When Ivan Lendl knocked off John McEnroe in Tokyo a few weeks ago, it caused only a ripple of surprise because it was an exhibition.
However, Lendl’s 6-3, 6-3 manhandling of McEnroe Sunday in the final of the Tournament of Champions at Forest Hills, N.Y., may mean the Czech is again ready to challenge the No. 1 player in the world.
“It wasn’t a case of my playing that badly,” said McEnroe, who had beaten Lendl in 10 of 12 career matches. “He played a good match.
“He seems to be more consistent on clay at this point,” McEnroe said. “This was his best surface and my worst. His game was on today.”
The victory gave Lendl his second T of C win--his first came in 1982--and was his first tournament victory over McEnroe since the French Open last year.
Lendl rode his power game--serves and ground strokes off both sides--to the easy victory. The depth and power of his strokes kept McEnroe either pinned on the baseline or flailing away in midair as he was passed consistently.
“I’m definitely playing better now than I have in my career,” Lendl said. “I’ve been working hard, and it’s coming a little early. I didn’t expect it for another six or nine months.”
Finding the range with both his forehand and backhand, Lendl was awesome in his destruction of McEnroe, the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion. And this time, unlike the French Open when he had to fight back from a two-set deficit, Lendl disposed of McEnroe in straight sets.
He did it with raw, awesome power. He boomed his service, finishing with seven aces--compared to just one for McEnroe--and rifled passing shots from both sides.
Dominating from the outset, Lendl jumped to a 4-0 lead, breaking McEnroe in the first and third games and holding his service in the second and fourth games.
McEnroe finally held his service in the fifth game, closing it out with his first and last ace.
In the eighth game, McEnroe finally solved Lendl’s serve, breaking the strong right-hander as Lendl made two unforced errors. But McEnroe double-faulted on the first point of the ninth game and Lendl kept the pressure on, immediately breaking McEnroe to close out the set.
The second half of the 1 1/2-hour match began with an ace, Lendl’s third of the day. He closed out that game with his fourth ace.
And in the third game, he hit what was called a fault. But McEnroe disagreed with the officials and moved to the other side of the court to receive the next serve, conceding Lendl his fifth ace.
“Yes, I was surprised because the serve was really wide,” Lendl said. “It definitely was wide.”
Lendl pulled ahead by breaking McEnroe in the fourth game.
In the ninth game, McEnroe had double-break point at 15-40. But he sailed a forehand long, and when his backhand service return was wide, Lendl pulled to deuce.
Two points later, the Czech had taken the $80,000 first-place prize.
Former Swedish champion Bjorn Borg, putting on the pressure with topspin drives and pinpoint passing shots, beat Anders Jarryd, also of Sweden, 6-4, 6-3, to win the $200,000 Gunze World Tournament.
Asked whether he could beat any player in his present physical condition, Borg, who has retired from the regular tournament circuit, said: “I would need to make more sacrifice and do more exercise to do so. But I don’t want to do so.”
Belgium, Greece and Monaco clinched Davis Cup matches, but Zimbabwe beat Poland in doubles to extend their match until today.
Gilles Gamancia defeated Nagy Kabaz of Senegal, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, to clinch Monaco’s victory, and Albert Viviani made the final margin 4-1 by beating Senegal’s Miloud Doumbia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Karel De Muynck of Belgium beat Kasimir Lasarov of Bulgaria, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, to give the Belgians an insurmountable 3-1 lead and move them into the third round against Denmark.
Greece finished a 4-1 victory over Norway. George Kalovelonis and Andreas Efremoglou beat Morten Roenbelg and Jan Roster, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, and Tassos Bavelas defeated Roenbelg, 10-8, 6-4, 6-2, in the clincher. Kalovelonis beat Audud Janssen, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In Warsaw, Haroon Ismail and Philip Tuckniss of Zimbabwe defeated Poland’s Lech Bienkowski and Wojciech Kowalski, 8-6, 6-2, 6-3, cutting Poland’s lead to 2-1.
Sweden’s Joakim Nystrom defeated Hansjoerg Schwaier of West Germany, 6-1, 6-0, at Munich, West Germany, a $100,000 Grand Prix tournament.
Nystrom, who lost in the 1983 final here to Tomas Smid of Czechoslovakia, received a winner’s purse of $20,000 for Sunday’s victory. Schwaier won $10,000.
Pam Shriver displayed a strong serve and won the $200,000 Australian Open Women’s Indoor with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Dianne Balestrat at Sydney, Australia.
The top-seeded Shriver, whose world ranking slipped from third to ninth during a three-month hiatus prompted by a shoulder injury, won $36,000. Balestrat, the former Dianne Fromholtz, earned $18,000 for reaching a tournament final for the first time since 1980. After 18 months on the sidelines, she returned to competition last October.
Shriver rushed to a 2-0 lead in the first set and dominated her left-handed opponent for the rest of the match. Shriver broke Balestrat’s serve in the first and ninth games of the first set and in the eighth game of the second.