Lendl leads his team to win $600,000 Europe vs Americas Tennis Challenge

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Lendl leads his team to win $600,000 Europe vs Americas Tennis Challenge

Back in 1982, the Americans were still the leading force on the men's Tour, winning three Majors and occupying four places in the Top 7, including the first two that were reserved for John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Between November 29 - December 1, some of the finest players in the world had gathered in Barcelona for the $600,000 Europe vs Americas Tennis Challenge on an indoor clay court. Vince Van Patten had to step in instead of Jimmy Connors and the rest of the field was very strong, with John McEnroe, Andres Gomez and Gene Mayer for the Americas and Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Jose Higueras for team Europe! Europe had the edge on an opening day, with Borg beating Van Pattern 6-3 2-6 7-5, Lendl who ousted Gomez 3-6 6-3 6-4 and Higueras who defeated Mayer 6-3 4-6 7-5.

John McEnroe delivered the only point for the Americas, scoring a commanding 6-4 6-2 win over the Roland Garros champion Mats Wilander, the youngest player in the draw. It was particularly interesting to watch Borg's performance, playing only one official ATP tournament that season in his break away from the Tour before the intended comeback in 1983 that never actually happened.

The second day provided more intense battle and it was 2-2, with Europe leading 5-3 before the start of the final day. In the clash of the old rivals, McEnroe toppled Borg 6-3 2-6 6-4 to continue his impressive streak, losing no matches after the semi-final defeat to Lendl at the US Open back in September and keeping his team in contention here as well.

Gene Mayer overpowered Ivan Lendl 2-6 6-0 8-6 while Mats Wilander grabbed his first win of the tournament in a 6-7 6-3 6-2 triumph against Andres Gomez. Jose Higueras had no troubles versus Vince Van Patten ina 6-1 6-4 win and things would have probably been much tighter if Connors was able to play.

Mayer was 5-4 up in the third set but Lendl broke back to prolong the match, only to suffer another break that cost him the match. At the beginning of the third day, Gene Mayer ousted shaky Bjorn Borg 6-3 4-6 6-3 to reduce the deficit before Mats Wilander grabbed the crucial 6-0 6-3 win over Vince Van Patten to send Europe further ahead.

Andres Gomez and Jose Higueras played one of the closest matches of the tournament, with the Ecuadorian scoring a 3-6 7-6 7-5 triumph to keep the Americas within one point deficit. In fact, Europe had already secured the win before the ultimate clash between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl but they still produced the show to wrap up this interesting event in the best possible style.

McEnroe wasted six match points in a 2-6 7-5 6-2 defeat, with team Europe clinching a 7-5 victory and taking $400,000 in prize money. Lendl had troubles with his elbow and he couldn't serve well, trailing 6-2 5-0 when John suddenly lost the interest of playing against an injured rival, dropping the next seven games and not giving his best in the third set either to receive booes from an angry crowd.

After the match, McEnroe refused to talk with the reporters and it was another memorable moment of his tempered career, despite the fact it was an unofficial match that carried no importance! $600,000 Europe vs Americas Tennis Challenge results:

Day 1: 
Bjorn Borg vs Van Pattern 6-3 2-6 7-5
Ivan Lendl vs Andres Gomez 3-6 6-3 6-4
John McEnroe vs Mats Wilander 6-4 6-2
Jose Higueras vs Gene Mayer 6-3 4-6 7-5
Day 2: 
John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg 6-3 2-6 6-4
Gene Mayer vs Ivan Lendl 2-6 6-0 8-6
Mats Wilander vs Andres Gomez 6-7 6-3 6-2
Jose Higueras vs Vince Van Patten 6-1 6-4
Day 3: 
Gene Mayer vs Bjorn Borg 6-3 4-6 6-3
Mats Wilander vs Vince Van Patten 6-0 6-3
Andres Gomez vs Jose Higueras 3-6 7-6 7-5
Ivan Lendl vs John McEnroe 2-6 7-5 6-2