Beating John McEnroe is nothing new to Ivan Lendl, but today's Davis Cup quaterfinal victory left the Czech cuphoric.
Lendl defeated McEnroe in straight sets last month in the quarterfinals of the French Open. But he said his 6-4, 14-12, 7-5 victory over his American rival today was more meaningful.
"This was much more difficult," said Lendl, normally dour but smiling today. "The French Open is on clay and McEnroe is not confident at all on clay. But he has won the U.S. Open the last two years in a row here. There's no comparison."
Clearly, however, McEnroe was not at his best today, even if he was on one of his best surfaces. Physically and emotionally drained after winning Wimbledon, McEnroe lacked his usual drive and spark.
McEnroe also had difficulty adapting to New York's heat and humidity after playing for a month in England's relatively cool weather.
"I saw in the beginning that he was trying to save some energy, which probably meant he was tired from the heat (near 100 degrees) and didn't feel strong physically," said Lendl.
"He didn't run around for many balls. I think he was trying to save some energy for important points."
After losing in the first round at Wimbledon, Lendl practiced two weeks in Florida for the Davis matches.
McEnroe didn't even seem to have the energy to rail at linesmen, although after the match he said he thought "there were some clear mistakes."
He did manage, however to convey his displeasure at several questionable calls.
Twice in the match, on serves that were called out, McEnroe asked for a ball and gently placed in on the spot inside the service lines where he believed the ball had bounced. The second time was on a Lendl serve and McEnroe drew applause from the crowd for his graciousness.
McEnroe showed his egalitarian side again when he discussed the crucial call at 12-12 in the second set.
On the break point, Lendl hit a backhand passing shot that appeared to land just outside the sideline. As both players made their way to their chairs, the lineswoman signaled "out." Lendl retained his composure, won the game and closed out the set.
McEnroe will be able to rest Saturday. Lendl is scheduled to play doubles with Tomas Smid against Stan Smith and Bob Lutz and then meet Jimmy Connors Sunday in the best-of-five match series.
Asked his feelings about playing the maximum three matches (with no tie breakers) in New York's heat, Lendl said: "If the captain (Antonin Bolardt) says I have to, I have to. He's the boss, at least this week. If he asked me whether I want to play the doubles, I would say he should do