Throughout 2017, we’ll discuss the themes of the season with three former players and current tennis commentators: Jimmy Arias, James Blake and Mary Carillo. Roland Garros, the venue and indigenous name of the season’s second Grand Slam tournament, is the topic of our latest conversation.
Mary Carillo: That was the hardest loss of McEnroe’s career. And I’m telling you, there is a piece of him that still has a hard time showing up at Roland Garros. When you see who has won the French Open, and then you see the players who haven’t been able to win it, I think John hates that he’s in that second category. I can understand why. He was just a couple of games away from winning. [McEnroe led Lendl by two sets and took a 4–2 lead in the fourth set.]
The other part of that match is not just how he lost, but who he lost to. John considers himself an artist in a lot of ways, and to him Lendl was artless. The guy was bloodless, and he could just bludgeon his way past John.