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By David Law

(October 1, 2010) Ivan Lendl thrilled fans on his return to the tennis court for the first time in more than a decade, but old rival Mats Wilander wasn’t prepared to let him win on his ATP Champions Tour debut in Paris.

In a battle of former French Open champions, Wilander, who had lost 15 of their 22 meetings over the years, won 6-4, 6-3 at the Jean Luc Lagardere Trophy, but Lendl showed plenty of glimpses of the talent that took him to eight Grand Slam singles titles and World No.1. His forehand was fearsome, he looked in superb shape, but he was unsurprisingly a little bit rusty.

"I was pretty pleased with the way I played, particularly after being out for so long," said Lendl, who will play against John McEnroe on Sunday. "I’m not disappointed. It’s just a process. You cannnot not play and then all of a sudden play great. I think the crowd enjoyed the match — Mats hit a lot of good shots and I think they had a good time. I’m going to rest tomorrow to make sure I’m fit for Sunday and hopefully I’ll play a bit better then."

As for Wilander, he was delighted to face his great friend and foe again.

"I think we’ve missed him," said the Swede. "He’s the epitome of a professional athlete. He’s the guy that showed the way for people to become really fit. He changed his psychology in the game by becoming strong physically, and then mentally. He’s an unbelievable example. Everyone who plays now has him to thank for what they are doing, probably more than anyone else."

How did the win feel?

"It felt really good," said Wilander. "He’s beaten me so badly, so many times that it’s nice to get some sort of revenge! It’s nice to see him suffer, to see him tire, but unfortunately he was smiling. I wanted to see him crying! But no, seriously, it’s great to have him back. He was playing good today and he’s going to get better. It’s great that he has the urge to play again, and I hope he keeps at it."

Wilander and Lendl will now face McEnroe on Saturday and Sunday respectively in the remaining Group A matches, with the top player in the group reaching the final.

In Group B, Tournament Director Guy Forget defeated Cedric Pioline 7-5, 6-3

For more information about the event, and tickets, please visit


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