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ATP Heritage: John McEnroe, 1981-84

On 23 August, ATP celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings. We continue our countdown with a look at John McEnroe, the 1981-84 year-end No. 1. #ATPHeritage

John McEnroe was one of the sport's most naturally gifted and versatile competitors.

McEnroe first became No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in just his fourth year on the circuit – on 3 March 1980 at Memphis. His initial three-week tenure was one of 14 periods at the summit of the sport.

"There was suddenly more pressure, everywhere," said McEnroe, the 1981-84 year-end No. 1. "I got goose bumps thinking that I was ranked ahead of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. It was inspiring to hit that mark, but it made me want to improve myself."

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Only three other year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s have finished in the top position for four consecutive years: Connors, his great rival, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. But, unlike McEnroe, their success was only as a singles player.

McEnroe finished the year as the No. 1 doubles player for five years, starting in 1979, three of them concurrent with his top singles ranking. He spent 170 weeks as the top singles player and 269 weeks as the best doubles player, which included nine major doubles crowns.

"The difference between being ranked No. 2 and No. 1 is enormous in the way you're covered and watched, the recognition factor," said McEnroe, who, in a six-year period, won seven major singles trophies at Wimbledon and the US Open.

McEnroe won 77 singles and 78 doubles titles. In 1984, he compiled an 82-3 singles record (.964).

Read more about McEnroe in "No. 1", our special commemorative coffee table book, celebrating all year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s over the past 40 years. Buy Online Through Tennis Warehouse: Europe | Outside Europe

This year, the ATP pays special tribute to 25 former World No. 1s as part of the ATP Heritage programme, marking 40 years since the ranking system was introduced in 1973.


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