This article appeared in the Herald on July 5, 1983, following the Wimbledon men's final.

Chris Lewis said playing the men's final at Wimbledon against John McEnroe was the greatest occasion of his life, despite losing in three sets.

The 26-year-old Aucklander never had the opportunity to show his winning style against the left-handed McEnroe.

On the way to the final Lewis beat ninth seed Steve Denton and 12th seed Kevin Curren.


Means little

Lewis, who takes home £33,300 ($76,590) and his runner-up medal, said the money, while it had its place, was not important.

Lewis v McEnroe - The day the dream came true by Michael Brown (2008)

"The money I have made from this Wimbledon truly means little compared to the feeling I have," Lewis said afterwards.

He said he was taking consolation for his 85-minute defeat because he was beaten by the best player in the tournament.

"John was in another class today and I was just not good enough," he said.

"John is like an artist with a racket, since he not only returns the ball well, but he directs it."

Even McEnroe was delighted with his form and said he thought any player would have had difficulty beating him.


Lewis views his winning a place in the final as a just reward for the hard work he has put into his game since being junior player of the year in 1975.

"I worked hard on the practice courts but was not getting any results. I suppose I lost motivation and my rankings slipped.

"When I saw I had slipped to 91st from 26th in 1981 I decided to put in an all-out effort to improve my game and results," he said.


Although his semifinal game on the centre court against Curren, which is widely regarded as the most exciting game of the tournament this year, prepared him a little for his encounter against McEnroe, Lewis admitted to feeling a little nervous.

He said he had prepared himself mentally for the match for the preceding 48 hours as best he could.

"I did not read any newspapers, watch television, or do any interviews. I ate and slept properly and just concerned myself with fully concentrating on my match."

However, Lewis was never allowed to show the flair he had used to win his semifinal against Curren.

He said McEnroe never allowed him to get the upper hand.

"He is so exceptionally quick and has such great anticipation I never felt relaxed, in fact I was always under pressure and I felt I had to rush my shots.

"I was always scrambling for my volley and my speed was of little use since he was hitting cold winners, and when I did get to one of his shots, I felt as though I just got there and couldn't do much with it.

"As far as his serve was concerned, I never really knew where it was coming and I think it is unlike anyone's in the game."

First break

Lewis started the encounter strongly in blazing sunshine, before the near 13,000 crowd, holding service and only dropping one point.

Then McEnroe began what was an almost faultless display. Throughout the game he only allowed Lewis to take nine points off his service.

The New Yorker's first break came in the third game of the first set when he took Lewis' service game to love, and held his own dropping no points.

Lewis came back to hold service and showed a flash of the style he had used to get past Curren in the sixth game. McEnroe was serving but made his only double fault. Lewis out-manoeuvred him with a passing volley and with the score at 15-30 never again managed to find a way past McEnroe.

Twice in the next game McEnroe employed his passing forehand to break service.

With the game score at 5-2 McEnroe held service comfortably to take the first set in 27 minutes.

Lewis came back strongly in the first game of the second set to hold service to love, serving his only ace of the entire match.

However, he took only one point off McEnroe in the next game and struggled to hold his own service in the third. Here a rally of volleys from the net drew applause from the crowd. Yesterday their support was for Lewis.

In the fourth game Lewis found McEnroe's service unfathomable and gained his only point with a back-hand volley which dribbled over the net and dropped dead.

Skim net

With the score at two games all McEnroe put on the pressure sending a bullet-like cross-court back-hand to just skim the net followed by three perfect passing forehands to break service.

He dropped only one point in his next service game.

McEnroe was unnerving in his ability to change the angle of his racket seconds before contact to send the ball in a totally different direction from that anticipated by Lewis.

With the score at 30-all Lewis two backhand volleys out of the court.

Again McEnroe held service comfortably in the eighth game, taking the set in 30 minutes 6-2.

Two sets down, Lewis held service in the first game of the third set, despite a foot-fault, and strived to take the score to 40-30.

He managed to hold service with a forehand that tipped the net.

Lewis used McEnroe's favoured passing backhand against his opponent to take two points from the American in his service game. But he was only allowed one more for the rest of the set.

No points

McEnroe ruthlessly broke Lewis' service in the third game to love, and dropped no points himself in his next game.

Lewis fought off three break points from his service before conceding the game.

McEnroe enthralled the crowd with textbook displays of passing shots and overhead lobs that Lewis could not retrieve.

After McEnroe held service to love in the sixth, Lewis fought bravely to hold service in the seventh dropping only two points. He served strongly and volleyed well.

But the writing was on the wall at 5-2.

He did manage one last point off McEnroe's service, from a backhand volley to the baseline, but McEnroe effortlessly pulled away with the score at 40-15 taking the match point with a cross court backhand off a gentle volley from Lewis.

They got a standing ovation as they were presented with the winner's cup and runner's-up trophy from the Duke of Kent.