Feb/20

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Did Stubborness Cost Thiem His First Major?

Some of the best players in history have shown devout stubborness in their sometimes questionable decisions. Remember Boris Becker insisting on trying to beat Agassi from the baseline instead of attacking the net, losing eight times in a row to Agassi from 1990-1995.

Remember Pete Sampras refusing to change his racquet to a larger framed head to help fortify his backhand which sometimes broke down later in his career. Pete later admitted he should have changed his racquet.

Now it’s Dominic Thiem who is under scrutiny for firing new coach Thomas Muster, just a week before his five set AO final loss to Novak Djokovic yesterday.

Thiem’s father Wolfgang said:

“We were thinking to try it out. Actually after two weeks, Dominic said that it doesn’t fit together. I mean, he had some good experience.”

“Of course, he was a really good player. But for me the most important thing is that the coach understands what the player needs and not that the coach wants to make a copy of himself.”

“Dominic is already 26 years, so he has his personality. This was for me the main point, that Dominic needs someone who gives him the space, who gives him the free space to develop, to play his game.”

“He always needs some advices, but short advices. If you have someone who says too much, who is too much into it, then it doesn’t work.”

“Hopefully he’s mature enough now. After two weeks he said, No, it doesn’t fit.”

Muster’s side of the story:

“It is like this: There are houses which look nice from the outside, wonderful from the outside, but you rarely know who lives inside.”

“He’s a fine guy and likes to learn a lot, but he has also got some shortcomings he has to work on if he wants to be at the top.”

“He has improved a lot, but he to catch up in the technical, physical and foremost in the mental area.”

“To be honest I have seen myself in this role for the next two years. Why he has chosen differently – I know why, but I don’t want to say the details.”

For Thiem’s father to say Dominic is 26 and has personality indicates a stubborness on Dominic’s part, to listen to Muster’s advice to be more of a fierce lion on the court, to use more emotional adrenaline. Thiem’s intensity is not enough. To beat the greatest player of all time, Djokovic, in a major final, Thiem needs more passion, fury and emotional adrenaline. I believe Muster knows this and pushed hard to make Thiem understand and accept it. To play with the level of fury and passion he did.

But Thiem “has his personality” locked in, and can’t and won’t change it so he rejected the advice.

My opinion is that Team Thiem is wrong here. Stan Wawrinka did not become the “Stanimal” until his late 20s. Before he summoned his Stanimal level – and won three majors – Stan was a mostly passive, contained, introverted player, like Thiem is now.

Kevin Anderson was also a more passive, introverted player until a couple of years ago, he became much more aggressive emotionally on the court, exhorting himself on and fist pumping to express his emotional adrenaline. Guess what? Anderson reached his best career results – two major finals.

What Thiem is doing is not working. In the fifth set in the 2-3 game, Thiem did start grunting and letting it all hang out and played a monster point which he won from the baseline. I thought to myself, Wow, if Thiem keeps playing at that savage, beast mode intensity, he can win this. But of course, Thiem did not, he slipped back into his comfort zone and did not summon that same intensity, passion, life or death obsession to win the match.

The life and death obsession, ultimate beast mode, has been shown often by Serena, Maria, Hewitt, Nadal, Djokovic. They roar, scream, transform into wild, savage, vicious competitors. Because that’s what it takes sometimes. Get down and dirty and lay it all on the line. Thiem looks like he has more to give, more to lay on the line, especially emotionally. And that’s what I believe it will take for Thiem to win a major in this era, the most ferocious, unforgiving, merciless era in tennis history. Laying it all out there on the court.

Muster sees what is missing in Thiem and by the sounds of things, probably pushed far too hard to make Thiem understand. Thiem resisted stepping out of his comfort zone, or was too proud and stubborn to listen to Muster – or was offended by the blunt delivery of the message – and dismissed him.

Some top pro and junior players just don’t want to be told the truth because they can’t handle it or won’t accept it. I know a top junior who picked a minor league coach with no track record of developing a pro player in three decades. She stayed with him for a year and finally decided to part ways and then two months later won the biggest tournament of her life.

Thiem has reached a point in his career where he has to realize his methods are not working and they may never work. Some kind of change or revision has to be made. Only a player who ruled as world no. 1 and won a Grand Slam major title may be equipped to assist Thiem to make that final step to accomplishing the near impossible dream he is so close to making come true.

If Gunther Bresnik and Nico Massu had over a year to teach Thiem, a coach with the history of sucess of Thomas Muster certainly deserved more than a couple of weeks.

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95 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 10:37 am

    The crowd support is a huge power source, which the smartest and best players avidly pursue to their advantage. Hrbaty sure bought into it with free tickets but he didn’t know how to get it by his court behavior. Nalbandian and Ljubicic and Gasquet never bothered to charm the crowds either, nor did Rios, though they were ready to go crazy for him. They were eager to. But Rios didn’t care. Djokovic definitely does know how to get the fans roaring for him. Nadal too. Federer just has it naturally. Interesting topic about getting crowds to make a difference in the match. They often do but media rarely delves into this area, at least not deeply. Ask Hingis about the French Open crowd which cost her her one Roland Garros title.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 10:54 am

    There was never Johansson-mania 🙁 Speaking Sweden, hopefully there will one day be Ymer-Mania, sadly Soderling couldn’t coach E. Ymer anymore given his growing family and inability to travel as much as he wanted to. I don’t think the Ymers have connected with Johansson, but Johansson coaches Goffin. M. Ymer has been growing as a player – still a long way to go, he has a nice looking game.

  • Hartt · February 3, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Of course Fed is a huge lion, but he does not usually show a lot of emotion during a match. As many commies have said, it can be hard to tell if Fed has just won or lost a point from his expression. Early in his career Roger showed considerable negative emotion, breaking racquets, etc. He knew that was hurting his game and worked hard to overcome that, even using a sports psychologist when he was a teenager.

    My point is that it isn’t necessary to show tons of emotion to play with intensity. I think Thiem does play with intensity, you don’t hit the ball THAT hard without intensity. I am not convinced that Thiem roaring somehow is going to improve his chances at winning, especially against Novak.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Hartt, you wont remember the Todd Martin vs Carlos Moya US Open match on Ashe at night. Moya was dominating, up two sets to love. Then Martin, usually a passive introvert on court, suddenly began roaring like a lion, fist pumping, making crazy bulge eyes. Guess what? Martin won the next three sets! It was Todd Martinmania for a night. Todd Martin went berserk and it helped him pull off a magical win. Does anyone remember this US Open night match classic? Thiem is better than Martin, if he pulled a Todd Martin berserk mode, he will win a major. If he can find his inner Todd Martin one night of crazy. Todd of course never summoned his beserk mode again, it was just a one night appearance. I will ask him about this match in Newport.

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 11:34 am

    The rah rah bull only works if it intimidates the opponent, don’t think Thiem screaming, or raising his arms to incite the crowd would have intimated Djoker …SW’s beast mode scared a bunch of girls, the first fifteen years of her career, not so much anymore..Hewitt by the time Fed showed up, that rah rah stuff never worked again in big matches, usually had him struggling late in matches..

    Lendl did not have an epiphany during the 84 French Final. Mac had a monumental breakdown that Lendl was the lucky beneficiary. and once he got over the hump, the win, and Mac basically falling off the map after the 84 US Open( last major)..That late 70’s to late 80’s Slam winners never mentioned chasing Emerson and Lavers total. They were winning Majors and having fun, not chasing history

    Mac played some of his greatest tennis against Borg, and when he played Borg he was better behaved than Borg was, so the rah rah or gamesmanship bs is overrated

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Harold, it disconcerts the opponent, makes them take notice and think about it. Realize hey this opponents really wants this and believes, maybe more than I do. It can cause a change in the psyche for both. Hewitt used it the best. Without his intensity, Hewitt had no devastating weapons. Just a grinder. But unbelievable fighter. If Ferrer had Hewitt’s intensity? He wins majors. Harold, breakdowns don’t just happen. Something triggered the Mac breakdown. Had to be Lendl. Mac was better behaved vs Borg because he respected him so much. He admits this often.

  • catherine · February 3, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Scoop – You’ll never read anything particularly stimulating in Tennis mag because as far as I know it’s owned by a TV company. Same with tennis.com. Bland bland bland. Terrified of offending ATP,WTA etc and losing access. Work long enough in that environment and you just become a company person.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Leif’s “there are no more Miloslav Mecir’s” line hurt, and still stings.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Thought McEnroe’s suspension gutted his career?

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Thiem had his foot on Djokovic, up a set with the finish line, in theory, in plan sight. What’s impressive to me, from the interviews, is Djokovic felt that this was important (and the need to get the fourth set), and Thiem felt as if he was never secure in a match against Djokovic. If only Thiem knew he had him…

    This one is going to hurt for Thiem. Here are the player statements. Thiem next time will need a better sense of what his opponent feels and make them feel more of it, otherwise he will let them back in when they should be heading for the exits with a towel over their heads.

    When you come at the king, don’t miss.

    DJOKOVIC:
    “Kind of regained my energy and strength midway in the fourth set and got back into the match. I was on the brink of losing the match. Dominic is a fantastic tennis player that plays with tremendous amount of power in his shots, especially from the forehand side. He uses his slice really well. He disrupted my rhythm in my game at one point.

    He was a better player. Probably one point and one shot separated us tonight. Could have gone a different way. I served and volleyed when I was facing a breakpoint in the fourth and in the fifth. It worked both of the times. It could have also been differently. Serve and volley is not something I’m accustomed to. I’m not really doing that that often.

    I kind of recognized that as an important tactics in those circumstances, and I’m really happy it worked.”

    So, that says Djokovic took some big chances to disrupt Thiem in the fourth, which means he thought he might lose the match in the fourth set. Onwards.

    Later Question:

    “As I said, facing a breakpoint early in the fourth was a critical moment where things turned around really. I felt I started to accelerate on my serve, I started to move better, and I felt that he started to make few more mistakes than in the second and third set. I felt an opportunity and I seized it.

    After that in the fifth set, it was anybody’s game really. I knew that very early in the fifth set it was crucial for me to make a break. I had that mental edge again, and that was enough to win it.”

    So, also suggest Djokovic was aware he was in a bad position with Thiem having the upper hand, and it was crucial to win the fourth set (of course). Did Thiem understand that?

    http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=157024

    And from the Thiem side of the house:

    “What happened tonight, I mean, if I could say anything, I would just say that maybe I could have converted the breakpoint in the fourth set where I could have the lead 2-1. Then I think he had some issues in the second set. He recovered very well. He played really good after in set three and four.

    Of course, there were some small mistakes here and there, but they’re happening. At the end was a super close five-setter.

    I don’t really regret anything.”

    Another question:

    Q. What is it going to take for somebody to end this Grand Slam streak by the big three?
    DOMINIC THIEM: I think it’s only small details. In the last two finals – US Open and here – it was really close. It could have gone either way for Daniil in US Open and for me here.

    There’s nothing special to say about it. It takes nothing more than just little bit luck, little details there. Maybe if I convert the breakpoint in the fourth set, maybe I’m sitting here as a winner.

    It just takes hard work. Me and also the other young players who have definitely the potential to win a slam, to play every single of these four with determination and give myself a new chance hopefully.”

    Another question:

    Q. What was working well for you in that period in the second and third sets?
    DOMINIC THIEM: Second set I got a good break, then he broke back 4-All. I made it straightaway to 5-4, served it out. I was getting the lead straightaway, break, then I was kind of the frontrunner in that third set. Obviously he had issues there. That’s also what made it easier to win that set.

    In the fourth, I think it was this one game at 1-All where I had chances to break him, where I didn’t convert it. He then recovered well and played probably his best tennis again.”

    Another:
    Q. Was there any moment during the match that you felt you had him?
    DOMINIC THIEM: No, I never have these moments. Of course, if you lead two sets to love or 5-1 or something, yeah, sure, you can say to yourself you have it.

    But no chance in a finals against a guy like Novak. I mean, I was far away from one thought like that”

    http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=157023

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Brad Gilbert beating Mac derailed his career..sent him over the edge, took 6 months off after the loss.

    A photographer drove Mac nuts, up 2 sets to one..lost his mind. Didn’t really hate Lendl yet, think him being the beneficiary of the meltdown probably led to the hate growing ..

    Clay counters avoided Wimby until the late 90’s..Lendl avoided it too..even using an allergy to grass which came with a picture of him playing golf

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Will to Lose got Thiem. I think the press conferences make that a little more clear. Djokovic thought Thiem may have had him at the end of the third. And Thiem thought he might let Djokovic back into the match.

    Too bad. Hopefully Thiem learns that when he has Djokovic on his racquet, he should keep messing with him.

    Press conferences for the Australian Open, text:
    http://www.asapsports.com/show_events.php?category=7&year=2020&title=AUSTRALIAN+OPEN

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Player distrust of grass is funny. Lendl…Agassi…no one liked it until they loved it. Sampras didn’t like it and his coach Tim Gullickson (RIP) had to talk him into it!

    EXCERPT
    On grass, Gullikson zeroed in on Sampras’ non-existent return of serve, the stroke that makes or breaks Wimbledon champions, and honed his innate improvisational skills, an absolute necessity for making the split-second decisions the fickle surface demands. On clay, Gullikson influenced Sampras to construct points with the patience of a chess master, not an innate Sampras skill, and inspired him to take some delight in grinding out matches.

    “Tim changed my whole mind-set about both of those surfaces,” Sampras said. “He showed me how to have a good attitude on them, because until you believe you can win on clay and grass, you’re not going to win on clay and grass.”

    https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1996-06-23-9606220335-story.html

  • catherine · February 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Andrew – did Lendl ever win on grass ? Certainly not at Wimbledon which is the only one that matters.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Harold, did you see this Gilbert win over McEnroe? Was it a hotly contested battle? McEnroe told me he despised Lendl and it was the most painful moment of his career to give the guy he despised the most important win of his life.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Catherine, stop downplaying Newport grass, it matters too. Ask Hewitt, Isner, Ram, Karlovic, Amritraj. 🙂

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Yup..3 setter at the Garden in the year end Masters..Mac killed Gilbert after the match, saying, losing to a player of this level( I’m putting it nicely)..he needed a break

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Never missed the year enders, even the women’s event..MSG was my home away from home in the fall and winter until the mid 90’s

  • catherine · February 3, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Scoop -I wasn’t thinking about Newport, my apologies. I was recalling Lendl’s doomed pursuit of a W’don title and his later regrets over that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    BG had the belief. Did McEnroe take it lightly? Loved that WTA tournament in the 90s at MSG, never missed it, ATP masters was before my time in tennis. Wilt Chamberlin used to go, sit by himself and watch the girls play. Jeter was there one year watching with Kournikova.

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Wilt was always around the US Open as well..talked to him a few times..big tennis fan..

    Next tallest Tennis fan was Bob McAdoo..his kid played..at 6’10 always easy to find

  • Harold · February 3, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Just heard the funniest line ever on Tennis Channel. They’re about to show a doubles match from Cordoba. Place is empty, they say it’s real hot there

    Announcer” the place holds 4750, we seem to be about 4700 short”

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    WTA at MSG – EXCELLENT. Best of 5 set final!

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Bob McAdoo is a regular at Miami Open.

  • Jeff · February 3, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Let’s be honest, if screaming and yelling the most were important than Jeff Tarango and Kyrgios would be the goats.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    They didn’t roar to pump themselves up and to send a message/subtle taunt to the opponent.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Tarango had a “talent” issue. Yet he was fun to watch.

  • Jeff · February 3, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    I guess Sampras didn’t scream enough on clay. Then he could have won there, though he did beat Muster there so he must have been yelling on that day.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Djokovic suggested he was let back in the match – as the fourth set went so too the match. He felt it was nearly over.

    If Thiem knew Djokovic felt the match was nearly over…don’t you think he would have focused more on making that feeling “scream” inside of Djokovic? Nothing better at this level than winning a match by your opponent’s implosion.

    Even Djokovic has the Will to Lose.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Thiem said he thought he had a chance break point up, and that was the only chance he felt he had. And Djokovic felt otherwise, that Thiem was in good position to win the fourth set, so his life was on the line.

    Sorry, Djokovic knew how vulnerable he was. Thiem didn’t seem to register how Djokovic was seeing things, and how some of his charging the net, however courageous, was a gamble (Djokovic said it was, so trust him).

    Thiem needs to watch his own match and read the Djokovic transcript. Then next time, win that match.

  • Andrew Miller · February 3, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Sampras: the Will to Lose…on clay.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Tarango is one of the best interviews I ever came across in tennis. The Tarango biography is a cult classic. If he ever decides to do it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Jeff, Sampras had the greatest serve of all time, he didn’t need to roar like a lion. Though he probably would have won five more majors if he did utilize emotional adrenaline like his US Open conqueror Hewitt.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    The Will To Lose theory by Steve Turner will not die, it’s gaining a legion of cult followers. Yes, I believe Thiem could have stepped his foot on Djokovic’s neck and finished him in the fourth, or even fifth. Can’t buy killer instinct at http://www.holabirdsports.com. Maybe they sell it on ebay.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Yes I think Thiem has a locker room rep as being a great player but also being semi soft in the big moments. Too nice, does not have that ruthless killer aura. Thiem needs to change his aura.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Sampras, no will to lose in that Davis Cup final on clay in Moscow. Not an iota.

  • Jeff · February 3, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    I found it interesting that Djokovic actually turned his emotions down in the last 2 sets after he was arguing over the time violation and was more animated in set 3. I think that was his key to victory to not show his emotions.

    Meanwhile anyone seen the Djokovic plastic straw controversy. I guess Australia is trying to ban them and Djoko used them for his drinks. Kevin Anderson had said in the past he would not use straws anymore. A segment of the Aussie environmentalists are in an uproar.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 4, 2020 at 8:02 am

    We have a major child trafficking tragedy with 2000 kids going missing a DAY and some idiots are worried about plastic straws?

  • Andrew Miller · February 4, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Thiem’s killer-instinct (kinstinct) expires after being up two sets to one in best of five set slam finals. Otherwise it’s usually around.

  • Sherry · February 4, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    As a McEnroe fan, I have to add my “theories” about why he fell: Tatum O’Neal and cocaine.

    True, 1985 might have been considered a bad year (McEnroe didn’t do too well at the FO, which was really the norm aside from 1984; he was upset by Kevin Curren at Wimbledon while playing on the “graveyard court”). On the other hand, McEnroe did beat Lendl twice leading up to the 1985 US Open. Unfortunately, he had a killer of a semi-final against Wilander in scorchingly hot conditions (I can still remember his pouring a bucket of water over his head during the match). That draining victory no doubt contributed to his loss to Lendl in the final. From that point on, though, he only defeated Lendl once (until the “senior tour”).

    Why I blame Tatum: McEnroe’s behavior became erratic after he linked up with her (I don’t mean losing his temper on the court). He said he was upset about seeing himself in the National Enquirer because of his relationship with Tatum. He failed to enter Wimbledon at least twice during this period. His father said at the time that he hoped John wouldn’t later regret his failure to play. And then, as mentioned earlier, there was the self-imposed sabbatical because he could not tolerate losing to “jerks like Gilbert.” (They seem to get along o.k. as colleagues on ESPN.) That kind of peculiar behavior and partial withdrawal from the sport certainly didn’t help.

    But the counterargument against his fall really being Tatum’s fault is that McEnroe could not deal with the power tennis of Lendl (who had actually always given him trouble) or Boris Becker. So maybe McEnroe was really just done in by the full flowering of power tennis. Jimmy Connors also was no longer able to beat Lendl. And it really shouldn’t be forgotten how very dominant Lendl was during the post-1985 period until he began to experience back problems and Becker, Agassi, and Sampras were able to defeat him.

    It’s ironic that McEnroe, who wasn’t considered extremely fit in his heyday, became dedicated to fitness after retirement from the ATP tour. Because of his natural talent and enhanced fitness, McEnroe was a much more successful senior player than basically all of his contemporaries and could beat players from the “next (senior) gen.” Now, of course, he cannot defeat Andy Roddick and James Blake, who are decades younger. Mats Wilander theorized that he and McEnroe were invested in senior tennis because they both felt they “left something on the court” (Wilander because of his drastic fall after 1988, McEnroe for his failure to progress beyond a G.S. semi-final after 1985).

    McEnroe was my favorite, but my top favorite since then is Djokovic (with many intervening lesser favorites in the interim). So I have to take issue with Leif’s categorizing Federer and FAA as “geniuses” and Djokovic and Courier as “grinders.” First of all, isn’t it a bit early to categorize FAA as a “genius”? (I mean, give me a break.) And I really wouldn’t equate Courier, a relatively limited player whose period of dominance was comparatively brief, with Djokovic. Djokovic grinds all right (and, guess what, so does Federer when he really wants to win), but Djokovic has a genius all his own.

  • Harold · February 5, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Spot on Sherry..Good trip down memory lane. Was at the 85 semis.

    I think it took years before Gilbert and Mac seemed comfortable at ESPN..lots of little digs early

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 5, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Sherry, McEnroe had to be affected by the dysfunction of the Oneill family, he had to learn some shocking things which surely rocked his foundation. Not going to offer any theories or details but I did read Tatum’s book and Stanley Kubrick book (he made a movie with Oneill – Barry Lyndon) and the implications about Ryan and Tatum are not printable. McEnroe once told me for a boxing interview about how power tennis cause his game trouble: “When asked which boxers remind him of himself, the 5-ft-11, 165-pound McEnroe pauses, then humbly replies, “I don’t think I could really. I would like to say a guy like Barry McGuigan, being Irish, with the huge crowd support.” And after another thoughtful pause, he offers another unexpected choice. “Hagler.” Whoa, he cannot be serious. Marvin Hagler? “Because he was lefty. Later in my career I thought that I needed to change something. There was a lot more power coming into the game. (I thought) I’ve gotta do something to get stronger, whatever. But ultimately you can’t change what you do best. And remember when Hagler fought Leonard, he came out righty? And you were like, What is he doing? Right? And then he was probably trying to out-think him, that he could do that. But in truth, if he had just stayed with what like got him there, he probably would have intimidated him a lot more. And it reminded me of the end, where I started second-guessing myself. And you start thinking, Should I serve harder, even if it’s less precise? I’ve gotta get stronger so I could hit harder.”

  • catherine · February 5, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I was at the 85 USO too. There was a rainstorm just before the start and after Lendl won the t/b first set it was over more or less. Mac certainly looked exhausted – subdued throughout the match. In the press conference he complained about the scheduling and the TV – ‘the USTA is chickenshit scared of CBS’ he said.

    Re Tatum etc – it takes two to tango of course. Things went ok for a while and then they didn’t. John was too young to be married and deal with all the showbiz stuff.

  • catherine · February 5, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Oh, and Mac overruled a line call in Lendl’s favour. He clearly wasn’t going to win.

    At that time Lendl despised McEnroe, or gave that impression, and was a rock on court, blank and hard. John couldn’t cope with two power games – one physical the other psychological. He couldn’t have changed his own game, however he fantasised.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 5, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Or deal with all of Oneill’s baggage.

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