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http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/02/sports/tennis/02araton.html

Agassi's Run No Surprise to Lendl

By HARVEY ARATON
Published: September 2, 2005

ANDRE AGASSI endured another round yesterday, in his 20th consecutive late summer in the big city, playing in a third decade on the men's tennis tour. At age 35, in the twilight of greatness, the wise old man of the United States Open continued a remarkable career rewrite, one that only contrarians in the habit of hitting crosscourt could have foreseen a decade ago.

"You could have guessed it, yes," Ivan Lendl was saying in the players' lounge at the National Tennis Center yesterday, after a corporate promotion in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and before Agassi was good when he had to be in a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) second-round victory over the 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic.

"Because he had a couple of years where he didn't play due to injuries or whatever, and also if you look at Andre's matches, the opponent has always done two to three times the amount of running because Andre controlled the points," Lendl said. "So he's not as used up as if he'd had to play harder, like Wilander or even Connors."

It is not very often that Lendl shows up at any tennis tournament, much less the Open, which he won three times, from 1985 through 1987, and reached the finals a mind-blowing eight straight years. New York City never really celebrated Lendl's persistence, or his metronomic technique. It never quite got his combative interviewing style laced with a wry Czech wit, even as he suburbanized himself in Connecticut's backcountry roads and became a United States citizen in 1992.

Lendl didn't care. He kept hitting inside-out forehands, bending his knees for low backhands, showing up on the last Sunday, network executives and critics be damned.

"People look around and they don't see any top-ranked Americans playing the last weekend, and that's the translation of the statement that tennis is dying," Lendl said. "I always got a chuckle about that, and I just focused on taking care of business. If you're not winning, then no one cares how popular you are."

This sounded like sound formulaic logic for Roger Federer to follow should he have the staying power of Lendl.

Sandwiched between the John McEnroe-Jimmy Connors heyday and the Sampras-Agassi American men's revival came Lendl, the anti-Agassi in personality and in approach, at least during the years when their career paths crossed.

I recall a magazine feature from the late 1980's, describing an encounter between Lendl and Agassi, when Agassi was characterized by long hair and less substance while Lendl, according to Agassi, "certainly set a standard for all of us" in regard to fitness. If my memory serves correctly, Agassi was quizzing Lendl about his workout regimen and insisting he'd like to join him, while consuming a mouthful of junk food.

Several years passed before Agassi plummeted to No. 141, before he dedicated himself to "get the most out of myself every day" and set his own eventual standard for physical preparation. Lendl's 1983 epiphany that led him to the gym was not as dire; he believed he needed to get quicker to be No. 1. He went on a nutritional regimen promoted by Dr. Robert Haas. McEnroe mocked him, claiming Lendl was on the "Häagen-Dazs diet," then flamed out in his mid-20's.

For all their differences, Lendl and Agassi, all these years later, have more in common than would have once seemed imaginable. Superior conditioning allowed them to outlast their peers. Lendl retired in 1994, at age 34, vanquished primarily by a degenerative back condition similar to the injury that forced Agassi to resort to cortisone to compete this summer.

Lendl holds eight Grand Slam titles, the same number Agassi has. And while Agassi has won all four slams on three different surfaces, Lendl was a titan on hard courts and on clay, and he was as valiant as they come in his years-long pursuit of Wimbledon's grass-court grail.

Agassi's shot making - what Lendl called "the pureness of his ball striking" - made him the 1992 Wimbledon champion. Hence, Lendl's vision that Agassi's game was built to last and would span generational progressions, allowing Agassi to maintain the belief that he still has a chance against Federer, the evolutionary model of pure tennis genius.

"Someone asked me the other day if I'd like to play Federer," Lendl said. "I said, 'No, why would I?' It's like when they ask how would I do in today's game, and I say, 'I would get killed, right or left.' The players are so much better, stronger, quicker. I'd hit my inside-out forehand and some guy standing on the baseline would drive a two-hander down the line. What's my next play? Come in? I don't think so."

He is 45, a contented stage father, shepherding three of his five daughters around the junior national golf circuit. A week from Sunday, he'll be back at Ashe before the men's final, for induction into the United States Open Court of Champions, getting some long-overdue love from New York.

The odds are that Agassi - our elder tennis statesman who waxed eloquent yesterday on subjects ranging from the tragedy in New Orleans to family life - will not last long enough to join him. But how many besides Lendl would have believed way back when that Agassi would have made it this far?
 

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Thanks for the article, Lendl :worship: :worship:
 

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I love Lendl. Not many people have the guts to say this:

[/QUOTE]"Someone asked me the other day if I'd like to play Federer," Lendl said. "I said, 'No, why would I?' It's like when they ask how would I do in today's game, and I say, 'I would get killed, right or left.' The players are so much better, stronger, quicker. I'd hit my inside-out forehand and some guy standing on the baseline would drive a two-hander down the line. What's my next play? Come in? I don't think so."
It's unbelieveable how much the game has evolved even since Landl was the king.
 

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Lendl :yeah:
nice article
 

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nice article
 
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