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Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl (born March 7, 1960, in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player. He was one of the game's most dominant players in the 1980s and remained a top competitor into the early 1990s.
Lendl captured eight Grand Slam singles titles during his career. He competed in a total of 19 Grand Slam singles finals (a record for a male player). He first attained the World No. 1 ranking on the men's professional tour in February 1983. He continued to be ranked No. 1 for much of the next eight years through to 1990. He finished four years ranked as the world's top player (1985-87 and 1989) and was ranked World No. 1 for a total of 270 weeks, breaking the record previously held by Jimmy Connors (this has since been surpassed by Pete Sampras). Lendl's game relied particularly on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of "power tennis."
Lendl first came to the tennis world's attention as an outstanding junior player. In 1978, he won the boy's 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. In 1982, he won 15 of the 23 singles tournaments he entered and had a 44-match winning streak. He won another seven tournaments in 1983. In an era when tournament prize money was rising sharply, Lendl's haul of titles quickly made him the highest-earning tennis player of all time.
But 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 U.S. Open in 1982, where he was defeated by Jimmy Connors. In 1983, he was the runner-up at both the Australian Open and the U.S. 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 most memorable victory. Down two sets to none 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 revenge by beating Lendl in straight sets in the final of the U.S. Open later that year. 1985 was arguably Lendl's best year on the tour as he captured 11 singles crowns in 17 tournament appearances. Lendl lost in the final of the 1985 French Open to Mats Wilander. He then faced McEnroe again in the final of the U.S. Open, and this time it was Lendl who emerged victorious in a straight sets win. It was the first of three consecutive U.S. Open titles for Lendl and part of a run of eight consecutive U.S. Open finals. Two consecutive French Open titles also came in 1986 and 1987, as he won both the French and U.S. Open titles in those years.
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 with at least 90% match wins in four different years (1982 was the first). From the 1985 U.S. Open through the 1988 Australian Open, Lendl reached ten consecutive Grand Slam singles semifinals -- a record that also was equalled by Federer in 2006. 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 Mecir 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. But 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 tournament 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. Lendl won the tour's year-end Masters championships five times in 1981-82 and 1985-87.
Lendl's success in the game had a lot to do with 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 U.S. 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 retired from the professional tour in 1994. He won a total of 94 career 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.

Grand Slam singles finals

Year Championship Position Opponent Score
1984 French Open Champion John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5
1985 U.S. Open Champion John McEnroe 7-6, 6-3, 6-4
1986 French Open Champion Mikael Pernfors 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
1986 U.S. Open Champion Miloslav Mecír 6-4, 6-2, 6-0
1987 French Open Champion Mats Wilander 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6
1987 U.S. Open Champion Mats Wilander 6-7, 6-0, 7-6, 6-4
1989 Australian Open Champion Miloslav Mecír 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
1990 Australian Open Champion Stefan Edberg 4-6, 7-6, 5-2 ret.
1981 French Open Runner-Up Björn Borg 1-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 2-6
1982 U.S. Open Runner-Up Jimmy Connors 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6
1983 Australian Open Runner-Up Mats Wilander 1-6, 4-6, 4-6
1983 U.S. Open Runner-Up Jimmy Connors 3-6, 7-6, 5-7, 0-6
1984 U.S. Open Runner-Up John McEnroe 3-6, 4-6, 1-6
1985 French Open Runner-Up Mats Wilander 6-3, 4-6, 2-6, 2-6
1986 Wimbledon Runner-Up Boris Becker 4-6, 3-6, 5-7
1987 Wimbledon Runner-Up Pat Cash 6-7, 2-6, 5-7
1988 U.S. Open Runner-Up Mats Wilander 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 4-6
1989 U.S. Open Runner-Up Boris Becker 6-7, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7
1991 Australian Open Runner-Up Boris Becker 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 4-6

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