Connors and the 1974 French Open

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by noeledmonds, Mar 24, 2007.

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Would Connors have won the French Open in 1974 if he had not been banned?

  1. Yes

    48.4%
  2. No

    51.6%
  1. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Would Connors have won the French Open and therfore the Grand Slam in 1974 if he had not been banned from the French Open?
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Tough to say, his flat strokes were always a bit out of place on the clay.
    But it is worth noting that he beat Borg in the final of the US Claycourt Championships in Indianapolis later that year 5-7 6-3 6-4 (this event was at least on the level of a masters series today, 64 draw, & all the best were there. maybe had a better field than the French actually)
    He also beat Orantes, the FO finalist of '74 in Indy.
    It was on har-true, which is different than red clay, but not that different(Borg, Vilas, Orantes all had great records on any kind of clay)

    I'd have to take a closer look at the draw & see who showed up at the '74 French (many slams were plagued by bans, boycotts, etc in those days it seemed)

    As far as beating an 18 year old Borg in his first slam final? I think Connors would have been the slight favorite. And Borg did lose the first 2 sets in the final, so who knows?
     
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  3. federerfanatic

    federerfanatic Banned

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    I think Connors takes it. It is true Connors and Borg never played on red European clay, and when they did play on clay it was always in the U.S were Borg had trouble performing to his optimum standard in that environment for awhile. Even so Connors so totally dominated Borg from 74-76, so totally dominated in 74 in general, and was comfortable enough on clay I think he would have taken it in a hard fought 4 or 5 setter.
     
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  4. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Connors would have had a great great chance. I think he would have done it. His 74 US Clay Couirt victory was impressive: victories over Orantes and Borg.
    I think people who write Connors' chances off forget he was invincible in 74, that he dominated Borg then and Borg really feared him and that Connors was a lot better clay-court player than people realise. All this stuff over the absence of a European clay title ignores the fact Connors hardly played on the stuff and not at all in the years he had best chance to win on red clay, 74-77.
     
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  5. LarougeNY

    LarougeNY Professional

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    sorry to sound ignorant, but why was conners banned?
     
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  6. Kirko

    Kirko Hall of Fame

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    Connors refused to join the ATP in 72 and played a series of events in which he dominated for his manger Bill Riordan a lawyer and promoter. He was refused entry into the French. I think Arhtur Ashe was a big critic of Connors for doing this. I think.
     
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  7. volleyman

    volleyman Semi-Pro

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    Connors was banned from the French Open in 1974 for the crime of playing World Team Tennis.

    I think he would have won it if he had been allowed to play.
     
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  8. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I doubt it. Connors did play at RG in 72 and 73, when he was already a force to reckon with, and lost first and second round. In 1974 he had the advantage, not to face the grass court big guns like Newcombe, Smith ,Ashe or his nemesis Nastase in the big events. Not his fault, of course, all these big guys had played too much on the lucrative WCT circuit, while Connors rested himself on the Riordan circuit. The players he beat at the majors, Dent at AO, Dent, Kodes, Stockton at Wim, Tanner at USO, were solid or good, but not great players on grass. And finalist Kenny Rosewall, who did him the favor, to put away the dangerous, but disappointing Newk, was nearly 40 years old, and tired. Before Wim , Connors lost 3-6,0-6 to Stan Smith in a Wim preparation event. Its of course speculation, also, if Connors would have gone deep at RG, what he would have left at Wim. Remember: Borg won his first two Wims, when he lost at RG, or didn't play there. Nastase in his prime, won RG in 73 without losing a set, and lost last 16 in a depleted field at Wim against Sandy Mayer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2007
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  9. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    I agree with what I am hearing here generally. I personally suspect that Connors would not have won however. It is hard to predict how Connors's would have performed on the european clay, however his perfomances outside the USA were not so great against Borg. Connors only beat Borg on one occasion outside the USA and that was on hard courts. We must also remember this was a high quality field and Connors may have had to contend with players such as Kodes, Nastase, Panatta or Orantes (possible the developing Vilas too). I suspect that any one of these players could have given Connors a very tough time on their day on the slow red dirt.
     
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  10. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Urban,

    Thanks for being the only person I've seen on this message board to recognise that, while Rosewall probably would have lost both finals to Connors) the end result was more a reflection of his tiredness than any disparity in class. No-one seems to mention that, at age 40, he won (at Wimbledon) in 4 sets against Amritraj, Tanner and Newcombe plus 5 sets against Smith. Then, at the US Open, he won in 4 sets against Ramirez, Amritraj, Pasarell and Newcombe. We celebrate Connors' great run to the semis of the US Open at age 39 (beating Patrick McEnroe, Michiel Schapers, Karel Novacek, Aaron Krickstein,Paul Haarhuis and losind to Jim Courier 3-6 3-6 2-6) but never give Rosewall's 74 campaign the praise it so rightly deserves.
     
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  11. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I think thisis too harsh on Connors. He was head and shoulders above everyone in 74 and no pro who played that year would deny it. If Rosewall beat the likes of Smith, Newcome and Tanner he was still a world class player whatever his age and a scalp for Connors. Connors lost only 6 games in 2 grand slam finals against a top opponent: a phenomenal achievement. Connors beat Nastase in 74 and had the upper hand over Smith and Ashe. He didn't play Newcombe in 74 because Newk didn't make the finals of grand slams that year, but that doesn't take away from Connors' achievements, it shows Connors was better that year.
     
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  12. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    You are right that Rosewall doesn't get thecredit he deserves for his incredibleachievements at such an old age in 74, though I think Rosewall himself acknowledges that the 21/22 year old Connors was simply too good for him. I don't think Rosewall had a hope of beating Connors even if he'd won all his matches quickly and was fresh. I think Rosewall was thrashed not because he was too tired but because the gap between the 2 players in 74 was too big.
     
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  13. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Of course, Connors was the Nr.1 in 1974. But he was critisized by many writers and fellow pros, that he didn't play the big guns constantly, but waited for the moments, when others were burned out by the schedule of the hard WCT tour. The top ten in 74 on the computer were - out of the top of my head - Connors, Newcombe, Borg, Laver, Vilas, Smith, Ashe, Nastase, Rosewall and Ramirez (or Tanner). In his 3 majors, he won, Connors faced out of the top ten only Rosewall twice (and Tanner). Not his fault, but a somewhat strange fact. He focussed on the summer events, while the WCT pro played their 11 tornament series until May. Connors didn't play the Masters end of the year, because it didn't fit into his schedule.
     
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  14. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    That's quite a close result. At the French, Borg's prowess in five-set matches might have made the difference. Also, Connors was comfortable in the U.S. while Borg was not, and at the French all this would have been neutralized.

    Connors did dominate Borg in these years, but never on red clay. Borg won their very first match, I believe, in 1973, on indoor carpet (?), 7-6 in the third? Was their head-to-head in June 1974 lopsided yet in Connors' favor? How many matches had they played?

    It's a tough call. I'd like to say Connors would have done it, but he's an unproven factor on red clay.
     
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  15. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Remember that Borg was not the only oponent that Connors could have lost to at the French Open. You claim you are uncertain if Connors could have beaten Borg, but remember there were many other oponents (including Kodes, Nastase, Panatta, Vilas) who Connors might have faced. All these players are very dangerous and on balance victory at the FO would have been unlikely for Connors.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
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  16. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    I believe that one of Connors' four losses in 1974 was to Juan Gisbert on clay at the Canadian Open. Gisbert had an idiosyncratic slice and dice game and probably had the ugliest strokes in the pro game back then. Coulda, mighta beat Jimbo at the French Open. :)
     
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  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I would tend to agree; I voted no in the poll.
     
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  18. tintin

    tintin Professional

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    hell no wouldn't have happend
     
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  19. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    I voted no. Connors wasn't quite good enough on clay, particularly the RED clay.
     
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  20. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Great add.
    I'd voted no.
     
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  21. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    He would have been one of the favorites. He was great on all surfaces. He made it to the finals of the USO every year that it was on clay (Har-Tru). One year beating Borg. I was at that one and my memory is that it was one of those matches that was never in doubt despite the 4 set score. And Borg was among the greatest clay courters ever. He wasn't just good on clay, he was great on clay (any variety).
     
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  22. jeffreyneave

    jeffreyneave Rookie

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    I'm with the doubters. Connors had a very good record on Har-tru in the states but never won on red clay in europe. That's poor for a great player. I know he avoided the stuff from 74-78, but rest of his career was a big disappointment on that surface. 72-73 were awful (he was top5-6 player in73) and after '78 he was steady but lost all his tough matches against pecci, gerulaitis, clerc and higureas. He again won the us clay court in '79 beating vilas, but was still no real threat in paris

    Borg had won their only previous meeting in stockholm, so Connors would have no psychological advantage. Borg shpwed fantastic stamina winning 5 set matches against van dillen, ramirez and orantes. He came from 2 sets down in the final and won the last 3 6-1,6-0,6-1. He sounds awsome.

    jeffrey
     
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  23. llgc8080

    llgc8080 Rookie

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    Don't know if he would win, but in SF at least.
     
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  24. Tennisfan!

    Tennisfan! Rookie

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    Very difficult to win for Jimbo.
     
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  25. edmondsm

    edmondsm Legend

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    Sure why not. It was his best year. He got screwed.
     
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  26. TennisExpert

    TennisExpert New User

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    Very difficult to Jimbo I believe
     
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  27. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    "Tough to say, his flat strokes were always a bit out of place on the clay."

    Out of place on clay is a stretch for any player that beat Borg on any color clay in a GS final. Ask Higueras how good Connors was on clay. Ask Panatta. The only time he met Panatta on Clay at Roland Garros, Connors won.

    Connors had a problem with the low forehand on all surfaces. That aside he was a great clay court player. If he didn't skip the French during his peak years he probably would have won it at least once.
     
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  28. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    I have to admit that I didn't realise this thread existed!

    I think Connors would have won the French in 74, he was great that year and was actually a good clay court player anyway:)

    When he did start playing there again from 79 (when he was arguably past his best), he reached the semis in 79 and 80, and 84 and 85!!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
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  29. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    I don't think he would have won. While a top flight baseline player, and solid Har-tru competitor, the slower red clay, the style of play of so many European and South American natural clay court players, the best of five set format, and the lack of experience on European red clay would have been an obstacle too tough for Connors to overcome. Borg, Orantes, Nastase, Kodes, even Americans Harold Solomon and Eddie Dibbs would be good bets to beat Connors at the French. Connors played the French 2x prior to 1974, and only won one match. So it's very unlikely he would have won in 1974.
     
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  30. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    In 74 though he was such a better player than the year before. Don't forget he didn't play the French Open when at his peak and in 79,80,84 and 85 he reached the semis. There is actually every chance that Borg would not have won all those French Opens if Connors had been in the French Open at his peak!!!

    Anyway obviously we will never know, but I still think Connors probably would have won it in 74, and maybe 75, 76, 77 or 78:)
     
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  31. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    1978, LOL! Not a chance in hell that year. Hugely doubt 1977 too since Vilas beat him pretty decisively even on green clay in America later that year, and even beat on carpet at the end of the year. Since Borg was upset by Panatta in 1976 that year could have been interesting, as well as 1975 and 1974 of course.
     
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  32. PERL

    PERL Guest

    Judging by his peak years, his level on har-tru and good showings at RG after ‘78, I would have said yes, he wins once there. Now that I’m aware of his record at RG pre-74, I have more than a doubt. Solomon ’72 and Ramirez ’73 were solid clay courters nonetheless. Also I have in mind that big weakness on low forehands exposed to the point of losing to Roger-Vasselin and being on the verge of losing to Caujolle in ‘80, two average french players. In that second match, the crowd helped him a lot to reverse the match against their compatriot, they did not want Connors to lose at this point, they wanted more of him and saved his life (linescore : 3-6 2-6 7-5 6-1 6-1). How lunatic isn’t it ?
    On topic I tend to say no but it’s a tough call. Maybe not exactly as close as Borg not winning the USO and closer than Lendl winning Wimby.
     
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  33. PERL

    PERL Guest

    There is actually no chance that Connors would have won any French Open with Borg at his peak. Best shots : 74, 76 imo.
     
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  34. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    This is true but Borg wasnt at his peak from 74-76 and he wasnt even at the French himself in 77. Not that Connors would have won all those years but that covers almost all the years he missed. I agree 74 would have been his best shot, followed by 76.
     
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  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Connors had a great chance to win the 1974 French but I wouldn't call him a shoo in. There were a number of top clay court players like Nastase, Orantes, Vilas, Soloman aside from Borg who had a decent chance to beat him. Nastase and Orantes on red clay would have been major problems for Jimmy if they faced him in the draw.

    It's a shame that Connors never had the chance to win it. It's one of the great injustices in tennis history.

    However as far as Connors having a chance to win the French in the late 1970's, highly doubtful. Borg was about as invincible on that surface as any player that ever lived at that time. Vilas may have been favored also over Connors most of the time on that surface but I do think Connors had a decent shot to beat Vilas.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
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  36. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Good to see this poll is now going in the right direction at least, and on balance I still think Connors would have probably won in 74:)
     
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  37. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    I think 5 extra people have just voted "no" last night to wind me up:(
     
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  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Don't worry about it. It's just opinion. Think of it this way Jimmy was 3 for 3 in majors that year. No matter what, it's one of the greatest tennis years ever.

    It's such a great tragedy that he couldn't enter the French and we will never find out.
     
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  39. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Cheers:)

    That's a great way of looking at it!!!
     
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  40. jt_Nastase

    jt_Nastase New User

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    Yes, and over Bjorn!!!!!!! Not over Nasty of course!
     
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