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September 1, 1994

Ivan Lendl


Q. When did you feel the back stiffen?

IVAN LENDL: It felt pretty stiff fairly early. Early on, yeah.

Q. Set point in the second set, was that ball long?

IVAN LENDL: Which one?

Q. The one where you were shaking your head?

IVAN LENDL: No, I don't think so.

Q. Ivan, can you just go through the process of the finish, because you had a couple of conversations with Ken Ferreira and Brian Earley and had to stop what exactly was going?

IVAN LENDL: I asked for the trainer, he says, "Okay, I am going to call him," and--

Q. At what stage was that?

IVAN LENDL: After the second set. And he says you can have him on the next changeover. I can't give you injury time out because it is preexisting injury, which, you know, I don't really agree with, because it is aggravated injury, but I guess it is a true interpretation, the trainer thinks something else -- so you can have treatment on the next changeover, we got to the next one and my back is stiffening up more, and they called time, I said, "Wait a second, I am waiting for the trainer." He said, "I can have him on the next changeover," and they said, "yeah." But he didn't get here, and so he got to go and play. At that stage I couldn't really play properly, and they said, "We can't wait." I said, "Well, I am sorry, I can't play." That was it. There were some communication problem because they said they called the trainer's room and nobody answer, but the trainer said nobody called. So there were four of them there.

Q. What is the problem; this seems to be coming --

IVAN LENDL: Same thing, pretty much.

Q. I mean, is it disc or is it muscles or--

IVAN LENDL: Good question. I don't know.

Q. You have seen doctors--

IVAN LENDL: It is stiff and painful.

Q. How old is it, Ivan, how long does it go back?

IVAN LENDL: It has been going on for a while now.

Q. What could the trainer have done to get you ready to play?

IVAN LENDL: I don't know, I don't think it would have mattered, to be honest.

Q. When you come into a tournament like this, -- When you come into a tournament like this, do you come in knowing that it could go at any time and do you prepare yourself for that?

IVAN LENDL: Well, it has been the pattern pretty much this summer that I would have some good days and some bad, and sometimes it feels good for a week, ten days. Then I have a bad day when I don't feel that good or can't play, and hopefully the day always comes when I don't have to play a match.

Q. Where you were in the draw; I mean, you have to look down there and maybe think that if you are feeling good, that there was a tremendous-- not a tremendous, but a good opening if you had been feeling good and can pick up?

IVAN LENDL: Well, you can always say that.

Q. But couple of guys are gone from there.

IVAN LENDL: Yeah, you can say that, but first of all, the guys lost and the people who beat them are obviously no pushovers No. 1, No. 2, it is always easy to say, yeah, well, if this felt better, that felt better, it would have been good. It is just not the way to go about it. You either play good, doesn't matter what you have or what the draw is. Of course, if you play medium, and you get one lucky break or so and the guy took someone out and plays bad, you got lucky break, that is not the way to look at it and is the way to expect it. You either play good; create your own draw or you play bad and it doesn't matter.

Q. What keeps you going out there to play the game?

IVAN LENDL: I just enjoy the competition.

Q. But you can't compete really like you used to, can you?

IVAN LENDL: No, but you know, from what I understand from the doctors, I got to try to work on strengthening it and hopefully it will get better, that is the only chance.

Q. Is there a chance that the U.S. Open stadium crowd just saw the last of you? Is that--

IVAN LENDL: It is always a chance. I may get run over by a car just outside -- so may you. I'm a bit quicker moving away.

Q. Will you be back next year?

IVAN LENDL: That is a good question.

Q. Do you want to be back next year?

IVAN LENDL: Yes, I would like to.

Q. Ivan, you were up 5-Love in the second set. If you had won that set as easily as you were winning it, do you think you would have continued the match or were you at that point already saying --

IVAN LENDL: It is very doubtful. I mean, it was already getting stiffer very quickly.

Q. When you have a chance like that when you were up 5-Love and you get nine set points and each one goes one way or another, away from you?

IVAN LENDL: No, they all went one way.

Q. Yeah, but they all -- but do you just-- we see your shoulders go up and down; we see you looking at the racket and what do you say to yourself through those, is it. . .

IVAN LENDL: It wouldn't help you to know. It wouldn't help you to know what I say to myself.

Q. Ivan, somebody who prides himself on being fit, how frustrating is it for you to have these problems where you can't play?

IVAN LENDL: I am still fit. I am just not healthy. Those are two different things.

Q. How frustrating is it to have it that way?

IVAN LENDL: More than I can explain, I think.

Q. What about things like your kids and playing golf, things you like to do away from the court, as you continue play, these ailments stockpile; will you not be able to do those types of things maybe down the road if you keep pushing yourself?

IVAN LENDL: No, I don't think so. I don't think it is to that stage. For example, I was in Cincinnati a month ago or so and had trouble with my back, but was home for two days and two late days later it felt great again. It is very strange -- sort of, I don't know, circuitry (sic) running.

Q. Would the fact that sometimes you come out and your back feels okay and sometimes it doesn't, what do you plan to do from here for like the next month?

IVAN LENDL: That is what we are trying to figure out what makes it feel good and what makes it feel bad. And for example, I was in New Haven and Schenectady for two weeks and my back felt better than ever at that stage. It felt the best for last, I don't know, eight months or so, and I felt I was moving well again and so on and so on and then you just go on; all of a sudden it just doesn't feel that good. So if you can figure out why is it feeling good at some days and not next, that would obviously help.

Q. When you walk on the court here, is it just like walking on any other court, or is it difficult to not think about the times you have had here in the past?

IVAN LENDL: I don't think when you walk on the court to play you think about times in the past. You can think about it now, for example, when you mention it, but when you go out there you have to try to concentrate on-the-job; not on the past. That is not going to get you anywhere.

Q. Several players have mentioned -- a few players have mentioned about being No. 1 and then when you are not No. 1 anymore you have to understand that yourself before you can kind of go on. Any thoughts on that as a guy who was No. 1 longer than anybody?

IVAN LENDL: I think it is very easy to understand it when you are No. 1 you are No. 1 and when you are not, you are not. Nothing complicated about that.

Q. It doesn't change the way like what motivates you or how you approach it?

IVAN LENDL: Certainly not. I never played tennis to be No. 1 because that was never my main goal.

Q. Have the doctors at least reassured you that you can't do permanent damage by playing?

IVAN LENDL: That is correct.

Q. Life has changed everything in your life; your children; your family, do you have the same need to win that you had ten years ago or eight years ago?

IVAN LENDL: Yeah, I still like to compete no matter what I do.

Q. I didn't say "like to," I said, do you need to?

IVAN LENDL: I never needed to, but it is all about the same level.

Q. Has anyone that you respect advised you to get out of the game before you sink into No. 70 or 80 or 90 in the world?

IVAN LENDL: Well, that is you know, something I got to consider myself, I think that is the decision I got to make; not anyone else.

Q. Has anyone that you respect suggested that to you?


Q. Can you imagine that anybody will ever play, man or woman, will play eight finals in a row with the way -- can you imagine someone playing eight U.S. Open finals in a row?

IVAN LENDL: Well, let us put it this way, I think there are some statistics and records in the world of sports which seem to be unbreakable, but then always someone comes who is that much better or him or she or a team or whatever than previously whoever held that statistic or record and they break it. So I can't see it at the moment but I am sure it's going to happen.

Q. I am not saying it's DiMaggio's 65th game hitting streak, but I am saying it seems to me when you add up the mark you left, I mean that is an amazing thing?

IVAN LENDL: It will happen. It will happen just like Bob Beamon's record got broken and I don't know, the best home run record may have been broken or will be broken again all that. It will happen. Maybe a guy who wins 10 Wimbledons in a row, who knows.

Q. Do you think that is your greatest mark that you know when we look back. . .

IVAN LENDL: I don't know.

Q. . . . In your own mind what you did here for that many years --

IVAN LENDL: I don't know, Richard, really don't know. Never thought of it.

Q. I mean, you said that you don't think about the past when you walk out on the court. But now maybe you might. I mean, is this really a tough way to leave this Open? - last year you had to leave this Open hurt; considering what you have done for that many years here?

IVAN LENDL: Well, it is always tough to -- tough to leave any kjind of a match without finishing it, never mind some place where you have done well in the past.

Q. Ivan, in light of what you said about how you felt on the court today, was it a big deal or not that the trainer failed to get there or not?

IVAN LENDL: No, it was not a big deal, as I said earlier, I don't think it would have made a difference.

Q. 40 years from now when you want to sit with your grandchildren and tell them about your U.S. Open experience, what will stand up? What will be the one--

IVAN LENDL: Who told you I would want to tell them.

Q. Just in case you decide to, what will you tell them?

IVAN LENDL: I will tell them that by then I am 74 years old and I don't remember anything. You should know, you are already forgetting things.

Q. Right now you are only 34.

IVAN LENDL: And I have no grandchildren.

Q. You have children.


Q. Do they ask you about it?


Q. They don't care?


Q. What would you consider your greatest victory to be here and all the matches you have had?

IVAN LENDL: Again, it is hard to tell. I don't really worry about those things too much. I don't give it too much thought. If you press me right now, I will say the first time I won the tournament, but if I think about it for six months, maybe I would come up with something else, but I don't really do it.

Q. Would that be your proudest?

IVAN LENDL: Again, I don't know. I mean, you are pushing me to say something I don't really not only. I don't think about those things, but I don't really care to talk about those things too much. I just, you know, don't get me wrong, I am very proud of my record here, but it is not something I enjoy talking about. You are almost embarrassing me.

Q. When you look at people like Ray Floyd on the golf and winning on both Tours do you look forward to that at 35?

IVAN LENDL: I got to be 50 to play on that Tour.

Q. Is that going to be fun again playing with those guys, Connors and...

IVAN LENDL: I don't know. It depends if I can do it without pain free, being pain free and I can do it I am sure it will be fun. If it is hard to be on the court and it is just to painful, I do not think I will be doing that.

Q. Beating those guys again might alleviate some of the pain?

IVAN LENDL: Definitely not. It is not something I need for my ego to go and beat up on a 45 year old or something. If I want to do that I can ask my neighbor to come over and play. Same thing, but I think if again, I love the game and if my health allows me to enjoy it without pain I will be doing it. If my health doesn't allow me to do that, I won't be doing it.

Q. You said to a previous question that. . .

IVAN LENDL: Which one?

Q. There was a decision that you were going to have to make - as your ranking slipped - whether you wanted to continue. Have you even started to think about that. . .

IVAN LENDL: Not really.

Q. Decision?


Q. Not even creeped into your mind that this is. . .


Q. If your goal was never to be No. 1 what was it?

IVAN LENDL: Do well in the Grand Slam tournaments; try to win them,; if you win them, you are going to be No. 1, takes care of itself.

Q. Thanks a lot, Ivan.

IVAN LENDL: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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