On this day: John McEnroe storms over Chris Lewis to conquer Wimbledon


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On this day: John McEnroe storms over Chris Lewis to conquer Wimbledon

In 1977, John McEnroe competed at Wimbledon for the first time and turned it into an instant success, reaching the semi-final at the age of 18 and losing to Jimmy Connors in four sets. The results were not that good in the next two years and that all changed from 1980, rattling off five straight finals at the All England Club and lifting three titles.

The first came in 1981 and the second two years later, dropping only one set during that 1983 campaign to conquer the most significant tennis tournament in style. Jimmy Connors defeated John in the final at Queen's but there was no one to stop the New York native at Wimbledon, facing four American rivals and unexpected finalist.

Ben Testerman fought well in the opening two sets in the first round before McEnroe moved on with a 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 victory. In the next encounter, Florin Segarceanu grabbed the opening set and ran out of steam after that, with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win for John who had six foot faults and threw all kind on tantrums en route to the third round.

Changing the serve position against Brad Gilbert, John lost just 13 points in 12 service games in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win that propelled him into the last 16 where he faced a stern test in Bill Scanlon. After a great battle, McEnroe prevailed 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 to set the quarter-final meeting with Sandy Mayer whom he ousted 6-3, 7-5, 6-0 for the place in the semis, delivering the tenth win in as many matches against Mayer.

Again, the crowd could have witnessed verbal exchanges and some scary moments on the brink of a bigger incident but John had everything in his hands after a tight closure of the second set, setting an anticipating clash with Ivan Lendl.

The American delivered amazing serving performance against the Czech, fending off break points at 4-4 and 5-5 in the opening set and stealing rival's serve once in sets two and three to move into the final. Lendl served well in the first set, only to lose it 7-5 in the tie break, with the pressure being on him all the time in the rest of the encounter.

John broke him in the seventh game of the second set after a costly double fault from Lendl and again in the third game of set number three, serving well and sealing the deal with a hold in game ten to book the place in the title match.

There, the unseeded Chris Lewis stood on the other side of the net on July 3 and John McEnroe would have never missed such a chance, toppling world no. 91 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to earn the second Wimbledon title in big style. Before this Wimbledon, the 26-year-old New Zealander had scored 21 Grand Slam wins with no notable results, changing that during the fortnight to become a Grand Slam finalist.

Lewis passed three five-setter obstacles, including the giant server Kevin Curren in the semi-final that saw 150 service winners and crazy battle that ended after three hours and 45 minutes, with Curren wasting a 3-0 lead in the fifth set.

The title match was an anticlimax of that thrilling clash, with John dropping six games in a one-sided encounter that lasted for an hour and 25 minutes. Lewis had nothing in the arsenal to confront the favorite, taking only nine points on the return and never looking like a serious contender.

Dictating the action with booming serves, crafty volleys and measured smashes, John barely sprayed any unforced error, staying on a high level from start to finish and reducing his rival to less than ten winners! The American had a clear advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, imposing his shots and firing from all cylinders to bring the match home in no time at all.

McEnroe broke at love in the third game of the match to start the engines, racing towards a 5-2 lead with another break in game seven thanks to a return winner and securing the opener with a forehand winner in the next game for a 6-2 after 27 minutes.

Lewis stayed in touch in the first four games of the second set before John placed another bullet from the forehand to move in front. A smash winner sent the American 4-2 up, grabbING another break when Lewis sent a volley long and locking the set with another good hold for two sets to love lead in less than an hour!

There was nothing Chris could do to change the course of the match, getting broken in the third game of the third set after a backhand winner from McEnroe who forged a 4-1 lead with another backhand winner. A service winner sent the American closer to the finish line and it was all done when he placed a backhand volley winner in the eighth game to celebrate the second Wimbledon title.