13 Sep 2004 13:07:42
Raja
Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?cg=BreakingNews-Sport&ao=121592

Ivan Lendl fathers new ambition

Richard Evans

03 September 2004 23:59

The large picture on the front page of the Roanoke Times is that of a
slim young girl at the end of an elegant swing. Marika Lendl, the
caption says, is competing in the Scott Robertson Junior tournament at
the Roanoke Country Club. No mention of father.

Later that morning, I stand at the 18th green and watch a drive land a
metre from the hole. Still looking remarkably fresh for a 14-year-old
who has lugged her golf bag round 18 holes on a hot, muggy day, Miss
Lendl strides up the fairway, blonde pigtail bobbing out the back of
her cap, measures her putt, misses it and, without a trace of
annoyance, walks briskly past the hole and pops it in for par.

A tall, thickly set man detaches himself from a small knot of
spectators under a tree and shakes my hand.

"She played well," he says by way of greeting. "Two under par. A
couple of mistakes but not bad."

This is Ivan Lendl in the second phase of his life. And, in the role
of father and coach, don't bet against it being any less successful
than the first, when he set the standard by which everyone else in
professional tennis in the 1980s had to be judged.

For eight consecutive years, he reached the final of the United States
Open. A tally of all grand slams left him with eight titles and 11
other finals. In all he won 94 titles and reached 54 finals — a
workload stretching over 14 years that would have crippled all but the
most powerful and focused of athletes.

In as far as being able to play tennis is concerned, it did just about
cripple Lendl. A chronic back problem forced him to give up the sport.

"Yeah, I can still play a game of tennis but I won't be able to move
the next day," he says. Which is the reason a fighting fit athlete of
84kg now weighs 100kg. "But I am still fit," says the man who is in
the gym at his home in Connecticut at 5.30am. "I have only about 5%
fat."

And you believe him. Lendl was always one to be believed. Blunt with
no frills. Tell it straight; tell it like it is. People called him
dour and on court, he was. Colleagues in the locker room will tell a
different story. Ivan the
Terrible, away from the competitive arena, dissolved into a serial
teller of macho jokes, a man's man to the core.

He always used to kid Wojtek Fibak, the Polish player, and his
long-time coach, Tony Roche, about the fact that they produced two
daughters. Then Ivan and his American wife Samantha produced five.

So how does he survive living in a household of women?

"I go play with the dogs," he laughs, shaking his head. "You wouldn't
believe some of the stuff that goes on. But I deserved it."

Saying what he thinks has never been one of Lendl's problems, one of
the few characteristics he shares with his bęte noir, John McEnroe.
Seldom have two contemporaries and rivals looked at each other with
such total incomprehension.

"How can he be like that?" They have both said it about each other. In
a saying that has rather gone out of fashion now, we used to call
people square. Oblivious to the fact that he would fit the bill, Lendl
volunteers the thought himself.

"I see things in straight lines and squares. I like triangles.
Marika's like that, too. She likes squares. Isabelle is different. She
likes curves. She sees a way round something from a position I would
never think of."

McEnroe is not a square. Not in any sense. His left-handed serve to
the ad court produced the biggest curve ever seen on a tennis court.
It was doing a good job of demolishing Lendl when the pair met in the
final of the French Open in 1984.

McEnroe, ignoring the fact that it was clay beneath his feet, served
and volleyed himself into a two-set lead. The Parisian crowd was in
raptures.

Then the American discovered a way to implode. McEnroe, hearing voices
from a cameraman's earpiece discarded at courtside, handed an amazed
Lendl the match as his concentration disintegrated and he became
unable even to build on a break in the fourth. Later, McEnroe gave
Lendl grudging credit "for being who he was and for being fit enough
to get better as the match progressed".

"Being fit enough" was the key to Lendl's success. That, and his
hatred of losing. These two factors were the foundation on which his
extraordinary longevity was built.

Looking back, Lendl does not come up with the expected answers when
assessing his career. He says that the most satisfying moment occurred
in the Davis Cup, not, however, when he led the old nation of
Czechoslovakia to their lone Davis Cup triumph over Italy in Prague in
1980, as one might expect, but in the previous round in Argentina.

"It was probably the proudest moment of my career to go down there and
beat Guillermo Vilas and Jose-Luis Clerc, two guys I had never beaten
before, and then partner Tomas Smid to win the doubles as well. There
was a big crowd of 10 000 people and they were all against us, but the
whole tie was great because Guillermo and Jose-Luis were two of the
best guys in the game."

So, one presumes, Wimbledon was not what it was all about for Lendl?
It was the one great crown that eluded this perfectionist who won
everything else the game had to offer. Frustration was a word that
came to mind.

"No, not at all," he says. "Obviously I would love to have won but my
memories of Wimbledon are a feeling of achievement. Two finals and
five times in the semis, playing with the weakest part of my game
against guys like McEnroe, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg who were
playing with the strongest part of theirs. Just being so consistent in
those conditions is, for me, a greater achievement than reaching eight
US Open finals where everything was in my favour."

No matter how generous Lendl is about the modern generation's fitness
and stroke repertoire, there is only one player who lights his fire.

"Roger Federer is the only guy I watch for his strokes. He is just
beautiful. He can hit every single shot you could ever think of. John
and Ilie [Nastase] were very talented but you always knew there were
some shots they couldn't hit. Not with Federer. I would go and watch
him practise, he's so good."

Lendl also admires Andre Agassi and his ability to keep going into his
mid-30s, while he thought Pete Sampras had come to the end of the road
by the time he won his final Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2002.

"Pete's win came as a total shock to me," he says. "It was fun to see
him win because it just shows that a champion so often has one last
shot in him. Boris did it at the Australian Open and Pete came through
when I didn't think he had a chance. But the fact is that the
champions know how to win and that's what matters."

We talked of other things; of how, only now, is he able to think of
replacing his beloved German Shepherd, Todd, who died of cancer five
years ago; of how he enjoys meeting old tennis players like Cliff
Richey and Sherwood Stewart on the celebrity golf tour, but in the end
it comes back to golf and his daughters.

With a big, hearty smile he heads off to the car park to take a
practice club out of the boot for a final session with Marika, happy
that he could move around this venerable old country club without
hindrance.

But two days later, this is not the case. The Lendl family has
acquired another winner. Marika not only wins the 21st Scott Robertson
Memorial tournament in a play-off but becomes, at 14 years and 11
days, the youngest player ever to do so.

"Marika said she wanted a dog real bad," Lendl told reporters who
suddenly realised the magnitude of the story that had hit sleepy West
Virginia. "I told her she could have one if she practised really hard
for six months. So she did and she got her dog. And now this. So we
are all happy."

Smiling almost as broadly as her father, Marika says: "This is my
first title and it definitely won't be my last." Now doesn't that
sound just like a Lendl? — © Guardian Newspapers 2004



Talkback: Have your say about this article

Daily cellphone alerts: Get news headlines by SMS
Daily Newsletter: Get the news by e-mail

SPORT | HOMEPAGE


13 Sep 2004 19:17:42
StephenJ
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

Thanks for posting this. We don't get too many Lendl interviews on rst. Next
time, though, just post the link, not the whole text (bandwidth).

I think he isn't being truthful about Wimbledon - it surely bothers him he
never won it.

I think he's right about Federer compared to Mac - Fed has more genius in
him.

I also liked the way he linked Sampras's 2002 USO win and Becker's 1996 AO
win. Becker's win was at least as surprising, yet rarely gets mentioned.


--
"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better
off without Saddam Hussein, and those who
believe today that we are not safer with his capture,
don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility
to be elected president."

- John Kerry, 12/16/03




14 Sep 2004 06:44:23
223rem
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras



StephenJ wrote:
> Thanks for posting this. We don't get too many Lendl interviews on rst. Next
> time, though, just post the link, not the whole text (bandwidth).

Bandwitdh? A little text and you're worried about bandwith? LOL.
Time to upgrade to DSL my man.


14 Sep 2004 02:59:01
StephenJ
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

> StephenJ wrote:
> > Thanks for posting this. We don't get too many Lendl interviews on rst.
Next
> > time, though, just post the link, not the whole text (bandwidth).
>
> Bandwitdh? A little text and you're worried about bandwith? LOL.
> Time to upgrade to DSL my man.

LOL - i've had cable for 3 years. My concern is for those without. That's
what it means to be a good netizen. :)


--
"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better
off without Saddam Hussein, and those who
believe today that we are not safer with his capture,
don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility
to be elected president."

- John Kerry, 12/16/03




14 Sep 2004 05:57:47
Figaro
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

I have yet to read an article where the writer does not give some kind
of back door excuse for the Lendl come back on John at the 84 French.
Whether it be, McEnroe's lack of fitness, camera sound, inner demons
etc.

I strong believe that Ivan made tactical adjustements to his game to
allow for one of the most famous open era grand slam 5 setters.

Check out our tribute to Ivan at:

http://www.1stserve.com/legacy.htm

John Figaro
1stserve.com


14 Sep 2004 08:42:02
ahonkan
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

[email protected] (Raja) wrote in message news:<[email protected] >...
> http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?cg=BreakingNews-Sport&ao=121592
>
> Ivan Lendl fathers new ambition

Thanks Raja for posting this. I have always been an admirer of Lendl,
who never got the credit he deserved from the US media that doted on its
native sons and totally ignored the greatness of Lendl.
A rain break at an inopportune time deprived Lendl of a Wimbledon
title when he was beating Becker at his game.
He was always quite analytical and straightforward. So I would respect
his opinions of Fed, Mac and Sampras more than, say, Mac's (who is my
all-time favourite player).


14 Sep 2004 09:40:31
Raja
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

"StephenJ" <[email protected] > wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> Thanks for posting this. We don't get too many Lendl interviews on rst. Next
> time, though, just post the link, not the whole text (bandwidth).
>
> I think he isn't being truthful about Wimbledon - it surely bothers him he
> never won it.

Why would it bother him? He tried his level best and lost only to
greats out there. The only player he should not have lost to is Pat
Cash and Pat Cash is no ordinary grass courter.

>
> I think he's right about Federer compared to Mac - Fed has more genius in
> him.
>
> I also liked the way he linked Sampras's 2002 USO win and Becker's 1996 AO
> win. Becker's win was at least as surprising, yet rarely gets mentioned.


14 Sep 2004 12:08:08
StephenJ
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

> > I think he isn't being truthful about Wimbledon - it surely bothers him
he
> > never won it.
>
> Why would it bother him? He tried his level best and lost only to
> greats out there.

There are different ways that past failures can bother someone. If i fail at
something i really valued and didn't try my best, i'll regret both failing
and not trying my best. If i fail despite trying my best, i'll be proud of
the effort i made and what i did accomplish, but still regret having failed.

The latter is probably how Lendl actually feels. He only talked about his
effort and what he did accomplish, but the regret at not winning W is
doubtless there nonetheless.


--
"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better
off without Saddam Hussein, and those who
believe today that we are not safer with his capture,
don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility
to be elected president."

- John Kerry, 12/16/03




14 Sep 2004 12:28:19
Raja
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

[email protected] (Figaro) wrote in message news:<[email protected] >...
> I have yet to read an article where the writer does not give some kind
> of back door excuse for the Lendl come back on John at the 84 French.
> Whether it be, McEnroe's lack of fitness, camera sound, inner demons
> etc.
>
> I strong believe that Ivan made tactical adjustements to his game to
> allow for one of the most famous open era grand slam 5 setters.
>
> Check out our tribute to Ivan at:
>
> http://www.1stserve.com/legacy.htm
>
> John Figaro
> 1stserve.com

Yep Mac-fans are full of shit and lame excuses for not winning that
match. Actually Mac is my No.2 fav player after Lendl. But I believe
Mac is overrated and Lendl underrated.

Career-wise Lendl > Mac.


15 Sep 2004 22:18:02
Whisper
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

Raja wrote:

> [email protected] (Figaro) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
>
>>I have yet to read an article where the writer does not give some kind
>>of back door excuse for the Lendl come back on John at the 84 French.
>>Whether it be, McEnroe's lack of fitness, camera sound, inner demons
>>etc.
>>
>>I strong believe that Ivan made tactical adjustements to his game to
>>allow for one of the most famous open era grand slam 5 setters.
>>
>>Check out our tribute to Ivan at:
>>
>>http://www.1stserve.com/legacy.htm
>>
>>John Figaro
>>1stserve.com
>
>
> Yep Mac-fans are full of shit and lame excuses for not winning that
> match. Actually Mac is my No.2 fav player after Lendl. But I believe
> Mac is overrated and Lendl underrated.
>
> Career-wise Lendl > Mac.


Depends what you mean by 'career' - if it's tennis-related, then clearly
no.....



15 Sep 2004 13:03:08
Raja
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

Whisper <[email protected] > wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> Raja wrote:
>
> > [email protected] (Figaro) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> >
> >>I have yet to read an article where the writer does not give some kind
> >>of back door excuse for the Lendl come back on John at the 84 French.
> >>Whether it be, McEnroe's lack of fitness, camera sound, inner demons
> >>etc.
> >>
> >>I strong believe that Ivan made tactical adjustements to his game to
> >>allow for one of the most famous open era grand slam 5 setters.
> >>
> >>Check out our tribute to Ivan at:
> >>
> >>http://www.1stserve.com/legacy.htm
> >>
> >>John Figaro
> >>1stserve.com
> >
> >
> > Yep Mac-fans are full of shit and lame excuses for not winning that
> > match. Actually Mac is my No.2 fav player after Lendl. But I believe
> > Mac is overrated and Lendl underrated.
> >
> > Career-wise Lendl > Mac.
>
>
> Depends what you mean by 'career' - if it's tennis-related, then clearly
> no.....

I dont care what you say because you are stupid.


15 Sep 2004 19:12:27
StephenJ
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

> > Career-wise Lendl > Mac.
>
>
> Depends what you mean by 'career' - if it's tennis-related, then clearly
> no.....

:) :) :)


--
"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better
off without Saddam Hussein, and those who
believe today that we are not safer with his capture,
don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility
to be elected president."

- John Kerry, 12/16/03




16 Sep 2004 11:43:35
The Terminator
Re: Lendl on Federer, Agassi and Sampras

[email protected] (ahonkan) wrote in message news:<[email protected] >...
> [email protected] (Raja) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> > http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?cg=BreakingNews-Sport&ao=121592
> >
> > Ivan Lendl fathers new ambition
>
> Thanks Raja for posting this. I have always been an admirer of Lendl,
> who never got the credit he deserved from the US media that doted on its
> native sons and totally ignored the greatness of Lendl.
> A rain break at an inopportune time deprived Lendl of a Wimbledon
> title when he was beating Becker at his game.
> He was always quite analytical and straightforward. So I would respect
> his opinions of Fed, Mac and Sampras more than, say, Mac's (who is my
> all-time favourite player).

I have been saying this for long. Only the American media hated him.
There are lot of American fans who really like and appreciate him.