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Lendl's killer attitude is reminiscent of the Jimmy Connors of the early '70s, when Jimbo came out fearing nobody and blew everybody off the court. In his six matches at Forest Hills, Lendl lost a total of only 21 games. On the rare occasions that he missed a shot, he showed no emotion. He just whirled around and headed back to the baseline, as if to say, "You'll pay for that one."
No two rivals could be more dissimilar than McEnroe and Lendl. Mac normally is a powder keg on the court—rebel without a pause—but he has little taste for practice. Last week he went through the motions during workouts, grimacing, moaning, slamming balls into the fence, a man seemingly in agony. Lendl is the stoic when wielding his racquet—a stiff, metal composite weapon that its manufacturer, Adidas, doesn't sell to the public. Practicing, Lendl is a horse who doesn't need a jockey. When a reporter asked him at Forest Hills whether he had decided to play Wimbledon, Lendl said he would "guarantee" it if he were assured five hours' practice daily on the grass at the nearby New Zealand Club. One of Lendl's many objections to the tournament is that it allows players to work out there only a half hour a day. During the Tournament of Champions Lendl drilled with his close friend Wojtek Fibak at a club near Fibak's home in Greenwich, Conn.
McEnroe and Lendl also generate quite different types of publicity, which probably accounts for Lendl's slow acceptance by the public. Whereas McEnroe's press conferences often spark headlines, Lendl is ever cautious with the media. This colloquy last week was typical:
"Are you Number One?"
"I don't answer."
"Do you expect to win tomorrow?"
"We shall see."
"Whom would you like to play in the finals?"
"Whoever is the winner."
Shrug. Raised eyebrows. End of press conference. Then it was a quick retreat to the parking lot, with Taryn Smith strolling alongside through the autograph seekers. Almost before the paint recording his last victory was dry on the scoreboard, the two of them were on their way to Greenwich in his Mercedes.