JOHN McENROE(U. S. A.)
US Open 1979,1980,1981,1984
John McEnroe’s play was beautiful to watch. He invented shots that no one else could play and his mastery of the angles was second to none. In contrast, his behaviour was ugly and his rants at officials often overshadowed his tennis. McEnroe was a perfectionist. He would take out his frustrations on the officials if his play did not reach the very highest standard. Crowds would turn up just to watch McEnroe’s antics and, as the years went by, he became a caricature of himself, satisfying public demand for him to have a paddy. By his mid twenties McEnroe was past his peak and he was overtaken by the new generation of power players. McEnroe made his Grand Slam debut aged 18 at the French Open in 1977, where he lost in the second round to Phil Dent in five sets. He reached the semis at Wimbledon as a qualifier, beating Dent in five sets in the quarters before losing to Jimmy Connors in four sets. Connors beat him again the following year in the semis of the US Open in straight sets. In 1979 20 year old McEnroe took his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open beating Connors in straight sets in the semis and Vitas Gerulaitis in straight sets in the final. At Wimbledon 1980 McEnroe beat Connors in four sets in the semis and in the final was involved in a famous 4th set tiebreak with Bjorn Borg. Borg had several match points before McEnroe took it 18 points to 16 to level at two sets all but Borg took the fifth set 8-6 for his fifth consecutive title. At the U.S. Open McEnroe beat Lendl in the quarters in four sets, Connors in a fifth set tiebreak in the semis and Borg in a five set final. At Wimbledon '81 McEnroe was lucky not to be disqualified when he had his now infamous 'you can not be serious, chalk flew up' tantrum during his first round match against Tom Gullikson on court one. He then beat Stan Smith in the fourth round, Johan Kriek in the quarters and Rod Frawley in straight sets in the semis. In the final he finally ended the run of Borg as he took the title in 4 sets. At the U.S. Open McEnroe beat Gerulaitis in five sets in the semis and Borg in the final in four sets, in Borg's final Grand Slam event, to take a hat trick of titles. McEnroe was sad to lose his great rival who he had so much respect for. The following year he was beaten in the Wimbledon final in five sets by Jimmy Connors and lost to Lendl in the US Open semis in straight sets. At Wimbledon 1983 McEnroe breezed through the draw untroubled beating Lendl easily in the semis and thrashing unseeded Chris Lewis in the final. At the U.S. Open he surprisingly lost in the fourth round to Bill Scanlon. At the Australian Open McEnroe lost in the semis to Mats Wilander in four sets. 1984 was without doubt McEnroe's best year. He beat Connors in straight sets in the semis of the French before squandering a 2 set to 0 lead in the final against Lendl. McEnroe more than made up for it at Wimbledon by beating Pat Cash in the semis in straight sets and thrashing Connors for the loss of just four games in one of Wimbledon's most one sided finals. At the U.S. Open McEnroe outlasted Connors in a five set semi final epic and beat Lendl in straight sets in the final. After losing to Wilander in straight sets in the semis of the 1985 French Open, McEnroe looked subdued in losing to big serving Kevin Curren in the quarters at Wimbledon. At the US Open McEnroe came from two sets to one down to beat Wilander in the semis before losing to Lendl in the final in straight sets. Then he took nine months off during 1986 and was never quite the same again. He had to wait until 1989 to reach another Grand Slam semi final, where he beat Wilander in the quarters before losing easily to Stefan Edberg in the semis of Wimbledon. At the 1990 Australian Open McEnroe became the first man in the open era to be defaulted from a Grand Slam event. After a petulant display of foul language and abuse of the officials, the umpire Gerry Armstrong defaulted him during his fourth round match against Mikael Pernfors. Though he regained some form at the U.S. Open (he lost in the semis to Pete Sampras in four sets) McEnroe was no longer capable of beating the very best players. In his final year in 1992, McEnroe made it through to the semis of Wimbledon but was outpowered by Andre Agassi. He played his final Grand Slam event at the US Open, where he lost to Jim Courier in straight sets in the fourth round. After retirement McEnroe played on the senior tour and became renowned for his entertaining non-stop TV commentataries in which the other commentators sometimes struggle to get a word in! He also became the U.S. Davis Cup captain for a short while.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 0-1, B.Becker 1-0, B.Borg 3-1, P.Cash 2-0, M.Chang 1-1, J.Connors 6-3, J.Courier 0-1, S.Edberg 1-2, V.Gerulaitis 2-0, A.Gomez 1-0, J.Kriek 2-0, I.Lendl 3-7, I.Nastase 1-0, M.Orantes 0-1, P.Sampras 0-1, S.Smith 1-0, M.Wilander 2-3
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