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Lendl Suggests That McEnroe Give Up Tennis

November 08, 1987

Ivan Lendl, the world's top-ranked tennis player, called on long-time rival John McEnroe to quit the sport unless he can improve on his recent performances.

"If he is going to keep on and not improve the level of the game he is producing right now, it would be better if he retires quickly because he is really hurting his image in terms of his tennis," Lendl said in an interview after last Sunday's European Community Championships. "I think he will always be remembered for two things--his genius and his behavior. What will be more in the front of the memory is hard to tell.

"If he retires quickly I think he will be remembered for his genius."

McEnroe has failed to win a tournament on the Grand Prix circuit in more than a year and Lendl says that he is in danger of tarnishing his image as an all-time great with below-par performances.

McEnroe, who was ranked No. 1 in the world for four years until he was replaced by Lendl in 1985, is currently serving a two-month suspension. At last week's European Community Championships--which is not part of the official circuit--McEnroe talked of plans to play for a another two years.

But Lendl, who won the tournament by beating Czechoslovak Miloslav Mecir in the final, said McEnroe's career may end much sooner.

"He may be talking about two years but I would not be surprised if it was four to six months, I really wouldn't," Lendl said.

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