JIMMY CONNORS(U. S. A.)
Australian Open 1974
US Open 1974,1976,1978,1982,1983
Jimmy Connors was an enigma. Connors brought a sense of theatre to the game and had many dramatic emotional matches during his long career. Although Connors had far fewer altercations with umpires than his great rival John McEnroe, when he did they could be fierce. In later years at the U. S. Open Connors even took to commentating on his own matches by shouting things into the on court microphones. Connors was one of only five men (the others were Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) to win Grand Slam singles titles on three different surfaces (grass, hard and clay) and the only man to win the U. S. Open on these three surfaces. Connors grew up in the small town of Belleville in Illinois, USA. His father was a toll bridge manager and his mother Gloria had been a nationally ranked junior tennis player and later a teaching professional. Gloria (Jimmy's coach) claimed Jimmy was already formed as a tennis player by the age of five. Jimmy's grandmother also coached him and his grandfather was his physical trainer. When he was 16 Jimmy moved to Los Angeles so he could receive coaching from the great Pancho Segura (Gloria knew Pancho from her playing days). Although Connors' determined attitude and many of his strokes were already in place, Pancho taught Jimmy a lot about the tactical side of the game. Pancho also introduced Jimmy to other tennis legends such as Pancho Gonzales. Connors made his Grand Slam debut at the 1970 US Open where he lost in the opening round to Mark Cox in straight sets. Connors soon became unpopular amongst some of the other players. He rarely played Davis Cup, was not a member of the ATP and his manager Bill Riordan involved him in lawsuits. Connors parted company with Riordan in the mid 1970s. In 1974 Connors reached his peak, hitting his groundstrokes very flat at a phenomenal pace rarely seen since. He was one of the first exponents of the steel framed racket. At the 1974 Australian Connors beat Phil Dent in the final by outhitting him in four sets. At Wimbledon Connors beat Kodes in five sets in the quarters, Dick Stockton in the semis and Ken Rosewall in straight sets in the final. His girlfriend Chris Evert won the women's title. Though engaged to be married, Connors and Evert went their seperate ways soon afterwards. At the US Open Connors beat Kodes in the fourth round, Metreveli in the quarters, Tanner in the semis and Rosewall for the loss of just two games in the final. At the 1975 Australian Open Connors lost in four sets to Newcombe in the final in a classic match. In the Wimbledon final Arthur Ashe played a shrewd tactical game to beat Connors in four sets. At the US Open Connors beat Borg in straight sets in the semis before losing in straight sets to Manuel Orantes in the final. At the 1976 US Open he beat Borg in the final. At Wimbledon 1977 Connors beat John McEnroe in four sets in the semis before losing in five sets to Borg in the final. At the US Open Connors beat Orantes in the quarters and Corrado Barazzutti in the semis before losing in four sets to Vilas in the final. At Wimbledon 1978 Connors lost in straight sets to Borg in the final. At the US Open Connors beat McEnroe in straight sets in the semis and Borg in straight sets in the final. At the French Open in 1979 Connors beat Orantes and Eddie Dibbs before losing in four sets to Victor Pecci in the semis. At Wimbledon Connors lost in straight sets to Borg in the semis. At the US Open he lost in straight sets to McEnroe in the semis. At the 1980 French Open Connors beat Yannick Noah in the fourth round before losing in five sets to Gerulaitis in the semis. At Wimbledon he beat Tanner in five sets in the quarters before losing in four sets to McEnroe in the semis. At the US Open Connors lost in five sets to McEnroe in the semis. In the semis of Wimbledon in 1981 Connors led two sets to one against Borg before losing in five sets. At the US Open he lost in the semis to Borg in straight sets. At Wimbledon 1982 Connors beat Mark Edmondson in the semis before an epic five set triumph over McEnroe in the final to win his first Grand Slam title for four years. At the US Open Connors beat Vilas in four sets in the semis before beating Ivan Lendl in straight sets in the final. At Wimbledon 1983 Connors went out before the quarter final stage of a Grand Slam event for the first time in 10 years, losing in the fourth round to Kevin Curren. At the US Open Connors beat Lendl in the final in four sets to win his eighth and last Grand Slam title. At the 1984 French Open Connors lost in the semis to McEnroe. At Wimbledon he beat Lendl in the semis in four sets before losing easily to a faultless McEnroe in the final. At the US Open he lost in the semis to McEnroe in five sets. At the 1985 French Open Connors beat Edberg in straight sets in the quarters before losing to Lendl in straight sets in the semis. At Wimbledon he looked out of sorts as he lost to Kevin Curren in straight sets in the semis. At the US Open Connors beat Edberg in the fourth round before losing to Lendl in straight sets in the semis. At Wimbledon 1987 34 year old Connors came from two sets to love and 5-2 down in the third set to beat Mikael Pernfors in the fourth round before losing in straight sets to Pat Cash in the semis. At the US Open he lost to Lendl in the semis. In the quarter final of the 1988 US Open Connors lost to Andre Agassi in straight sets and was angered by Agassi's comment that he had predicted a straight sets victory before the match. Connors vowed to make Agassi eat his words. The two met in the quarters again in 1989 and this time Connors went down in five sets after a brave fight. Connors was injured for much of 1990 and many observers thought that he wouldn't return. He proved all the doubters wrong at the 1991 US Open. In the latter years of his career Connors had been a massive favourite of crowds around the world, but at the 1991 US Open the New York crowd supported him like never before in a tournament that is still talked about today. In the opening round he came from two sets to love and 3-0 down to beat Pat McEnroe. In the fourth round Connors was 5-3 down in the fifth set against Aaron Krickstein. He fought back and forced a tie break. Just before the tie break started Connors sat down at the side of the court for a few seconds to get his breath back and looked up at the crowd going wild with excitement. He looked at the camera and said "this is what they paid for. This is what they want!" Connors took the tie break to win one of the greatest matches of all time on his 39th birthday. Paul Haarhuis served for a two sets to love lead against him in the quarters before Connors won in four sets. Connors finally succumbed in the semis to Jim Courier in straight sets. He played his final Grand Slam event at the US Open 1992. He beat Jamie Oncins and had a huge 40th birthday cake presented to him on court but he lost in the second round to Lendl. Connors was then instrumental in starting the seniors tour and played regularly on the tour until the end of the century. Later he became a television commentator and coached Andy Roddick for a while.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 0-2, A.Ashe 0-1, B.Becker 0-1, B.Borg 3-5, P.Cash 0-1, M.Chang 0-1, J.Courier 0-1, S.Edberg 3-0, M.Edmondson 1-0, V.Gerulaitis 2-1, A.Gomez 2-0, J.Kodes 3-0, J.Kriek 1-0, I.Lendl 3-4, J.McEnroe 3-6, I.Nastase 1-1, J.Newcombe 0-2, Y.Noah 1-0, A.Olmedo 1-0, M.Orantes 2-1, A.Panatta 4-0, K.Rosewall 2-0, S.Smith 2-0, M.Stich 0-1, R.Tanner 4-1, G.Vilas 2-1
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