The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have announced that Ivan Lendl, who was an integral member of the Czechoslovakian Davis Cup team before becoming an American citizen, is the recipient of the 2012 Davis Cup Award of Excellence. The award was presented in Prague, in a special ceremony at the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final between Czech Republic and Spain. The award was presented by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Geoff Pollard, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the former president and chairman of Tennis Australia.
"The Czech Republic has been one of the most successful teams in Davis Cup World Group history, and Ivan Lendl is undoubtedly one of its most influential and inspiring team members. We are pleased to recognize Ivan's contributions to the competition by honoring him with the 2012 Davis Cup Award of Excellence," said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.
Each year since 2001, the ITF and the Hall of Fame have presented the Davis Cup Award of Excellence to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Davis Cup competition. It is presented to a person who has been an active member of a past or present Davis Cup team.
Lendl competed for eight consecutive years on the Czechoslovakian team, from 1978-1985. In 1980, he led the team to its only Davis Cup title, defeating Italy in the final in Prague after a major upset over Argentina in the semifinals. He also helped his country reach the semifinals in 1984 and 1985. During his Davis Cup years, Lendl was always a key component of the Czech team and he recorded a winning record of 22-15 overall, winning 18 singles matches and 4 doubles matches.
Often regarded among the greatest tennis players in the history of the game, Lendl was ranked world No. 1 for 270 weeks. He won eight Grand Slam titles over the course of his career, and an incredible total of 94 singles titles. He was known for his discipline and drive, and he brought a higher level of awareness for the importance of fitness to the sport. Lendl was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001.
Past recipients of the Davis Cup Award of Excellence have been Emilio Sanchez of Spain in 2011; Slobodan Zivojinovic of Serbia in 2010; Manuel Orantes of Spain in 2009; Guillermo Vilas of Argentina in 2008; Stan Smith of the United States in 2007; Alex Metreveli of Georgia in 2006; Miloslav Mecir of Slovak Republic and Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia in 2005; Manolo Santana of Spain in 2004; John Newcombe of Australia in 2003; Pierre Darmon of France in 2002; and Neale Fraser of Australia in 2001.