But he has lost only twice in 62 tournament matches since the day the U.S. Open began, to Stefan Edberg in the semifinals of the Australian Open and, bothered by bone chips in his right knee, to Becker last month in Chicago. The ailing knee temporarily sidelined him, but most people were finally agreeing that Lendl's self-confidence was no longer illusory. Even American audiences were warming to him now that he was No. 1 and could flash an occasional smile.
He craved all the outward signs of his new position, the TV commercials and magazine ads and warm ovations, and his agent and he began a campaign to soften his image. But privately he wrestled with the question of whether he could accept the erosion of privacy that would accompany it; he wondered if Borg and McEnroe had both abdicated because they hadn't learned the secret of the locked gate and bristling dogs.
As Lendl sat in his mansion, behind his six-foot fence, it finally struck him that one obvious thing remained which could make the American dream easier to bear. One week after the U.S. Open, he sat down with his mother in a hotel in Stuttgart, West Germany. "Mother, I understand now," he told her. "I questioned it before, but now I see that many of the things you gave me are helping me now. I understand now that you did it with love. I love you."
Was she happy?
"She reacted like usual. She didn't react."
Was he hurt?
"I thought it was funny."