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L E’s Stories – “Tennis’ Master Shot Maker And Major Court Anarchist” – The Story And Legend Of John McEnroe

From 1977 to 1984, John McEnroe roamed the tennis courts of the professional tennis tour….when he exhibited masterful shot making artistry and volleying skills…..while constantly making a name as the sports’ biggest anarchist…..as a result of his confrontational on-court behavior that frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities.  McEnroe attained the No. 1 ranking in both singles and  doubles….while finishing his career with 77 singles and 78 doubles titles….which this remains as the  highest men’s combined total of the Open Era. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles, four at the US Open and three at Wimbledon….along with nine men’s Grand Slam doubles titles. His singles match record of 82–3 in 1984 remains the best single season win rate of the Open Era.  As an 18-year-old amateur in 1977, John McEnroe won the mixed doubles at the French Open with Mary Carillo, and then made it through the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon and into the main draw, where he lost in the semifinals to Jimmy Connors in four sets. It was the best performance by a qualifier at a Grand Slam tournament and a record performance by an amateur in the Open Era.                                                                 

Tennis – 1980 – U S Open Men’s Semifinal Match – John McEnroe Vs Jimmy Conners

                                                                                                                                                                                    After Wimbledon in 1977, McEnroe was recruited by Coach Dick Gould and entered Stanford University, where, in 1978, he led the Stanford team to an NCAA championship….and also won the NCAA singles title. Later in 1978, he joined the ATP tour and signed his first professional endorsement deal, with Sergio Tacchini. He again advanced to the semifinals at a Grand Slam…..this time the US Open while losing to Jimmy Connors…..after which, he proceeded to win five titles that year…..which included his first Masters Grand Prix……when he beat Arthur Ashe in straight sets…..as well as Grand Prix events at Stockholm and Wembley. His late-season success allowed him to finish as the # four ranked player for the year.                            

NCAA Tennis – 1978 – Men’s Semifinal Match Highlights NC St Wolfpack John Sadri Vs Stanford Cardinals John McEnroe – With Bud Collins Making The Call

                                                                                                                                                                                      In 1979, McEnroe and partner Peter Fleming won the Wimbledon Doubles title….which was followed shortly thereafter by a win in the US Open Doubles….plus that same week, McEnroe won the men’s singles US Open title….which was his first Grand Slam singles title…..as he defeated his friend Vitas Gerulaitis in straight sets in the final to become the youngest male winner of the singles title at the US Open since Pancho Gonzales, who was also 20 in 1948.  He also won the prestigious season-ending WCT Finals by beating Björn Borg in four sets…..as John McEnroe won 10 singles and 17 doubles titles that year, for a total of 27 titles, which marked an open-era record….while finishing at # 3 in the ATP year-end rankings.                                                                                                                                                                           

Tennis – 1979 – U S Open Quarterfinals Match – Ilie Nastasi Vs John McEnroe Featuring Pat Summerall + Tony Roche Behind The Mike                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At Wimbledon, McEnroe reached the 1980 Wimbledon Men’s Singles final…..which was his first final at Wimbledon….where he faced Björn Borg, who was gunning for his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. At the start of the final, McEnroe was booed by the crowd as he entered Centre Court following heated exchanges with officials during his semifinal victory over Jimmy Connors…..when in a fourth-set tiebreaker that lasted 20 minutes, McEnroe saved five match points and eventually won 18–16. McEnroe, however, could not break Borg’s serve in the fifth set….which the Swede won 8–6…..as this match was called the best Wimbledon final by ESPN’s countdown show “Who’s Number One?”  McEnroe exacted revenge two months later by beating Björn Borg in the five-set final of the 1980 US Open. He was a finalist at the season-ending WCT Finals and finished as the # 2 ranked player for the year behind only Borg.                                                                

Tennis – 1980 – Wimbledon Men’s Finals Highlights – John McEnroe Vs Bjorn Borg

McEnroe remained controversial when he returned to Wimbledon in 1981….when following his first-round match against Tom Gullikson, McEnroe was fined U.S. $1,500…..and came close to being thrown out after he called umpire Ted James “the pits of the world”…..while then swearing at tournament referee Fred Hoyles…..when he also made famous the phrase “you cannot be serious”…..which years later became the title of McEnroe’s autobiography, by shouting it after several umpires’ calls during his matches. This behavior was in sharp contrast to that of Borg…..who was painted by the press as an unflappable “Ice Man.”…..nevertheless, in matches played between the two, McEnroe never lost his temper.

Tennis – 1981 – Wimbledon Men’s Championship Match – John McEnroe Vs Bjorn Borg – With McEnroe’s “You Cannot Be Serious” Tirade

                                                                                                                                                                                    After the controversy and criticism from the British press…..that is when Ian Barnes of the Daily Express gave him the nickname “SuperBrat”….as McEnroe again reached the Wimbledon men’s singles final in 1981 against Borg. This time, McEnroe prevailed in four sets to end the Swede’s run of 41 consecutive match victories at the All England Club…..as TV commentator Bud Collins quipped after the Independence Day battle, paraphrasing “Yankee Doodle” with “Stick a feather in his cap and call it ‘McEnroe-ni’!”.  The controversy, however, did not end there. In response to McEnroe’s on-court outbursts during the Championships, the All England Club did not accord McEnroe honorary club membership, an honor normally given to singles champions after their first victory. McEnroe responded by not attending the traditional champions’ dinner that evening. The honor was eventually accorded to McEnroe after he won the championship again.                                                                                                                                        

Tennis – 1981 – Wimbledon Men’s Finals Highlights – John McEnroe Vs Bjorn Borg

                                                                                                                                                                                      Borg and McEnroe had their final confrontation in the final of the 1981 US Open….as Johnny Mac won in four sets….while becoming the first male player since the 1920’s to win three consecutive US Open singles titles…..while Borg never played another Grand Slam event. McEnroe also won his second WCT Final by beating Johan Kriek in straight sets…..and finished the year as the # 1 ranked player in the world. He was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year….as the second men’s tennis player ever after    Don Budge in the 1930’s.

 

Tennis – 1981 – U S Open Men’s Finals Full Match – Bjorn Borg Vs John McEnroe With Pat Summerall & John Newcombe Behind The Mike

McEnroe lost to Jimmy Connors in the 1982 Wimbledon final…..as McEnroe lost only one set (to Johan Kriek) going into the final….however, Connors won the fourth-set tiebreak and the fifth set. He fell in the semi-finals at the US Open that year and was a finalist at the WCT Finals. He was able to retain the ATP’s # 1 ranking based on points at the end of the year on the basis of having won significant events at Philadelphia, Wembley and Tokyo….but due to Connors’ victories at the two most important events of the year (Wimbledon and the US Open), Connors was named the player of the year by the ATP and most other tennis authorities.                                                                                                                                                         

Tennis – 1982 – Wimbledon Men’s Finals Extended Highlights – Jimmy Connors Vs John McEnroe

                                                                                                                                                                                    In 1983, McEnroe reached his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final….while dropping only one set throughout the tournament (to Florin Segărceanu)…..and sweeping aside the unheralded New Zealander Chris Lewis in straight-sets. At the US Open, he was defeated in the fourth round, his earliest exit since 1977. He played at the Australian Open for the first time, making it to the semifinals before being defeated in four sets by Mats Wilander. He made the WCT Final for the third time and beat Ivan Lendl in an epic five-setter. He took the Masters Grand Prix title for the second time, again beating Lendl in straight sets. He also won major events at Philadelphia, Forest Hills and Wembley…..thus enabling him to capture the year-end # 1 ranking once again.                                                                                                     

Tennis – 1983 – WCT Men’s Championship Finals In Dallas – Ivan Lendl Vs John McEnroe

                                                                                                                                                                            McEnroe’s best season came in 1984….as he compiled an 82–3 match record that remains the highest single-season win rate of the Open Era…..when he won a career-high 13 singles tournaments….which included Wimbledon and the US Open….while capturing the year-end # 1 ranking.  He also played on the winning US World Team Cup and runner-up Davis Cup teams.  He began the year with a 42-match win streak….while winning his first six events of the year…..and reaching his first French Open final….where his opponent was Ivan Lendl…..as McEnroe won the first two sets….but Lendl’s adjustments of using more topspin lobs and cross-court backhand passing shots….as well as McEnroe’s fatigue and temperamental outbursts…..resulted in a demoralizing five-set loss.  In his autobiography, McEnroe described this as his most bitter defeat and implied that he’s never quite gotten over it.                                       

Tennis – 1984 – French Open Men’s Finals Highlights – Ivan Lendl Vs John McEnroe

He rebounded at Wimbledon, losing just one set en route to his third Wimbledon singles title. This included a straight-set rout over Jimmy Connors in the final. He then won his fourth US Open title by defeating Lendl in straight sets in the final, after defeating Connors in a five-set semifinal. He also won his fourth WCT Final, defeating Connors in straight sets, and took his third Masters Grand Prix, beating Lendl in straight sets. His combined record against the number 2 and 3 ranked players for the year, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, respectively, was 11-1, including going undefeated versus Connors in five matches.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                         Tennis – 1981 – Wimbledon Men’s Finals Full Match – John McEnroe Vs Bjorn Borg

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