As for Lendl, as polite, honest and diligent as he is, he has increasingly become some sort of antitennis player, taking more pride in his endurance than in any of his marvelous strokes. A few days before the final, Lendl had even baldly acknowledged this preference. "Maybe outside of weightlifting, I enjoy staying in shape more than playing tennis," he said. "The best tennis is what I play on my courts with my friends at home. That's really fun. My problem is being motivated at tournaments." Oh. Imagine, if you will, Meryl Streep having problems being motivated on the set, or Andrew Wyeth not getting psyched to paint.
By contrast, Lendl's semifinal victory over Miloslav Mecir, last year's U.S. Open finalist and this year's leading money-winner, was cleverly inspired and brilliantly executed. To the champion it was just this: "It was as if I was doing wind sprints for three hours." Of everything he did in the Wilander match, Lendl said he was most pleased with "my patience."
Another maddening thing about the final was that whichever player took it upon himself to press, to try to win rather than just let the other fellow lose, that player won the set. But the modern male tennis players, who are so well conditioned and finely coached and who play with their state-of-the-art rackets, seem, in effect, to have left the real game—that quaint thing Lendl enjoys playing in private at home—far behind. Becker's homme d'affaires, Ion Tiriac, even reportedly required his young charge to be celibate in a bid for his first clay-court title, BONKING BAN ON BORIS and NO SEX PLEASE, I'M BORIS headlined the London tabloids, warming up across the channel for Chrissie and Andy.
Further, before Paris, Becker was beginning to have to share West Germany with Graf. "Why Steffi Is Better Than Boris" was a recent cover story in Bunte, a major national weekly. At least until Wimbledon, she is better than them all.