Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Back Hands Lendle Final Defeat Czech Native Won 94 Titles, over $20 Million

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Back Hands Lendle Final Defeat Czech Native Won 94 Titles, over $20 Million

Article excerpt

Ivan Lendl found an opponent he couldn't beat: his own body.

"This is totally it for me," Lendl said Tuesday in announcing his retirement from professional tennis. "My back doesn't allow me."

Lendl said it was ironic that an injury would force out tennis' fittest player.

"I would have liked to deal with it on my own terms," he said by conference call. "Ideally, you would like to end on a winning note. I would like to be involved in the game in another capacity, but not playing."

Lendl, 34, held the world's No. 1 ranking for a record 270 weeks. He fell out of the top 10 last year for the first time since 1979 and now is ranked 54th in the world.

Retirement, he said "is never easy. It is not something you deal with every day."

But he said he made his decision after his doctor told him his back would not get any better.

"After the U.S. Open, I've had more and more problems," he said. "I've even tried to play a couple of senior events and found I couldn't do that.

"I enjoyed playing the game, had a lot of great times and I will miss it."

Lendl's retirement comes one month after Martina Navratilova announced she was leaving the women's tour. Both clearly left their stamp on tennis.

Both were born in Czechoslovakia and have become U.S. citizens - Navratilova in 1981, Lendl in 1992. Both were at the tennis forefront of using diet and conditioning to raise their level of play.

Lendl, with an iron will and overpowering forehand, won 94 titles and more than $20 million. Navratilova, second only to Lendl in earnings, captured a record 167 tournaments.

As was the case with Navratilova, it took time before Lendl won over the crowds partial to Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.

His gaunt face highlighting his high cheek bones, his all-business approach on court and Eastern European background in the Cold War era all helped to make Lendl the "heavy," especially to American crowds. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.