What Lendl Seeks Next Is a Wimbledon Trophy : Australian Open Victory Gives Him ‘a Great Feeling,’ and Now He Wants More
Ivan Lendl had two New Year’s resolutions: win the Australian Open and win Wimbledon. Now he has one.
Lendl beat ninth-seeded Miloslav Mecir of Czechoslovakia, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, Sunday for his first Australian Open title, regaining the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis.
“I wanted to win this tournament very badly,” he said. “It’s such a tremendous feeling, I can’t describe it.”
The championship was more important to Lendl than the No. 1 ranking because his main goal is to win all four Grand Slam events. All that’s missing now for the three-time French and U.S. Open champion is a Wimbledon trophy.
“When you win a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, it’s such a great feeling that you always want more,” he said. “It makes you greedy. You want another one and another one. It’s never enough.”
The victory lifted Lendl to the top of the computer rankings, a spot he held for 3 years before Mats Wilander replaced him at last year’s U.S. Open. Wilander, who slumped after becoming No. 1, was eliminated in the second-round here by Ramesh Krishnan.
“It’s nice to be No. 1, but the title means so much more,” Lendl said. “I didn’t come here to be No. 1, I came here to win the tournament.”
Mecir, who lost his only previous Grand Slam final to Lendl at the 1986 U.S. Open, said this loss was more disappointing.
“At the U.S. Open, I did what I could, and he was just stronger,” said Mecir, who double-faulted 10 times, often on critical points. “But today I think I might have had a chance if I had served better.”
Lendl, who had 14 aces, was surprised by Mecir’s shaky serve.
“I haven’t seen him serve that badly for a long, long time,” he said. “When he started to serve those double-faults, I couldn’t believe my luck.”
Mecir tried to negate Lendl’s baseline power by hitting a lot of slow, short shots, but Lendl waited patiently for his chances to catch the Olympic champion out of position.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it worked,” Lendl said of his strategy. “It’s ugly and I hate doing it, but that’s the way to play him.”
Lendl said his rigorous exercise program helped him play his second straight match in 100-degree heat.
“I was pretty tired on Friday (after beating Thomas Muster in a four-set semifinal),” he said. “I think my fitness allowed me to bounce back and be 100 percent today.”
Mecir, ranked 13th in the world, lost only one set en route to the final. But after breaking Lendl for a 2-1 lead in the opening set, he lost seven straight games and never mounted another challenge.
“My serve let me down,” he said. “I just couldn’t find my timing.”
While Mecir was trying to figure out what went wrong, Lendl was savoring one of the most satisfying wins of his career.
“If I don’t win another match this year, I’m going to be satisfied,” he said. “Of course, three days from now I won’t be saying that, but right now that’s the way I feel.”