It’s McEnroe vs Lendl at Wimbledon after 33 years, this time as coaches
Lendl and McEnroe will be in the respective player’s boxes of Andy Murray and Milos RaonicWimbledon 2016 Updated: Jul 10, 2016 16:55 IST
The year was 1983. The venue: The All England Club in London.
John McEnroe defeated long-time rival Ivan Lendl in the semifinals of Wimbledon and went on to win his second of three titles at the Championships. The McEnroe-Lendl rivalry spanned 63 matches, including exhibition and official games, with their last clash at the 1992 Canada Masters, where Lendl won 6-2, 6-4.
‘Old Stoneface’ Lendl held a 37-26 head-to-head advantage over the ‘ultimate bad boy of world tennis’ McEnroe. Their bitter rivalry was not confined to the tennis court alone and almost 27 years after their last match, these two tennis greats will resume their rivalry at the grandest stage of them all - Wimbledon.
However, instead of facing each other from across the net, Lendl and McEnroe will be in the respective player’s boxes of Andy Murray and Milos Raonic -- who will face each other on Sunday in a bid to be crowned gentlemen’s singles champions at this year’s edition of The Championships.
Ivan Lendl coached Andy Murray from early 2012 to 2014 before parting ways with the British No 1, but the two were reunited at the start of this year’s grasscourt season. The decision made a lot of sense as the most productive phase in Murray’s career – winning the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, as well as the Olympic gold for Britain in the 2012 London Games – came under the guidance of Lendl and his experience can prove vital for the Brit in his preparation to defend his gold next month in Rio.
The move seemed to have worked for Murray as he is currently on an 11-match unbeaten streak since reuniting with Lendl season and his dominant performance at Wimbledon thus far is the reason is surely part of the reason why he is a favourite in the Championship clash at the All England Club.
However, it will not be wise to discount the rock star of Canadian tennis – Milos Raonic – as he attempts to win his first ever Grand Slam. After semifinal losses at Wimbledon in 2014 and at the Australian Open this year, Raonic decided to seek the help of John McEnroe and the seven-time Grand Slam winner joined former French Open champion and world number one Carlos Moya in the Canadian‘s coaching team after last month’s French Open.
Raonic began the grass court season by advancing to his first final at the Queen’s Club Championships without dropping serve before losing the final in three sets to Murray. However, he did not lose heart and his performance at this year’s Championships has been impressive. He finished a brilliant comeback against David Goffin, coming back to win from two sets down for the first time in his career in the quarterfinal and then defeated Roger Federer to set a final with Murray.
All eyes will be focused on Murray’s title clash with Raonic, but the 1980s rivalry playing out on the sidelines will be an important one to watch out for.