By E.J. Crawford
Ivan Lendl was arguably the best hard-court player of his generation. The former world No. 1 captured two Australian Open and three US Open titles and was a dominant performer in the tournaments that later came to form the Emirates Airline US Open Series – highlighted by his six Rogers Cup crowns.
EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com recently caught up with the legendary Hall of Famer to discuss his success at the Rogers Cup, his impression of the Series and his return to coaching last year's Series champion Andy Murray.
EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com: We're doing this call on behalf of the Rogers Cup, a tournament you won six times in the 1980s. Was this one of your favorite stops? And why do you think you were so successful in Montreal and Toronto?
Ivan Lendl: I enjoyed playing in Canada. But to say why I was so successful there, I don’t really know. You worry about things more when you’re not successful, to see what you need to do better and so on. When you’re successful, you just keep doing the same thing over and over.
EUSOS: What is your overall impression of the Emirates Airline US Open Series? Do you think it’s been a positive for the game?
Lendl: To have it for 13 years and to link those seven tournaments together to have some kind of continuity, hopefully it gets the players to play a little more. I think it’s great. And from the fans’ point of view, it gives them an opportunity to see who is playing well that summer. Otherwise, they’d have to be putting it together themselves. Now [the Series] is doing it for them, and I think that’s great.
EUSOS: You currently reunited with Andy Murray, the defending Series champion. What is your outlook and what are your expectations for him this summer as he attempts to become the first man to win three overall Series championships?
Lendl: We haven’t really talked about it. It’s a very difficult summer, in terms of schedule, because of Davis Cup and the Olympics, which come between Wimbledon and the US Open, along with the other tournaments. It’s something we need to get figured out.
EUSOS: The Series came along a few years after you retired. Given the success you enjoyed on hard courts throughout your career – not to mention the bonus prize money available to the top Series finishers at the US Open – how much do you wish the Series had been around when you were playing?
Lendl: It’s obviously very nice for the players. It’s an opportunity to prepare for the US Open and maybe earn a little extra money while they’re doing it. So it’s very good for them. As far as myself, yeah, it would have been nice if it was there. But things change, and people and sponsors come up with new ideas, and this one came along after my time.