening.' And I'd come back from the courts at eight, start working at 8:30, and I'd be done at ten and go to bed. Just like that."

And what of time, say, to hang out and chase girls?

"No, not at all. But it didn't bother me."

At fourteen, Lendl beat his mother for the first time. He remembers every detail of the day, including the fact that she was very upset when it was over. "I was so proud that I couldn't fit through the door," he says, grinning even now. By the age of fifteen, he was playing tournaments in the United States. Special arrangements were made for him to miss classes. He was smart and focused enough to earn A's and B's simply by studying on his own and returning only for exams. Today, he speaks four languages and understands two others. Math was his favorite subject; he has always been attracted by the logic of numbers. History was his least favorite subject.

"I hated it," he says, "because what they feed you is not right, so why bother with it?" Lendl was eight years old when the Russian tanks rolled into Prague. As he grew up, his logic made him question the Socialist system he was living under. Hard work was not rewarded, incentive was suffocated, advancement was impossible. Playing tennis in the West--seeing capitalism up close--only confirmed his belief.

"My father was a lawyer. There is no private practice in Czechoslovakia, so he worked for a government company. He was making, say 45,000 crowns a year. The lowest-price car was 60,000. Or a TV cost 8,000 crowns. How can you put one quarter of your salary just to get a color TV? The flip side is that you have things like free medical care. But if you're not famous or important, and your wife is having a baby, and you don't go and pay the doctor 1,000 crowns on the side, he won't even show up. I always laugh when I see people in America criticizing it here. I say, 'Why don't you go for three months to Czechoslovakia?' Sometimes I think people here have too much freedom to criticize."

At eighteen, Lendl won the junior title at Wimbledon, and by the time he graduated form high school, he had become determined to turn professional, not to live a life dominated by others. Lendl has no nostalgia for his motherland. "I hate living in the past," he says. "I like to live in the present and plan for the future."

"I'm different than Czech people," Lendl would tell Jerry Solomon, his agent during the early years. "I'm not going to be overrun the way they have been."

Still, at his father's insistence, Lendl enrolled at the university, as a fallback. But very quickly he began winning matches and moving up in the rankings. He withdrew from school, entered the army, and left the next day to resume playing tennis. His main responsibility as an army officer was playing Davis Cup matches for Czechoslovakia. By 1980, he was ranked No. 6 in the world. But he was lonely.

Wojtek Fibak, then a high ranked Polish player who would become for five years Lendl's coach, mentor, business adviser, and closest friend, remembers him as "a sad-looking country boy from Ostrava." In 1979, Lendl began to follow Fibak around, watching his matches and going back to the locker room with him afterward. In many ways they were opposites. Fibak was gregarious, free-spirited, worldly, something of a Renaissance man. Lendl was shy, guarded, unsophisticated, and focused almost solely on tennis. Fibak, inspired by Ken Rosewall, played a delicate, tactical game that relied on touch--drop shots, slices, angles, very little power. Lendl, who hit the ball hard, heavily, and with very little variety, was fascinated by how Fibak managed to win without any big shots. After a time, Fibak decided to take the younger man under his wing.

"He wanted to conquer the world, but he didn't know how yet." Fibak says. "I didn't think he was the most talented player around, but I thought he had an extraordinary brain quality, powers of insight that would take him very far." Among other things, Lendl recognized that he could learn a great dealfrom someone very different from himself. "We were together for five years, and he never said no to me," says Fibak. "We did not have one single argument."

Fibak simply took charge of Lendl's life--not just his tennis but also his business affairs, his scheduling, even his social life. It was Fibak's wife who introduced Lendl to Samantha Frankel. They'd met her vacationing at La Samanna, the resort in St. Maarten that her father owned. When she came to New York at fourteen to attend high school at Spence, she began spending weekends at the Fibaks' house in Greenwich. Lendl was painfully shy and inexperienced with girls, but in the unpressured atmosphere that the Fibaks helped create, a romance began to develop.

Of course, Lendl adapted the lessons he learned from Fibak, to fit his own style. Fibak tried to introduce Lendl to art. Not terribly interested, Lendl nonetheless had a problem to solve: The walls in his house were bare. Introduced to the posters of a Czech painter named Alphonse Mucha, he began to collect them. Now he has the world's largest collection of Mucha posters. But his motivation remains functional and utterly unsentimental. "You can't have empty walls," he says. "I liked these posters. They caught my attention, they were affordable, and I began to buy them and to study Mucha. I like collecting one artist, because I like to concentrate on one thing at a time. I don't know anything about other artists. It's just not my form of entertainment. I'd rather go and do something physical than visit a museum."

Although Lendl was already among the top players in the world when Fibak began working with him, Fibak believed that Lendl's game needed to be overhauled. "He had a big, big forehand, but otherwide there was nothing," says Fibak. Lendl's backhand was a defensive slice, his first serve was less than overpowering, and although he rushed net at every opportunity, his volley was mediocre. He won matches, Fibak believed, because he had been programmed by his parents to be a champion, and because he was smart enough to get the most out of his limited game.

"My motto for Ivan was 'Win without playing well,' says Fibak. "I wanted to structure his game so that he was staying in points until he could go for a winner." In part, that meant making Lendl mentally tougher. "He was always very sad," says Fibak, "and he had this Slavic nature. If things didn't go his way, he gave matches away. I wanted for him to become a machine, to hid his feelings, to wear an unemotional mask on his face, not to react to anything." Lendl was an extraordinary student. When Fibak suggested shifting to a topspin backhand, it meant Lendl had to completely shift his grip and relearn the stroke. Few players at his level would have dared risk the change. In April 1980, he played a match in Las Vegas against Harole Solomon, then a top-ranked baseliner, and Fibak insisted that Lendl hit every backhand with topspin. He lost 6-1, 6-1, and left the court in tears. Lendl spent the summer in Greenwich banging away topspin backhands. The fall--just four months later--Lendl played Solomon at the U.S. Open, on the same surface as in Las Vegas, and destroyed him, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0. At the French Open the net year, Lendl reached the finals and took Bjorn Borg to five sets before succumbing. The match was monochromatic, mechanistic, endless. The program was working.

When Fibak came to watch his matches, Lendl looked over at him between every single point--and knew immediately what Fibak was thinking. When Fibak stayed home, Lendl phoned him afterward from his hotel room and reviewed every point.

By 1981, Lendl was ranked among the top three in the world, behing McEnroe and Connors. What he couldn't seem to do was win the big matches. Twice against Connors at the U.S. Open--1982 and 1983--he lost in the finals. Always, he had a logical explanation. In the second Connors final, it turned out he'd been suffering severe stomach cramps, so bad he could barely walk afterward. He still believes he lost because he wasn't fit enough. But the mind and the body are connected.

"I don't think he truly tanked matches, but he was sometimes paralyzed mentally," says Fibak. "Ivan simply wasn't able to take the pressure at the Open against Connors. When you become paralyzed mentally, it goes into your stomach or your legs. It burns your energy."

Sportswriters had little good to say about Lendl. Nor would he give them an inch. He had his own code. If joking on the court did not come to him spontaneously, he reasoned, then he wasn't about to fake it. If it was a choice between accommodating his fans and sticking by his schedule, the tennis prevailed. The most obvious cost was financial. For a player of his level, Lendl had remarkably few product-endorsement deals. But what he didn't let on was that the criticism took a personal toll. "He was hurt by what the press wrote; he suffered very much," says George Vyborny, once one of Lendl's closest friends. "At a certain point, I think he just gave up and closed further into himself."

Lendl relied more and more on Fibak and on Jerry Solomon, then his agent at ProServ, to handle his contract with the outside world. Solomon was on virtual 24-hour call. "There were always more things that could be done better," says Solomon. "He was more demanding than any other client I've ever had. But then he's also more demanding on himself than anyone I've ever met."

Lendl's breakthrough occurred in 1984, against John McEnroe at the French Open. It was a match with remarkable parallels to the recent loss to Michael Chang but with Lendl's role reversed.

He still had yet to win a grand slam. McEnroe won the first two sets of their match easily, 6-3, 6-2, and was up 4-2 in the third. But Lendl summoned something from within, fought back, and won the last three sets 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. In the locker room afterward, he was so sick and exhausted that ice packs were applied to help him revive, and he had trouble recognizing even his closest friends.

The victory gave Lendl an enormous psychological lift. No longer cold it be said that he lacked guts. But the breakthrough was not yet complete.

After the French , Lendl found himself feeling sluggish and heavy, even in practice. He lost badly in the early rounds of several tournaments. In august, Lendl asked Solomon to call Robert Haas, who had worked earlier on a diet and conditioning program for Martina Navratilova. "I told Jerry I wasn't sure what Ivan's problem was," Haas remembers, "but that if it had anything to do with endurance and fitness, then I could definitely help."

Haas did a series of blood tests and discovered that Lendl's diet was exceptionally high in protein, and that his cholesterol level was way up in the danger zone. Sure enough, Lendl told Haas that on a normal day, he might eat five or six scrambled eggs for breakfast, a couple of McDonald's hamburgers for lunch, and a steak for dinner. "It was the sort of diet that will throw up a brick wall in the way of performance." says Haas.

Like Fibak, Haas found in Lendl the ultimate motivated student. Lendl switched to a diet dominated by pasta, soup, water, fruit, a bit of chicken, and virtually no red meat. He even ate the once-hated vegetables in the service of a greater good.

Lendl noticed changes very quickly. Having once slept as much as fourteen hours a day, he now felt rested with no more than eight even during the most strenuous tournaments, as few as four or five when he wasn't playing competitively.

Haas also helped him set up a rigorous physical-training program. Lendl bought a climber, which he could take with him to tournaments. Akin to a fireman's ladder, the climber provided a workout not only for his lower body but also for his upper body, which many tennis players ignore. Haas also encouraged Lendl to take up serious bike riding. Thin and gawky for much of his life, Lendl developed huge thighs and the upper body of a middleweight boxer.

Finally, Haas encouraged him either to meditate for twenty minutes each afternoon or to take a brief nap. Lendl opted for the nap. He can fall asleep now as soon as his head hits the pillow, and feel restored in as little as ten minutes.

"He just wasn't providing his body with the right chemicals, the right fuel." says Haas. "Once you do that, the difference may be anywhere from a one to 5 percent edge, but at his level, that means a lot."

By the end of 1984, the fitness issue became something of a metaphor for the growing distance between Fibak and Lendl. On the day after Lendl lost the finals of the Masters to McEnroe in 1985, Fibak and Lendl went to practice together. Afterward, in the locker room, Fibak told Lendl that it was probably better that he go out on his own, that he follow his own instincts about fitness and diet. "I'm not a great believer in all this," he said to him. "I'm more of a natural person on the court and off, and it's probably better for me, too, if we split. I can move on to do things I want to do."

As first, Lendl was taken aback. But in retrospect, he sees that the split was part of a critical passage to independence. "Fibak helped me tremendously, to make the transition to this country, to get me very quickly to No. 2 or 3 in the world," Lendl says. "but then I needed to go further. He felt that I should work more on the court. I was 24, and I thought I needed to work more off the court, running and bicycling and lifting weights. Fibak himself was a good player, but he could have been tremendous. He was just physically too weak. He lost many matches because he just got tired. He just didn't have the force behind him, or in him, to go and work until it hurts. He couldn't help me to take the next step because he had a different philosophy than I did--and because he hadn't been there himself."

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Over the next two years, the cast of characters in Lendl's circle would change dramatically as he took more charge of his life. After Fibak left, Lendl split with Solomon, for many years the second most important person in his tennis life and one of his closest friends. A lawsuit followed the split: ProServ sued for breach of contract; Lendl countersued, alleging that he'd been cheated of certain moneys due him. The case was finally settled out of court. Lendl hired a new agent--Peter Johnson of International Management Group--but the relationship is more formal.

When he hired a new coach, Tony Roche, the two did become good friends, but Lendl maintained a whole different level of independence. Roche continues to live in Australia; they work together only around the four grand-slam events.

Roche, a fitness freak himself, concurred that Lendl would win more matches simply by being in better shape. For Lendl, the more grueling the workouts, the better. Roche will stand in the morning in one corner of the court and hit balls at him, running Lendl from side to side nonstop for up to two hours. "I challenge myself," says Lendl. "A lot of people don't want to take the pain. I say, 'Okay, I'm hurting, I don't feel like doing it, but I'm just not going to give up.' And afterward, I feel good."

Roche has worked on Lendl's gave, too. In part, Lendl chose Roche because he is left-handed, and so is McEnroe--at the time the one player who stood between Lendl and the top. Lendl gives Roche credit for helping him improve two shots: his slice backhand and his volley. The slice had been his original backhand, but after his work with Roche, it became a shot with which he could pass and lob. Added to his topspin, it gave his game more variety and unpredictability.

On his volley, Lendl lacks what players call "great hands"--the instinctive quickness and movement that make people like McEnroe and Stefan Edberg so extraordinary at net. He's also handicapped by the fact that despite endless experimentation, he has yet to find a mid-size or full-size racquet that he's comfortable with, and so lacks the advantage of a larger sweet spot. But there is no question his volley has improved progressively with work. During the past three years--coming to net off both serves on the grass--Lendl has reached the semifinals at Wimbledon once and the finals twice.

Roche is modest about his own contribution--and probably rightfully, because Lendl is now so plainly his own boss. "It's hard to imagine anyone who trains harder than Ivan does," says Roche. "That helps a lot with his movement on the court. He has improved his gave, too, but he'd probably have had the same results whether or not I coached him. The truth is he was ready to make an assault on the No.1 position when we met."

Perhaps the most intriguing work Lendl has done during the past several years is on his mind. In January 1985, a few weeks after splitting with Fibak, Lendl was introduced by a mutual friend to a young psychologist named Alexis Castori, who had once played tournament tennis herself. Lendl was in Florida for the Lipton International tournament; he and Castori went out to dinner together and hit it off. Lendl asked Castori a slew of questions about her work, and in particular about mind control. Castori had never worked with athletes before, but she told Lendl that she knew it was possible to systematically improve one's focus and concentration.

Several nights later, Lendl called Castori back. He was scheduled to play Edbert the next day. "I was having trouble with his serve, almost couldn't return it all," Lendl remembers. "I asked her, 'How do you visualize things so you can convince yourself you can do them?' "Castori gave him several suggestions but warned that they represented a Band-Aid approach and that he shouldn't lose faith in the theory if they failed. "I lost the match, "says Lendl, "but I saw that what she said could help me."

They began to work together, both in long phone sessions and then for four or five days at a time in Greenwich. "You probably think that I'm going to ask you to work harder," she told him early on. "In fact what I'm going to ask you to work on is relaxing and letting go."

The first thing Castori did was to get Lendl to begin aerobic and ballet-barre exercises. Watching him play, she'd noticed that he was rigid and didn't move gracefully on the court. Dutifully, Lendl began showing up for 7 A.M. aerobic-dance classes in Greenwich.

Next, Castori gave Lendl a series of mental-focus exercises. "Most people with high intelligence receive stimuli on several levels at once, and what happens is that they lose the capacity to focus just on the moment," says Castori. "I saw that in certain tight situations, Ivan could not mentally stay in the moment. Maybe he got anxious or rushed. With work, you can change that. In a sense, it's mental aerobics."

One exercise was to take a small object--say, a dime or a lighter or a hairbrush--and describe out loud for five minutes exactly what he saw. "Most people can't do it for 30 seconds at first," Castori says. "You're training the mind to see things that have always been there but that you lose the ability to observe, because you're always thinking of three things at once."

Another exercise was called witnessing-a technique for coping with a negative emotion or an anxiety-provoking situation. As Lendl drove to an autographing session at a cocktail party one evening, he described how it worked. "I try to get outside of my mind and simply observe what Ivan is doing. So right now, I say to myself, 'Ivan has just made a left turn. He's driving into the club; he's looking at the BMW ahead, which has brake lights on. Now he's putting his foot on his brake, because he sees a policeman who is going to check to ask where is going. He is not looking forward to this cocktail party at all, but he is going to try to make the best out of it. Now the policeman is waving him on, and he is parking his car.'"

The same exercise can obviously be applied to tennis. "Say you're nervous before a match," Lendl explain. "You admit it to yourself. You say, "S---, Ivan is nervous today. But he's going to snap out of it.' You describe what you are feeling, and then you let go of it. And it's over." Or, as Castori puts it, "The negativity passes because you haven't been judging the situation, you've just been observing it."

Typically, Lendl pushed himself mentally as hard as he had physically, incorporating the mental exercises into his daily regimen. "You keep your mind so busy that nothing else can occupy it. And you have to switch exercises, because once you do the same one many times, it gets to be automatic and you lose the point--which is having to think about it."

In practice, to sharpen his focus, Lendl will do a variation on witnessing, noticing every movement he makes ("Ivan is picking up the ball; there's another ball next to it; it's a Penn 4"). Before a match, usually in the bathroom, he'll close his eyes and see himself in his mind's eye writing out his goals--"I would like to be strong, confident, eager, quick"--and then imagine himself executing the goals in his play.

On the court, during a match, Lendl uses a different set of mental exercises. As he ritualistically straightens his strings, wipes his brow, knocks his racquet against his heels and takes sawdust from his pocket, he uses the time to focus his attention and plan his strategy for the next point.

When he steps up to the service lien and bounces the ball--four times on the first, three on the second--he visualizes where he wants the serve to go and what he is going to do after he serves: come in or stay back. By long experience, he knows where the return is most likely to be off a given serve, and so he also visualizes where he will hit his second shot. He also uses his discipline, to play within his limits. "I'm able to restrain myself," he says. "Instead of going for the shot down the line, which I will make one out of three, I go for the one crosscourt and make two out of three. For that self-control, you must train your mind."

"He is coachable to the highest degree," says Castori. "I've never worked with anyone who could absorb so much information in such a short period of time and make such dramatic changes."

In September, 1985, Lendl won his first U.S. Open, defeating his longtime nemesis John McEnroe 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. Physically and mentally, Lendl had turned himself into the fittest player in the world--and proved that his system worked. He moved to No. 1 on the computer and remained there for a remarkable 156 consecutive weeks--finally losing that position to Mats Wilander in a five-set final at the U.S. Open last September. For Wilander, however, the mental pressure of being No. 1 quickly proved overwhelming. In the nine months since the Open, he's won only one tournament. By January, Lendl was back at No. 1--and despite the loss to Chang in the French, he remains on top by a wide margin.

Lendl would gladly trade his top ranking for a win at Wimbledon. What motivates him most now is winning grand-slam tournaments, staking out his place in tennis history. The rest of the year, he'd just as soon take the best cash offer and run. He's also applied for American citizenship, and one of his dreams is that he'll be able to play tennis for the United States at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Nearing 30, Lendl has begun to realize that his life in tennis won't last forever. Until recently, for example, having children seemed unimaginable. Now he feels stirrings. "If I had kids right now, I"d have to cheat my tennis or cheat my children," he says. "I don't want to feel guilty twenty years from now that I didn't give it everything I had. But fine years from now, or three years, or maybe next year if I win Wimbledon, I would like to have kids--two or three, maybe four, even five."

Contrary to popular belief, says Lendl, he enjoys his life. But it's also true that his relentless schedule precludes his having as much fun as he might like. "When I stop playing," he says, "I guarantee you I'm going to enjoy myself tremendously." What that won't mean-ever-is kicking back. "I will definitely stay in shape," he says. "And probably, because I'll have more time to do it, I"ll be in even better shape than I am now."

Three weeks after his loss to Wilander at the U.S. Open last fall, Lendl underwent surgery on his right shoulder. The surgeon told him not to hit any tennis balls for at least six weeks. Fearful that he might never regain his game if he allowed himself such a long layoff, Lendl persuaded his doctor to let him try. Four weeks after his surgery, Lendl began hitting balls with Janek, the caretaker. Six weeks later, he flew to Europe, played all out in an exhibition match in Stuttgart, and won. As it happened, Lendl had nicked himself shaving on the morning before he played. In the local newspapers the next day, there was a picture of him with blood on the shoulder of his shirt-apparently from wiping his face during the match. Lendl tore the picture out and scribbled a note on the bottom to his surgeon. "I don't know what it is, Doc," he wrote, "but after I play three hours, blood just starts pouring from the wound."

03-26-2008, 04:28 AM
Ivan Lendl was never interesting guy. He was kind of in between Borg+McEnroe and Pete Sampras + Andre Agassi. He was there... But never a star.

03-26-2008, 04:40 AM
Ah normally these articles avoid the touchiest subject - Lendl's failure to win Wimbledon. A hole that gnaws at his soul every day.

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 04:41 AM
Lendl has his own life away from tennis, his daughters play other sports, golf and I think equestrian as well.

He was his own man and the media gave him a negative image, well the fact he came from a then communist country fuelled a lot of it.

Lendl did have a sense of humour, it was just too dry for most people to pick it up.

03-26-2008, 04:44 AM
Lendl failed to win Wimbly.

03-26-2008, 04:45 AM
Lendl was a little like Davydenko = not that handsome AND not wild/flamboyant.

95% of the human population is shallow.

Put the two together and bingo, out pops your answer.

03-26-2008, 04:46 AM
Lendl has his own life away from tennis, his daughters play other sports, golf and I think equestrian as well.

He was his own man and the media gave him a negative image, well the fact he came from a then communist country fuelled a lot of it.

Lendl did have a sense of humour, it was just too dry for most people to pick it up.

Actually, I appreciate this quite a bit. I relate very much to the private "boringness" of Lendl, and I was wondering if the Communist bloc aspect had something to do with it. I though otherwise, though, since Navratilova was from the same country and is (was?) rather popular, but that also might be because she has such a big mouth and was playing matches into her 40s. I read the interview you posted, and I appreciate his humor - although he is a bit harsh on the interviewer.

03-26-2008, 04:48 AM
Lendl failed to win Wimbly.

Yes, and Roger, McEnroe, and Connors failed to win the FO.

Unless you're saying that winning Wimby is enough to catapult a player into stardom whereas the other three slams don't count.

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 04:50 AM
Actually, I appreciate this quite a bit. I relate very much to the private "boringness" of Lendl, and I was wondering if the Communist bloc aspect had something to do with it. I though otherwise, though, since Navratilova was from the same country and is (was?) rather popular, but that also might be because she has such a big mouth and was playing matches into her 40s. I read the interview you posted, and I appreciate his humor - although he is a bit harsh on the interviewer.

Well he had more of the American values, than a lot of Americans in the end. I mean he lives in Greenwich, he is a Republican, left the former Eastern Bloc to live in the freedom of the West and the US.

Read the last 2 interviews I posted in that thread, then you will get more of an insight. He was very driven and focused on his sport, he didn't joke around on the court, yet did so away from it.

He was a never media whore and did it his way, they didn't appreciate it, therefore negative coverage.

That interviewer deserved it.

03-26-2008, 04:51 AM
On these forums

because most of the memebers on these forums are fangirls and fanboys that dont know shit about anything that happend in tennis even 5 years ago.

03-26-2008, 05:03 AM
because most of the memebers on these forums are fangirls and fanboys that dont know shit about anything that happend in tennis even 5 years ago.


03-26-2008, 05:48 AM
People just didn't get Lendl.

Everyone portrayed him as a robot.

03-26-2008, 08:57 AM
GWH said the most important thing - he was not an attention whore. Plus, there was not so much PR stuff back then in tennis, and players didn't pretend much. Just look at some of these cold handshakes at the net

Action Jackson
03-26-2008, 09:31 AM
GWH said the most important thing - he was not an attention whore. Plus, there was not so much PR stuff back then in tennis, and players didn't pretend much. Just look at some of these cold handshakes at the net

It probably helped there was a lot of ego up there at the time. Lendl, McEnroe, Connors and Becker were not exactly the best combo of people for humility.

03-26-2008, 11:53 AM
I respected him, he was my favourite player for years.

It always annoyed me that Wimbledon (the only tennis I could watch on TV at the time) hardly ever put his matches on televised courts until the second week, even though he was the world #1.

03-26-2008, 12:24 PM
Obviously it's going to depend where you look as to what reaction you get. I mean Wimbledon commentators aren't going to salivate over him for obvious reasons and if you're watching US livestream obviously they are going to pick their own guys to discuss.

I would say that you have your phrasing wrong also. Lendl doesn't lack respect, he just lacks interest.

03-26-2008, 12:52 PM

He had the coolest shirts though

/not really insightful

03-26-2008, 03:36 PM
Excellent read. Thanks a lot for posting :)

That kind of article is especially welcomed these days.

03-26-2008, 03:58 PM
Fantastic article and thank you for putting it up GWH.

03-26-2008, 03:59 PM

Does anyone else see a resemblance to Mikhail Youzhny in this picture?

03-26-2008, 06:10 PM
I must admit he was my favorite player in my childhood. He had his antics with eyelashes, he looked like Dracula, but kids loved him.

03-26-2008, 07:56 PM
Never won Wimbledon.

Loved the USO but wasn't an American.

Style of game wasn't flashy as McEnroe and the same with personality.

He was a professional through and through, first to adopt modern training methods which have now become standard.

Well he had more of the American values, than a lot of Americans in the end. I mean he lives in Greenwich, he is a Republican, left the former Eastern Bloc to live in the freedom of the West and the US.

None of which would endear him to the tennis media in the US.

03-26-2008, 08:22 PM
He kicked Agassi's ass in a poll here, so he's well respected :)

03-26-2008, 09:00 PM
Read Feinstein's Hard Court - Sums up Lendl perfectly

03-26-2008, 09:01 PM
I always respected Lendl. He was my favorite player for the longest time.

03-26-2008, 09:36 PM
Maybe coz he lost many slam finals :confused::confused:

03-26-2008, 09:50 PM
He kicked Agassi's ass in a poll here, so he's well respected :)

:) MTF got something right there.

Action Jackson
03-27-2008, 03:02 AM
He kicked Agassi's ass in a poll here, so he's well respected :)

For once a MTF poll that made sense.

Action Jackson
03-27-2008, 03:22 AM
Does anyone else see a resemblance to Mikhail Youzhny in this picture?

It will be interesting to see if Youzhny blows out a bit, when he retires.

Not a surprise that this got lost among the malaise of GM at the moment.

03-28-2008, 02:56 AM
Thanks for the article, I can totally see Lendl looking down at Agassi, as if he would decline his autograph :lol: The man's work ethic was impeccable, he did everything to maximize his potential. A pity he didn't face Agassi when both would be at their peak.

03-28-2008, 09:20 AM
More recently, Lendl was visiting Bosworth, and Bosworth's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, a car collector, showed up in a Ferrari GTO worth $2.5 million. Cohen asked Lendl if he wanted to drive it. "No way," said Lendl. So they all sat around and talked for a while. As he was leaving, Cohen asked Lendl to autograph a racquet cover. Lendl obliged. "To Stanley," he wrote. "F--- you and your Ferrari."
Ivan Lendl was never interesting guy. He was kind of in between Borg+McEnroe and Pete Sampras + Andre Agassi. He was there... But never a star.:retard:

03-28-2008, 11:45 AM
about Andre Agassi:
...As I said, he's phenomenal, fantastic.

about Roger Federer

you can very safely say he's one of the most talented players who is producing the wins...
there were some talented players and they never produced, in terms of records, what he's producing right now (fed is win producer? :))

Ivan Lendl is right, i find :)

03-28-2008, 11:42 PM
Ivan Lendl was never interesting guy. He was kind of in between Borg+McEnroe and Pete Sampras + Andre Agassi. He was there... But never a star.

Gosh there's some stupid, stupid people on this earth. :cuckoo:

03-28-2008, 11:47 PM
Maybe coz he lost many slam finals :confused::confused:

Did you have a look at the players he lost to at those finals?

Action Jackson
07-14-2008, 04:56 AM
Lendl was a little like Davydenko = not that handsome AND not wild/flamboyant.

95% of the human population is shallow.

Put the two together and bingo, out pops your answer.

Bingo. Lendl would have loved the pace of these Wimbledon courts.

03-02-2009, 06:53 PM
George, I hope you don't mind if I use your thread to post this old article about Lendl :)

April 28, 1986

On Guard And Quite In Control

Protected by trained dogs and propelled by an iron will, Ivan Lendl has ascended to the top of men's tennis

Gary Smith

On the other side of the six-foot fence with the sign on the gate of a dog baring its fangs and the camera eyeing anyone who approaches it, beyond the six German shepherds patrolling the yard, inside the stone mansion electronically protected by two alarm systems—one that screams if any door or window is touched, another of invisible beams that detects any movement inside the house—is a 26-year-old Czechoslovakian living the American dream.

To achieve this he has traveled 4,000 miles from mother and motherland and spent so much time playing and thinking about tennis that he conquered the other 1,500 professionals in his business. Now he has freedom. Now he has control. "You see," he says. "Nothing bothers me here."

One day the invisible beams in the house were broken, the alarm system shrieked, the six dogs barked wildly and chaos came to the house of Ivan Lendl. A small bird had come in through the chimney.

In Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, an industrial city 10 miles from the Polish border, it was dinner time at the Lendls.

"Jez mrkev. Jez hrach," snapped Olga Lendlova. "Eat your peas. Eat your carrots."

Ivan bowed his head. The peas and carrots grew cold. Olga looked furiously at her husband, shoved back her chair and reached for the timer. What was it with this only child of hers? Why did almost everything between them become a struggle for control? When she tried to coach him on the tennis court, they argued, and she stomped away. When he played poorly he often burst into tears or stopped running down shots, and she told him to leave the court. Once, when he wouldn't eat just before she was about to play for the Czech national title, she accused him of trying to upset her so she would lose.

She set the timer for 10 minutes, and both parents left the room. How had it come to this, the same scene over and over at the dinner table, the cold vegetables and the anger and the ticking timer, and the little boy sitting alone, trying to decide whether to eat the vegetables and appease her or assert his freedom and be punished?

"Did you eat all of them?" she called from the other room. "Ivan, you have to eat all of them." She used to hit him with her left hand when he talked back, until her watch broke. Then she always remembered to hit him with her right.

"Stand back. Don't touch me. Don't raise your arm," the world's best tennis player is telling the first journalist ever allowed on his property. "Don't make any sudden move. And don't stare at him in the eyes. He will take that as a challenge. Now stand against the house and stay there."

Gripped in both of Lendl's hands is a leather leash. At the end of the leash is a 105-pound German shepherd named Viky, the prize of his pack, capable of attacking on command. Lendl leads the animal to the obstacle course in his backyard, watching proudly as it responds to his commands to climb the ladder, walk the plank and spring over a wooden barrier three times its height.

"If he did not do all those things correctly he would stay out there until he did," Lendl says fiercely. "There can be no loopholes. He must know that when he receives a command from me, he has to do it."

In the eighth year of Lendl's life, a breeze blew across his country. Bold books and newspaper articles were published. Economic reform and personal freedom were on the lips of politicians, street sweepers and cabdrivers. Entertainers muzzled for years by the Communist party gave free performances to the giddy applause of the people.

On the eastern border, the Soviet Union became uneasy. Didn't the Czechs know there were no loopholes? In the summer of 1968, the Czech government was ordered to control its writers and artists, to reconsider its reforms.

The timer was set now, the seconds ticking. The directives sat on the table, growing cold. Should the Czechs assert themselves and be punished or appease the Soviets and give in?

The reformers kept pushing, the breeze blew stronger. During the blackness of early morning on Aug. 21, like cockroaches moving on a dark kitchen, 275,000 Warsaw Pact troops and thousands of tanks crawled across Czechoslovakia. They ringed the houses of the Czech leaders. "You have to do what we command," they said.

Riding a train home from his grandparents' house that day, Ivan saw the tanks. He looked to his mother's face to understand how to feel. Very few feelings were ever written there. He rode home in silent confusion.

Last fall, Ivan Lendl became the dominant player in tennis. By the end of 1986, his ninth year on the circuit, he will exceed $9 million in prize money and probably replace John McEnroe as the greatest moneymaker in the history of men's tennis. He owned the 15,000-square-foot house in Greenwich, Conn., a nearby 45-acre lot, where he would soon build a new estate, a $4.5 million estate and a condominium in Florida, an apartment in Manhattan, two Mercedes and a Porsche. He seemed to have such complete control of his life that he needed one way to risk it, to test its submission, to remind himself how good that control truly felt. Down thrust his right foot, pinning the accelerator to the rug while his eyes flitted from the red needle to the road to the twitches of the person next to him. He has been stopped by police for traveling 130 mph on a 55 mph road.

"Slow down," his passengers beg. "Please."

"What's the matter?" he says with an impish grin. "I only go 120—the car has 40 more miles per hour to go." Chuckle. "Don't worry. I have it under control."

One day two years ago, a squirrel scampered across a country road near Greenwich, a golden retriever dashed after it and a platinum Porsche skidded on the wet leaves. Lendl hadn't expected that. The car smashed into a tree—totaled—and Lendl's head was hurled into the steering wheel. He staggered away with a deep gash on his chin, so shaken he called his agent three times and repeated what had happened.

One day, just after the Russians thought they had restored control in Czechoslovakia, they were surprised to find their supply trains delayed by railroad workers, street signs torn down, thousands of young people sitting in front of their tanks, and 100,000 of the brightest and strongest minds in the country forever gone.

One day when Lendl's chiropractor—a 29-year-old Long Island woman named Deborah Kleinman-Cindrich—was adjusting his ribs, his prize German shepherd began growling at her. "Ne, Viky!" said Lendl. "Don't worry. He is under control." All at once Kleinman-Cindrich was screaming, the dog was upon her, snapping at her belly, shredding the top of her pants, and Lendl was leaping from the massage table, shouting and yanking at the gnashing dog, his eyes wide with disbelief.

And one day when he was 14, Lendl and his mother were tied at 4-4. She wasn't worried—it was her serve, and he had never beaten her before. She was in command. "It was a weekend," he remembers. "It was Court Number Four. It was before lunch. She was serving, and all of a sudden I blew it by her four straight times, I just overpowered her, then I held my serve to win. She said nothing. I couldn't wait to get home to tell my father. I was grinning from ear to ear."

Twelve years later, as he is telling the story, he is still grinning from ear to ear.

The public never saw Lendl grin. In a sport that had exploded in the 1970s on the gunpowder of personality, Lendl had none. For most of his career he parked himself on the baseline, hammered those air-singeing forehands until his opponent buckled, collected his prize money, exchanged a few sarcastic volleys with the media and disappeared behind the six-foot fence.

In some human beings containment creates mystique, the unstated draws us in. In Lendl's case, neither happened. He confirmed our Communist caricature of the gray, stiff automaton. In neither the movement of his muscles nor the flicker of his eyes could one sense any imagination, any playfulness, any reason to want to pry into him further.

One thing haunted him and comforted those whom he chilled. Lendl couldn't win the big one. Squirrels dart in front of Porsches, teenagers sit in front of tanks, dogs attack when they are ordered to sit. In the finals of the four major tournaments each year, the moment the tide turned against him, the tennis player so in control lost all grip on himself. Lonely and stiff he stood, an alien in a rainstorm with all the street signs torn down, as more instinctive players threw back their heads and let their feet lead them home. Many accused him of sport's darkest sin: He gave up.

In the U.S. Open final during last September something changed. Trailing in the first set, he didn't stiffen. He let go. He ventured off the baseline, he pumped his fist after hitting cross-court winners, he overwhelmed McEnroe and the crowd. He went on a 54-wins-in-56-matches tear, became acknowledged as the king of tennis and permitted himself now and then to smile and make small talk. The gate on his life opened, just a crack, and a little of the breeze wafted in.

One of the major things missing from the childhood of Ivan Lendl was a childhood. Logic and order ruled his home. His father, Jiri, was a lawyer for the government, a chess master and once ranked 15th in the country in tennis. He would listen to his son, look at the boy's scrap-book filled with pictures of Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall and tell him stories during dinner. If his son stopped chewing his food, the stories would stop in mid-sentence.

His mother was No. 2 among Czech women, with a burn to be No. I. She played tennis and kept house with an equally grim resolve. "Ivan's father was ready to bow when he was met by a stronger opponent, but I never did," says Olga Lendlova. "My adversary had to exhaust me totally and win." Once, unable to walk just before entering the hospital for surgery on torn cartilage in her knee, she bit back the pain and cleaned the apartment on her knees.

Many years later, her son still couldn't understand that she could give him only the one gift she had. "I knew she was different from other kids' mothers," he says. "Sometimes I wished I had brothers and sisters so she had someone else to pick on besides me. Even if I was only coming home for an hour, I had to change from my street clothes to my home clothes, hang everything up and then change again. I wanted her to be softer to me. Sometimes I'd try to clean the apartment or wash the dishes on my own, but she still didn't show it."

Maybe, just maybe, on a tennis court. At 1 p.m., his mother came home from her job as a secretary and after lunch they walked the five minutes to the NHKG Ostrava Tennis Club. When he was very young she tied a cord around his waist, lashed him to the tennis post and practiced until the sun wouldn't let her. Vlasta Vopickova, sister of Czech tennis star Jan Kodes and ranked No. 1 among the women, was more talented. But surely hard work and repetition, surely order and willpower, could overcome nature.

Learning to sit, to stand, to walk—all of them—took her son longer to do than other children. Relentlessly he began to bang an old ball off a wall with a wooden paddle. A question grew inside him, far too dark and confusing then for him to assemble into words: "I'm sure she had to think, 'I could have been great if not for this baby,' " he says.

He got his first racket at six and spent every spare moment on a court, struggling to understand why the same piece of stringed wood that obeyed his command on the forehand could suddenly, on the backhand, rebel. His mother would try to show him, and he too would mutiny. "She'd say, 'I said to do it this way,' " he recalls. "I'd say, 'But I did! She'd start screaming. She'd punish me by walking away."

His temper shocked his parents. "Emotions don't help you," his father, Jiri, lectured. "Never show your opponent that you are upset."

"If you're going to cry," said his mother, "go home."

"But I hated when I lost," says Lendl. "Even playing table soccer against my father, I cried and threw my player on the table when I lost, and he wouldn't play with me for a long time. I cried so much when I lost points in tennis I couldn't see the ball. Sometimes I dragged my feet. My mother, she fought like a dog on a tennis court, she never gave up. Never. Ever. To her, the worst thing I could do was give up."

She could punish him by kicking him off the court or stomping away. He could punish her by not trying. Neither, perhaps, was conscious of the weapons they chose. The next day he'd be back, grimly taming his racket, glancing now and then at his parents' faces for a hint of a smile.

"During a match," says his father, "we taught him not to look our way. If he did, we turned, showing no reaction whatsoever." At the end of the match, sure as sweat, came his parents' analysis of his play. There had to be a reason for every failure, something you could put your finger on and control. Don't rush the net so often, they told their overanxious son. Don't make yourself so vulnerable.

By age nine he was traveling in trains and cars to tournaments in other towns, his parents usually unable to come because of their jobs. The feeling intoxicated him. "I could order steak or pancakes as often as I wanted," he remembers. "I didn't have to eat any vegetables at all."

He was the national champion of his age group by his 12th year. The trips away from home increased, and so did the need for them. He had become a skinny, shy teenager—Nit, the boys called him, the Czech word for thread—whose skin was sprinkled with rashes in the spring. His feet weren't quick enough for soccer, his head flinched from the puck when he played hockey. Girls frightened him. In a high school dance class, he took an awkward step, caught his foot in his partner's dress and watched in horror as it ripped. He didn't dance again.

His mind was sharp and logical—English would one day become his sixth language—and his teachers permitted him to skip classes so he could practice six hours a day. At 15, the Czechoslovak Tennis Federation sent him to Florida for six weeks of tennis. The gleam of the supermarkets, the size of the buildings and cars, the haste and independence of the people—everything about America frightened and attracted him. In Ostrava in winter it was virtually impossible to steal an hour on the city's one indoor court. In Florida the days were all warm, the courts were all over, the bounces all true and the future all Ivan Lendl's.

Back in Czechoslovakia, the national coach was trying to change his forehand. His mother was still trying to change his socks. His father was trying to change his mind about not going to college. An angry ground stroke that kicked up white chalk was the only way he knew to overcome all of them.

Lendl entered the Czech army but was permitted to fulfill his two-year obligation clutching a racket instead of a rifle. He decided in his 18th year to enter a pro tournament in Austria. In his country that was not a decision a young man could make on his own. The Czech Tennis Federation voted that he must play in the amateur Galea Cup in France instead, with the deciding vote cast by one of the board's most logical and respected members—Ivan Lendl's father.

Now father and fatherland were blurring—why did everyone have such a need to tell him what to do? He played and promptly lost to a forgettable French player named Pascal Portes. The next year, when he was asked to play in the Galea Cup again, he withdrew with an ankle injury just before the match.

"My father said I pulled out because I was afraid to play Yannick Noah," he says. "I will never forgive him for that. I know that mentality. That's Czech mentality."

"In Czechoslovakia you are one of 15 million heads of cattle," says Anton Cermak. "All you think about is how to survive, how to be a little more comfortable. Once you cross the border, you are an absolute individual."

Cermak, a free-lance photographer in Australia, one of the 100,000 bright and strong minds that fled Czechoslovakia, understands his friend Ivan Lendl. "The problem for people who migrate from East to West is they bring ties," he adds. "Their ties tie their hands and their brains. There can be no nostalgia."

No nostalgia, no regret, no emotion. The more a man was controlled, the more he must control in order to break free. Years later, Lendl's friends in America would be surprised at how little he talked about the old country and the old life. Why should he? he wondered. A careful man might be able to influence the minute in front of him, but he could never influence the one behind.

During his first few years on the pro tour, the Czech Tennis Federation kept calling him back to play in club matches before 20 or 30 people, and his parents kept calling him to come home. Back there, he could only feel the guilt that a lifted head feels amid bowed ones. He needed to break cleanly with the past, and yet the new world in the West made him feel almost as helpless as a day spent at home. He needed a master, someone else who had closed his eyes for a moment, drew in his breath and made the leap. Wojtek Fibak, a Polish-born player eight years older, who had recently bought a stone mansion in Greenwich, Conn., saw a gangly, sad-faced boy from the tour sitting in the stands at all of Fibak's matches. They became friends. "I began to plan his schedule," says Fibak. "I began to practice with him. I told him he couldn't be like me. I was too soft. I worried if other people were happy. You can't be that way if you want to be great. He ended up taking it too far. He listened blindly to everything I said."

In Czechoslovakia, children live in their parents' home until they marry, and often until they die. "It's too inconvenient to get to the tournaments from there," he told his mother and father just before moving into Fibak's Greenwich home—and what he said was true.

The leap shook him at first. Who more than a lonely man in a strange land feels vulnerability, and who more than Ivan Lendl was bent on feeling none? Slowly, cautiously, the building of the bubble began. With Fibak to screen the outside world—to meet the press, to negotiate with promoters, to explain tax laws and table manners, Lendl could stay very still, watching and duplicating, making sure he did everything correctly before he risked it in public. The unexpected became his enemy. He left a 1981 tournament in Houston, crimson and shaking, when the interviewer's first question was "Are you going to defect?" and an older player screamed at him for not knowing to tip the locker room attendant.

Very little came naturally to him—he had to subdue it by repetition and logic. No detail could be overlooked. To lose might mean returning to his mother and motherland's glare. He found out which balls were going to be used a few weeks before major tournaments and practiced only with them. He bought a house and had his private tennis court surfaced by the same company that did the U.S. Open courts, so he could duplicate every bounce without ever having to venture beyond the six-foot fence. He invited practice partners to his home who played with the same hand and style as the player he feared most in the next tournament. He collected videotapes of his opponents' matches, kept a file on each and charted the frequency of their shots.

He experimented until he knew that if he felt nervous he should switch from a racket strung at 72.5 pounds of tension to one at 73.5 for better control. After each rally, like a violinist tuning his instrument, he fingered the strings until every little square was perfect.

He'd be sure not to call for the balls most recently played—those balls might still be larger from being hit, and he wanted the smallest possible bullet to load into the rifle barrel of his first serve. Before serving, his ritual never varied. He rotated two balls in his left hand again and again, with an almost Queegish compulsion, stopped to study them, rotated them and studied them once more. Then he tucked the larger one in his left pocket for the second serve, wiped his forehead with his wide wristbands, took a handful of sawdust from his pocket, swiped it twice across his suede grip, positioned his feet two inches behind the baseline, bounced the ball four times for first serve, three times for second (twice and once at Wimbledon, because of the moisture of the grass), tossed the ball 6½ feet over his head, cocked his racket and pulled the trigger.

Outdoors, losses came more often. Indoors, where there were no such nuisances of nature as breeze, chill, moisture, fickle light and odd bounce, he once won 66 straight matches.

Traveling teemed with the germ of chance, but soon he found a way to disinfect that, too. After tournaments in Europe, still wearing tennis clothes and dried sweat, he would rush to a plane that would connect him with the Concorde. "Even though it is Lendl, I'd hate to be the guy paying $2,000 to ride the Concorde in the seat next to him after he played five sets with Becker," says George Vyborny, a Czech-born businessman who moved from Toronto to Greenwich to be near his good friend Lendl. Lendl's agent, Jerry Solomon, called ahead to organize everything and usually accompanied him to run clearance. Limo drivers waited at airports to whisk him to his hotel, Avis delivered his car to the hotel so he wouldn't have to stand in line. It was only that frontier between the first-class airline seat and the crushed-velvet limo seat that he had to risk.

One day he walked off a plane in Los Angeles into an ambush of six photographers. They strafed him with flashbulb pops and begged him to pose. His walk became a weave, his eyes rolled from ceiling to floor, his face became a dim, distant planet.

"I guess that's the price of fame, Mr. Lendl," the limo driver said cheerily.

"No, that is the price of someone making a mistake," he snapped. "Someone will pay for this. Jerry will pay for this."

"But the photographers didn't know anything about you coming," said the driver. "Diana Ross was on your plane, and you just happened to be there."

Just happened? At the hotel he kept a DO NOT DISTURB sign on his door the entire week of a tournament, fed movie and tennis videos into his specially ordered VCR and often ate every meal in his room. If Fibak wasn't there, he called him and recreated every point from that day's match. Every piece of clothing he took off remained on the floor for the rest of the week, as if in defiance of an old enemy. The curtains often remained drawn all day and night. Who knew what surprises could sneak in on a sunbeam, what the breeze might blow into the bubble?

He scanned restaurants and hotel lobbies for Czech eavesdroppers and worried when he heard clicking noises on his phone. He refused alcohol for fear of losing his grip, like the time in 1980, when he drank one glass of Scotch soon after boarding the flight home from a Davis Cup victory over Argentina. He remembers absolutely nothing of the 19-hour trip, including two stops and a change of planes in Madrid.

At home, of course, the deck was even more carefully stacked. He laid out his daily schedule each dawn and obeyed it like a wooden bird in a Swiss clock. "If the Pope was in his living room at bedtime, he'd say, 'It was nice meeting you,' give you that blank smile of his and disappear into his bedroom," says Vyborny. "Underneath, he's a good man with a good sense of humor. But you need time to like Ivan, and he doesn't allow you a lot of time."

One evening in 1981 he looked out the window of his new house and saw someone walking on the grounds. Soon the fence was ordered, and two German shepherds prowled the yard. Soon there were three dogs, then four, then five, then six. His dogs made everyone who entered his house cower, his driving made all who entered his car squirm. He had the power to stop the dogs (they understood no English) and release the accelerator. Odd, how he would always insist on driving, how rarely he would leave his house except to play tennis.

During his 25th birthday at his house, a friend secretly arranged to have someone posing as a policeman come and arrest Lendl for failing to pay a speeding ticket. "He yelled, 'Get my lawyer!' " recalls the schemer, Ron Leichtner. "Sweat was pouring off him; he was stuttering. We had to tell him it was a joke. We were afraid he was going to break down."

"I knew it was a joke," Lendl immediately claimed. Then he called in one of his guard dogs, watched everyone shrink and with a sly smile said to the policeman, "Do you still want to take me away?"

His dogs gave him more than protection. "You find out who your friends are when you lose," he says. "The dogs are always there. They are like children, except you can kick them out when you get mad."

No one saw him roll on his rugs with Vasik and Misa, or roller-skate on his private court. No one saw him sob or drive his foot through two rackets in anguish when his injured hip and topspin backhand kept betraying him during practice just before Wimbledon in '83. All they saw was the man with the long, angular face and sunken eyes, looking dolefully to Fibak when play stopped, walking everywhere as if he had been there before. "A chilly, self-centered, condescending, mean-spirited, arrogant man with a nice forehand," TIME called him. "Ivan the Terrible," tennis writers nicknamed him. "I'd sit in the stands and couldn't believe how much people hated him, especially the men," says Kleinman-Cindrich. "He was something very threatening to American men—someone that much in control."

He preferred women who were very young, very pretty and very unlikely to challenge him. If a woman interested him, he sent someone he knew to risk the opening line. He didn't trust his English, his face or his crooked teeth. "He thinks he looks like Frankenstein," Solomon once said.

His anxiety over the language and the unexpected made him sullen with the press, and the press had no time to let him conquer his conjugations or his craft. At a 1983 tournament in North Conway, N.H., Lendl evaded a post-match press conference, hopped in his Porsche and began backing out, a Grand Prix p.r. man leaning in one window and Solomon leaning in the other, begging him to come back. Lendl's Porsche stalled as he shifted gears—a group of players watching cheered lustily.

"At some point you have to make a choice: to be a jerk and play well or be a nice guy and play badly," says Noah, now ranked No. 8. "You must forget about feelings and do everything your way. Ivan is good at that, he has the strength. Nine out of 10 of the players are jealous of that. Perhaps when he is 45 or 50 he'll say, 'What did I do?' Because deep inside he's not a jerk. I believe once he's finished he can relax."

The players disliked him because he was aloof, because, even at 6-1, 5-0, he was still drilling aces past them and line drives at them when they came to the net. Many became bitter in 1982 when he entered and won virtually every tournament on the WCT circuit, a tour of small fields and big money that many felt discriminated against the lesser players on the Grand Prix tour. A veteran player, Eddie Dibbs, screamed "You Communist son of a bitch" at him between points. Connors shot the finger at him, made jokes about Lendl's pre-match nervous bladder and called him "a chicken" when he purposely lost to Connors at midnight in a 1981 round-robin Masters match, thereby gaining an afternoon semifinal against Gene Mayer instead of a match against Bjorn Borg.

To lunge and sweat and pant once a player began to beat him badly was a vulnerability Lendl couldn't show; nonchalance made even defeat appear in his control. When unseeded Henri Leconte began to overwhelm Lendl last summer at Wimbledon, all the struggle went out of him. The players watching the locker-room TV smiled at each other and clutched their throats. They knew. Who would need to show that much control outside unless he felt that much chaos inside?

The greatest humiliations seemed to come at the U.S. Open, as his mother and father watched during their annual trip to America. Lendl wouldn't permit them to sit in the courtside players' box. "I didn't want to see her eyes roll when I made a mistake," he says. "She still tries to coach me, she still criticizes everything."

In the '83 Open final, serving at set point for a 2-1 lead against Connors, Lendl double-faulted. Inside him, everything snapped. The frustration had risen with each mistake, found no drainage and finally flooded him with the old helpless rage, two decades old and never resolved. Somebody would have to pay for this. The worst thing you could do to her was quit. He quickly lost that set and then barely budged as Connors won the final set 6-0.

In the past-champions' box, old warriors from Lendl's childhood scrapbook were grumbling. "Players like Don Budge, Pancho Gonzales, Rod Laver and Vic Seixas," recalls Arthur Ashe, "were saying, 'This is embarrassing, he should be suspended or fined. He has just given up.' It was inexcusable, in front of 20,000 people and on worldwide TV. It gave the entire sport a bad name. In the ethos of competition, you always bust your ass."

The crowd hooted and whooped. A New York Post headline called him CHOKE-OSLOVAKIAN. No one mentioned, he says, that he was splayed on the hood of his car after the match from the lingering agony of a stomach cramp that struck him during the match. "I didn't want to make excuses," he says. "The press should have known something was wrong; they didn't try to find out. Maybe if it was for the Ostrava club championship [you would give up], but there would have to be something terribly wrong with your brain to give up in the fourth set of the U.S. Open final."

Every time it happened, he had a reason—injury or exhaustion, something he could analyze and put his finger on. But even his friends knew something deeper was happening. "Something always snapped psychologically," says Vyborny. "Maybe we were brought up with an inferiority complex in Czechoslovakia."

Who knew how different was the air a child inhaled growing up in a land always under the boot, occupied by the Austrians and Hungarians, invaded by the Nazis and controlled by the Russians? Who knew what a summoning of self it took to arise from a nation stripped of self?

Lendl saw no choice but to bore on. America was the place for him, a land where a man who did not accept was rewarded, where a man cut off from community could feel a member of the many. If only he would learn to smile and shake hands and make small talk, the new land was ready to call him one of its own. There was something perversely admirable in his refusal to spit-shine his image.

"Where I grew up we didn't show all that with people until we knew them better," he says. "I'd think to myself, 'What am I doing wrong?' I'm not offending anyone, and they still don't like me. I wasn't terribly worried—my priority had to be to succeed. Because when you're No. 75 nobody cares if you smile. You never find out if people like you or not.

"If you become great, then you can become happy. If you're happy first, it's much more difficult to be great. Life in tennis is too short, and by then it's too late.

"But why is it necessary to explain all this? Why does a man with tight lips need to be justified, and a man who is grinning from ear to ear doesn't? Why is one better than the other? Why can't they just be different?"

Accept me as I am, cried the man who accepted little as it was. Quietly, he went about becoming Americanized, playing golf religiously, scouring USA Today, watching Police Academy and Beverly Hills Cop over and over, buying glass-and-chrome furniture, a remote-control, big-screen TV, replacing his telephones with new ones that could dial a number with the punch of a button. Old things, for some reason, seemed to chill him.

Like Fibak, he wanted expensive paintings on his walls. He gathered more than 100 art nouveau works done by a Czech painter from the early 1900s—the second largest collection of Alphonse Mucha paintings in the world—but permitted no other art in his house. "That would be like someone wearing Adidas shoes, socks and shirt with a Fila headband," he explains. "I'm not big about art. Collecting Muchas was just something I wanted to do because I met his son. You can't have plain walls."

Nothing was done for sentiment or symbol. When Lendl returned in 1984 from his last trip to his homeland, he arranged to have the sixth of his guard dogs sent to him. "They're better trained there than here," he explains.

"Is there anything I miss from Czechoslovakia? Nothing. My life is so comfortable and organized here, and that helps my tennis. If I miss something I can organize it. I'm glad I have no strong feelings for Czechoslovakia because I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my life here. I live in the present and try to plan the future. Besides my parents I had nothing but tennis in Czechoslovakia. And tennis I carried out with me."

But the past would not unclasp him. Every demand from the Czech government—to pay more taxes, to come home to practice for the Davis Cup, to keep his money in a Czech bank—rang in his ears like orders from his mother. Every request he had to make to a foreign embassy for a visa made the millionaire feel like a little boy begging his father for ice cream. "They [the Czech government] kept suggesting what I should do and hinting at what might happen if I didn't," he says.

In 1983, he reportedly accepted $400,000 to play an exhibition in Sun City, Bophuthatswana, an "independent" homeland inside South Africa with which Czechoslovakia had no relations. The Czech Tennis Federation suspended him. Production of a Czech biography on Lendl suddenly stopped. For a year he disappeared from Czech newspapers and broadcasts. He halted even his minimal payment of Czech taxes and has yet to resume paying them.

Perhaps fearful of losing him to defection, as they had Martina Navratilova, the Czechs invited him back to the Davis Cup in 1984. He jumped on Sweden's Henrik Sundstrom for a 6-4, 6-3, 3-0 lead, then unraveled and lost. Kodes, the Czech captain, said Lendl gave up. Last year, Lendl refused to play Davis Cup singles against West Germany because of a chronic elbow injury, lost in doubles—and then whipped Connors in an exhibition at the Meadowlands three days later, and McEnroe in another exhibition four days after that.

He is not playing for Czechoslovakia this year, claiming authorities there reneged on a promise concerning his passport. Recently he applied for his green card in the U.S., which an immigrant must normally hold for five years before becoming an American citizen. Unless—"Defect? It depends," he says. "I prefer not to, but...."

"The people in Czechoslovakia feel he only plays well for money, and not for his country," says Kodes. "He has lost his position as a national hero. Maybe if after a match he came back to Prague to speak to people and do interviews, but he just keeps going and playing and making money. Maybe he isn't losing anything, and maybe he's losing everything. Maybe he won't realize until much later."

"He's not a whore," counters Vyborny. "He can't play 100 percent wearing a symbol on his shirt if he doesn't believe in it. What can they do to him? He knows he's almost untouchable."

The price of being untouchable was how few others he could touch. For what idea, what people, was his life and his work? Fibak? He had his wife and two daughters—besides, the more Lendl knew his way in America, the more independent he became.

One day Lendl's agent received a breathless call in his New York office. "Jerry, come quick," demanded Lendl.

"Why? I've got meetings."

"Just come, Jerry. As soon as you can."

Solomon made the one-hour trip to Greenwich, watched Lendl stride onto his diving board and dive into the pool.

"Ivan, why did you call me?" asked Solomon.

"Jerry, I have learned how to dive!" he cried.

Solomon shook his head and chuckled. He enjoyed it when Lendl chased him through parking lots for some tongue-in-cheek insult, when the little boy in Ivan found its way out. "It's nice to share with someone," agrees Lendl. "But you always really play for yourself. If I lose I won't like myself and that drives me. Someone else would forgive me for losing."

Often Solomon had to beg or cajole Lendl to appear at an autograph session or a clinic, make him think the idea was his. "He enjoyed watching Jerry squirm, like a little boy picking the wings off a fly," says one tennis official. Solomon, a 31-year-old senior vice-president of Pro-Serv, who had almost come to fill the role of a brother to Lendl, understood that it had to be this way for now, that he must try to help Lendl through a difficult period.

Two years ago, Lendl quickly agreed to play Connors in a San Diego exhibition to raise money for the survivors of the McDonald's massacre in San Ysidro, Calif. and then flew to Corpus Christi, Texas, for an exhibition against Steve Denton to raise funds for a child undergoing heart surgery. He surprised people with a cordiality and quick wit he usually saved only for those he knew well. "He seemed a lot more conscious of good causes and what he could do with his stature," says Robin Blakeley, president of Talent Sports International Inc., the agency that promoted the match in Texas.

But that same year in the French Open final, when Lendl was losing to McEnroe 2-0 and 4-2 in the third set, even Solomon had neared the end of his patience. "C'mon," he snarled from the players' box. "Keep fighting!" Lendl caught the intent and whirled on Solomon. "What do you think I'm doing?" he screamed. "Tanking?"

A new grimness settled on Lendl's jaws and back he came, powering forehands through the 85° haze, reaping McEnroe's mistakes, winning in five sets and then vomiting inches from McEnroe's shoes as he waited for the trophy. He reeled into the locker room and nearly lost consciousness from heat prostration. Vyborny rushed in and found him lying there, deathly white, ice packs on his head, unable to recognize friends.

"It was horrible," Vyborny recalls. "I leaned close to him and he whispered, 'Take my mother back to the hotel—I have to find a different exit.' Can you believe it? The bastard had just won his first major tournament ever, he was almost dying and he was still planning how to avoid people."

The glow of the deed barely warmed him, and then it was gone. He left for the Queens tournament in London, lost in the first round, lost in the semifinals at Wimbledon, lost in the second round in Toronto. He had played and planned himself into exhaustion, and now people were dismissing his French Open triumph as a McEnroe collapse. Many American companies still spurned him as a spokesman for their products, promoters still offered him less than McEnroe or Connors to play in their exhibitions.

So tightly had he tied the tourniquet on joy and anger, all that trickled through him was apathy. "The feeling I had on the tennis court," he says, "was, 'O.K., flies, eat me.' " His mind was spent from forever arranging the next moment instead of letting it come to pass. His body seemed to deteriorate each day; now just 10 minutes of practice left him depleted. Nature was overcoming will; Ivan Lendl was filling with a private terror. Could the goal to which he'd given his life be unworthy of the cost? Might his career be snatched away at 24?

Fibak insisted he practice longer, fight through it. Lendl insisted he needed to spend more time on conditioning and less playing tennis. Then walk off the court if you're tired, said Fibak. Lendl did, and early last year their partnership split. Once a man broke ranks with his past, was there any end to the breaking?

"It had to happen once he learned everything from me," says Fibak. "In the end we didn't have that much in common. I'm a seeker. Ivan would be happy with his gates locked, his Adidas shirts and his dogs."

"He brought me to a certain level," says Lendl, "and maybe he couldn't take me any further. I miss it, and yet I like being on my own."

He underwent a complete battery of physical tests. The results shocked Dr. Robert Haas, a sports nutritionist whose advice had helped Navratilova dominate women's tennis. Lendl's serum cholesterol, in the high-risk range for a normal male and rare for a world-class athlete in his 20s, helped explain some of his sluggishness on the court. Ever since he had left his home, mealtime had meant four or five Cokes, red meat, rich desserts—and sweet defiance of his mother. "I thought, 'I'll show you,' " he says. "I almost never ate vegetables or fruits."

Fanatically, he now began to follow the Haas diet—low on cholesterol, red meats and sugar, high on carbohydrates and fiber. Peas and carrots—two helpings, please, as long as they were his idea. "I started having enough energy to get my feet in position for shots I was always lunging at before," he says. "With no sugar I don't have as many ups and downs in my personal life; there aren't days when I don't want to talk to people."

For his new coach he chose Tony Roche, like McEnroe a lefthander whose forte was net play, so Lendl might learn to loosen McEnroe's headlock on No. 1. Roche worked on his serve and volley and backhand crosscourt, turning drills into games for a dollar or two to kindle Lendl's competitive flame.

To gain more control, Lendl sensed he had to surrender just a little. He began attending aerobics class at 7 a.m. in Greenwich, twisting to Chubby Checker and kicking his legs to Devil With a Blue Dress On. Good golly, Miss Molly—no one laughed. He could make lighthearted fun of Kleinman-Cindrich as she adjusted his vertebrae and let her tickle him like the sister he never had. If no one but those he selected would know, he could chance a little more—even the new pair of underwear speckled with red elephants floating downward on purple parachutes.

He underwent psychoanalysis and began to get some idea of why he did certain things on the court. He became closer to a girl whom he had known for a few years. Once he knew he could do it, he began to feel more comfortable about coming to the net, about groaning at his blunders and raising his fists for pretty placements. All of these were his decisions—not his parents', his government's, his mentor's—and for Lendl that was the most important of all. "Now I couldn't say to myself, 'I lost because of someone else's strategy,' " he says. "I was the one who had to do it. The more things I tried that worked, the more I was willing to try." The risks were not dramatic, but so powerful a tennis player was Lendl that even just a little loosening of body and spirit was enough to send him where he wanted to go.

He joked with the press during the U.S. Open last September that he was three-quarters of the way to a fourth straight loss in the U.S. Open final. Down 5-2 to McEnroe in the first set of the final, a thought occurred to him. "I'm losing, but I'm doing the right things. It's O.K." He ripped a few winners, the breeze changed and he let himself ride it. "Suddenly I felt I could try any shot and make it," he says. He didn't tire or become cautious. He didn't give up. He won 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. "I guess there isn't much more my mother could ask of me, is there?" he says.

A few hours later, as he watched his triumph on video, the camera closed in on his parents at the end. Urgently, his mother blinked, but in the corner of her eye he was sure he saw a tear.

"Deep down he is still very nervous because his talent is from work, not from God," says Ion Tiriac, the Romanian who manages West Germany's Boris Becker. "In very difficult moments, with very big stakes, he is still very vulnerable. His nerves will still go."


03-02-2009, 10:06 PM
Wow, that was massive.

03-02-2009, 10:25 PM
I loved Lendl in his prime but he still hasnt grasped the language well enough because he comes off as a bit of an asshole.
He barealy knew current top players when this was done..

03-02-2009, 11:31 PM
1986... great article...

i can only remember watching the precise machine lendl had turned into... not the vulnerable lendl who hadn't figured it out yet... this was a nice backround... he and navratilova did so well at that point in history... to shut it all out and get on with life like there was no burden... immense...

fibak :worship:

Action Jackson
03-03-2009, 02:32 AM
I still remember Lendl's great arsehole tactic. He played Wilander in an exho in Barcelona. Wilander, he didn't have a racquet, he didn't have any shoes, as they didn't come through luggage.

Lendl then comes out and beats Wilander 6-0 6-0, funny how after that Wilander just wanted to keep him out there as long as possible.

His English is fine, he just says it, how he sees it.

03-03-2009, 05:37 PM
Lendl was such a machine, but i tried to copy that backhand and forehand for quite some time.. with not great results but its still the basis I think for my ground strokes to this day.
Hell I even still kinda serve like Navratilova.. but im dating myself too much.

05-24-2009, 10:14 AM
The Ivan Lendl interview

Tennis ace Ivan Lendl was mocked and derided but he is smiling now
Tennis player Ivan Lendl running to make a return shot during a match against Ramesh Krishman at the Stella Artois Tennis tournament in London in 1992.

Paul Kimmage

A sweltering Saturday afternoon at Feather Sound Golf Club in Florida: he unfolds the small plastic chair he paid five bucks for in Walmart and plants himself at the back of the sixth green. “This is the life,” he sighs, “watching your kids play sport.” The clipped Czech accent hasn’t changed but the expression is unrecognisable. Ivan Lendl is beaming.

I have travelled from London to write a feature on Lendl and his five sporting daughters. Two of them, Isabelle, 18, and Daniela, 16, are golf prodigies and were playing this afternoon in a Future Collegians World Tour event at Feather Sound. The arrangement was that I would interview Lendl before the round and then follow him as he watched them play the 18 holes.

The walk was as enjoyable as any I have spent on a golf course but the interview wasn’t quite what we had planned. His girls are witty and lovely and brilliant but how do you spend a day with a tennis legend and ignore the quirks and traits that drove him to the top?

In the perfect world of Ivan Lendl there is no subjectivity. There are no politicians, no newspaper columnists, no grey areas. There are facts, box scores, black and white . . . his vision of a sports daily is something along the lines of France’s L’Equipe.

He merely wants to read that in the second minute of the third period a guy was penalised, the other team scored and it might have turned the hockey game. Please, no opinions. “I’m not interested in a psychological profile of the guy who took the penalty and what motivated him,” he says.”
Greg Garber, The Hartford Courant, 1993.

“So, you didn’t like reading profiles of other athletes,” I suggest.



“Well, you can call me sarcastic - and probably rightly so - because I know what was written about me and how much of it was wrong, or untrue, so I would read a profile of Jack Nicklaus and sit there, wondering, 'Why am I reading this? How much of this is true?’ So I grew rather hesitant to take information from that. I want the facts.”

“Has that changed? Are you interested now in other sportsmen and what drives them?”

“I am very happy to read question and answer. I am very happy to watch question and answer. I am not going to read or watch somebody’s opinion about something.”

“So you are still mistrustful of writers?”

“I don’t think it’s mistrustful, it’s just a fact of life. If somebody writes a piece and it's question and answer, I trust that they will quote the answers they were given. I do not trust their judgment on the person.”

“You don’t?”

“No because . . . Okay, so we’re talking here now and then you’re going to go away and write a judgment of me or an assessment of me. How can you do that in an hour and a half? [The time I have been allotted for the interview]. That’s totally unfair to me and unfair to you and totally unfair for the readers.”

“I can’t argue with that,” I smile.

“So that’s where I stand.”

“But that doesn’t mean you’re not interested in the psychological profiles of other athletes?”

“No, you’re right, it doesn’t. I am interested but not necessarily from that source, and it depends also on what sort of psychological profile you want to look at. I see enough golf and tennis to make my own assessment.”

“Did you read the John McEnroe autobiography? The Jimmy Connors biography?”

“No, I didn’t read any of them.”

“Why not?”

“Well, John, Jimmy and I - and I think you can go three ways with this - didn’t see eye to eye. But having said that, I know the guys well enough to make my own assessment of them and I’m not interested in their ex-wives or kids or whatever, I’m just not. I happen to like Stefan Edberg a lot but if he wrote a book I wouldn’t read it either. So it’s not personal, I’m just not interested.”

“The context of your relationship with Jimmy and John was...”

“Is that what you call it?” he laughs.

“You were competitors, rivals, so it was almost a given you weren’t going to get on. But when you step back from it now - and it’s almost 15 years since you retired - aren’t you interested in McEnroe’s perspective on the rivalry? What he was thinking on the opposite side of the net during those key moments of your battles?”

“No, because it’s totally irrelevant,” he says. “If he had written it when we were playing, I would be the first to read it. But now there is no point because I am somebody else now. That was a totally different life, a totally different lifetime. Okay, so maybe John was scared [of me] and maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he had respect [for me] and maybe he didn’t. It makes no difference ... and again, that’s not to knock him because if it was [Mats] Wilander or Edberg writing, I still wouldn’t be interested.”

“You’ve never done an autobiography?”

“And I never will.”

“Why not?”

“Why yes?”

“Because you are one of the most interesting and most misunderstood sportsmen of all time.”

“But isn’t that how you keep the mystique,” he grins.

“For sure,” I smile, “but why not set the record straight and say, ’This is who I am. These are the events that shaped me. Now make your own mind up'.”

“You don’t know me well enough but the gist of it is this. When I do something, I do it right or not at all. To write a proper book I would have to name names, it would hurt some people, and I don’t think that’s necessary. Secondly, it’s not that important to me. I know who I am and my friends know who I am, that’s what is important to me. Would it be nice that all the tennis fans know who I am? Yeah, but not at the price of hurting people.”

“Is it true that your daughters have watched only a few of your matches on tape?”

“That’s true.”

“How much of your life, your sporting life, do they know about?”

“Very little. I never talk about it.”

“Is that not another reason for writing an autobiography?”

“If they want to know I’ll tell them everything,” he laughs. “They have the source, all they have to do is ask.”

My mother was always snapping at me to eat my peas and carrots. But the more she yelled, the more I resisted her. Then she would start hitting me across the face. It hurt but I forced myself not to cry. If I had, she would have known that she had got to me - and I couldn’t let that happen.” - Ivan Lendl, from an unauthorised biography by his former friend, George Mendoza.

An only child, Lendl was born into a tennis family and raised in the coal mining city of Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. His mother, Olga, had once been the second-ranked female player in the country. His father, Jiri, a lawyer, had been ranked 15. By the age of 13, Ivan could beat his father. A year later, he beat his mother for the first time. She did not take it well...

“One of the most interesting things about Connors,” I announce, “was the influence of his mother and grandmother. His father was a peripheral figure in his life. He was raised by two women to beat men. I get the impression it was the same for you?”

“Not quite to that extent,” he replies. “I think if you look at any successful athlete, especially in individual sport, you will find one dominant parent. I don’t know enough about Jimmy to make a comparison, but in my case my mother and I never really played tennis together because our personalities clashed. As soon as I beat her once, that was it. She wouldn’t play with me, so I was in the hand of coaches.”

“She seems quite a hard woman. Was that quote from the Mendoza book true?”

“No, that’s just crazy.”

“It’s totally untrue?” I press.

“Whether it’s true or not, I would never say it. Look, it’s not about my mother. My mother did a fantastic job, working, playing tennis, taking care of me. I will not complain about my mother. She had a hard life and I am not going to say a word about that.

Was she tough on me? Of course. But maybe that’s what helped me. One parent is always tougher than the other, one is a disciplinarian and the other is not. In our family, my mother was the disciplinarian but making quotes like that ... no.”

“You became the most dominant player in the world through dedication and force of will. Was it your will or your mother’s?”

“It is my opinion that every child does a sport for their parents at first. People say, ’You should not push a child. The child has to love it’ but how is the child going to love it if they are not pushed in the first place? Because if you give them the choice they won’t want to be there. So they get pushed or ’given the opportunity’ or whatever you want to call it, and there is a time when they start playing for themselves.”

“Do you remember when you started playing for yourself?”

“No. I don’t think you can pinpoint it to a day but I always hated losing. It’s a miserable feeling. I hate it. I hate losing. I do it even now when I play golf with friends.”

“Another significant influence on your life was growing-up in a communist state. Is it true that you watched the Soviet tanks rolling into Prague?”

“Yeah, I remember my parents were in Prague for club matches and I was with my grandparents in another town. They came to pick me up and we went home on the train and at every station there were tanks aiming at the trains.”

“That must have been terrifying?”

"Well, it wasn’t terrifying because you are only eight [and don’t understand]. My parents were very upset and I was warned not to use words like ’occupants’ or to laugh or spit or say anything against them. People went to jail for using words like that. That’s another reason I wouldn’t write an autobiography - people here just wouldn’t understand. People in Hungary and Poland and the former Soviet republics would understand but people in California? Are you kidding me? They have no idea what it was like.”

“So tennis opened the door to a completely different world?”

“Yes, tennis was a vehicle to get out of there.”

“What is it like coming to the U.S. for the first time?”

“I was 15 and came to play in the Orange Bowl and it was great ... At home, I was able to play a maximum of two hours indoors a week. Well, how much better are you going to get? But I came here and played six hours a day for two months and didn’t bother to look around. It didn’t matter to me that the stores had all the fruit you wanted to eat - I just wanted to get fed so I could go and play again. That was what I cared about and tennis became a great vehicle for a better life.”

“Was there a sportsman you admired or particularly wanted to emulate?”

“Well, I learnt a lot at that time from Martina [Navratilova]. She defected and without her I don’t think I would have pulled off what I did over there because they were afraid I would defect as well. [Lendl was allowed to travel the globe freely under the liberalised policy his country adopted after Navratilova defected in 1975. He paid 20% of his earnings to the Czech tennis federation.] I had no interest in politics or in defecting. As long as they didn’t stand in my way to achieving what I wanted to achieve, I was okay with it.”

“During those formative years here, your relationship with the media was strained,” I suggest. “And your relationship with the fans suffered as a result of that.”

“Well, let me tell you about the media,” he says. “Because there was no freedom of speech in communist countries, I had to be careful what I said and didn’t upset the agreements or arrangements I had because if I was home they could have taken my passport and I would never have travelled again; would never have been heard of again. But the first question [at the press conference] was always, ’Would you like to live here? When are you going to defect?’ Well, what can I say? There was no answer I could give and that’s how it started.”

“In 1982, your early mentor here, Wojtek Fibak, said this about you in The New York Times: ’Ivan will not show his real face on the court because tennis is his profession. He wants to be Ivan Lendl, superstar, No 1. He wants to be cool because that’s his protection. If he would suddenly open himself, he might be hurt somewhere. By being hard and cruel, he’s not asking the public to like him, just to respect him'.”

“Well, that’s Wojtek’s observation.”

"Was he right?”

“I think you can draw a big distinction between golf and tennis. In golf, if I say, ’I didn’t drive the ball well today’ as Tiger [Woods] did yesterday, his opponents can’t hurt him. But if I say, ’My backhand passing shot is terrible at the moment’ and you are playing me tomorrow, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to exploit that and crush you,” I laugh.

“So that’s a big distinction,” he smiles. “They [the media] would ask me, ’How are you going to play the guy tomorrow?’ Do you want me to advertise it? I mean, I can tell you right now about [my weak points and] what I hated because it doesn’t matter.

Everybody thought highly of my forehand but I hated it when they served to my forehand on big points! I hated that! But why would I tell the media that? I don’t see [Roger] Federer saying how he is going to play [Rafael] Nadal!”

“The flipside of having to be guarded was that the public never saw the real Ivan Lendl,” I suggest. “The cliched projection of you here was that you were robotic and devoid of personality, the embodiment of the caricature communist, ’Ivan the Terrible’"


“That wasn’t very fair was it?”

“No, definitely not ... Nobody hates communists more than I do - not even Rush Limbaugh!”

“Did it hurt?”

“In that business you grow a thick skin very quickly. Of course, you prefer if it’s not written but I didn’t lose any sleep over it.”

“You never played the game or courted popularity,” I suggest.

“No, to me that’s sucking-up.”

“And you would never do that?”

“No, I believe you are who you are, and if they like you for it great, and if they don’t, too bad. You are not going to please everybody so stick to your principles.”

“Isn’t there a part of us all that wants to be loved?”

“That’s human nature, and there’s nothing wrong with that but again I would rather be liked by a lesser percentage

for what I am, not for who I pretend to be. That’s important to me.”

"In September 1986, you won the US Open and made the cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time. The headline was ’The Champion that nobody cares about'."

“Yeah, I have not spoken to them since and I never will. It was totally uncalled for in my opinion.”

“That must have been incredibly hurtful?”

“It was unpleasant but there is no rhyme or reason for the way things unfold sometimes.”

“There were some fantastic characters playing tennis in that era,” I observe. “What was it like coming from Czechoslovakia and having to pit your wits against guys like Connors and McEnroe, who were loved here?”

“Well, I’m not sure I agree with that statement.”

“What? That they were loved?”

“Yeah,” he laughs. “I think, whenever you played the No 1 player in their own country it was difficult but you had to learn to deal with it. It was very satisfying, when you had 20,000 people cheering against you, to hold the trophy and smile. That always appealed to my perverted sense of humour.”

It was the worst loss of my life, a devastating defeat: sometimes it still keeps me up nights. It’s even tough for me now to do the commentary at the French - I’ll often have one or two days when I literally feel sick to my stomach just at being there and thinking about that match. Thinking of what I threw away, and how different my life would’ve been if I’d won. - John McEnroe, “Serious.”

Twenty-five years ago, in June 1984, Lendl played McEnroe in the final of the French Open. It was Lendl's fourth appearance in a Grand Slam final and he had yet to register a win. McEnroe was playing the tennis of his life and had crushed Lendl in four finals that year. On the morning of the match, L’Equipe published a cartoon of a brash and confident McEnroe pointing a gun across the net at a cowering and sweating and petrified Lendl. This was our perception of him; the guy who fell at the final hurdle; the guy who couldn’t get it done. But then something extraordinary happened...

“Did you see that cartoon?” I ask.

“Of course not. As an athlete you should never read the press, good or bad, it’s not good for you.”

“You lost the first two sets of that final and he was two games to love up in the third.”

“Are you sure about that?” he asks.

“Well, that’s what McEnroe says in his book.”

“You are absolutely certain about that? I know popular recollection is that he was two sets and a break up but my recollection was that he was not a break up in the third but he was up a break in the fourth - 4-3 serving two gain points for 5-3. That’s my recollection.”

“He definitely says in his book that he was up a break in the third,” I insist.

“I dispute that. I don’t recall it that way.” [Lendl's recollection is totally accurate].

“Okay,” I concede. “The bottom line is that you somehow managed to turn it around.”


“Do you remember the turning point or a key moment? He describes being distracted by the crackling of a TV microphone.”

“You mean a plane flew over and he got distracted,” he chuckles. “It didn’t take much with John!”

“Do you remember a key moment?”

“No, what I remember is this. We played in Dusseldorf a week before and he beat me 6-3, 6-2. About two weeks before that we played at Forest Hills and he beat me 6-4, 6-2, or something like that. He didn’t lose a match that year. It was one of the best years anybody ever had. So he was clearly the favourite and we started and I’m just basically getting blown away and just trying to make it respectable, that’s all I am trying to do.”

“You’re trying to survive?”

“What else are you going to do? You can either pack it in or you can keep fighting. So I just kept fighting and I happened to win the third set and from then on I thought I was going to win because I saw him tiring and I wasn’t near tiring yet because the points were short.”

“How did it feel when you had done it?” [Lendl won 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5].

“I don’t remember any of it.”

“You must.”

“I don’t remember any of it. A friend of mine said to me a few years later, ’You looked really tired in that locker room'. I said, ’What are you talking about? You were not even there'. But apparently he was.”

“Did you celebrate that night?”

“No, I was too tired.”

“There was no joy? No elation?”

“Sure I was elated, of course I was elated but ... you play for yourself. You don’t play for your parents or for your coach, you play for yourself.”

“But you didn’t celebrate?”


“Did you drink?”



“I had one beer after one of the Australian [Opens I won] and it was ugly. I promised Tony [his coach, Tony Roche] I’d have a drink with him if I won and it got ugly. We tried to remove some of the chairs from the room of the hotel and forgot to open a window!” “Okay, back to McEnroe and your major. He said some pretty cutting things about you over the years: ’The guy hasn’t been good for tennis. He has been so selfish. And he’s certainly not the kind of guy who brings out the best in others. He’s hurt the popularity of the game so much ... Do you like a robot being No 1?’ "

“Sounds to me like sour grapes,” he smiles.

“He also said some very complimentary things. ’As much as I may have disliked him, I have to give Lendl credit: nobody in the sport has ever worked as hard as he did. He became a great champion'.

His expression contorts. “Ehh, somehow those two don’t go together, do they?”

“He described the 84 French as the worst loss of his life, a devastating defeat.”

“I think it was,” he concurs. “People always say it was the most important match of my career and I disagree - I think I would have won my share afterwards anyhow. But it was the most important match in a negative way of his career because I think, if he had won, that he would have put more effort into [winning] the Australian and would have finished with 10 or 12 majors instead of seven, and talked about in the same breath as Rod Laver and Roger Federer. I agree wholeheartedly that it was devastating for him and his reputation and career.”

“You say you didn’t like him or Jimmy?”

“And I don’t think they liked each other, either.”

“Does it give you any pleasure that you inflicted so much pain on him [McEnroe]?”

“No, not at all. It was nice to win and if it was somebody else I’d have felt the same way.”

“What about your relationship with them now?”

“I have not seen Jimmy since he retired. I see John about once a year at Madison Square Garden ...This is funny actually, Jerry [Lendl's former manager, Jerry Solomon] and I ran that event last year between Sampras and Federer and John was there doing television. So we talk a bit and I say, ’You know John, ever since I met you in 1977 in Santos, Brazil, at a junior banana ball, I knew one day you were going to work for me.”


“Yeah,” he laughs.

“But John, actually, has a good sense of humour and he starts laughing and says, ’Well let’s keep it at one day.”

“And you haven’t seen Jimmy? That’s a surprise.”

“Well, I don’t think Jimmy or I make a habit of hanging around tennis tournaments. I mean he coached Roddick for a while but I don’t go to tennis tournaments much. I am much more interested in juniors than the big boys.”

“Which of your rivals did you like most?”

“Edberg. He had a sick sense of humour just like me. You know what they say about quiet water always making trouble? That’s Stefan.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong but 1984 was also the year you met your wife, Samantha?”

“That’s wrong.”

“I read that you married in September 1989 and met five years before that.”

“Yes but I think it was less than five years. I’d better not say any more or I’ll get in trouble.”

“You once said that if you had a family you would have to cheat either your children or your tennis?”


“You won your last major at the Australian Open in 1990 and your daughter Marika was born four months later.”


“So you ended up cheating on your tennis?”

“Well, when the kids are really small and if you have a very good spouse - and I clearly do - there is not that much a man can do. So I would not blame it on the family. It was just father time. In tennis, as you get older, it’s not that you lose the straight-line speed or the stamina - the stamina actually gets better - it’s the agility of turning [you lose] and agility was starting to go. A split-of-a-second late here, two splits there and the point is gone. And you can’t do anything about it. There is nowhere to hide.”

“So it wasn’t so much the kids as a natural decline?”


“You once teased Tony Roche that he wasn’t a real man because his wife had given birth to two daughters?”


“How did you feel when Samantha kept having girls?”

“I loved that. It didn’t bother me at all.”

“A son would have made no difference?”


“You retired in 1994. A lot of great sportsmen struggle in retirement but you have clearly flourished?”

“Well, life clearly changes,” he says. “You have to readjust your values and learn very quickly that it’s not all about you all the time. If you don’t, you have problems. I was trained to compete all my life and could not see myself walking away from competition and that’s where golf came in. Golf was a great vehicle for me to get the competition out of myself. I love competing. I get nervous before I play. I get the same buzz as when I was playing tennis. I love it.”

“That’s great.”

“I belong to four clubs and between the four of them I have won the club championships 25 times now, which is a highlight for me ... It sounds silly in a way when you’ve won the French and the US Opens to be worrying about the club championships but the competitiveness is still there.”

“So golf has filled the void?”

“Yes, golf has been a saviour. I would have been at home biting my dogs!”

“How has Samantha put up with you for so long?”

“I don’t know,” he smiles.

“You must have some good qualities?”

“I think I’m fairly reasonable as long as I get those juices out of me. If I don’t, I’m miserable.”

“You’re obviously still in love?”

“Of course, and not only with my family, I love my life.”


05-24-2009, 12:34 PM
Thanks. Just remember Lendl - I liked him.

Shudder to think of the loathing he'd generate these days.

05-24-2009, 01:20 PM
Thanks for posting this article. Excellent read and although he says one can't gain much from a short interview I think he said a lot.
Unfortunately I lost my interest in tennis in the early 80's and did not watch enough of Lendl. I use to think it was because Mac and Jimmy were so brash and because Lendl was so totally the opposite. Obviously ( to me ) I had other things to do at the time. ;)
Thankfully the tennis channel is playing classic matches. Watched the 84 Men's RG final yesterday. It was quite fun to finally watch.

Johnny Groove
05-24-2009, 02:11 PM
Fantastic articles, both of them.

05-24-2009, 03:20 PM
Fantastic read - one of the most fascinating interviews I've read.

05-24-2009, 03:49 PM
Absolutely outstanding articles.

05-24-2009, 06:35 PM
Thanks for all the Lendl stuff. He's more and more becoming my favourite player ever, a real person among the phoneys tennis seems to be filled.

Action Jackson
05-24-2009, 06:38 PM
Good and thoughtful answers from Lendl.

05-30-2009, 09:35 PM
Unfortunately I lost my interest in tennis in the early 80's and did not watch enough of Lendl.

I started to watch tennis in that decade, but unfortunately I didn't realized at that time what kind of player Ivan was. I had other players I supported and wasn't able to see the interesting personality in him. Even more I enjoy it now to read something about him and his life.

06-24-2009, 09:55 AM
The last one is a fantastic interview and contains some interesting stuff about the decline and the baby for Federer's fans :yeah:

08-08-2009, 09:04 PM
How Lendl became a tennis pro (short biography)

Action Jackson
08-10-2009, 12:59 AM
Very interesting and seeing the young Lendl in action and how he improved his backhand.

08-10-2009, 01:26 AM
What a useless interview. Lendl was always a bore, back in the 1980 and now.

08-10-2009, 02:01 AM
At this time of year Lendl was winning back to back Clay titles after wimbledon tragedy... then going back to back on hard... a few hours after winning the Washington title he was often seen on the public courts nearby the capital's stadium, challenging kid's grandmothers as to what problem they had with him handling out 13 minute bagels to beginners...

yeah, lendl muscled up about now...

08-10-2009, 02:04 AM
Lendl speaks his mind, isn't boring, had a monster ground game and has a legitimate claim to be the GOAT (not saying he is)

Action Jackson
08-10-2009, 02:16 AM
What a useless interview. Lendl was always a bore, back in the 1980 and now.

You missed that bridge.

08-10-2009, 04:40 AM
How Lendl became a tennis pro (short biography)

Thanks Eden. :yeah:

08-11-2009, 04:26 PM
I watched Lendl play Sampras in the final of NSW Open (now Sydney Inter.) in 1994. Lendl used to do a camp in the heat with Rochey not too far up the coast in Port Stephens and this year he decided to include the NSW Open in his schedule. It was the first live pro match i ever saw.

Sampras was the newly crowned Wimbledon Champ, but Lendl, even approaching 34, had a presence. It was his last year on tour and I feel i was supremely fortunate in seeing this tune up for the Aussie Open. Lendl lost 6/4 7/6, but was just so clutch.

A week later, they played again in the 4th Round of the Aussie Open. Dunno if this has already been posted, but worth another roll here, cos even with back trouble, Lendl looked the business. The 2nd serve ace you'll see is just 'hey, i have whole bag of that sh!t with your name on it too...'


09-16-2009, 10:05 PM
Ivan as a guest at the David Letterman show in 1986:


10-07-2009, 05:17 PM
Documentary about the rivalry between Ivan and John McEnroe.
Unfortunately it's with German commentary, but maybe some of you will understand it nevertheless.






02-02-2010, 08:05 PM
Lendl to play first exhibition since retirement

AP - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.(AP)—Ivan Lendl will play his first exhibition since he retired from tennis 16 years ago in a new Atlantic City event.

Organizers announced Tuesday that the first Caesars Tennis Classic will be played April 10 at Boardwalk Hall.

Lendl will play former nemesis Mats Wilander, while Andy Roddick will face recently retired Marat Safin. A third match will be announced later.

Caesars says it will donate equipment to Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education. The group runs programs for 6,500 children in various cities, including Atlantic City, Camden and Philadelphia.


02-02-2010, 09:50 PM
great thread. thanks to those who posted interviews and videos.

i don't remember Lendl much. 1st players i remember are Edberg and Becker. we followed Wimbledon much more than any other event. probably because it was during summer vacation in the daytime, and because my mom watched it every day.

here is a nice video of Lendl and Edberg from '85 AO SF.

i thought this was really funny:

The struggle with his mother continued at home. She insisted that he eat vegetables, and he refused. She would put a timer on the table, set it at ten minutes, and leave the room. "She'd say to me, 'If you don't eat, I'm going to call the zoo, and the elephant is going to come and get you.' I was scared of the elephant. So I always tried to push her as far as I could, but then when it was a minute to go, I would just swallow everything."

02-04-2010, 12:17 AM
How Lendl became a tennis pro (short biography)

This is such a great stuff! I miss those days of Ivan!:worship:

02-04-2010, 11:31 PM
I know I'm late to the party, but thanks for bringing these to our attention. I respect Lendl immensely.

02-05-2010, 12:24 AM
The speed of the game has changed. Stamina is not as big of a factor as quickness and strength right now because the points are much shorter

Did tennis really change that much since 2005 when that interview was taken, or was Lendl out to lunch with that statement?

There are extremely long rallies and stamina is probably a bigger importance then it was during the early to late 90's. The points were a lot shorter during Sampras's era, more serve and volley, really fast grass courts, speedy hard courts, the only thing that was super slo mo was the French open.

02-05-2010, 11:13 AM
lendl :worship:

Action Jackson
06-05-2010, 11:15 AM
Ivan was just at the Prostejov Challenger and played an exho while there.

06-05-2010, 01:17 PM
Great to see Lendl play again.

There is a few clips of him and Wilander in Lendl's first comeback.

06-05-2010, 07:28 PM
This is great to see a pic of Ivan after many years! :worship::worship::worship: He was one of my idols (the anti idol for so many )when I was a teenager . Thanks for the stuff :yeah::yeah:

Action Jackson
06-06-2010, 12:33 PM
Lendl he still has the old racquet.

06-06-2010, 01:03 PM
Jiri Novak! :yeah:

Is it his old racquet? I thought it was a Bosworth racquet?

06-06-2010, 01:51 PM
great to see Ivan back on courts, he did a lot for tennis to be where is now....his training metods and physical prepation were revolutionary for that time....Ivan Lendl - father of modern tennis :worship:

06-06-2010, 07:56 PM
The best player of the Open Era by far. He didn't have too much support from the marketing machinery as Agassi, Sampras, Nadal and Federer had but every tennis connoisseur knows who the Greatest Of All Times is.

Action Jackson
08-25-2010, 02:58 PM
Lendl was great on Letterman

08-25-2010, 03:05 PM
Wimbledon final 1986 was probably the first tennis match I have watched live on TV.

10-19-2010, 09:46 PM

10-19-2010, 10:01 PM
Jiri Novak! :yeah:

Is it his old racquet? I thought it was a Bosworth racquet?

yeah looks like steppa converted him...

12-13-2010, 01:50 PM

01-14-2011, 01:00 PM

01-14-2011, 03:48 PM
why did Lendl do it?

Action Jackson
09-22-2011, 12:54 PM
In Prostejov with Mecir and Mandlikova.

Usain Bolt in Ostrava.

Jaro Jagr and Berdych

12-17-2011, 11:38 PM
Ivan Lendl leading junior academy in S.C. (

Clay Death
06-09-2012, 05:20 AM
how good was ostravaghost? he was in 19 slam finals. he won 8 of them but managed to lose 11 of them.

what held him back at slams? was it the competition of his day?

what if he had been as comfortable at the net as edberg? also what if he had actually managed to win a few more of the slams that he lost.

he surely could have won wimbledon had he been more comfortable at the forecourt and paid more attention to grass.

there is just no telling how many more slams he could have won with just a few minor improvements.

i think he could have been the greatest of all time. he had a lot going for himself. he was 6 foot 2 and the fittest player of his day. he had a couple of big weapons and he had one hell of a drive. he was a threat on all surfaces.

so close and yet so far away from being the greatest of all time if there is such a thing as the greatest of all time.

06-09-2012, 05:44 AM
Lendl is considered like the father of modern tennis,

wikipedia :

he is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, he also won a record 22 Championship Series titles (1980–89) the precursors to the current ATP Masters 1000

Lendl's professional attitude, modern playing style, scientific training methods, and unprecedented long-term success have had a considerable impact on today's tennis world

Clay Death
06-09-2012, 05:48 AM
its a shame really that he could not have pocketed a few more majors. not many players get to be in the finals of 19 slams.

22 championship series titles is an amazing accomplishment.

close to a total of 100 titles is also quite impressive. i think something like 94 unless i am mistaken.

06-09-2012, 06:38 AM
what if he had been as comfortable at the net as edberg?

I think he would be GOAT :D

To me, the Lendl story is one the most fascinating stories in tennis

- He did anticipate modern tennis on so many levels.

- He had that killer instinct but is really a nice guy with a great sense of humor, so unlike his media portrayal. He fought in the great era of American tennis during the Cold War... so yes, the competition was fierce as he had to match McEnroe and Connors and even the guys from the next generation and so many great Swedes in addition, Borg, Wilander, Edberg.

- He didn't give a shit, although he was called "the least loved no1 ever". Didn't even try to build a phony public image, and lick anybody's ass. It sometimes looked awkward in the media... He was truly a self-made man, minded his own business and it was the game and his fitness. He is what we call a real deal.

- So dedicated... his ethics were top of all time. Above all the man loves the game. That is why I consider him my favorite player, and this is why I didn't like Agassi, huge talent, but come much fuss about his "image"... it turned out he secretly wore a f. surprise there... even admitted that he hated the game.

Lendl had his aura. His expression was really like "now I will make minced meat out of you without mercy" :D In my eyes he is a true legend, the best ambassador of the sport and the most deserved No 1 ever.

Pity he never won Wimby... "grass is for cows" he said. :D

06-09-2012, 06:44 AM
Everyone talks about the 1984 RG final being huge for Lendl, but surely the 1985 US Open was actually the most important victory of his career?

He was the huge underdog going into that 1985 US Open final against McEnroe, but straight setted him, took his world no. 1 ranking and went on to dominate the sport.

McEnroe on the other hand who had still being playing outstanding tennis in 1985 up to that point, began to decline, and never reached a grand slam final again.

That match, and not the 1984 RG final, was the turning point of both players' careers.

Action Jackson
06-09-2012, 07:47 AM
Still remember Lendl beating Wilander 0 and 0 at an exho, then wanting to hit with Mats at 9am next morning, when Wilander lost all his luggage.

06-09-2012, 08:09 AM
Barcelona 1987 :D

06-09-2012, 09:25 AM
wow.. a great thread that I missed. Yet, even in the very affirmative articles you can find traces of stereotypes of the 80s that haunted Lendl. Great articles though, and great read.

Also, sometimes I like to think that Lendl is much more Czech than he himself thinks. Being individual isn't something alien to Czech culture. One should only read some novels by Kundera for example.

In my experience many Czechs are very individual and very critical to any kind of suppression of liberties, especially if it comes from the government...

Lendl says he is not like other Czechs but he is wrong, imo...

For example, when a journalist asked him about current situations and prospect of the Czech tennis, and Lendl said something like : "Good question. I have no idea". Now, that's something a former Serbian tennis player probably wouldn't say, however clueless they might be about the issue of Serbian tennis...

Maybe I like Lendl so much because he is exactly the opposite of what came to be visible features of my society: obsession with history, blaming anything but oneself, poor work ethic, tribalism, fatalism, and finally nosiness. Freedom-loving people though, can't deny that.

I am a fan of Djokovic but I only like things that he has in common with the great Lendl when I think of it...