WILANDER BEATS LENDL TO EARN $677,500
The Miami Herald
Sunday, December 11, 1983
From Herald Wire Services
Swedish teenager Mats Wilander won the biggest prize in the history of tennis today, earning $677,500 for defeating Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, in the final of the Australian Open.
Wilander won a $600,000 bonus for amassing 3,101 Volvo Grand Prix points, the most by any player this year. He won $77,500 for winning the tournament. Wilander's victory was worth an incredible $6,231 for each of the 112 minutes of today's match.
Lendl earned $100,000 for finishing second with 2,969 Grand Prix points. He won $38,500 for his second-place finish in the tournament.
Wilander, who entered the Australian Open to get experience on grass for when Sweden plays Australia in Melbourne in the Davis Cup final later this month, said he was surprised by his victory.
"It feels good. Nobody expected me to win on grass, but neither did I," Wilander said. "But I won, so I'm happy for that."
It was the third time that Lendl, ranked No. 1 in the world on the Atari-ATP computer, has reached the final of a Grand Slam event, only to lose. He lost to Jimmy Connors in the final of the U.S. Open in both 1982 and 1983.
For Wilander, it was his second Grand Slam title. He became the youngest Grand Slam men's singles winner in 1982 when he won the French Open. In this year's French Open, the world's premier clay-court event, he lost in the final to Yannick Noah of France.
It also was Wilander's first major title on grass, a surface usually dominated by serve-and-volley players, not baseliners like the Swede. But Wilander had advanced to the final by upsetting the tournament's No. 2 seed, John McEnroe, who earlier this year won Wimbledon, which also is played on grass.
Lendl appeared to lose interest in the match at times and jokingly offered to concede early in the third set after Wilander had beaten him with a superb passing shot.
Lendl tried to fight back after getting just three serves into play in the first set and suffering through long baseline rallies against Wilander.
Lendl, who will be the top-seeded player in the Ilie Nastase/Hamptons Invitational at The Hamptons in North Miami Beach this week, had been suffering from a viral infection during the tournament and showed signs of lethargy during the match.
Lendl said before the game that Wilander, 19, was doing surprisingly well on grass and would be hard to beat.
"I am very surprised and impressed with him," Lendl said.
It was the first time in the 78-year history of the Grand Slam event that two Europeans had met in the final.