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Towards Turin: 1986, in the year of the second Masters, the king is Ivan Lendl

Towards Turin: 1986, in the year of the second Masters, the king is Ivan Lendl

1986 is a special year, but it is no less interesting, on the contrary. It is remembered as the year of the Masters: the 1985 year is held in January and the regular year of the current calendar year in December. It’s a choice imposed by Tennis Australia which moved the Open to January, following a tradition that stopped in 1977. That’s why it’s also the year of the Grand Slam; For fans, fans, players and sponsors, little has changed because there is essentially a thirteen-month difference between the 1985 Australian Open and the 1987 Championship, but for the books, calendars and honor rolls, 1986 remains a lame year. Much more important are the millions of Australian dollars invested in building the tournament’s new headquarters in central Melbourne, with hard courts and a center court with a retractable roof that opens and closes within twenty minutes. A great idea, only copied at Wimbledon in 2009, at the US Open in 2016 and at Roland Garros in 2020.
As always, we’re starting at Madison Square Garden to give away the award for the season that just ended. It is the first and only Masters in history to have 16 participants and start with a mystery. At the first press conference there were only 15 players present (with Scott Davis replacing the injured Miloslav Messer), because even Jimmy Connors is not in perfect condition and when Jimbo officially announces his resignation the search begins for the 16th player who should take the field that same evening. Against Leconte. Corrin is number one in the rankings but is on vacation, Gaet is still in Argentina and doesn’t have time, and Arias is busy performing. We break out in a cold sweat until we discover that Gomez, 21, is in Washington in the company of the President of Ecuador, who is in turn attending the official luncheon with the US Secretary of State. Gomez welcomes everyone and rushes to New York and defeats Leconte 7-6, 6-1, already convinced of qualifying for the next round due to the lack of an opponent. But the most dramatic upset comes with the elimination of John McEnroe, who was beaten in three sets on his debut by Brad Gilbert. The player who lost only two real matches between 1984 and April 1985 (not counting the match against Amritraj) is no more. It is the Masters tournament that sends the two strongest players, Lendl and Becker, to the final, where the Czech cooled the enthusiasm of the young German by defeating him in the final in three straight sets after canceling the set point at 5-6 in the second set. hiring.

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in the beginning of the year The ITF announced Claudio Pistolesi and Laura Garrone as world No. 1s in the junior categories. Lendl no longer misses any action, and since the defeat to Edberg in Australia, he has recorded 29 wins in a row. Philadelphia wins with Mayotte not participating in the final match after injury. Then he moves to Florida, to Boca West, to beat Lipton over Philander after a fiery semi-final with Connors. Jimbo fights like a lion for 5 sets, then, convinced that the line judge has robbed him, curses and leaves the court down 2-5 in the fifth set. The exclusion that prevented him from playing in Paris and remaining, after 657 consecutive weeks, among the top five in the world, was inevitable. Lendl also goes through Milan where he beats the defenseless Nystrom in the final, wins Fort Myers, and only on March 30 suffers his first knockout of the season in the final in Chicago, against the possessed Becker.
The circuit is monopolized by Lendl and the Swedish players. The hundreds of thousands of dollars that a company invested in the care of Niklas Kulte, a 14-year-old Swede who, in terms of physical prowess and play, was mistaken for the new Borg, created a sensation. However, on the field, the star performers are the bear’s credible “grandchildren.” Nystrom won four tournaments including Monte Carlo on Noah, Wilander scored in Brussels while Jared stunned two of his compatriots and then took out a doubting Becker in the very rich WCT finals in Dallas.
Lendl is suffering a bad day from Noah, who imposes on him his second stop this year in the semi-finals of the Forest Hills Champions League, but he recovers strongly with a double in Rome and Paris. However, in Foro Italico, it is not easy: in the semi-final, against a furious Noah, Lendl has to save a match point at 4-5 and 30-40 in the third set. The line judge calls Lendl’s first serve, but he corrects himself. Richard Kaufman descends from his high chair and validates Lindell’s performance over Noah’s protests. Once the fight with Noah was over, Lendl beat the young Sanchez in the final and emerged in Paris as the favorite. At Roland Garros, the most self-reliant opponents are decimated: Wilander loses in the third round to Soviet Andrei Chesnokov, Noah suffers an injury before playing in the eighth with Kriek, and Becker and Leconte beat a blond, American-raised Swede called Mikael Pernfors. For Lendl, it’s a walk in the park, as the cold and wind suggest he will play an inexpensive semifinal with Creek (6-2, 6-1, 6-0) in his tracksuit, then easily fend off the failed attacks of an already oversaturated team. Pernforce. Paris is at his feet for the second time.

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Once the suspension for irresponsible behavior at Lipton was over, Connors returned to the court at Queen’s and reached a remarkable final which he lost by withdrawing to Tim Mayotte’s brilliant serve and volley. Things got worse at Wimbledon and for the first time Jimbo lost in the first round to Robert Seguso. Everyone waits for Becker’s confirmation, which arrives immediately, much to Lindell’s dismay. Who, after failing to dispel the Wimbledon taboo, entrusts himself to the expert hands of Tony Roche. The Czech beat Mayotte V 9-7 in the quarter-finals and 6-4 over Zivojnovic V in the semi-finals before suffering from the harsh Becker Rule which, when the rounds got heated, left only one set in the semi-finals to advance to the semi-finals. The magical LeConte.
Italy stands out: On July 13, Paulino Cani, the talented tennis player from Bologna with a turbo backhand, won the first ATP title of his career in Bordeaux against Sweden’s Kent Carlsson, and a month later Simone Colombo, known as Simba, won the title. In St. Vincent on the Australian Paul McNamee.
McEnroe, after marrying Tatum O’Neal, returned to tennis in August at Stratton Mountain, losing in the semi-final to Baker in a deciding tiebreak, but was convinced he could return to competing at the highest levels. However, his fans were depressed when, after defeat to Seguso at the Canadian Open (Lendl also fell here and suffered his fourth defeat of the year to Corinne), he lost on his debut at Flushing Meadows to Paul Annacone.
The US Open confirms the dominance of Lendl and the Czechoslovak School, creating a historic match: Lendl beat Messer (who eliminated Becker in the semifinals) in the men’s final, and Martina Navratilova beat Helena Sukova in the women’s final.
McEnroe’s feelings were right and he came back to win three straight tournaments in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Scottsdale. Instead, Lendl pulled the handbrake, losing the Sydney final to Becker, who emulated Newcombe by claiming three successive championships on three different continents: Sydney, Tokyo and Paris-Bercy. Edberg ended Lendl’s 19 consecutive finals at indoor tournaments. The series, which began in October three years ago, was halted in the semifinals in Tokyo. It is the sixth and final defeat for Ivan the Terrible, who finished his best year ever with a 92.5% win rate (74-6) after also winning the December Masters by a triple 6-4 (which does not do justice to the absolute dominance of the Czech) over Becker, who has already become the youngest player. He holds the number 2 in history for three months. The last event of the year returns to be the Davis Cup final, which Australia wins on Melbourne grass by defeating the Swedish team, which is the orphan of the new pair, Wilander and the beautiful Sonia, 3-2. The star performer was Pat Cash who scored all three points, the last coming from the mighty Pernforce who led by two sets before being swallowed up by the Australian ‘Pirate’ surge.

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