PDA

View Full Version : Borg, Connors, McEnroe, had all 4 slams been held in todays value?


federerfanatic
03-17-2007, 10:19 AM
If the Australian, and to a lesser extent the French, been held with the same importance then as they are now how many slams would you speculate Connors, Borg, and McEnroe each might have won?

Borg missed the Australian Open from 1975-1981. The only year he missed the French Open in 1977 was injury related. Connors missed the Australian Open from 1976-until he retired, he missed the French Open from 1974-1978 due to his conflicts with the ATP and being upset about his ban from 1974. McEnroe missed the Australian Open from 1977-1982, 1984, 1986-1988, and 1991.

So how many would you speculate each individual winning perhaps had they played each of the 4 slams, excluding ones missed due to injury, during this period?

One thing to remember though is in some cases one winning some could take away from another. For instance if Connors had won the 74 and 75 French Opens, that would take away from Borg's record there a bit as he had won those 2 years.

urban
03-17-2007, 10:41 AM
If you look at the number of overall titles won, and the proportion of major titles, you see, that Connors, Borg, Mac and Lendl have not won as much proportional majors as Sampras, Wilander, Agassi or Becker afterwards. They were not so much focussing on majors numbers, more on single majors, on Nr.1 rankings or money or overall titles. Wimbledon and Forest Hills, later Flushing were important, Roland Garros became as important through the efforts of Philippe Chartrier. Borg could have beaten Emersons record of major wins, if he had concentrated on Wim and RG after 1981; but he was after the Grand Slam, not the numbers game. One factor was the transfer of Melbourne to the Christmas time and the last position of the majors (1977-1985). As first major in a year, Melbourne was always the starting point of the Grand Slam, now it became important only if a Grand Slam would be still on the line. One can only speculate about a Australian Open in December 78, 79 or 80, with Borgs chances for GS still intact. Borg vs. Mac or Connors or Tanner on hard grass courts under hot conditions with a Grand Slam on the line - what a constellation! But it never materialised, because Borg lost out at New York every time.

Moose Malloy
03-17-2007, 11:13 AM
The only year he missed the French Open in 1977 was injury related.

He was banned from the French that year for playing WTT.

As far as your question, both Borg & Connors made six straight slam finals, while skipping some in between, so I have no doubt they would both have won all 4, they had no surface issues like other all time greats, & were so consistent. Sampras' 14 majors is an overrated record, by those who really don't know much about the history of the game. His 7 Wimbledons are more significant imo.

federerfanatic
03-17-2007, 11:24 AM
As far as your question, both Borg & Connors made six straight slam finals, while skipping some in between, so I have no doubt they would both have won all 4, they had no surface issues like other all time greats, & were so consistent.

Just curious how you say Borg would have won all 4 when he couldnt win the U.S Open on 2 different surfaces(thinking his first year as a real contender to win there would have been 1975 when it moved to clay from grass, hard starting in 1978 )? Or do you mean he would have had more incentive to continue playing longer and that is how he would have eventualy won the U.S Open?

sandy mayer
03-17-2007, 11:58 AM
I suggest the following as the most likely, though with the provision that sport is never totally predictable:
Connors: 1 French (1976), 2 wimbledons (1974, 1982), 5 US Opens (1974,76,78,82,83), 5 Australian (1974, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1983).
This makes 13 grand slams

Borg:
7 French (he would have one 1977 if he'd been fit), 5 Wimbledons, 1 US open (1977 if he was fit) 2 Australian (1978-79). This makes 15 grand slams

McEnroe:
0 French (I think 1984 was his only chance), 3 Wimbledons, 4 US opens, 2 Australian Opens (1980-81). This makes 9 grand slams. McEnroe could have won more than 9 really if he'd not declined so badly after 84.

This means Vilas finishes without slams. Very good player but I can't see him beating a fit Borg in 1977 at Roland Garros or Forest Hills, nor do I see him winning an Australian with Borg, Connors and in later year McEnroe there.

urban
03-17-2007, 12:25 PM
I seriously doubt, that Connors would have won RG. He did play in 1972 and 73, when he won many events on hard courts, and lost first and second round to guys like Solomon and Ramirez (if i am right). Later he lost at RG to players like Vitas and Pecci, good but not great claycourters.He never won a big tournament on European clay, which is slower than the har tru surface in the US, and would have had big problems against guys like Orantes, Vilas, Ramirez, let alone Borg. His flat style wasn't exacly suited to clay, leaving too little margin for error, and he was not a natural volleyer. He was at his best on hard courts and medium paced indoor courts, where his weight of shot and quick returns could be decisive. Sampras had similar problems, couldn't get enough topspin into his shots. And Borg couldn't win the major on US soil, regardless the surface. I don't buy that injury argument. It was put forward by his mentor Bergelin all the time, even when he won Wim 1976 without losing a set. A bit like Papa Graf, who once stated that Steffi won Wim with a broken arm. But i give Connors, Borg and Mac around two Australians each, and Borg would have a shot at RG in 1982, if he had tried an attack on Emersons record.

sandy mayer
03-17-2007, 01:08 PM
Borg didn't play RG in 1977 due to injury and was invincible there. He got injured playing in Forest Hills in 77 and had to withdraw. I'm sure he would have beaten Vilas but I suppose he may have lost to Connors in the final, though it would have been very close. Connors hardly even played European clay tournaments so I don't think we can say he couldn't play on red clay because he didn't win one. His french open record is much better than sampras: 4 semis and quarters from 79 onwards, so we can't look at his 72/3 early exits and write him off: Connors would have at least goto to a final if he'd played in his best years 74-78. In 74 he beat Borg on red clay: i think Connors would have been a very serious contender in 74-77. I think he may well have sneaked one, though no more than one.

I don't agree that Connors/Borg/McEnroe would have only won 6 Australian Opens between them. From 76-82 none of them played the Australian. The 8 Wimbledons played then were all won by 1 of the 3. 7/8 US Opens were won by Mac/Connors, and all of the fast surface US Opens (5/5) were won by Mac/Connors. Borg/Connors/Mac would have most probably won all 8 of the Australian Open played from 76-82. I made a mistake with Mac: he would have won the Australian Open in 84 if he'd played (which makes 10 Grand slams on my model). So with Connors Australian Open in 1974, that makes 10 Australians for Borg/Connors/McEnroe.

urban
03-17-2007, 01:37 PM
As far as i know, Borg wasn't injured for RG in 1977, but didn't play because of his committment with WTT. He defaulted in his match with Stockton at Forest Hills, citing a shoulder injury, he apparently had taken before the tournament while water-skiing - his own fault, not the best way to prepare for a major. But he wasn't so injured, not to reach the quarters. So my doubts remain. Same with Connors, he was soundly beaten by Orantes and Vilas at USO even on green clay, at Hamburg he was beaten by McNamara in the finals. He never beat Borg on red clay.

sandy mayer
03-17-2007, 04:51 PM
Excuse my ignorance. you are quite right: Borg missed Roland Garros in 77 due to this WTT business. I can see how Borg was unwise to water-ski but I still have little doubt Vilas wouldn't have stopped him if he had met a fully fit Borg. Brg ownedVilas.

Connors also beat Orantes and Vilas on the green clay at the US Open (so he's 1-1 with both of them on US Open clay), and Borg twice. Green clay is faster than red clay, but look at the finalists in 75-77 in the 3 years Forest Hills was on clay: besides Connors, Orantes, Vilas and Borg. That tells you alot: the green clay at Forest Hills still favoured the clay court player. Connors was a formidable clay court player even if he preferred fast surfaces. to get to 3 US finals on clay in a row and win one of them tells you alot about connors genuine clay court prowess.
I've been told that the year Connors defeated Borg in the US Clay Court Championships in 74 it was on a red clay court surface similar to Roland garros. That was the year Borg won his first French. connors had his best year in 74. He would have had a reasonable chance of winning the French if he'd been allowed to play.

AndrewD
03-17-2007, 06:31 PM
Personally, I think the only major that would have been affected in any way (results-wise) is the Australian Open. While we might say that the French wasn't as important to Connors, I don't believe that he would ever have won it - even in 74.

The Australian Open is a different kettle of fish. However, I don't believe it would be merely a case of assigning each year to one of Borg, McEnroe or Connors.
1976 would have been an absolute lottery and we saw, over the course of two matches - semi and final- what Mark Edmondson was capable of. Essentially, he played to the level displayed for 2 and a bit sets against Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon in 1977. The difference was that, at the 76 Aus Open, he got more assistance from the court and he was in the zone. On a grass court and in the right mood, Eddo could beat anyone. I think he would have taken Borg, but I'm not so sure about Connors.
1977, won by Roscoe Tanner, would have been another dicey affair for Borg and/or Connors. The court was rock hard and lightning fast (Wimbledon is never as fast) which would have suited Tanner far more than the other guys. Sure, they could have won but it wouldn't have been a foregone conclusion. Again, of the two, I think Connors would have been the most likely winner.
1977 won by Gerulaitis: Definitely a year that favours Borg or Connors
1978-1979: Vilas deserved his wins, even if the field was depleted, and I see no reason to believe he wouldn't have won at least one of those titles had Borg, McEnroe and Connors been in the field.
1980: Obviously would have been won by one of the three
1981-1982: Johan Kriek was no push-over and a significantly better player than anyone seems willing to admit. He could play on any surface and had wins against Connors and McEnroe. The odds wouldn't necessarily be in his favour but he played his best tennis on grass and had his best results at the Aus Open (2 wins, a semi and a qf).
1983-1989: Mac had his chances to win the Aus Open but wasn't up to it. I see absolutely no reason to believe that Connors would have done any better.

At the end of the day, I think the main beneficiary would have been Connors. If he'd continued to play the Aus Open I think he could have picked up another 2-3 majors. McEnroe could possibly have snagged another 1-2 but I think Borg would have been lucky to win any more than 1. The main reason for that line of thinking is, temperament. While Connors seemed to thrive on animosity and adversity, I don't think the conditions at the Aus Open (during its Kooyong days) would have suited Borg or, to a lesser extent, McEnroe.

federerfanatic
03-17-2007, 08:32 PM
Thanks all for your responses. Here is how I originaly saw it, before I started this thread and read any responses, had Borg, McEnroe, and Connors had all played each while any were still competing. That is excluding ones missed by injuries or physical problems which are just part of the game. These my guesses beforehand of starting this thread:

French Open 1974 : actual winner-Borg. would have won had Connors played-Connors

French Open 1975: actual winner-Borg, would have won had Connors played-Connors

French Open 1976: actual winner-Panatta, would have won had Connors played-Panatta

French Open 1977: actual winner-Vilas, would have won had Borg and Connors played-Borg

French Open 1978: actual winner-Borg, would have won had McEnroe and Connors played-Borg

French Open 1979: actual winner-Borg, would have won had McEnroe played-Borg

French Open 1982: actual winner-Wilander, would have won had McEnroe played-Wilander

Australian Open 1975: actual winner-Newcombe, would have won had Borg played-Newcombe

Australian Open 1976: actual winner-Edmonston(!!), would have won had Borg and Connors played-Connors

Australian Open 1977(Jan): actual winner-Tanner, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Connors

Australian Open 1977(Dec): actual winner-Gerulaitis, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Borg

Australian Open 1978: actual winner-Vilas, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Borg

Australian Open 1979: actual winner-Vilas, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Borg

Australian Open 1980: actual winner-Teacher, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-McEnroe

Australian Open 1981: actual winner-Kriek, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-McEnroe

Australian Open 1982: actual winner-Kriek, would have won had Connors and McEnroe played-Connors

Australian Open 1983: actual winner-Wilander, would have won had Connors played-Connors

Australian Open 1984: actual winner-Wilander, would have won had Connors and McEnroe played-McEnroe

Australian Open 1985: actual winner-Edberg, would have won had Connors and McEnroe played-McEnroe

Australian Open 1986-beyond: same winners regardless if McEnroe or Connors play the event or not.

So under my guesses it would then change the records of these men this way:

Borg: 5 Wimbledon titles, 0 U.S Open titles, 6 French Open titles, 0 Australian Open titles. 11 total slam titles.

to instead-5 Wimbledon titles, 0 U.S Open titles, 5 French Open titles, 3 Australian Open titles. 13 total slam titles

Connors: 2 Wimbledon titles, 5 U.S Open titles, 0 French Open titles, 1 Australian Open title. 8 total slam titles.

to instead-2 Wimbledon titles, 5 U.S Open titles, 2 French Open titles, 5 Australian Open titles. 14 total slam titles

McEnroe: 3 Wimbledon titles, 4 U.S Open titles, 0 French Open titles, 0 Australian Open titles. 7 total slam titles.

to instead-3 Wimbledon titles, 4 U.S Open titles, 0 French Open titles, 4 Australian Open titles. 11 total slam titles


Guys who lose out:

Vilas: 0 Wimbledon titles, 1 U.S Open title, 1 French Open titles, 2 Australian Open titles. 4 total slam titles

to instead-0 Wimbledon titles, 1 U.S Open title, 0 French Open titles, 0 Australian Open titles. 1 total slam titles

Kriek: 2 Australian Opens. to instead-0 slam titles

Wilander: 0 Wimbledon titles, 1 U.S Open title, 3 French Open titles, 3 Australian Open titles. 7 total slam titles

to instead-0 Wimbledon titles, 1 U.S Open title, 3 French Open titles, 1 Australian Open title. 5 total slam titles

Edberg: 2 Wimbledon titles, 2 U.S Open titles, 0 French Open titles, 2 Australian Open titles. 6 total slam titles

to instead-2 Wimbledon titles, 2 U.S Open titles, 0 French Open titles, 1 Australian Open titles. 5 total slam titles

Gerulaitis: 1 Australian Open title. to instead 0 slam titles.

Tanner: 1 Australian Open title. to instead 0 slam titles.

Edmondson: 1 Australian Open title. to instead 0 slam titles.

Teacher: 1 Australian Open title. to instead 0 slam titles.


So under my original beliefs Connors benefits the most of the 3, then McEnroe, Borg benefits some but the least of those 3 greats. In fact Borg possibly loses out at the French under my original guesses, as Borg was dominated by Connors on all surfaces until 1977, and lost to him 3 times on green clay in the U.S from 74-76, yes not red clay, yes in the U.S were Borg wasnt comfortable playing for awhile, but still 3 straight Connors wins those 3 years on clay.

Still I have enjoyed reading alot of the responses and I am reconsidering my original guesses as I read all the responses. It is good to read explanations of people familar with that period of time, and how they see the different events having played out.

CyBorg
03-21-2007, 12:18 AM
I think Borg would have dominated the Australian between 77-80. I just don't see how Connors would have been that much of a match. Borg started to dominate Connors with the victory at 77 wimby - one exception being the 78 US Open. 5 Australians for Connors? Not realistic at all.

If Borg had been born 10 years later than he had he would have ended his career with 15-17 slams. He would have won between 2 and 4 Australians and would have retired a few years later (probably around 30). The reason is that the ATP scheduling is so much more organized than what they had back in the 70s - Borg would have had ample time off and wouldn't have burned out as quickly.

Connors was unlucky to have been banned from so many French Opens, but I don't know if he would have beaten Borg on red clay even going back to '74. No one could outrally Borg on red dirt outside of Panatta. The way borg exhausted Orantes in the 74 final was a testament to this.

CyBorg
03-21-2007, 12:19 AM
Btw, I think Tanner deserves his Australian title. At his finest he was an elite player. He just couldn't keep it up for long.

krosero
03-23-2007, 08:30 PM
Australian Open 1985: actual winner-Edberg, would have won had Connors and McEnroe played-McEnroeMcEnroe played this tournament, lost in the quarterfinals to Slobodan Zivojinovic.

sandy mayer
03-24-2007, 10:35 AM
[QUOTE=CyBorg;1326653]I think Borg would have dominated the Australian between 77-80. I just don't see how Connors would have been that much of a match. Borg started to dominate Connors with the victory at 77 wimby - one exception being the 78 US Open. 5 Australians for Connors? Not realistic at all.

If Borg had been born 10 years later than he had he would have ended his career with 15-17 slams. He would have won between 2 and 4 Australians and would have retired a few years later (probably around 30). The reason is that the ATP scheduling is so much more organized than what they had back in the 70s - Borg would have had ample time off and wouldn't have burned out as quickly.

In the 77 season borg didn't dominate Connors. At the end of the season Connors beat him in the final of the Masters. In the 77 Wimbledon final Connors losing was considered an upset.
Connors in 76 certainly dominated Borg, so he would have been the favourite to take the 76 OZ. I think he'd have won the 77 title too. In 78 he would hgave had a good chance, but Borg would have been favourite. In 79 Borg owned Connors, so no chance here but in 80-81 Connors was giving Mac and borg tough matches so I think Connors would have had a chance at the OZ, though he wouldn't have been favourite. In 82 Connors would have been the favourite, as the world's best player, and in 83 I think he would have taken out Wilander and lendl on grass. I actually give them little chance. Wilander beat mac in 83 but Connors is the most consistent player of all time and was upset less often than mac. Connors rarely got upset by players in grand slams in his peak years, especially on fast surfaces.

So Connors would have been favourite to win the OZ in 76, 77, 82 and 83, and he would have had a reasonable chance in 78, 80, and 81, with a very outside chance in 79, 84-85.

CyBorg
03-26-2007, 03:39 PM
In the 77 season borg didn't dominate Connors. At the end of the season Connors beat him in the final of the Masters. In the 77 Wimbledon final Connors losing was considered an upset.
Connors in 76 certainly dominated Borg, so he would have been the favourite to take the 76 OZ. I think he'd have won the 77 title too. In 78 he would hgave had a good chance, but Borg would have been favourite. In 79 Borg owned Connors, so no chance here but in 80-81 Connors was giving Mac and borg tough matches so I think Connors would have had a chance at the OZ, though he wouldn't have been favourite. In 82 Connors would have been the favourite, as the world's best player, and in 83 I think he would have taken out Wilander and lendl on grass. I actually give them little chance. Wilander beat mac in 83 but Connors is the most consistent player of all time and was upset less often than mac. Connors rarely got upset by players in grand slams in his peak years, especially on fast surfaces.

So Connors would have been favourite to win the OZ in 76, 77, 82 and 83, and he would have had a reasonable chance in 78, 80, and 81, with a very outside chance in 79, 84-85.

Borg was 2-1 against Connors in 77. He would have beaten Connors at the Aussie most likely. But I admit it would have been close. AO was held on grass and I don't see why it would be a given for Jimmy to beat Bjorn on it - especially considering Connors' mediocre serving game and Borg's much improved first serve.

sandy mayer
03-26-2007, 03:56 PM
There's 1 thing weare overlooking: there were 2 Oz Opens in 77. I make Connors favourite over Borg in Jan 77 and I would say about 50-50 in Dec. The grass at the OZ Open didn't favour the big server as much as it did at Wimbledon. Connors regularly beat much bigger servers on grass and twice came very close to beating Borg at wimbledon, and beat him several times on fast surfaces even after Borg developed his big serve.

My revised OZ Open winners' list goes like this:
76 Connors
77 Connors
77 Borg
78 Borg
79 Borg
80 Mac
81 Mac
82 Connors
83 Connors
84 Mac

Mac might have won in 79/82 and Borg might have won in 76-Jan.77,80-81, and Connors would have had a chance 77-81,

CyBorg
03-26-2007, 04:25 PM
Realistically, Borg probably would have skipped a couple of the Aussies even today. He liked the vacation break.

Bud
07-11-2010, 07:31 PM
Great topic and pertinent to the whole GOAT BS surrounding Federer.

pmerk34
07-12-2010, 01:52 PM
McEnroe played this tournament, lost in the quarterfinals to Slobodan Zivojinovic.

Yes, the beginning of the end for Mac as an elite player.

jrepac
07-12-2010, 01:52 PM
I think Borg would have dominated the Australian between 77-80. I just don't see how Connors would have been that much of a match. Borg started to dominate Connors with the victory at 77 wimby - one exception being the 78 US Open. 5 Australians for Connors? Not realistic at all.

If Borg had been born 10 years later than he had he would have ended his career with 15-17 slams. He would have won between 2 and 4 Australians and would have retired a few years later (probably around 30). The reason is that the ATP scheduling is so much more organized than what they had back in the 70s - Borg would have had ample time off and wouldn't have burned out as quickly.

Connors was unlucky to have been banned from so many French Opens, but I don't know if he would have beaten Borg on red clay even going back to '74. No one could outrally Borg on red dirt outside of Panatta. The way borg exhausted Orantes in the 74 final was a testament to this.

following the logic, I am not sure how unrealistic 4/5 AOs for Connors really is...he would've been a very strong contender in 76/77 and in 82/83...even '84/'85 for that matter. From 82 to 85, Bjorn was obviously retired, and next to Mac, Jimbo really was the next best grass court player, based on accomplisments...and arguably, at times, he was better than Mac. So, just not thinking 4/5 AOs on grass is such a big stretch (the guy already has half of his GS titles on grass).

jrepac
07-12-2010, 01:57 PM
Excuse my ignorance. you are quite right: Borg missed Roland Garros in 77 due to this WTT business. I can see how Borg was unwise to water-ski but I still have little doubt Vilas wouldn't have stopped him if he had met a fully fit Borg. Brg ownedVilas.

Connors also beat Orantes and Vilas on the green clay at the US Open (so he's 1-1 with both of them on US Open clay), and Borg twice. Green clay is faster than red clay, but look at the finalists in 75-77 in the 3 years Forest Hills was on clay: besides Connors, Orantes, Vilas and Borg. That tells you alot: the green clay at Forest Hills still favoured the clay court player. Connors was a formidable clay court player even if he preferred fast surfaces. to get to 3 US finals on clay in a row and win one of them tells you alot about connors genuine clay court prowess.
I've been told that the year Connors defeated Borg in the US Clay Court Championships in 74 it was on a red clay court surface similar to Roland garros. That was the year Borg won his first French. connors had his best year in 74. He would have had a reasonable chance of winning the French if he'd been allowed to play.

Connors clay court skills are notoriously under-rated...very much a shame he did not play RG during his very peak years (74-76). I think he might've snagged one in the early 80's but was a bit unlucky...that's the way it breaks..it's sort of like saying Bjorn was not a good hard court player because he did not win the USO on that surface...that's a very big departure from truth. [tho' I'll say Bjorn was a better HC player than JC a clay courter, IMHO]

thalivest
07-12-2010, 08:59 PM
following the logic, I am not sure how unrealistic 4/5 AOs for Connors really is...he would've been a very strong contender in 76/77 and in 82/83...even '84/'85 for that matter. From 82 to 85, Bjorn was obviously retired, and next to Mac, Jimbo really was the next best grass court player, based on accomplisments...and arguably, at times, he was better than Mac. So, just not thinking 4/5 AOs on grass is such a big stretch (the guy already has half of his GS titles on grass).

1976- good chance

1977- toss up with Borg possibly

1982- his win at Wimbledon over McEnroe was still an upset, McEnroe would be favored

1983- a chance but again McEnroe would be favored

1984- virtually no chance, look at how badly McEnroe schooled him in the Wimbledon final on grass. Their U.S Open match was alot closer but that was on hard courts- Connors best surface.

1985- very unlikely again.


Most likely he would have won at most 2 out of 76, 77, 82, and 83, the years he managed a combined 1 Wimbledon only, and reached no higher than 3.

Ripper014
07-12-2010, 11:18 PM
Connors owned 1974... he won 99 of 103 matches... he should have won the Grand Slam that year.

Won 15 tournaments plus 2 additional finals.

AO vs Phil Dent 7-6 6-4 4-6 6-3
Wimbledon vs Ken Rosewall 6-1 6-1 6-4
USO vs Ken Rosewall 6-1 6-0 6-1

I remember the two wins against Rosewall it was dominating.

urban
07-13-2010, 12:47 AM
We have discussed 1974 before. Although Connors was dominant in the 3 majors, he didn't face a top tenner there, with the exception of 40 year old Rosewall and Tanner. He didn't play the difficult WCT series in spring, but the much lighter Riordan circuit. He also withdrew from some matches and events, when feeling off form, and scratched the year end masters at Kooyong. On grass, players like Newcombe, Ashe, Nastase or Smith would have given him fits, but they were taken out beforehand. Connors for instance lost in a preliminary event to Wimbledon to Smith 0-6,3-6 on British grass. His poor record on red clay in 1973 gives no clear sign of any eventual domination at Roland Garros.

jrepac
07-13-2010, 10:54 AM
1976- good chance

1977- toss up with Borg possibly

1982- his win at Wimbledon over McEnroe was still an upset, McEnroe would be favored

1983- a chance but again McEnroe would be favored

1984- virtually no chance, look at how badly McEnroe schooled him in the Wimbledon final on grass. Their U.S Open match was alot closer but that was on hard courts- Connors best surface.

1985- very unlikely again.


Most likely he would have won at most 2 out of 76, 77, 82, and 83, the years he managed a combined 1 Wimbledon only, and reached no higher than 3.

In 82 and 83, he beat Mac at Queens, so not sure how favored Mac would be. Bjorn picked Jimmy to win Wimby in '82, if I am not mistaken. Mac was having physical problems in '83, which he admitted would seriously hurt him against someone of Connors level (or Lendl for that matter).

'84, fuggedaboutit; this was stellar Mac; no one could've touched him on grass that summer.

'85 was very much a free for all....Boris had a big break thru, but I really did not see any single player dominate on grass...so, I'd put Connors on there as an AO contender just as soon as any of the others...

so, 2/3 AO seem quite reasonable; 4/5 maybe with a bit (a lot?) of luck; Jimmy's grass court skills are overlooked as Mac and Bjorn were incredibly good on the surface; we all tend to remember Jimmy as a top hard court player, which he was, but I think he was awfully good on grass. That surface really suited his game; his Wimbledon record, despite only 2 wins, is more than respectable. Particularly when you compare to other baseliners like Lendl or Agassi. In '84, he was an "old man" and still took out Lendl at Wimbledon, with some very exceptional play (much like Mac did to Ivan in '83). Man of all surfaces, I suppose.

britbox
07-13-2010, 05:41 PM
Yes, the beginning of the end for Mac as an elite player.

Just goes to show you can't second guess history accurately. Awarding Johnny Mac a mistaken mythical slam when he was in the tournamount anyway and got knocked out.

Problem with mythical slams is that upsets, injuries... never happen.

Z-Man
07-13-2010, 06:31 PM
I picked up an interesting comment the other day during an old USO Borg vs Mac re-run. The commentator said "the US Open is the only major title that has eluded Borg." Maybe the commentator was ignorant (Oh MY!), but this consistant with what I have heard--that the AO wasn't really considered a slam until more recently.

timnz
07-14-2010, 04:35 AM
As far as i know, Borg wasn't injured for RG in 1977, but didn't play because of his committment with WTT. He defaulted in his match with Stockton at Forest Hills, citing a shoulder injury, he apparently had taken before the tournament while water-skiing - his own fault, not the best way to prepare for a major. But he wasn't so injured, not to reach the quarters. So my doubts remain. Same with Connors, he was soundly beaten by Orantes and Vilas at USO even on green clay, at Hamburg he was beaten by McNamara in the finals. He never beat Borg on red clay.

He beat Borg on red clay in South America straight after the US Open in 1978.

borg number one
07-14-2010, 05:37 AM
He beat Borg on red clay in South America straight after the US Open in 1978.

Timnz, what match was that? In Borg's official matches, I see him up 2-1 in 1978 vs. Connors. Borg won at the Pepsi GS and at Wimbledon, but lost in the U.S. Open final. The W win was quite convincing and I remember the U.S. Open loss well. Borg could barely serve due to a thumb injury. He had a pain injection a little before the match, but never really discussed it. What match was that red clay match? Thanks.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Bo/B/Bjorn-Borg.aspx?t=pa&y=1978&m=s&e=0# (Borg's 1978 ATP matches listed)

Incidentally, Borg put on DOMINATING performances both at the W final and especially at RG that year. He only lost 32 games during the whole tourney, as PC1 has emphasized previously for us.

Roland Garros, France; 29.05.1978; GS; Outdoor: Clay; Draw: 128
Round Opponent Ranking Score
R128 Eric Deblicker (FRA) N/A W 6-1, 6-1, 6-1
R64 Rick ***el (USA) N/A W 6-0, 6-1, 6-0
R32 Paolo Bertolucci (ITA) N/A W 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
R16 Roscoe Tanner (USA) N/A W 6-2, 6-4, 7-6
Q Raul Ramirez (MEX) N/A W 6-3, 6-3, 6-0
S Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) N/A W 6-0, 6-1, 6-0
W Guillermo Vilas (ARG) N/A W 6-1, 6-1, 6-3

jrepac
07-14-2010, 10:29 AM
He beat Borg on red clay in South America straight after the US Open in 1978.

I was not aware of this match either; re: Orantes and Vilas, Jimmy had wins over them on the green clay and red clay (in the case of Orantes), so it's not as if he could not beat them on this surface, so the string of logic is a bit flawed here...the 75 win by orantes at the USO was exceptional...one of those once in a lifetime performances; otherwise, Jimmy tended to dominate Orantes. Jimmy and Vilas were much closer, competitively.

timnz
07-17-2010, 06:31 PM
Timnz, what match was that? In Borg's official matches, I see him up 2-1 in 1978 vs. Connors. Borg won at the Pepsi GS and at Wimbledon, but lost in the U.S. Open final. The W win was quite convincing and I remember the U.S. Open loss well. Borg could barely serve due to a thumb injury. He had a pain injection a little before the match, but never really discussed it. What match was that red clay match? Thanks.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Bo/B/Bjorn-Borg.aspx?t=pa&y=1978&m=s&e=0# (Borg's 1978 ATP matches listed)

Incidentally, Borg put on DOMINATING performances both at the W final and especially at RG that year. He only lost 32 games during the whole tourney, as PC1 has emphasized previously for us.

Roland Garros, France; 29.05.1978; GS; Outdoor: Clay; Draw: 128
Round Opponent Ranking Score
R128 Eric Deblicker (FRA) N/A W 6-1, 6-1, 6-1
R64 Rick ***el (USA) N/A W 6-0, 6-1, 6-0
R32 Paolo Bertolucci (ITA) N/A W 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
R16 Roscoe Tanner (USA) N/A W 6-2, 6-4, 7-6
Q Raul Ramirez (MEX) N/A W 6-3, 6-3, 6-0
S Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) N/A W 6-0, 6-1, 6-0
W Guillermo Vilas (ARG) N/A W 6-1, 6-1, 6-3


Buenos Aires – 4-men invitational - Connors beat Borg 5–7 6–3 6–3 on Clay. Tournament ran from September 22–24, 1978 ie a week or so after the US Open. Apparently Connors beat Ilie Nastase & Jose Luis Clerc in the round robin before beating Borg in the final.

Now I am assuming it was Red Clay as opposed to Green Clay as I believe that South American Clay is more like European Clay than US clay.

Does anyone know if the Caracas Four-Man International Tennis (Venezuela) late september/early october 1976 was on Clay?
Connors beat Borg 6-4 5-7 6-3

krosero
07-17-2010, 07:37 PM
the 75 win by orantes at the USO was exceptional...one of those once in a lifetime performances; otherwise, Jimmy tended to dominate Orantes.I think domination is too strong a word here, if we're talking about clay. Connors won all their non-clay matches, but in all their (completed) matches on clay he's got just a 4-3 edge over Orantes:

1973 Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A. Clay S Orantes, Manuel
6-3, 6-1

1974 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
6-4, 6-3

1975 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-4, 6-3, 6-3

1977 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-1, 6-3

1977 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay Q Connors, Jimmy
6-2, 6-4, 6-3

1978 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
7-5, 6-1

1979 Roland Garros
France Clay R16 Connors, Jimmy
4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1

(That's per the ATP and ITF, so there could be other matches in there. At the '79 French, the New York Times reported that orantes had beaten Connors "several times on clay").

So the '75 USO does not look like an exceptional case.

pc1
07-17-2010, 07:49 PM
I think domination is too strong a word here, if we're talking about clay. Connors won all their non-clay matches, but in all their (completed) matches on clay he's got just a 4-3 edge over Orantes:

1973 Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A. Clay S Orantes, Manuel
6-3, 6-1

1974 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
6-4, 6-3

1975 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-4, 6-3, 6-3

1977 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-1, 6-3

1977 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay Q Connors, Jimmy
6-2, 6-4, 6-3

1978 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
7-5, 6-1

1979 Roland Garros
France Clay R16 Connors, Jimmy
4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1

(That's per the ATP and ITF, so there could be other matches in there. At the '79 French, the New York Times reported that orantes had beaten Connors "several times on clay").

So the '75 USO does not look like an exceptional case.
And Orantes had injury problems in his later years so I would think he may do better on clay if he was 100%. Not that Connors couldn't beat him but I would generally favor a healthy peak Orantes over a healthy peak Connors on clay.

FiveO
07-17-2010, 08:40 PM
I think domination is too strong a word here, if we're talking about clay. Connors won all their non-clay matches, but in all their (completed) matches on clay he's got just a 4-3 edge over Orantes:

1973 Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A. Clay S Orantes, Manuel
6-3, 6-1

1974 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
6-4, 6-3

1975 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-4, 6-3, 6-3

1977 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-1, 6-3

1977 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay Q Connors, Jimmy
6-2, 6-4, 6-3

1978 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
7-5, 6-1

1979 Roland Garros
France Clay R16 Connors, Jimmy
4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1

(That's per the ATP and ITF, so there could be other matches in there. At the '79 French, the New York Times reported that orantes had beaten Connors "several times on clay").

So the '75 USO does not look like an exceptional case.

All of those matches except for the last were on har-tru. The last was played after either Orantes's second if not third surgery on his playing arm. As I recall it he had a chronic ulnar nerve issue which began manifesting itself in '77 if not earlier than that.

I'm another feels that Connors was no "sure thing" to capture a fully attended RG, not even in '74. Slower surface with different footing than the har-tru which more favored Connors ball striking and movement style.

5

jrepac
07-19-2010, 08:50 AM
I think domination is too strong a word here, if we're talking about clay. Connors won all their non-clay matches, but in all their (completed) matches on clay he's got just a 4-3 edge over Orantes:

1973 Cincinnati
OH, U.S.A. Clay S Orantes, Manuel
6-3, 6-1

1974 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
6-4, 6-3

1975 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-4, 6-3, 6-3

1977 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay F Orantes, Manuel
6-1, 6-3

1977 US Open
NY, U.S.A. Clay Q Connors, Jimmy
6-2, 6-4, 6-3

1978 Indianapolis
IN, U.S.A. Clay S Connors, Jimmy
7-5, 6-1

1979 Roland Garros
France Clay R16 Connors, Jimmy
4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1

(That's per the ATP and ITF, so there could be other matches in there. At the '79 French, the New York Times reported that orantes had beaten Connors "several times on clay").

So the '75 USO does not look like an exceptional case.

I'm looking at ALL their matches per the ATP stats; even w/a 4-3 edge for Orantes on Clay, I'd still consider the '75 USO win pretty exceptional...it was the USO, after all. And, Jimmy did not even get a set from him, after Orantes had that marathon semi. So, all in all, a pretty unexpected win, I would tend to think. I'm not denigrating Orantes here, just calling out something that was likely not expected, nor would it happen again.

krosero
07-19-2010, 09:29 AM
I'm looking at ALL their matches per the ATP stats; even w/a 4-3 edge for Orantes on Clay, I'd still consider the '75 USO win pretty exceptional...it was the USO, after all. And, Jimmy did not even get a set from him, after Orantes had that marathon semi. So, all in all, a pretty unexpected win, I would tend to think. I'm not denigrating Orantes here, just calling out something that was likely not expected, nor would it happen again.I don't know the importance of it being the USO, because that would make Connors' win in '77 also exceptional. And it's not as if the H2H shows Orantes getting small wins while Connors gets the big ones. It's a 4-3 edge for Connors in all matches on clay, and out of those matches, a 2-1 lead in Slams.

I think the 75 USO was considered an upset at the time because Connors was ranked #1 on the computer, was the defending champion, etc.; his weaknesses were just starting to be seen, and as far as I know had not yet been seen on clay. Plus, Orantes had that late-night semifinal while Connors got through in straight sets. But, that's how it was viewed at the time; with hindsight we've seen a lot more of Connors on clay, and we know Orantes did just the right thing to beat him. And knowing that, is what makes the victory seem normative; it wasn't luck, or an exception to what generally happened in the rivalry; it was a great clay-courter using the right game plan against someone who was vulnerable to such a plan.

Now I'm not saying I think such a plan would always beat Connors. The 77 USO shows that. What I'm saying is that it was normal, not exceptional, for Connors to be vulnerable to slow place; from there it might be 50/50 whether he would come through in the end, depending, of course, on the circumstances. But if he loses I don't particularly see that as exceptional.

What might seem surprising is that he lost in straight sets. But all of those matches listed above, except the last one at 79 RG, went in straight sets. That was nothing exceptional, either, when they met on clay.

The main objection I had was to the use of the word "domination". It was an even-handed rivalry on clay from everything I can see.

(However I will go back to the Times' statement that Orantes had beaten Connors on clay "several times"; and if that means more than the 3 victories listed at the ATP and the ITF, then that could change the picture).

pc1
07-19-2010, 09:47 AM
I don't know the importance of it being the USO, because that would make Connors' win in '77 also exceptional. And it's not as if the H2H shows Orantes getting small wins while Connors gets the big ones. It's a 4-3 edge for Connors in all matches on clay, and out of those matches, a 2-1 lead in Slams.

I think the 75 USO was considered an upset at the time because Connors was ranked #1 on the computer, was the defending champion, etc.; his weaknesses were just starting to be seen, and as far as I know had not yet been seen on clay. Plus, Orantes had that late-night semifinal while Connors got through in straight sets. But, that's how it was viewed at the time; with hindsight we've seen a lot more of Connors on clay, and we know Orantes did just the right thing to beat him. And knowing that, is what makes the victory seem normative; it wasn't luck, or an exception to what generally happened in the rivalry; it was a great clay-courter using the right game plan against someone who was vulnerable to such a plan.

Now I'm not saying I think such a plan would always beat Connors. The 77 USO shows that. What I'm saying is that it was normal, not exceptional, for Connors to be vulnerable to slow place; from there it might be 50/50 whether he would come through in the end, depending, of course, on the circumstances. But if he loses I don't particularly see that as exceptional.

What might seem surprising is that he lost in straight sets. But all of those matches listed above, except the last one at 79 RG, went in straight sets. That was nothing exceptional, either, when they met on clay.

The main objection I had was to the use of the word "domination". It was an even-handed rivalry on clay from everything I can see.

(However I will go back to the Times' statement that Orantes had beaten Connors on clay "several times"; and if that means more than the 3 victories listed at the ATP and the ITF, then that could change the picture).

Just my two cents here. From a subjective point of view and remember I saw many of the Orantes matches that year at the US Open and many of the Connors matches, Orantes was in my opinion playing the finest tennis of any player in the tournament. It was not a coincidence that Orantes was able to defeat Nastase and Vilas on his way to the final. I felt Nastase played quite well in losing to Orantes in four sets for example.

Yes Vilas almost beat Orantes but it was an odd sort of match. There were streaks in which Orantes totally dominated Vilas. And during those Vilas it seemed that Vilas' control of the match depended on how well Orantes played and that Vilas could do nothing about it if Orantes played well. For example Vilas led 2-0 in the third set and all of a sudden all the points seemed to be won by Orantes as he won the next six games. And we all know what Orantes did at 0-5 15-40 in the fourth.

Orantes in 1975, when healthy was playing at a higher level on har tru than Connors was in my opinion.

pc1
07-19-2010, 10:32 AM
Orantes, when he was at his best and he was that at the US Open in 1975 seemed to have the ball on a string. The man could hit with good depth and great control, had decent power but it was his touch that made him stand out. His drop shot was among the best I've ever seen. I loved it when he hit a drop and volleyed his opponents attempted return away or when he replied to his opponent's sharp angle return of the drop shot with a sharper angle return.

Orantes was also magnificent with the lob, both underspin and topspin. His use of the topspin lob was a key factor when he defeated Connors in the US Open final. When Orantes' game was all clicking he could defeat great players like Connors, Vilas and Nastase very easily and certainly his game was at his best at the US Open in 1975.

jrepac
07-20-2010, 08:49 AM
Orantes, when he was at his best and he was that at the US Open in 1975 seemed to have the ball on a string. The man could hit with good depth and great control, had decent power but it was his touch that made him stand out. His drop shot was among the best I've ever seen. I loved it when he hit a drop and volleyed his opponents attempted return away or when he replied to his opponent's sharp angle return of the drop shot with a sharper angle return.

Orantes was also magnificent with the lob, both underspin and topspin. His use of the topspin lob was a key factor when he defeated Connors in the US Open final. When Orantes' game was all clicking he could defeat great players like Connors, Vilas and Nastase very easily and certainly his game was at his best at the US Open in 1975.

So, was Orantes play in 1975 "exceptional"?:twisted:

LOL! I did not have the pleasure of seeing him play, aside from snippets here and there, but obviously, he was very talented on the clay. To the other point, yes, Connors was definitely vulnerable to the touch game and slow ballers--Higueras is another one that comes to mind. Still, not that easy to take Jimbo out on his home turf. If anything, I suppose his win over Borg there in 76 is the most exceptional (I've got to think most expected Bjorn in that one? even tho' Jimmy had an edge head-to-head?)

borg number one
07-20-2010, 08:59 AM
Buenos Aires – 4-men invitational - Connors beat Borg 5–7 6–3 6–3 on Clay. Tournament ran from September 22–24, 1978 ie a week or so after the US Open. Apparently Connors beat Ilie Nastase & Jose Luis Clerc in the round robin before beating Borg in the final.

Now I am assuming it was Red Clay as opposed to Green Clay as I believe that South American Clay is more like European Clay than US clay.

Does anyone know if the Caracas Four-Man International Tennis (Venezuela) late september/early october 1976 was on Clay?
Connors beat Borg 6-4 5-7 6-3

Got it. I had just not seen any red clay meeting listed at all for them on the ATP site, but of course you have "official" and "unofficial" matches. There were certainly tons of "unofficial" tourneys/matches played, such as the one you mentioned, and many of them were quite competitive. On red clay, best of three sets, I could see Connors winning even against Bjorn Borg (think of say Federer upsetting Nadal at Hamburg for example). Recall that in 1978 Borg had a thumb injury during the U.S. Open final that year which was apparent when you saw him play (he had pain killer injected into his thumb which led to no feel, racquet flying out of his right hand on his serve, etc). So, that's wild that they were playing that event just a week after being in New York for the U.S. Open final. The money must have been pretty decent. Thanks for that information Timnz. There was that thread a while back in which so many of those "unofficial" results were also included. It was such a different time back then, as players like Connors and Borg were globetrotting and playing "exhibitions" and "invitationals" all over the Globe. In that way, they really helped to further "globalize" the Sport by the 1980's. Many don't realize just how much Tennis those guys played and how many tournaments they won in actuality. For example, Borg is listed to have 63 official ATP titles, but if you include other tourneys as well (what was really "official" and what is "unofficial" during the 1970's?) it's estimated that he had about 100 titles or so total. I'm sure the same is true of Jimmy's overall title totals. This reminds me of Connors' statement in about 1978, when he said of Bjorn Borg, something akin to "I'll chase that s.o.b. to the ends of the earth".

jrepac
07-20-2010, 01:40 PM
Got it. I had just not seen any red clay meeting listed at all for them on the ATP site, but of course you have "official" and "unofficial" matches. There were certainly tons of "unofficial" tourneys/matches played, such as the one you mentioned, and many of them were quite competitive. On red clay, best of three sets, I could see Connors winning even against Bjorn Borg (think of say Federer upsetting Nadal at Hamburg for example). Recall that in 1978 Borg had a thumb injury during the U.S. Open final that year which was apparent when you saw him play (he had pain killer injected into his thumb which led to no feel, racquet flying out of his right hand on his serve, etc). So, that's wild that they were playing that event just a week after being in New York for the U.S. Open final. The money must have been pretty decent. Thanks for that information Timnz. There was that thread a while back in which so many of those "unofficial" results were also included. It was such a different time back then, as players like Connors and Borg were globetrotting and playing "exhibitions" and "invitationals" all over the Globe. In that way, they really helped to further "globalize" the Sport by the 1980's. Many don't realize just how much Tennis those guys played and how many tournaments they won in actuality. For example, Borg is listed to have 63 official ATP titles, but if you include other tourneys as well (what was really "official" and what is "unofficial" during the 1970's?) it's estimated that he had about 100 titles or so total. I'm sure the same is true of Jimmy's overall title totals. This reminds me of Connors' statement in about 1978, when he said of Bjorn Borg, something akin to "I'll chase that s.o.b. to the ends of the earth".

well, it was different in the late '70's/early 80's. Tennis was peaking in terms of popularity, and these guys were treated like celebrities....Bjorn in particular. Plus, they could make a bloody fortune at these "special events" or "invitationals" from appearance fees and prize money. There were a lot of them and many of the ones I recall were very competitive, even if they were not ATP sanctioned (as if that was the be all and end-all). Jimmy did pretty well against Bjorn (and others) at many of these events...I think someone tallied them all up and found the Connors v. Borg rivalry pretty close; the thread is likely hiding someplace here. I liked the 4 man, round robin invitationals..they cut to the chase and you got to see the top guys go at it. Semi on Sat, final on Sunday...boom, boom!:)

kiki
03-31-2011, 01:08 PM
All of those matches except for the last were on har-tru. The last was played after either Orantes's second if not third surgery on his playing arm. As I recall it he had a chronic ulnar nerve issue which began manifesting itself in '77 if not earlier than that.

I'm another feels that Connors was no "sure thing" to capture a fully attended RG, not even in '74. Slower surface with different footing than the har-tru which more favored Connors ball striking and movement style.

5

Orantes wouldn´t have lost to Connors at the 74 RG F the way he was upset by Borg.I think he was the best clay courter in that short period between Nastase´s peak and Borg´s dominance.

CyBorg
03-31-2011, 02:08 PM
He beat Borg on red clay in South America straight after the US Open in 1978.

I have not seen a single convincing source for this. In fact, I recall someone on here saying that the event may have been on a hard court (or carpet) and not on clay.

jean pierre
03-31-2011, 11:38 PM
Vilas was very strong on australian grass. He won the Masters at Melbourne (the same court than the Asutralian Open), beating Nastase, Newcombe and Borg. He would have won Australian Open even if Borg or Connors were there.

hoodjem
04-01-2011, 05:52 AM
Vilas was very strong on australian grass. He won the Masters at Melbourne (the same court than the Asutralian Open), beating Nastase, Newcombe and Borg. He would have won Australian Open even if Borg or Connors were there.This was 1974. Borg was 18 years old, and lost two matches to Vilas, and Newk. He beat only Onny Parun 10-8 in the third set.

Borg was unskilled on grass in 1974. He lost in the third round of the AO that year to Phil Dent, who went all the way to the finals before losing to Connors in four sets. Borg's first Wimbledon title was two years away.

hoodjem
04-01-2011, 06:06 AM
Australian Open 1978: actual winner-Vilas, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Borg

Australian Open 1979: actual winner-Vilas, would have won had Borg and Connors and McEnroe played-Borg
Yes, I am inclined to agree that the much stronger Borg of 1978 and 1979 would have won the Australian on grass, maybe even 1980.

borg number one
04-01-2011, 06:15 AM
True Hoodjoem. In 1974, Borg was a youngster at eighteen and it took him some time to get familiar with grass courts, especially given his playing style. Yet, like Nadal a bit, he kept adding to his repertoire on that surface each year he played. John Barrett said that there's a story he likes to "tell against himself". He says that he was writing a story for the Financial Times when in 1972, Borg beat Buster Mottram to win the Wimbledon junior title at 14. Borg came back to win that match from 2 sets down. on the morning after that '72 Wimbledon junior final, Barrett wrote in his article that "here's a player who obviously has great match play potential, but from the way he hits the ball, he'll be of no account on grass". Barrett went on to say, "how wrong could you be"?

Borg played a style of game that people couldn't quite fully appreciate in the early 70's and he was a prodigy, playing in the main draw there in 1973 when he was only 17. Yet, you are absolutely right, he was not fully developed at 18, plus though he was dangerous on grass by 18, he was nowhere near the player he was in later years. Before the '76 Wimbledon, something clicked for him on his serve especially, as Bergelin really focused on that aspect of his game, in addition to his volleying. You saw the result of all that work, as he won the '76 title without losing a single set. The only player to ever go through there without losing a single set, as he dispatched Vilas, Tanner, and then Nastase in the final three matches.

http://www.tennis.com/spotlight/2010_08_27_september_issue/images/01.jpg

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRs2PuC-1hIq-PXKchVzQM_GvfQTMzR5S90j_fX2HKpJ_j2JYRS&t=1

urban
04-01-2011, 06:19 AM
Borg had some fine wins on grass before 1974. I recall that he beat Ashe at Forest Hills in 1973 (then losing to Pilic). He did well at Wim 1973 (the boycott Wim) losing to Taylor. In 1974 he was a bit tired going into Wim and Forest Hills, and as later had problems with lefthanders (El Shafei). In 1974 , he won 2 minor grass titles in Australia and NZ.

jean pierre
04-01-2011, 06:24 AM
I think it's absurd to say that Borg would have won the tournaments he didn't play ! Who knows ? Tennis is not a science.

borg number one
04-01-2011, 06:27 AM
Borg had some fine wins on grass before 1974. I recall that he beat Ashe at Forest Hills in 1973 (then losing to Pilic). He did well at Wim 1973 (the boycott Wim) losing to Taylor. In 1974 he was a bit tired going into Wim and Forest Hills, and as later had problems with lefthanders (El Shafei). In 1974 , he won 2 minor grass titles in Australia and NZ.

Good point Urban. By 1974, Borg was already quite good on grass courts, and very dangerous for any player, but he was a "work in progress" and of course, only 18 years of age. So, he was not nearly as strong as he was in later years. So, in 1974, he was very, very good already, but not yet a great, very formidable player on that surface. Would you agree?

hoodjem
04-01-2011, 06:35 AM
I think it's absurd to say that Borg would have won the tournaments he didn't play ! Who knows ? Tennis is not a science.I agree about the who knows part. Of course, the answer is no one knows (except those living in that alternative universe where it did actually happen).

But IMO it's not absurd, it is interesting and fun.

borg number one
04-01-2011, 06:54 AM
It would have been fun to see Borg, Connors, and McEnroe down under playing the AO. No question about it.Of course, it's not a given that any one of them would have taken titles there, but I wonder how the dynamics would have been different had they all done so. As Hoodjem noted, it's fun to think about. We did see everyone at Wimbledon though didn't we? I also wonder about how that would have impacted the WCT and the Masters (or Masters "Cup"). Would Lamar Hunt's WCT tour finals have been nearly as big and lucrative? Would we have had those big events at Madison Square Garden in the early part of year (79-81 for example)? The AO, previously held around the Christmas holidays, was having plenty of issues in the late 1970's. I would say that there was not just one reason the top players stayed away for a while. Like so many things in life, it's due to a combination of factors and not just one sole reason.

jrepac
04-01-2011, 09:20 AM
I have not seen a single convincing source for this. In fact, I recall someone on here saying that the event may have been on a hard court (or carpet) and not on clay.

I think someone actually did track this one down....it was pretty obscure....

hoodjem
04-01-2011, 09:27 AM
For decades, I've wondered how Connors would have done at the 1974 FO--if he'd been allowed to play.

Maybe the GS?

borg number one
04-01-2011, 09:37 AM
For decades, I've wondered how Connors would have done at the 1974 FO--if he'd been allowed to play.

Maybe the GS?

I think he would have had a very real shot Hoodjem. I really do. He may have pulled it off. Yet then, and here's where it gets interesting, he would have had to actually play seven rounds on red clay, beat all those clay courters back then (Orantes? Vilas? Borg?). Then, he would have to go in and play Wimbledon soon thereafter. That's a tough turnaround. That's no to say he couldn't have done it, but it would be tougher to win Wimbledon especially given the fact that he'd be coming off a French Open title (lots of energy, physical and mental expended). Having said that, I do think it's possible that he could have pulled it off. Connors was on fire that year.

Devilito
04-01-2011, 09:37 AM
The Federer era is really the first full era that has had all 4 slams mean so much from start to finish. Even in the Sampras / Agassi era for the first part the Australian was not important and many players would skip slams all together. Winning was important sure but nobody had the total Slam count in their minds like they do now. Every kid growing up now has slam count in their minds. It’s possible that both Sampras and Agassi would have more slams if it was at the forefront of their goals from day 1.

borg number one
04-01-2011, 10:02 AM
The Federer era is really the first full era that has had all 4 slams mean so much from start to finish. Even in the Sampras / Agassi era for the first part the Australian was not important and many players would skip slams all together. Winning was important sure but nobody had the total Slam count in their minds like they do now. Every kid growing up now has slam count in their minds. It’s possible that both Sampras and Agassi would have more slams if it was at the forefront of their goals from day 1.

Good point. Although I'm not sure that either Sampras or Agassi would could have upped their total of majors much (perhaps Agassi could have, given his sporadic career). Agassi did pretty well against Sampras at the AO, so I'm not sure Sampras could have added more. Could he have done better at the FO? Perhaps. Would that have changed his chances at Wimbledon though if he made that effort year in year out? You are absolutely right though about this newfound emphasis solely on counting majors. The first I really heard of such a focus (previously it was more about trying to win the CYGS) was when Sampras tied Borg, and then Emerson with 12 majors won. Once he surpassed Emerson, everyone was saying well, Sampras has won more majors than anyone, he's passed Emerson, Laver, and Borg now since he has 13. That Wimbledon title (his 13th major win) with his father in attendance was when the focus on major count really came to the absolute forefront. Now of course, as you rightly point out, many think it's always been that way. Majors have always been most important, the dynamics have been altered, especially now that all players have four shots each year to win major titles. The ups and downs experienced by the AO really changed things for a while and of course, the Tour was under considerable upheaval just years after the beginning of the Open Era.

jean pierre
04-01-2011, 10:22 AM
I agree about the who knows part. Of course, the answer is no one knows (except those living in that alternative universe where it did actually happen).

But IMO it's not absurd, it is interesting and fun.

OK, you're right. I say Vilas would have won AO even if Borg and Connors played !

kiki
04-01-2011, 12:54 PM
well, it was different in the late '70's/early 80's. Tennis was peaking in terms of popularity, and these guys were treated like celebrities....Bjorn in particular. Plus, they could make a bloody fortune at these "special events" or "invitationals" from appearance fees and prize money. There were a lot of them and many of the ones I recall were very competitive, even if they were not ATP sanctioned (as if that was the be all and end-all). Jimmy did pretty well against Bjorn (and others) at many of these events...I think someone tallied them all up and found the Connors v. Borg rivalry pretty close; the thread is likely hiding someplace here. I liked the 4 man, round robin invitationals..they cut to the chase and you got to see the top guys go at it. Semi on Sat, final on Sunday...boom, boom!:)

yeah, those events fed up the Golden Era and made abig impact.

hoodjem
04-01-2011, 12:59 PM
OK, you're right. I say Vilas would have won AO even if Borg and Connors played !If that is what you believe, then go for it.

I defend your right to say it!

kiki
04-01-2011, 01:01 PM
That would have been a pitty¡¡¡ it looks great to have those nice fellas, Mark and Brian at the OZ recordbook¡¡¡ it´s pretty romantic, ain´t it ?

krosero
04-01-2011, 09:25 PM
For decades, I've wondered how Connors would have done at the 1974 FO--if he'd been allowed to play.

Maybe the GS?

I think he would have had a very real shot Hoodjem. I really do. He may have pulled it off. Yet then, and here's where it gets interesting, he would have had to actually play seven rounds on red clay, beat all those clay courters back then (Orantes? Vilas? Borg?). Then, he would have to go in and play Wimbledon soon thereafter. That's a tough turnaround. That's no to say he couldn't have done it, but it would be tougher to win Wimbledon especially given the fact that he'd be coming off a French Open title (lots of energy, physical and mental expended). This is one point that's almost never emphasized about Connors possibly winning the Grand Slam in '74: he would have had to pull off the RG/Wimbledon double.

Back then there was only 1 week between the French and Wimbledon. In that week Connors played a grass tune-up at Nottingham and lost to Stan Smith (who Connors didn't have to face at Wimbledon or the USO since he was eliminated in those places by Rosewall and Tanner).

But because Jimmy was banned from the French, he had also gotten to play another grasscourt tune-up in Manchester, during the French, and he won it.

So he got some good grasscourt practice there, and even though he went on to lose to Smith at Nottingham, every little bit of grasscourt practice must help when the transition is so sudden.

We have discussed 1974 before. Although Connors was dominant in the 3 majors, he didn't face a top tenner there, with the exception of 40 year old Rosewall and Tanner. He didn't play the difficult WCT series in spring, but the much lighter Riordan circuit. He also withdrew from some matches and events, when feeling off form, and scratched the year end masters at Kooyong. On grass, players like Newcombe, Ashe, Nastase or Smith would have given him fits, but they were taken out beforehand. Connors for instance lost in a preliminary event to Wimbledon to Smith 0-6,3-6 on British grass. His poor record on red clay in 1973 gives no clear sign of any eventual domination at Roland Garros.Quite a win by Smith over Connors, with a bagel there. It seems to be a 3-set match, though. The score is given in the NY Times as 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 (same as the ATP site).

krosero
04-01-2011, 09:32 PM
He beat Borg on red clay in South America straight after the US Open in 1978.

I have not seen a single convincing source for this. In fact, I recall someone on here saying that the event may have been on a hard court (or carpet) and not on clay.Yes, one poster (pretty sure it was WCT) said it was indoors. His source was an old Tennis Magazine article in which the win was listed as indoors, so presumably on carpet.

urban
04-01-2011, 10:01 PM
What strikes me the most about this match, is the much talked about thumb injury of Borg, that is said to have hampered Borg at the USO. That Borg played exhibtions so close after the USO, doesn't indicate exactly a serious injury.

krosero
04-01-2011, 10:11 PM
What strikes me the most about this match, is the much talked about thumb injury of Borg, that is said to have hampered Borg at the USO. That Borg played exhibtions so close after the USO, doesn't indicate exactly a serious injury.It's a little difficult not to give credence to that particular injury, though. Newcombe had a look at Borg's hand the morning of the final and described how serious the infection was. As Moose said once, both Newk and Trabert were usually of the school that if-you-play-you-are-healthy. And yet both men agreed as the match wore on that it seriously affected Borg.

It seems that Borg played too many exos and that it was perhaps too high a priority with him (Bergelin said in 1980 that he thought Borg was playing too many). But that may be the simplest explanation for why he chose to play that exo. He only needed to play 2 matches, and they were best of 3 sets. And two or three weeks had passed since he opened the blister.

I do think, as Kiki mentioned in another thread, that there are probably too many "rumors" of Borg injuries. But it seems the thumb injury in '78 has the best witnesses behind it.

urban
04-01-2011, 10:39 PM
OK, blisters can hamper a player severely. When Kramer lost to Drobny at the Wim 1946, he had many blisters on his playing hand. He himself never used that as an excuse. I must say, generally i am not a friend for those later excuses. How many players had hidden injuries or problems going into a major final. Becker wrote later, that he took too many sleeping pills for his 1990 Wim final vs. Edberg, and woke up only in the third. Peter Graf told people that Steffi had broken a leg, in the Wim final vs. Gabi Sabatini. Connors had fractured a finger on his non-playing hand before the Wimbledon tournament 1977. And so on.
What i don't get from Krosero's story above, is, that the Borg camp exposed the blister beforehand. In Boxing circles those injuries are always hidden beforehand, not to give te opponent confidence.

kiki
04-02-2011, 03:40 AM
What strikes me the most about this match, is the much talked about thumb injury of Borg, that is said to have hampered Borg at the USO. That Borg played exhibtions so close after the USO, doesn't indicate exactly a serious injury.

I think Bergelin gave many excuses for " imagined" Borg´s problems.He was a great champion, one of the greatest, and ddid not need that harrasment from Bergelin, who was overprotecting Bjorn.A good coach, no doubt, but he acted more like a daddy than as a coach many times.

urban
04-02-2011, 06:33 AM
Right. And sometimes it was a bit contraproductive. In the USO tournament in 1979, Bergelin lamented early on about possible night matches, and Borg having problems with his sight. It worked like a self-fulfilling prophecy, and gave people like Tanner confidence and hope, even before they met Borg.

krosero
04-02-2011, 07:40 AM
What i don't get from Krosero's story above, is, that the Borg camp exposed the blister beforehand. In Boxing circles those injuries are always hidden beforehand, not to give te opponent confidence.Can't recall how the news got out that Borg was having a problem.

Here's one article on it:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rQAkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hGcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6562,5349849&dq=borg+gerulaitis+thumb&hl=en

And apparently this was a recurring problem which had forced him to retire from the WCT Finals earlier in the year (defaulted to Gerulaitis):

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wy5VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wj0NAAAAIBAJ&pg=6529,1394137&dq=borg+has+thumb+trouble&hl=en

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JgkdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7p4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=4629,3523245&dq=borg+gerulaitis+thumb&hl=en

krosero
04-02-2011, 07:43 AM
Right. And sometimes it was a bit contraproductive. In the USO tournament in 1979, Bergelin lamented early on about possible night matches, and Borg having problems with his sight. It worked like a self-fulfilling prophecy, and gave people like Tanner confidence and hope, even before they met Borg.This was something that Peter Fleming said even during the tournament, that Bergelin psyched out his own guy.

Sometimes over-protectiveness can definitely be counter-productive.

hoodjem
04-02-2011, 08:11 AM
This is one point that's almost never emphasized about Connors possibly winning the Grand Slam in '74: he would have had to pull off the RG/Wimbledon double.

Back then there was only 1 week between the French and Wimbledon. In that week Connors played a grass tune-up at Nottingham and lost to Stan Smith (who Connors didn't have to face at Wimbledon or the USO since he was eliminated in those places by Rosewall and Tanner). Oh yes. The RG/Wimbers double back then was mighty tough: slow clay to fast grass.

I seem to recall Bergelin in a video saying that Borg practiced as much as possible on some private grass courts, because he was just awful on grass right after the FO.

borg number one
04-02-2011, 08:16 AM
Borg won "Channel Slam", the French Open/Wimbledon double in three years, 1978, 1979, and 1980. He dominated at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. This is back when the courts at the AELTC were faster too, with a more compressed schedule. It's one of the most impressive feats in Tennis history. Actually winning the French Open is already very taxing and then to make that switch and win as much as Borg did at Wimbledon is stunning. Bergelin was instrumental in helping Borg make the transition. His serve became extremely good. Plus, I think Bergelin helped him immensely in all the technical and physical aspects of his play.

WCT
04-02-2011, 08:22 AM
Yes, one poster (pretty sure it was WCT) said it was indoors. His source was an old Tennis Magazine article in which the win was listed as indoors, so presumably on carpet.

Correct. My guess is it was 1979. It was an article about the Connors/Borg rivalry. It listed all their matches .and the surfaces. I remember it,still, because I had been curious, since seeing the result in 1978, as to what surface it was on. Thinking that it may well have been red clay since it was in South America. Anyway, that is what the magazine said.

Regarding Borg's blister, later on he started wearing a wrap, looked sort of like a bandage, that covered part of his right hand. Perhaps blisters were a problem more often than just that match.

I've never argued that the blister hampered Borg that day. I just don't think in the way it's often presented.
First off, the racquet flying out of his hand once is overblown. I have about 3 1978 matches with Connors where he loses the racquet once.

As I watched that match, I thought Borg was hitting the ball as hard as he'd ever hit it against Connors. Newcombe comments on it at some point in the 2nd or early 3rd set. How he has picked up the pace.

Problem was that he didn't have his accuracy. I'll always maintain that the 1st is very good tennis, but about halfway through the 2nd set he just starts making way too many errors. Way more than you'd see Bjorn Borg ordinarily make.

I'm not sure that something like that was news the Borg camp could hide. The guy was taking a shot just to play. I would think that news like that is going to get out whether the Borg camp talks about it or not.

borg number one
04-02-2011, 08:25 AM
I recall that during the CBS telecast in 1978, they mentioned that Borg had received an injection. Of course, this was into the first set. I'm not sure if the news had come out earlier though. I have read an account that mentioned that the injection caused him to loss almost all feeling in the thumb/hand. So less pain, but no feeling.

kiki
04-02-2011, 12:08 PM
This was something that Peter Fleming said even during the tournament, that Bergelin psyched out his own guy.

Sometimes over-protectiveness can definitely be counter-productive.

Agreed.In any case, lights are the same for anyone, but if you gotta catch the Tanner´s serve is even worse conditions, I can agree on that.

As for Bergelin, if I think he overprotected Borg a bit too much, on the other side, I´m sure he was a guy Borg completely had faith on, and was a main factor on Bjorn´s great success.

jrepac
04-02-2011, 06:22 PM
I think Bergelin gave many excuses for " imagined" Borg´s problems.He was a great champion, one of the greatest, and ddid not need that harrasment from Bergelin, who was overprotecting Bjorn.A good coach, no doubt, but he acted more like a daddy than as a coach many times.

Funny you say that; I remember reading the bio that Bergelin wrote on Borg; despite how impressive Bjorn's career was, it seemed that for every important loss, Bergelin cited some sort of excuse...he was sick, he was hurt, he was tired, etc. It really was embarrassing, I felt.

Re: the 78 USO, Bjorn likely felt well enough to play--and maybe against anyone other than Connors, he might have pulled it off--he certainly had to try. But, having that kind of liability when having to square off against perhaps his toughest opponent, in that opponent's favorite tourney, not a winning proposition.

krosero
04-02-2011, 06:29 PM
Regarding Borg's blister, later on he started wearing a wrap, looked sort of like a bandage, that covered part of his right hand. Perhaps blisters were a problem more often than just that match.That might explain why he never had the problem with that thumb again after the two incidents that we know about in '78 (Dallas and USO).

I've never argued that the blister hampered Borg that day. I just don't think in the way it's often presented.
First off, the racquet flying out of his hand once is overblown. I have about 3 1978 matches with Connors where he loses the racquet once.

As I watched that match, I thought Borg was hitting the ball as hard as he'd ever hit it against Connors. Newcombe comments on it at some point in the 2nd or early 3rd set. How he has picked up the pace.I've seen several matches myself where the racquet flies from his hand. In this match it actually flew twice, which I don't really consider a big deal (though keep in mind we're talking about twice in a very short match). One thing I found more unusual was how Borg kept a ball in his left hand on one or two points, and even played a two-hander that way. By that stage (third set) he seemed uncertain how to play his strokes; and he kept looking at his thumb.

At other times he was trying forehand slices, which you almost never see from him. And at other times, like you, I noticed him trying to go for big winners, which picked up the pace of the match. Perhaps he felt his best chance was hitting quick winners. But Connors of course loved pace. And it wasn't Borg's game to do that.

I think Sports Illustrated, and at least one other source I've seen, commented on the extreme pace of some of the rallies.

Problem was that he didn't have his accuracy. I'll always maintain that the 1st is very good tennis, but about halfway through the 2nd set he just starts making way too many errors. Way more than you'd see Bjorn Borg ordinarily make.Yes! Borg was credited with more unforced errors than Connors (57 to 47), which I think must be unique in all their matches.

I'm not sure that something like that was news the Borg camp could hide. The guy was taking a shot just to play. I would think that news like that is going to get out whether the Borg camp talks about it or not.Agreed to that.

krosero
04-02-2011, 06:40 PM
Re: the 78 USO, Bjorn likely felt well enough to play--and maybe against anyone other than Connors, he might have pulled it off--he certainly had to try. He did decide he had to try in the USO final, unlike in Dallas where he had the same problem but decided to default.

CyBorg
04-02-2011, 06:53 PM
Funny you say that; I remember reading the bio that Bergelin wrote on Borg; despite how impressive Bjorn's career was, it seemed that for every important loss, Bergelin cited some sort of excuse...he was sick, he was hurt, he was tired, etc. It really was embarrassing, I felt.

Re: the 78 USO, Bjorn likely felt well enough to play--and maybe against anyone other than Connors, he might have pulled it off--he certainly had to try. But, having that kind of liability when having to square off against perhaps his toughest opponent, in that opponent's favorite tourney, not a winning proposition.

A lot of Borg's fans are the same way.

krosero
04-02-2011, 09:24 PM
Oh yes. The RG/Wimbers double back then was mighty tough: slow clay to fast grass.

I seem to recall Bergelin in a video saying that Borg practiced as much as possible on some private grass courts, because he was just awful on grass right after the FO.Very tough with the conditions back then, and the thing is that Connors would have had only 1 week to prepare for Wimbledon. Borg had two weeks each of the times that he did the RG/W double (78-80), and so did Laver in '69.

Connors got more than 1 week of grasscourt practice because of his RG ban, but even so he had some close calls at Wimbledon. He needed 5 sets to beat Kodes (the defending champion). And he was down 2 sets to 1 to Phil Dent, and had to beat him 10-8 in the fifth.

kiki
04-03-2011, 04:57 AM
¿Would Connors have won that 74 FO?...I have an idea...think what happened to Jimmy at the 1975 USO F, on american turf ( at home) ...and think, there was a top form Manolo Orantes playing on european turf ( his best turf), the same Orantes that trashed him in straigh sets a year later.
And, If he had a 2-0 sets lead against the greatest CC player of all time....¿Would have he choked again? or ¿would have baggeled Jimmy in the last set ?

A very interesting question that history won´t answer ( in this life)

hoodjem
04-03-2011, 09:13 AM
Tough call.

Either Orantes or Borg.

But in 74-75, it appears that Connors was not troubled by Borg--even on clay.

Orantes and Connors met eight times on clay--with Connors winning five.

kiki
04-03-2011, 10:02 AM
It really is close.Even considering the 1975 US Open final, the fact is that Connors in 74 had an aura of unvencibility, which he had lost when he arrived in August 1975 to the West Side Country Club.In fact, Newk at Melbourne and , specially, Ashe at the All England had, certainly made a big dent on that terrific self confidence Jimmy showed the whole 1974.

pc1
04-04-2011, 01:15 PM
Tough call.

Either Orantes or Borg.

But in 74-75, it appears that Connors was not troubled by Borg--even on clay.

Orantes and Connors met eight times on clay--with Connors winning five.

I did see Connors defeat Borg in 1975 at the US Open and I felt Borg was overwhelmed by the Connors power. The deep and powerful Connors approach shots were something Borg couldn't handle, at least in that match.

The think about the French is that it's on slower red clay and you wonder how a young Borg who was born to play on red clay would handle Jimmy Connors in 1974. Borg wasn't the play he was to be but he was good enough handle Orantes in the final of that tournament so he had to be pretty strong at that point. My thought is that it would be close but I probably would give Connors a slight edge.

kiki
04-04-2011, 01:59 PM
Orantes choked in that final and succumbed to Borg´s attrition game.I think, on red clay, orantes would have it easier to beat Connors than to beat Borg.On fast surface, however, he´d stand no chance...as proven by their " Winner take all Challenge" ( great those matches at vegas)

krosero
04-04-2011, 10:35 PM
I did see Connors defeat Borg in 1975 at the US Open and I felt Borg was overwhelmed by the Connors power. The deep and powerful Connors approach shots were something Borg couldn't handle, at least in that match.

The think about the French is that it's on slower red clay and you wonder how a young Borg who was born to play on red clay would handle Jimmy Connors in 1974. Borg wasn't the play he was to be but he was good enough handle Orantes in the final of that tournament so he had to be pretty strong at that point. My thought is that it would be close but I probably would give Connors a slight edge.Connors always did well on the Har-Tru at the USO, but he prepared well for it in the summer, attending the tune-up events on Har-Tru. I'm looking on the ATP site and I see nothing specifically marked as a clay tournament in the months before the '74 French Open.

And without much (or any?) preparation for a Slam on red clay, I don't know. Connors certainly could do damage. But it's hard seeing him winning the whole tournament. He couldn't get past the second round in '72-73. He played Rome in '73, and lost in his first match. He was already a good player, making the QF in 72-73 at W and USO. But there's nothing in his record at that time suggesting a future French Open champion.

I think Urban's point in an old post is a strong one: those flat strokes were not made for slow clay. He knew how to move forward to the net on Har-Tru, but he always struggled from the baseline at the French, in '72-73 and later when he started playing it again. The match reports always mention how he looks uncomfortable on the surface and struggles with errors in long rallies.

krosero
04-05-2011, 08:10 PM
I should add something in Connors' favor, that I had forgotten in my post above: he did try to enter Rome in '74, so he wasn't planning to go into RG with no preparation at all. Both the Italian and French tennis federations decided to bar the WTT players so of course he couldn't attend either event.

jrepac
04-06-2011, 08:13 AM
A lot of Borg's fans are the same way.

LOL! I am a fan of both Borg & Connors; regardless, I hate excuses...if you show up on the court to play, then you are committed to whatever happens. Fate, luck, whatever, often interfere! Connors had his share of injuries as well, many of which he played through; sometime it went his way, other times it did not. That's the way it goes.

jrepac
04-06-2011, 08:23 AM
I should add something in Connors' favor, that I had forgotten in my post above: he did try to enter Rome in '74, so he wasn't planning to go into RG with no preparation at all. Both the Italian and French tennis federations decided to bar the WTT players so of course he couldn't attend either event.

That whole period with the ban on WTT players was truly detrimental to the sport...and you have Jimmy & Chris sitting out the FO for several years. What would HER final resume there have looked like without missing a few years in between?

I didn't see Connors play on red clay until his post 1980 years....he did not seem uncomfortable at that point; just that his strokes were not quite as effective as they would be on a faster surface. When it was hot and the clay was dry, he looked damn good; but if it was wet and damp, uggg.....

Given his success on Har Tru, he MIGHT have won an FO in the mid-70s, we'll never know. I think there were other years, like '80 to '84 where his chances to get to the final were quite good, but he fell short in a QF or Semi. That's the way it goes.

WCT
04-06-2011, 08:30 AM
That might explain why he never had the problem with that thumb again after the two incidents that we know about in '78 (Dallas and USO).

I've seen several matches myself where the racquet flies from his hand. In this match it actually flew twice, which I don't really consider a big deal (though keep in mind we're talking about twice in a very short match). One thing I found more unusual was how Borg kept a ball in his left hand on one or two points, and even played a two-hander that way. By that stage (third set) he seemed uncertain how to play his strokes; and he kept looking at his thumb.

Did it happen twice? I'm curious enough that I might go back and look.
He was definitely holdng his racquet in his left hand more than usual.

Again, my argument has never been that it didn't bother him. It's the way it bothered. As if he could barely hit the ball. He was hitting the ball very hard, but, as the match progressed, less and less of his ordinary precision.

One thing about that match. Borg volleyed very well. He made several excellent volleys. He was at the net more than Connors in that match.


At other times he was trying forehand slices, which you almost never see from him. And at other times, like you, I noticed him trying to go for big winners, which picked up the pace of the match. Perhaps he felt his best chance was hitting quick winners. But Connors of course loved pace. And it wasn't Borg's game to do that.


I just watched it last year, to do the stats, and I don't recall much slicing.
1 or 2 forehand slices is not a lot. The backhand e basically sliced only on the approach.

Connors may have loved pace, but the fact is that when Borg started beating him regularly he started hitting harder with him. The backhand in particular. Whereas earlier he would regularly slice to try not to give Connors pace. Now look at one of their 79-81 matches and see how often Borg slices in the rallies. Basically not at all unless he's really stretched wide or is approaching. Back then, Borg mentioned it several tmes. How all that slicing earlier wasn't really his ame.



Yes! Borg was credited with more unforced errors than Connors (57 to 47), which I think must be unique in all their matches.


And the winners. Look at the ratio of winners between the 2 players in the 76 Open or 77 Wimbledon. 2 very close matches and Connors has way, way more winners. This match was close and Connors doesn't have that many more.

Regarding the French in 74. Connors knew well ahead of time that they had banned him although he appealed it.
I doubt he would have played the French without a tuneup although he did it in 1979. In 1979, he entered at the last minute.

I'm not claiming that he would have won. I just think he had a better chance 74-78 rather than after Borg's ascent.
But even in 74 Borg took him to 3 sets in the US Clay Courts. Their 75 semi was 3 7-5 sets, I believe. He was beating Borg on clay, not dominating him.

And Connors did win North Conway 3 times on American red clay. Not the same thing , I know, but not har tru either. Also, har tru isn't fast in general.
It's faster than Europeon clay. How far did we see players like Ashe advance the 3 years they played it on that surface?

I would have liked to have seen Connors try instead of, I thought, cutting off his nose to spite his face.
At some point in those 5 years I think he would have had a chance. I think better than later on where Borg had just gotten too good.

krosero
04-07-2011, 07:39 PM
Did it happen twice? I'm curious enough that I might go back and look.

He was definitely holdng his racquet in his left hand more than usual.

Again, my argument has never been that it didn't bother him. It's the way it bothered. As if he could barely hit the ball. He was hitting the ball very hard, but, as the match progressed, less and less of his ordinary precision.

To the bolded part: yes, and I think that’s a very fair way of looking at this particular injury. He certainly could still hit a lot of winners, you’re definitely right about that. I’ll get into that a bit more in my post below as I respond to your points. I hope this is not too long but you’ve raised a few interesting issues about the rivalry, particularly with the stats.

First your question about the racquet flying: in my notes I have it in game 5 of the second set and early in the third set.

One thing about that match. Borg volleyed very well. He made several excellent volleys. He was at the net more than Connors in that match. Do you have net stats for this match? All I know of are Moose’s stats (Connors leading Borg 14-11 in volley/overhead winners).

Do you know of other hardcourt matches where Borg approached more than Connors? It was not true in their ’81 USO semi, where Borg was mostly staying back. On grass it’s another story altogether, but on hard court Borg generally played from the baseline. (Same was true against McEnroe in 80-81).


Connors may have loved pace, but the fact is that when Borg started beating him regularly he started hitting harder with him. The backhand in particular. Whereas earlier he would regularly slice to try not to give Connors pace. Now look at one of their 79-81 matches and see how often Borg slices in the rallies. Basically not at all unless he's really stretched wide or is approaching. Back then, Borg mentioned it several tmes. How all that slicing earlier wasn't really his ame. All true, but I think it’s more precise to say that Borg started picking up the pace and playing his normal game against Connors after he started beating him. He started beating Connors in ’77, at Pepsi and Wimbledon: and in both matches he’s still slicing, still drawing errors from Connors with short balls. The Pittsburgh Press talked about that strategy in the Pepsi match; and the New York Times credited Borg with building leads in the Wimbledon final by slowing down the pace.

In early ’78 they met at Pepsi again, and there Borg said he decided to play his normal game – against Bergelin’s advice. Quoted in the Times: "Before the match, I said to myself, 'I'm going to play a little different than before.' Always when I play Connors, I am pushing the ball more and slicing more. I said to myself, 'O.K., I'm really going to play my game and make him run.' This is the first match against him I've played this way. I was very successful."

I think Borg, after beating Connors a couple of times, just felt confident enough to go that route. It was supposed to be a great risk, giving Jimmy pace. And maybe in earlier years it might have been, we’ll never know. But I think as Borg improved overall, and broke the losing streak against Connors, he started feeling confident enough to swing away against Connors, knowing that he had enough game to beat him.

And the winners. Look at the ratio of winners between the 2 players in the 76 Open or 77 Wimbledon. 2 very close matches and Connors has way, way more winners. This match was close and Connors doesn't have that many more. Very true: it was a blowout for Connors and yet his margin in winners is not that large.

But that was also true in their 81 USO semifinal: Connors had a slight edge in winners, despite losing that match almost as decisively as he won the ’78 match.

And look at their ’78 Wimbledon final: a rout for Borg, yet Connors again has a slight edge in winners. At 79W, Connors is just slightly behind in winners.

So I don’t know exactly what the winners tell us. They do show that Borg was not an invalid in the ’78 match; he could still hit plenty of winners. You’re certainly right about that. Beyond that I don’t know.

But there’s an interesting trend there. As you noted, in the early matches (76 USO, 77 W), Connors has huge leads over Borg in winners. But in ’78-81 the two men usually end up with similar numbers of winners, and typically with Connors slightly ahead.

All the latter matches are after the ’78 Pepsi when Borg said he was starting to hit out more freely, so maybe that helped him stay even with Connors in winners, even when defeated badly at the ’78 USO.

Borg’s early strategy of hitting soft, short balls may have drawn errors from Connors successfully, but Connors didn’t make errors on all of those balls, of course. Sometimes Connors was able to take those short balls and successfully get into net, hitting winners up there. But later Borg hit with more topsin and depth, keeping Connors back.

I’m not committed to that interpretation of the winners stats, but maybe when I get to rewatch these matches I’ll see if it holds up.

Anyway to return to the ’78 USO: the winners were indeed close. What’s surprising – what I think may be unique in all their matches – is that Borg was credited with more unforced errors than Connors.

I think that stat confirms your double observation that Borg could still hit with power but it was his precision that was affected.

I'll have to make the '74 French a separate post.

kiki
04-08-2011, 02:07 PM
That whole period with the ban on WTT players was truly detrimental to the sport...and you have Jimmy & Chris sitting out the FO for several years. What would HER final resume there have looked like without missing a few years in between?

I didn't see Connors play on red clay until his post 1980 years....he did not seem uncomfortable at that point; just that his strokes were not quite as effective as they would be on a faster surface. When it was hot and the clay was dry, he looked damn good; but if it was wet and damp, uggg.....

Given his success on Har Tru, he MIGHT have won an FO in the mid-70s, we'll never know. I think there were other years, like '80 to '84 where his chances to get to the final were quite good, but he fell short in a QF or Semi. That's the way it goes.

He always found an inspired opponent who played the match of his life, or almost, against him: Pecci in 79, Gerulaitis in ´80, Clerc in ´81, Higueras in ´82 and the unknown Vasselin in 1983.never heard again ( or before) of him, but Connors must still remember that frenchie.

jrepac
04-08-2011, 03:33 PM
He always found an inspired opponent who played the match of his life, or almost, against him: Pecci in 79, Gerulaitis in ´80, Clerc in ´81, Higueras in ´82 and the unknown Vasselin in 1983.never heard again ( or before) of him, but Connors must still remember that frenchie.

Yah, Vasselin in '83 was a total shocker; but I recall Jimmy playing with some sort of wrap on his arm that year. I don't quite recall why. I think he would've had a solid advantage over Noah in the semifinal. Could he have beaten Wilander in the final? Not sure, but it would've been close, I think. Jimmy was still pretty potent in early '83.

krosero
04-08-2011, 09:57 PM
Regarding the French in 74. Connors knew well ahead of time that they had banned him although he appealed it.
I doubt he would have played the French without a tuneup although he did it in 1979. In 1979, he entered at the last minute.

I'm not claiming that he would have won. I just think he had a better chance 74-78 rather than after Borg's ascent.
But even in 74 Borg took him to 3 sets in the US Clay Courts. Their 75 semi was 3 7-5 sets, I believe. He was beating Borg on clay, not dominating him.

And Connors did win North Conway 3 times on American red clay. Not the same thing , I know, but not har tru either. Also, har tru isn't fast in general.
It's faster than Europeon clay. How far did we see players like Ashe advance the 3 years they played it on that surface?

I would have liked to have seen Connors try instead of, I thought, cutting off his nose to spite his face.
At some point in those 5 years I think he would have had a chance. I think better than later on where Borg had just gotten too good.To the bold parts: I agree that he had a chance and that his best chance would have been in the mid-70s. But I have strong doubts that he would have done it.

You mention Borg getting too good later, and that’s true – but Connors wasn’t being defeated by Borg when he returned to the French. He lost as you know to Pecci, Gerulaitis and Clerc before reaching Borg. This is not to nitpick – I think it’s a central point in all this. The emphasis is always on how Connors might, or might not, have won the French in imaginary meetings with Borg. And it’s natural enough to think of it that way since Borg won all those titles. But my strongest doubts are about Connors beating all the great clay-courters he might face over the two weeks.

This is the thing, on a given day, perhaps when the court was playing fast, or the opponent gave him pace, he could appear brilliant. Then the next day he’d run into someone good enough to spit the ball back repeatedly and really test his ability to keep hitting winners with his low margin for error. And year after year he encountered someone against whom he couldn’t keep hitting the winners enough to win three sets, which I think can be especially difficult for high-risk players to do on clay.

The North Conway victories on red clay, though impressive, were only best-of-three. I think it’s somewhat similar to what happened in ’84 when McEnroe beat Lendl twice on clay in short matches, including one on red clay: but when forced to win three straight sets at Roland Garros he couldn’t keep up the pace. And suddenly he was caught in a dogfight, getting increasingly tired and making more errors, while the other guy, with great margin for error on his strokes, could keep his errors down even when tired himself.

Which is one reason I think Borg had such a great five-set record. No matter how tired or nervous he was, he had an easy way to keep getting the ball in play, which put the pressure on the other guy to hit winners past him. In a fifth set against Connors at RG, even in ’74-75, I’d take Borg. Jimmy’s best chance would be to put him away early.

Of course he did that to Borg on Har-Tru at the USO, where the matches (most of them) were best-of-five. Obviously Connors has to be counted among the best claycourters of the decade -- based mainly on his Har-Tru performances. And that's the thing: I don’t know why Connors’ performances at the French were never as good as the ones at Forest Hills.

Was it merely the fact that Har-Tru was somewhat faster than red clay? Or maybe growing up in the States he was somewhat more familiar with how to move on Har-Tru? Or he just prepared for the USO better than for the French? Maybe a combination of all these things?

I think you’ve seen a lot of Connors matches so I wondered what your take was on this.

One thing that strikes me about the USO matches is how much Connors is attacking the net. And he’s successful at it. Against Orantes, Borg and Vilas he’s getting into net a lot and is mostly successful up there. That was true even in ’75, when he couldn’t get a set from Orantes but was still getting his points at net.

Some months ago I saw his RG losses to Pecci and Gerulaitis, and I just didn’t see anything like that success at net. Again, I don’t know exactly what you can put that down to. Was red clay slow enough to account for the difference, slow enough just to make life more difficult for anyone who wanted to win points at net? Or maybe Connors didn’t know how to move forward on red clay as well as he did on Har-Tru, because it was a surface he was relatively less familiar with? Or maybe he didn’t put in enough preparation beforehand?

I was most impressed with Pecci, as a better claycourter than Connors. Gerulaitis, too, though not a great claycourter like Borg, had good clearance over the net with his slice backhand; and in crosscourt rallies that shot usually held up better than Connors’ forehand.

In both those matches what struck me was that Connors’ ability to win points was relatively limited: strike the ball in the center of the strings with perfect accuracy and end the point with a winner. No wonder he couldn’t do it for more than two sets. Outlasting his opponents (waiting for an error), was not an option. Hitting big serves like Pecci (or even Vitas, at times), was also not an option. Connors sometimes hit with topspin, but mostly he hit flat, and with less variety than either Pecci or Gerulaitis. Certainly with less safety.

Connors could volley, of course, but even there he had to work very hard; and Pecci for some reason was able to attack the net on the red clay much more efficiently.

So I just see a big difference between Connors at the USO and at RG.

Was that because Connors was already aging by the time he returned to RG? I’m not so sure, because the 1979 French was less than two years after the ’77 USO. And in ’79-80 he was still young, still hanging tough with Borg and McEnroe at W and USO.

In ’82-83, Connors was still good enough actually to win Wimbledon and the USO, yet he reached only the quarterfinals at RG.

McEnroe came closest to winning the French in ’84, when he was not only playing well generally but he’d also decided that he had to play his game and come in all the time. I think if Connors, in the mid-70s, had done something similar, preparing well for the French, taking it seriously, committing to playing his attacking game and ironing out whatever difficulties he might have had on the red clay – that would have been his best shot.

And it’s really too bad he didn’t do that. Seeing him mix it up with Borg, Orantes and Vilas at the French would have been great. And think of the matches it would have produced.

krosero
04-08-2011, 10:02 PM
I doubt he would have played the French without a tuneup although he did it in 1979. In 1979, he entered at the last minute.I didn't know that, and it's interesting, because I found a report later in the year that said he was actually scheduled to appear in the AO. He was even seeded first, but he pulled out at the last minute citing an injury.

If he stayed I guess it would have been a Connors-Vilas final.

(According to the ATP site they never met anywhere on grass).

kiki
04-09-2011, 12:27 PM
Yah, Vasselin in '83 was a total shocker; but I recall Jimmy playing with some sort of wrap on his arm that year. I don't quite recall why. I think he would've had a solid advantage over Noah in the semifinal. Could he have beaten Wilander in the final? Not sure, but it would've been close, I think. Jimmy was still pretty potent in early '83.

Noah was hipermotivated and would have played in front of his crowd.But, I don´t think he ever beat Jimmy Connors in an official match.Did he?

kiki
04-09-2011, 12:37 PM
I think Gerulaitis best chance to beat Connors would be on slow, red clay, where his amrgin for security was higher than Jimmy and his stamina and fitness were able to hold up.Vitas was , probably, the best american player on red clay, at the end of the 70´s-early 80´s, as he proved with his record (he also beat easily Mac Enroe at the 1980 WCT Invitational at Forest Hills).

Pecci, even being an attacking player, just like Panatta, was a man rgown up on clay, and could mix a looping top spin Fh with penetrating BH sliced shots and a great drop shot.His serve, with a big kick, would bother Jimmy; as a matter of fact, he and Panatta are the only guys to beat Borg on clay, from 1975 to 1981, and both did it on a S&V basis, mixed up with deft touch groundies.


red clay was somewhat slower than US har-tru, this would make a difference at the very slow margin error game of Connors; he had to hit 2-3 more shots on red clay than on har-tru, and the percentages were increasing against him.

¿Would he win a FO in the mid 70´s ? I bet he wouldn´t, but certainly, that slot of time would be his bet shot at the french.

krosero
04-10-2011, 09:33 PM
Pecci, even being an attacking player, just like Panatta, was a man rgown up on clay, and could mix a looping top spin Fh with penetrating BH sliced shots and a great drop shot.Another attacking player who grew up on clay was Noah (who I think has one win over Connors on clay; you can check it at the ATP or ITF sites). Pecci could flatten out his strokes, and win points outright that way, which is something that Noah could not do. On the other hand nobody had a better serve than Noah, although you're right that Pecci had a fine serve.

His serve, with a big kick, would bother Jimmy; as a matter of fact, he and Panatta are the only guys to beat Borg on clay, from 1975 to 1981, In '75 Borg had defeats on clay to a few lower-ranked players, so I guess you mean from '75 afterwards -- but even so you're missing some players. Connors, of course, is one. And Vilas beat him on clay too, in 1980 World Team Cup.

kiki
04-11-2011, 12:33 PM
Another attacking player who grew up on clay was Noah (who I think has one win over Connors on clay; you can check it at the ATP or ITF sites). Pecci could flatten out his strokes, and win points outright that way, which is something that Noah could not do. On the other hand nobody had a better serve than Noah, although you're right that Pecci had a fine serve.

In '75 Borg had defeats on clay to a few lower-ranked players, so I guess you mean from '75 afterwards -- but even so you're missing some players. Connors, of course, is one. And Vilas beat him on clay too, in 1980 World Team Cup.

True, Connors beat Borg at the 76 US Open, he played a fantastic match.He also beat Borg at the Buenos Aires exo in the later 70´s and may be, somewhere else.Vilas beat Borg in that semi official tournament at Dusseldorf, which was like a mini DC which serve as a progressive rpeparation for RG.

Noah and Pecci, like you say, were a different bread of S&V players, even if, like Panatta, were raised on clay, and it was their best surface.Pecci had a lot more of touch, while Noah had more topspin and quite more stamina.Noah had a superb serve, Pecci´s was also a very good one, but it was more aa "american twist".They met at the 1981 Fo and it was Victor who emerged the winner ( and was beaten by Borg in the next round, BTW).

krosero
04-11-2011, 03:11 PM
One more factor in comparing the speed of play at RG and Forest Hills is is the pressure of the balls.

This was in Sports Illustrated after 1981 RG:

No U.S. player has won in France since Tony Trabert in 1955, and no U.S. player seems about to, either. Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe may be 2-3 in the world, but not when they're playing on the irritating, slow and swirling clay of Paris with rocklike low-pressure balls. The low, flat trajectory of Connors' shots doesn't allow him the margin for error one needs in these brain-jangling, hour-upon-hour marathons. In such matches his aggression comes a cropper. The more facile McEnroe, blessed with marvelous touch on the lob and drop, seems to think patience, concentration and hard work are unnecessary. Neither man's temperament is suited to clay. Neither man knows how to slide properly. "The points just keep going on and on and it's so frustrating," McEnroe said. "I don't think that the most talented players necessarily win here."

Wrong.

Did we have a discussion somewhere about the pressure of the balls used at Forest Hills?

krosero
04-11-2011, 03:12 PM
True, Connors beat Borg at the 76 US Open, he played a fantastic match.He also beat Borg at the Buenos Aires exo in the later 70´s and may be, somewhere else.Not on clay, see WCT's posts above.

urban
04-11-2011, 10:37 PM
Maybe it was a mental thing too, that the US players did traditionally quite badly at RG since Trabert's time. Ashe, Smith, Connors, Mac talked so much about the conditions at RG, that it got into their heads and they began to believe it. Besides the surface and equipment questions, there is also a certain atmosphere, a sort of genius loci, that constitutes a certain place in tennis. Federer mentioned often the sheer dimensions of the Court Central and the wide spaces behind the baseline, which was strange for him. The Paris crowd is problematic and can get into players heads. Connors was a different beast in the carnival atmosphere of New York, not depending on the different surfaces. He got however a rousing ovation in his remis match with Chang on his swan song at RG.

kiki
04-12-2011, 12:09 PM
Chip Hooper said at RG " It is still a tennis court, same length, same size".Attacking players like
Laver,Panatta,Pecci,Gottfried,Noah,Edberg and, once, JMac have been able to do very well on french clay.It´s tough, but not impossible, and the only way is not letting it get into your minds, and play your basic game enforcing risk taking and accepting your % will go down.