- Category : Tennis Player
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (18,32,37,38,51,57)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 1
Ivan Lendl (born March 7, 1960) is a former world no. 1 professional tennis player.
Originally from Czechoslovakia, he became a United States citizen in 1992. He was one of the game's most dominant players in the 1980s and remained a top competitor into the early 1990s. He has been described as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Lendl's game relied particularly on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of "power tennis". He himself described his game as "hitting hot", a relentless all-court game that was coming to dominate in tennis.
Lendl captured eight Grand Slam singles titles. He competed in 19 Grand Slam singles finals, a record surpassed by Roger Federer in 2009. He reached at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record shared with Pete Sampras, with the male primacy of eight consecutive finals in a Grand Slam tournament (a record shared with Bill Tilden at the US Open). Before the formation of the ATP, Lendl reached a record 12 year-end championships (equalled by John McEnroe). He won two WCT Finals titles and five Masters Grand Prix titles, with the record of nine consecutive finals. He also won a record 22 Championship Series titles (1980–89), the precursors to the current ATP Masters 1000.
Lendl first attained the world no. 1 ranking on February 28, 1983 and bolstered his claim to the top spot when he defeated John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final. For much of the next five years, Lendl was the top-ranked player, until August 1990 (with a break from September 1988 to January 1989 when Mats Wilander was at the top). He finished four years ranked as the world's top player (1985–1987 and 1989) and was ranked no. 1 for a total of 270 weeks and set a new record previously held by Jimmy Connors, since broken by Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Starting in 2012, he became Andy Murray's coach.
Lendl was born into a tennis family in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). His parents were top players in Czechoslovakia. (His mother Olga was at one point ranked the no. 2 female player in the country). Lendl turned professional in tennis in 1978. He started to live in the United States in 1981, first at the home of mentor and friend, Wojtek Fibak. Later (in 1984), Lendl bought his own residence in Greenwich, Connecticut. Ivan applied for and received a U.S. Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) in 1987 and wanted to get U.S. citizenship as soon as possible to represent the USA in the 1988 Olympic Games and in the Davis Cup. A bill in Congress to bypass the traditional five-year waiting procedure was rejected in 1988 because Czechoslovak authorities refused to provide the necessary waivers. He became a U.S. citizen on July 7, 1992.
On September 16, 1989, six days after losing the final of the US Open to Boris Becker, Lendl married Samantha Frankel. They have five daughters: Marika (born May 4, 1990), twins Isabelle and Caroline (born July 29, 1991), Daniela (born June 24, 1993), and Nikola (born January 20, 1998). Lendl retired from tennis in 1994 at the age of 34 with a disability insurance payout for chronic backpain. He transferred his competitive interests to professional golf, where he achieved a win on the Celebrity Tour. Still competitive at the mini-tour levels, Lendl now devotes much of his time to managing the development of his daughters' golfing abilities. Two of his daughters (Marika and Isabelle) are members of the University of Florida Women's Golf Team. Daniela is a member of the University of Alabama Women's Golf Team. His daughter Caroline walked onto the University of Alabama Women's Rowing Team for the 2011–2012 academic year, and his daughter Nikola enjoys eventing horses. Lendl has played in the Gary Player Invitational charity Pro-Am many times for friend and golf icon Gary Player.
South African exhibition and aftermath
In July 1983 Lendl played three exhibition matches (against Johan Kriek, Kevin Curren, and Jimmy Connors) in Sun City, South Africa, in the apartheid-era bantustan of Bophuthatswana. The Czechoslovak Sport Federation (?STV), controlled by the Communist Party, expelled him from the Czechoslovak Davis Cup team and fined him $150,000. Lendl disagreed with the punishment and fine.
In addition, the publication of his name and results in the Czechoslovak media were prohibited. The ban was extended not only to Lendl, but to anything about world tennis, all tennis tournaments, and both men's and women's circuits (with the exception of blank Grand Slam results).
The appearance in this exhibition in Sun City and Lendl's Americanized living style ignited a long-lasting dispute between Lendl and the Czechoslovak communist authorities, which was never settled and resulted in his decision to apply for a green card in 1987 and later on for U.S. citizenship.
This section may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. (April 2009)
Lendl was known, along with Björn Borg, for using his heavy topspin forehand to dictate play, although Borg's full Western-style topspin was more of a high loop. Lendl's forehand had a tighter topspin; was faster and flatter. His trademark shot was his running forehand, which he could direct either down the line or cross-court.
Early in his career, Lendl played a sliced backhand, but in the early 1980s he learned to hit his backhand with significant topspin. This shift allowed him to defeat John McEnroe in 1984 in the French Open, Lendl's first Grand Slam victory. In the first two sets, McEnroe used his habitual proximity to the net to intercept Lendl's cross-court passing shots. In the third set, Lendl started using lobs, forcing McEnroe to distance himself from the net to prepare for the lobs. McEnroe's further distance from the net opened the angles for Lendl's cross-court passing shots, which ultimately gained Lendl points and turned the match around.
Lendl's serve was powerful but inconsistent. His very high toss may have been to blame. Lendl's consistency from the baseline was machine-like. Though tall and apparently gangly, Lendl was very fast on the court. Lendl did not win Wimbledon because he could not sufficiently improve his consistency at the net. Grass courts yield notoriously bad bounces, and that destabilized his baseline game more than other baseliners. His groundstroke setup was very complete, almost robotic, and repeated bad bounces made him uncomfortable. Wimbledon in those days required reducing baseline play by coming to the net. He devoted considerable effort to improving his net play, but fell short of a Wimbledon title. Toward the end of his days on the ATP tour, Lendl ended his long-term clothing, shoe, and racket deal with Adidas. He signed with Mizuno, and finally began to play with a mid-sized racket very similar to the Adidas racket he had used throughout most of his career, itself based on the Kneissl White Star model.
While professional, Lendl used Adidas clothing and Kneissl racquets, subsequently changing to Adidas racquets. Since 2010, he has been using Bosworth racquets.
Ivan Lendl in the final of the 1984 ABN World Tennis tournament in Rotterdam
Lendl first came to the tennis world's attention as an outstanding junior player. In 1978, he won the boys' singles titles at both the French Open and Wimbledon and was ranked the world no. 1 junior player.
Lendl made an almost immediate impact on the game after turning professional. After reaching his first top-level singles final in 1979, he won seven singles titles in 1980, including three tournament wins in three consecutive weeks on three different surfaces. The success continued in 1981, as he won 10 titles, including his first season-ending Masters Grand Prix tour title, defeating Vitas Gerulaitis in five sets.
In 1982, he won 15 of the 23 singles tournaments he entered and had a 44-match winning streak.
He competed on the separate World Championship Tennis (WCT) tour, where he won all 10 WCT tournaments he entered, including winning his first WCT Finals, where he defeated John McEnroe in straight sets. He met McEnroe again in the Masters Grand Prix final and won in straight sets to claim his second season-ending championship of that particular tour.
In an era when tournament prize money was rising sharply due to the competition between two circuits (Grand Prix and WCT), Lendl's haul of titles quickly made him the highest-earning tennis player of all time.
He won another seven tournaments in 1983.
However, Grand Slam titles eluded Lendl in the early years of his career. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the French Open in 1981, where he lost in five sets to Björn Borg. His second came at the US Open in 1982, where he was defeated by Jimmy Connors. In 1983, he was the runner-up at both the Australian Open and the US Open.
Lendl's first Grand Slam title came at the 1984 French Open, where he defeated John McEnroe in a long final to claim what was arguably his best victory. Down two sets to love and later trailing 4–2 in the fourth set, Lendl battled back to claim the title 3–6, 2–6, 6–4, 7–5, 7–5. McEnroe gained a measure of revenge by beating Lendl in straight sets in both finals of the US Open 1984 and Volvo Masters 1984 (played in January 1985).
Lendl lost in the final of the 1985 French Open to Mats Wilander. He then faced McEnroe again in the final of the US Open, and this time it was Lendl who emerged victorious in a straight-sets win. It was the first of three consecutive US Open titles for Lendl and part of a run of eight consecutive US Open finals. He reached the WCT Finals for the second and last time, defeating Tim Mayotte in three sets. Success continued when he also took the Masters Grand Prix title for the third time, defeating Boris Becker in straight sets.
In 1986 and 1987, he added wins in the French Open to his U.S Open victories, including the season-ending 1986 and 1987 Masters Grand Prix championship titles, where he defeated Boris Becker (86) in straight sets and Mats Wilander (87) in three sets. This took him to his fifth and last Grand Prix year-end tour title.
During each of the years from 1985 through 1987, Lendl's match winning percentage was greater than 90%. This record was equalled by Roger Federer in 2006. Lendl, however, remains the only male tennis player with at least 90% match wins in five different years (1982 was the first, 1989 the last). From the 1985 US Open through the 1988 Australian Open, Lendl reached ten consecutive Grand Slam singles semifinals—a record that was broken by Federer at the 2006 US Open.
1989 was another very strong year for Lendl. He started the year by capturing his first Australian Open title with a straight sets final victory over Miloslav Me?í? and went on to claim 10 titles out of 17 tournaments he entered. Lendl successfully defended his Australian Open title in 1990.
The only Grand Slam singles title Lendl never managed to win was Wimbledon. After reaching the semifinals in 1983 and 1984, he reached the final there twice, losing in straight sets to Boris Becker in 1986 and Pat Cash in 1987. In the years that followed, Lendl put in intensive efforts to train and hone his game on grass courts. However, despite reaching the Wimbledon semifinals again in 1988, 1989, and 1990, he never again reached the final.
Lendl was part of the team that won Czechoslovakia's only Davis Cup title in 1980. He was the driving force behind the country's team in the first half of the 1980s, but stopped playing in the event after he moved to the United States in 1986 because, in the eyes of communist Czechoslovakia's Tennis Association, he was an "illegal defector" from their country.
Lendl was also part of the Czechoslovakian team that won the World Team Cup in 1981 and was runner-up in 1984 and 1985.
Lendl's success in the game was due in large part to his highly meticulous and intensive training and physical conditioning regime, his scientific approach to preparing for and playing the game, and a strong desire to put in whatever it took to be successful. It is believed that a contributing factor to his run of eight successive US Open finals and long record of success at that tournament was that he hired the same workers who laid the hardcourt surfaces at Flushing Meadows each year to install an exact copy in the grounds of his home in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Lendl announced his retirement from professional tennis on December 21, 1994, due to chronic back pain. Although he did not play any official match following his defeat in the second round of the US Open in 1994, Lendl's final decision to retire came only three and a half months later.
Lendl won a total of 94 career singles titles listed by the ATP (plus 49 other non-ATP tournaments, thus making a total of 144 singles titles) and 6 doubles titles, and his career prize money of U.S. $21,262,417 was a record at the time. In 2001, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
After finishing his tennis career, Lendl took up golf, earning a handicap of 0 and organizing a charity competition in 2004 called the "Ivan Lendl Celebrity Golf Tournament".
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. A typical Lendl quote is: "If I don't practice the way I should, then I won't play the way that I know I can."
On April 10, 2010, Ivan Lendl returned to play his first tournament since his 1994 retirement from tennis. He played in the Caesars Tennis Classic exhibition match in Atlantic City, New Jersey, against his rival from the late 1980s, Mats Wilander. He lost the one-set match 3-6.
On February 28, 2011, Lendl returned to the court again in an exhibition match with John McEnroe at Madison Square Garden. It was planned to be a one-set, first-to-eight event. However, McEnroe, leading 6–3, injured his ankle and had to retire from the match.
In May 2012, Lendl played in Prague for the first time since the 1970s, as part of the 2012 Sparta Prague Open tournament. He defeated fellow Czech Ji?í Novák in the exhibition match.
Tennis coaching career
On 31 December 2011, Lendl was appointed coach to Andy Murray. Coincidentally, Lendl and Murray are the only two players to have lost in their first four appearances in Grand Slam finals during the Open era. Lendl has been credited with improving Murray's maturity and consistency, guiding the Scot to his first Grand Slam victory in the 2012 US Open.