Gary Smith's article on Ivan Lendl (On Guard And Quite In Control, April 28) revealed that the Lendl we see on television and the real Lendl are two entirely different personalities. I was especially captivated by his determination to succeed, his desire to be the best in the world. Maybe those cold-hearted reporters who criticize him will realize that he has had good reason to keep his mouth shut all these years. Lendl's win at the U.S. Open last fall may have been the best possible cure for his lack of enthusiasm on and off the court.
Bravo to Smith for his story about Lendl. As a certified tennis instructor, I follow the game with more than casual interest. I'm pleased that someone finally took the time to bring us the real story behind the man so many sportswriters and sportscasters refer to as sullen or as lacking personality. I think we Americans are used to seeing our top athletes with big smiles on their faces, selling everything from razor blades to beer. We forget to ask ourselves what it might be like to be raised in a country where to smile can be dangerous, or to consider the culture shock a person raised in such a country experiences upon arriving here. As we can see by Smith's fine article, Lendl is slowly starting to open up to those around him. Given time, he might soon be smiling and selling beer, too.
Congratulations for giving us an insight into one of the most misunderstood athletes of our time. I have never been a Lendl fan, but now I feel that I can better appreciate his play and personality.
Port Washington, N.Y.
I was intrigued by Smith's portrayal of Lendl, his effort to humanize this man who is outwardly devoid of emotion. And Smith did present a believable rationalization for Lendl's obsession with control.
However, any sympathy I had for Lendl's self-inflicted predicament is tempered by his cold, aloof behavior. Let Lendl live with his killer dogs, walled off from society. To my mind, his extraordinary tennis skills don't make up for his personality and emotional deficiencies.
JACK NICKLAUS (CONT.)
Sarah Ballard's article (On The Course With Jack, April 28) brought back warm memories of past come-from-behind victories by Jack Nicklaus. It was a thrill to learn precisely what was going through this great golfer's mind as he played those last 10 holes to win the Masters. The Golden Bear has certainly come out of hibernation!
Three cheers for the old guys! Pete Rose, Al Unser Sr., circumnavigator Dodge Morgan, Jack Nicklaus. Now let's root for A.J. Foyt to win his fifth Indy 500!
THOMAS C. BUTLER
"It was a wondrous moment in golf.... Nicklaus's golf game not only returned to him last week...but the old gestures came back, too: Jack joyously raising his putter high in the air as a crucial birdie falls; Jack grinning and waving to the delirious throngs as he marches triumphantly up the 72nd fairway like a king of old.
"That was the longest walk Jack had ever taken out there last Sunday, up that final hill.... He knew how far he had come—all the way back from the land of fallen idols. Golf may not see such a thing again for a long while."—Dan Jenkins, in your article (The Owner Of The Open, June 23, 1980) on the U.S. Open tournament that year.
B. GEORGE NEHLSEN
HOLMES VS. SPINKS
Pat Putnam was definitely on target when he questioned the result of the Larry Holmes-Michael Spinks rematch (Battle Of The Ballot, April 28). It was the worst heavyweight title decision since the third Ali-Norton fight. Boxing is scored mainly on effective punches, and in this bout Holmes landed most of them.