LENDL VS CONNORS

Robert Haas and Jimmy Connors

On court with Jimmy Connors

Just after Jimmy Connors beat Ivan Lendl in the 1982 Open final, Jimmy and I walked off the court together with Bill Norris (pictured in accompanying photo; L to R: Robert Haas, Bill Norris, No.4 in the world Gene Mayer and his wife), the head ATP trainer. 

Bill had introduced me to Jimmy, hoping Jimmy would work with me. Immediately after Connors defeated Lendl in the men’s ’82 US Open final match, the three of us headed to a private treatment room where Jimmy asked Bill to treat a nagging leg pain.

Connors was on cloud nine because he had soundly defeated his arch rival, Ivan Lendl. in the finals. Jimmy wasn’t shy about expressing his dislike for Lendl or his enjoyment of the victory. But it would be a relatively short-lived celebration.

One of my thought balloons during this moment was: Wouldn’t it be ironic if I wound up working with the defeated Lendl, who would then–because I’m such an awesome sports nutritionist–come roaring back to dominate Connors.

Little did I realize that my fantasy would soon become reality. None of us in the room that memorable evening could have predicted the dramatic damage that Lendl would visit upon Connors’ career (and McEnroe’s as well) within a very short time. The end of U.S. tennis domination was about to unfold.