Ivan Lendl

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Ivan Lendl
Ivan Lendl.jpg
Lendl in Miami, 2012
Country (sports)  Czechoslovakia (1960–1992)
 United States (1992–)
Residence Goshen, Connecticut, US
Vero Beach, Florida, US[1]
Born (1960-03-07) March 7, 1960 (age 58)
Ostrava, Czechoslovakia
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Turned pro 1978
Retired 1994
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money US$ 21,262,417
Int. Tennis HoF 2001 (member page)
Career record 1071–239 (81.8%)
Career titles 94 ATP Tour (2nd all-time)
Highest ranking No. 1 (February 28, 1983)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W (1989, 1990)
French Open W (1984, 1986, 1987)
Wimbledon F (1986, 1987)
US Open W (1985, 1986, 1987)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals W (1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987)
WCT Finals W (1982, 1985)
Career record 187–140 (57.2%)
Career titles 6
Highest ranking No. 20 (May 12, 1986)
Team competitions
Davis Cup W (1980)
Coaching career (2012–2014)
Coaching achievements
Coachee Singles Titles total 4
List of notable tournaments
(with champion)

Wimbledon (Murray)
US Open (Murray)
Olympic Gold Medal (Murray)

Ivan Lendl (Czech pronunciation: [ˈɪvan ˈlɛndl̩]; 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.[2] Lendl's game relied particularly on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of "power tennis".

Lendl captured eight Grand Slam singles titles. He competed in 19 Grand Slam singles finals, a record surpassed by Roger Federer in 2009 and Rafael Nadal in 2014. 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 Grand Prix Super Series titles (1980–89), the precursors to the current ATP Masters 1000.[citation needed]

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. He is one of three male players (with Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer) to win more than 1000 tennis singles matches (1071).[3] Lendl has won 94 singles titles, second only in the Open Era to Connors' 109 titles. Lendl has been runner-up in 11 finals, a record.

Personal life

Lendl was born into a tennis family in Ostrava, Moravian-Silesian Region, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). His parents were top players in Czechoslovakia, and his mother Olga, born Jeništová, was at one point ranked the no. 2 female player in the country. Lendl turned professional in tennis in 1978. He relocated to the United States in 1981, first living at the home of mentor and friend, Wojtek Fibak. In 1984, Lendl bought his own residence in Greenwich, Connecticut. Lendl applied for and received a U.S. Permanent Resident 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.[4] He became a U.S. citizen on July 7, 1992.[5]

On September 16, 1989, six days after losing the final of the US Open to Boris Becker, Lendl married Samantha Frankel.[6] 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 back pain.[7] 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.[8][9] Daniela is a member of the University of Alabama Women's Golf Team.[10] 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.[citation needed]

Lendl is an art collector and has a nearly complete collection of posters by Alfons Mucha. The collection was exhibited in Prague in 2013.[11][12]

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.[13] The Czechoslovak Sport Federation (ČSTV), controlled by the Communist Party, expelled him from the Czechoslovak Davis Cup team and fined him $150,000.[14] 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).[citation needed]

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 September 1985 and later on for U.S. citizenship.[citation needed]

Playing style

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed][unbalanced opinion]


While professional, Lendl used Adidas clothing and Kneissl racquets, subsequently changing to Adidas racquets. Toward the end of his days on the ATP tour, Lendl ended his long-term clothing, shoe, and racquet 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.[citation needed] Since 2010, he has been using Bosworth racquets.[citation needed]

Tennis career

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.

Ivan Lendl in the final of the 1984 ABN World Tennis tournament in Rotterdam

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 Mečíř 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 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 Czechoslovak 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 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.[15] 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."[citation needed]

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 Jiří Novák in the exhibition match.[16]

Career statistics

Singles performance timeline

Czechoslovakia United States
Name 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 SR W–L
Grand Slams
Australian Open 2R F 4R SF NH SF SF W W F QF 1R 4R 2 / 12 48–10
French Open 1R 4R 3R F 4R QF W F W W QF 4R 2R 1R 1R 3 / 15 53–12
Wimbledon 1R 3R 1R SF SF 4R F F SF SF SF 3R 4R 2R 0 / 14 48–14
US Open 2R QF 4R F F F W W W F F QF SF QF 1R 2R 3 / 16 73–13
Win–Loss 0–1 4–3 9–4 9–3 9–2 20–4 20–3 20–3 20–1 24–2 20–4 21–3 16–2 13–3 12–4 1–4 4–3 8 / 57 222–49
Year-End Championships
Masters Grand Prix F W W F F W W W F SF SF SF 5 / 12 39–10
WCT Finals SF W F W SF 2 / 5 10–3


Professional awards


  • Tennis magazine named him as one of the ten greatest tennis players since 1966, calling him "the game's greatest overachiever" and emphasizing his importance in the game's history.[21] In his book Modern Encyclopedia of Tennis, Bud Collins included Lendl in his list of the 21 greatest men's tennis players for the period from 1946 through 1992.
  • In July 1986 DPR Korea issued a postage stamp depicting Ivan Lendl in play.[22]

Tennis coaching career

On December 31, 2011, Lendl was appointed coach to Andy Murray.[23] Lendl has been credited with improving Murray's maturity and consistency, guiding the Scot to his first two Grand Slam victories in the 2012 US Open, and 2013 Wimbledon Championships, thereby ending the 77-year-old wait for a male British tennis player to win a Grand Slam Major.[24] After his win in the US Open 2012, Murray shared with Lendl to be the only players in the Open Era to have lost their first four Grand Slam finals, and winning the fifth.[24] On March 19, 2014, it was announced that Lendl and Murray would be ending their 2 year coaching partnership.

See also


  1. Known as "Masters Grand Prix" (1970–1989) and "ATP Tour World Championships" (1990–1999).


  1. Potter, Jerry (December 7, 2006). "Fatherhood, golf keep Lendl busy - USATODAY.com". USA Today. Retrieved July 25, 2012. He lives with his family in Florida, splitting time between Vero Beach and Bradenton<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Top 10 Men's Tennis Players of All Time". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "1,000th win for Roger Federer as he takes Brisbane title".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Lendl's bid to get U.S.citizenship earlier denied". The New York Times. September 6, 1988. Retrieved June 25, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Lendl becomes U.S.citizen". The New York Times. July 8, 1992. Retrieved June 28, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Lendl gets married". The New York Times. September 19, 1989. Retrieved June 25, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. De Jonge, Peter (June 20, 2012). "Can Ivan Lendl Lead Andy Murray to Tennis Greatness?". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Gator Women's Golf Roster/Bios". GatorZone.com. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Gator Women's Golf Roster/Bios". GatorZone.com. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "2012-13 Women's Golf Roster". Rolltide.com. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Willoughby, Ian (April 30, 2013). "Lendl: Mucha is only artist that interests me". Radio Prague. Retrieved August 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. WILLIAM GRIMES (September 10, 1993). "Posters: Populist Art For the Collector". New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Connors beats Lendl in the final of the Sun City round robin exhibition tournament". New York Times. July 11, 1983. Retrieved June 28, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "SPORTS PEOPLE; Lendl Suspended". Czechoslovakia: New York Times. July 16, 1983. Retrieved September 12, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Chronic back problems bring an end to Lendl's career". New York Times. December 21, 1994. Retrieved April 1, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Fishpool, Nick (May 21, 2012). "Lendl takes to court at ITF Pro Circuit event in Prague". ITFTennis.com. Retrieved May 22, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Clarey, Christopher (July 8, 2012). "Federer Beats Murray, and Britain, for Seventh Wimbledon Title". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2012. The only other man in the Open era to lose his first four major finals is Ivan Lendl...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Grand Slam History". ATP World Tour. Retrieved June 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 "US Open Singles Record Book". US Open. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 1, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Ivan Lendl Player Profile – Activity". ITF Tennis. Retrieved July 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Era". Tennis magazine. Archived from the original on November 12, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). – photo of this postage stamp
  23. "Andy Murray appoints Ivan Lendl as his new coach". BBC Sport. December 31, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 Ornstein, David (September 8, 2012). "Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych to reach US Open final". BBC Sport. Retrieved September 8, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links