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John McEnroe is a world champion tennis player famous for his temperamental outbursts. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.
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It began in July of that year at the Wimbledon finals. Although Borg started the first set erratically, the remaining four sets saw both players in top form. The highlight of the match took place in the fourth set, which went into a tiebreaker. It took 22 minutes and 34 points for McEnroe to finally win the set. But Borg emerged victorious (1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6). It was Borg's fifth consecutive Wimbledon title,
but it also showed the world that McEnroe had the stamina and mental toughness to be a top player.
The rivals met again at the U.S., Open where McEnroe found himself defending the title against a determined Borg as he had yet to win at Flushing Meadow. In a match with as many games as their famous Wimbledon final, McEnroe emerged the winner (7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4). McEnroe then set his sights on Wimbeldon. The 1981 Wimbledon tournament saw McEnroe and Borg once again in the final. This time McEnroe ended Borg's five-year reign as he won in four sets (4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4). That same year, in September, McEnroe defended his U.S. Open title once again against Borg (4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3). Borg, perhaps feeling that his reign was over, retired after this defeat. McEnroe became the only man since Bill Tilden to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles. 1982 was not a good year for McEnroe as he failed to win any major tournaments. He was back in form in 1983, winning his second Wimbledon by crushing Chris Lewis (6-2, 6-2, 6-2). He also captured his 28th singles victory in Davis Cup play—a record.
In 1984, McEnroe won 82 of 84 matches, including his fourth WCT final, his third U.S. Pro Indoor Championship and his second Grand Prix Masters title. He captured his third Wimbledon title, soundly defeating Connors (6-1, 6-1, 6-2), and his fourth U.S. Open title (beating Ivan Lendl 6-3, 6-4, 6-1). This victory was to mark the last Grand Slam title of his career.
After having won a total of seven Grand Slam titles in singles and seven in doubles, and being number one in ATP year-end rankings from 1981 to 1984, McEnroe began to decline in 1985. Although he won eight singles titles that year, none of them were Grand Slam events. Several factors may have contributed to McEnroe's decline. First, McEnroe was notoriously negligent in his training. Second, it was, perhaps ironically, his tantrums, thought to pump him up while he was champion, that contributed to his fall. His 1990 default from the Australian Open for bouncing his racquet and yelling numerous obscenities happened at a time when he seemed to have his game together. Sally Jenkins summed it up in an article for Sports Illustrated, "McEnroe's seven Grand Slam titles amount to about half of what he could have won had he bothered to train properly and gain control of his temper."
In 1986, McEnroe took a sabbatical, married actress Tatum O'Neil, his girlfriend of two years (after the birth of their first child, Kevin) and retreated to his Malibu, California, home.
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