They were one of the tennis world’s classic contrasts in styles: the fiery New Yorker vs. the Cool Czech.
John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl played 36 times. Only Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have played more times (39) in the Open Era of professional tennis. The Open Era began in 1968 when pros were admitted to the Grand Slam tournaments.
Lendl led the series with McEnroe 21-15, including 7-3 in Grand Slam tournaments. The seniors version of the rivalry will resume Friday night when Lendl plays McEnroe in the first one-set semifinal at the PowerShares QQQ Challenge at 7 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indianapolis is the fourth stop of the 12-city PowerShares Series for former ATP Tour stars 30 and over. Jim Courier and Mark Philippoussis will play in the other semi. The winners will then meet for a one-set championship.
“I think at one time, obviously, we were number one rivals, and think I think it started shifting sort of mid-‘80s to other guys,” Lendl said.
Lendl described Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg as other top rivals. Lendl played Connors 35 times, holding 22-13 edge.