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August 8, 2006

Ivan Lendl


MICHAEL CVITKOVIC: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for attending our media availability today. The format for today, a brief statement from our guest, followed by a question-and-answer period. If time permits, we'll have some one-on-ones or scrubs onto the side.
I'd like to thank American Express for their support to bring back the winningest players of our tournament in its history, the winner of eight Grand Slam titles, six Canadian Open championships, which is now our tournament here, and 2001 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Earlier today, Ivan Lendl participated in the American Express ACES clinic program. This is with local youth on a promotions court. This afternoon he's going to speak about his involvement with the American Express ACES Program. We're very happy to have him. They're obviously our presenting sponsor here at the tournament.
With that, I'll turn it over to Ivan for a brief statement.
IVAN LENDL: Thank you. It's always great to be back here. I enjoy being in Toronto very much. Was a lot of fun last night. I enjoyed the ceremony very much, seeing a lot of old friends we haven't seen or I haven't seen for many, many years.
It's nice also to be involved with the program for the kids, the American Express ACES Program. As you probably know, we have done the clinic, which was fun. Hopefully some of the kids will pick up the game and enjoy it for the lifetime.
MICHAEL CVITKOVIC: We'll take some questions.

Q. What are you up to these days, for lack of a better question?
IVAN LENDL: Well, we have five daughters. Three of them play golf tournaments around the country, so that keeps me pretty busy.

Q. Are you teaching tennis or doing anything in the sport itself these days?
IVAN LENDL: No, not very much. I enjoy watching the game every now and then if I have time. Other than that, I pretty much do the driving.

Q. You won six championships here in Canada. Do you have a favorite memory, recollection of your times here in Canada?
IVAN LENDL: As I said earlier, I always enjoyed here. Whether it's Toronto or Montréal doesn't really matter to me. Outside of tennis and golf, I enjoy hockey a lot, so it's always good to come to Toronto. I was here actually earlier this year, visited the hockey Hall of Fame with one of my daughters who likes hockey very much. I have to say we were very proud to see that Carolina Hurricanes won the Cup.

Q. Is there one memory or match that stands out in your mind about your matches here in Canada?
IVAN LENDL: Well, I think as a young pro, the first two times I played in Toronto were '79 and '80. I had two matches with Bjorn. Unfortunately, Bjorn retired a couple years later and I didn't get to play much more against him. I always think about those matches first.

Q. You had so many classic matches against various players. Do you see that same sort of competition in men's tennis now? What can we do to get more competitiveness between more than just the top two players in the world?
IVAN LENDL: Well, I think what you're talking about is rivalries, and you have one going on right away between Roger and Rafael right now. So if you want to fix that, get rid of those two guys and anybody can win, yes. But I wouldn't be fixing that. I think it's in pretty good state right now.
I think those two guys are both fantastic. Of course, Roger is clearly the best player in the world right now. He's showing some skills which have not been seen before or not very often. Time will show how much more he's going to win and where it's going to put him.
I would sort of take an exception to your question, How can we fix that? I don't think there's anything to fix.

Q. Those two right now are so far ahead of everybody else, is there anyone else coming up or out there who you think has the talent, discipline or ability to join Rafael and Roger at the top?
IVAN LENDL: Well, I think to reverse that, I should be asking that question. When I watch tennis, it's usually the major finals, so I don't get to see the young players almost at all. I think you guys sort of follow it better and you have an idea who is out there. It's probably somebody who is 15, 16, 17 years old right now who has that potential. But, of course potential doesn't mean any guarantees. Potential is just a potential. There is a lot of hard work and some luck involved to materialize on that.

Q. It's Mats Wilander still living not far away from you? If so, you play sometimes?
IVAN LENDL: I know you're Swedish, looking at the shirt.

Q. I'm Swiss.
IVAN LENDL: Well, I take it back. I apologize.
Our family has moved from Greenwich a long time ago, about 14 years ago. I'm not even sure if Mats still lives in Greenwich. I don't think so. I believe he lives somewhere in the Midwest. I have not seen Mats for a long time.

Q. My favorite Ivan Lendl match or moment was when John McEnroe at the French Open was up two sets to love, kind of looked like he was going to run away, you came back.
IVAN LENDL: Why did you get that idea? I thought I was in control (smiling).

Q. Your relationship with John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, in those days, I don't know if it was show business or something personal, but it kind of looked like in those days when you beat McEnroe, he took it so personally that he always said he didn't like you. I know he never invited you to play on the seniors tour. Was that show business or a personal animosity in those days between you and McEnroe?
IVAN LENDL: I think you're asking questions which I can't answer. You're asking questions of John, number one. Number two, all I can tell you is whether you like the guy or not, you can't play with hate. If you play with hate in your mind, it sort of clouds your brain and you don't make good decisions.
You have to put it aside. You have to really concentrate, play your game, pick up the strategy you want to play and play your game, not worry about whether you like the guy or not. If it's your best friend or the guy you really dislike, you still have to treat it the same.

Q. You mentioned your daughters are involved in golf. Do a lot of the same mental strategies that apply in tennis apply in golf as well?
IVAN LENDL: Yes, I think the sports are very, very similar in many ways, mental part being one of them. You just rely on yourself. There are, of course, some differences, too. You can have a bad half an hour in tennis, you just lose the first set and win the next three and nobody even thought it was close. In golf, if you have bad half an hour, make three doubles in a row, you're pretty much done. It's hard to make up.
In golf, I think the mental concentration has to be sustained over a longer period of time. But, again, if you make up some shots early, you start 3-under par, then you lose it a little bit, you can still finish well. In tennis, if you start well and finish bad, you lose. It's much more important in tennis to finish well.

Q. How often do you play? What is your handicap?
IVAN LENDL: I don't play often enough, not as much as I would like to. I don't carry a handicap. I'm not a big fan of the handicap system. Only because I practice harder than you do doesn't mean you should get the advantage before we start.

Q. What is your average score?
IVAN LENDL: Anywhere between 70 and 75.

Q. You look like you're still in good shape. Do you ever wish you could get back out there and be on the tour again?
IVAN LENDL: I'm not in as good of shape as I would like to be. Just don't have the time for it, unfortunately.
No, I don't wish to go out there, not at all. These guys are way better than we were. Our time has passed. It's all theirs. I do my own stuff and enjoy my own little local golf tournaments.

Q. Has it been easier on your daughters that they're playing a sport that you didn't make a name for yourself in? Was that a conscious thing?
IVAN LENDL: Well, they did play at first. The older ones did start with tennis, but they did not like exactly the pressure, as you mentioning, with people asking too many questions. I think it's better for them to be in different sport.

Q. Would you have preferred, if you had to do it over again, to start Wimbledon maybe a little younger than when you decided to go?
IVAN LENDL: Well, first of all, no, because I didn't have a choice. You can only get in when you're good enough. I played every year but one when I could have. I could not have started any earlier.
It is what it is. You do your best. If it's not good enough, you just shake the guy's hand and say, Well done.

Q. You said these guys are much better than you guys ever were. Why do you think that is?
IVAN LENDL: Well, how much time do we have? Let's start on the premise that we can look at track and field and swimming, for example, where equipment is not an issue, compare the times from 20 years ago to today. I think 20 years ago times are not laughable, but rather weak compared to today's times. Why should golf and tennis be any different?
That's my comeback to you. Now it's up to you (laughter).

Q. Obviously equipment has much more of a factor in tennis.
IVAN LENDL: Yeah, but the equipment is the same for everybody. He has better equipment and I have better equipment, so does he.

Q. In terms of swimming, track and field, it tends to be not only training, different training methods, huge amount of performance-enhancing drugs, doesn't seem that the drugs are as widely spread through tennis as they are through those particular sports. I would say tennis and golf, while you have the same advantages in terms of understanding training and bodies, you don't have that extra change. Someone can run faster today than they did then because in part they have a better drug.
IVAN LENDL: Are you saying the drugs were not in those sports 20 years ago?

Q. I'm saying the drugs weren't as good.
IVAN LENDL: Well, that's possibly another topic you can talk about for hours and hours. It's a sad, sad topic really for me to even think about because I hate to think that people do that.
Let's go back 1960 and compare it to 1940 times. In those 20 years, there is a big gap again, there were no drugs, let's assume correctly, why should the gap from 1940 to 1960 be any different than 1980 to 2000?

Q. We could do this all day.
IVAN LENDL: Exactly right (smiling).

Q. You could have an explosion in people playing the sport because few people played tennis especially in the early parts of this century. It's spread a fair bit now. There's more people playing now.
IVAN LENDL: I disagree with that statement as well. I always think when they measure how many people play tennis, some of the methods of measurement are flawed. Some of the measurement methods are how many tennis racquets are being sold, how many shirts, so on and so on. To me those methods indicate more how the economy is doing than how the sport is doing.
When you had wooden racquets, you had no choice but to buy a new one because it was warped after a winter. Here you just restring it for $8 or $9 with a racquet, go and play. Better measurement to me is how many tennis courts are being rented and how many balls are being sold. You can't play without tennis courts and you can't play without balls.
The other one, if the economy or your family is not doing so well, you don't buy the new shirt, you just play in last year's shirt. If the economy is good, you buy one for yourself, you buy one for your wife, all of a sudden the numbers start jumping again. It's a little tricky over there. I never take it for granted.
Just so you know, I talk from some experience. We have two tennis clubs. We very closely monitor how many courts we rent every year. I have to tell you that the numbers have been going up steadily since about 15 years ago.

Q. You said earlier that Federer was showing some skills that we haven't seen before. What are those skills?
IVAN LENDL: Well, he has so many, we could talk about it for a long time. He's capable of hitting shots which other players don't even think about trying. He is capable of changing strategies or changing the variety in his game. There is no one thing you can go on the court against him and say, Okay, this is how I'm going to play the guy. Even if it starts working, he's going to change it around and all of a sudden you have to adjust yourself. He is a master of that.
MICHAEL CVITKOVIC: Thank you, everybody. I'd like to thank American Express, through their ACES Program, brought Ivan here to Toronto. We're really thrilled with that. As part of the ACES Program, remember that $150 from each ace that's scored in our grandstand and center court go towards children development here in Canada. We had 87 aces on Monday. That number is climbing.
Once again, thank you very much to Ivan and to American Express.

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