Connors At The French

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Superbrat4Ever, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Superbrat4Ever

    Superbrat4Ever New User

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    Connors could have, in fact would have, won the '74 French had he not been disqualified. Then he boycotted the event for a couple of years. I know Borg dominated teh event from the mid-senties until '81. But you would think that Connors with his baseline play and never say die attitude would at least have won one French. Not sure how many finals he made, but if a s/v like Mac can come within a hairsbreadth of winning, why not Jimbo? Was clay his nemesis? Any thoughts.
     
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  2. subban

    subban Rookie

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    Jimmy never liked the slower pace of balls hit and the junk clay courters threw out. In the 70's you actually had guys like harold solomon that actually would hit tons of moonballs in a professional match. Jimmy preferred faster surfaces and faster paced balls. But with all that Jimmy did win on clay at the Us Open when it was at forest hills. His best chances were in the '70's. There was also that one year in '74 when he was banned by Ashe from the tournament, which in my mind I think he could of won and could of won the tennis grandslam. It just was bad luck in the '70's for him at the french and by the '80's he was kind of old to be keeping up but he did keep getting to the semi's of the french up till '84 or '85.
     
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  3. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Red clay was never Connors' favorite surface. However, he was so dominant in '74 over a weak field, that he probably would have won the French. He did have tremendous success on Har-Tru at the US Open in the mid 70's, including some very impressive wins against Borg and Vilas.
     
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  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Connors may have had a shot to win it in 1974 but with great clay players like Orantes, Nastase, Kodes, Solomon, Vilas, Dibbs, Ramirez and Borg among others in the field it was not near a sure thing. Still Borg was yet the player he would be so Connors would have had a much better chance if they played in 1974 as opposed to let's say 1978 where I think Connors would have almost no chance to win against Borg on red clay.

    Players like the ones I mentioned above would have a decent chance against Connors on red clay, especially Orantes, Nastase and Vilas.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
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  5. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Connors wasn't banned by Ashe, but by Chatrier, the ITF president. Connors wasn't a lock in at RG, in 1972 and 73 he lost there in first and second round. He never won a tournament on European red clay.
     
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  6. subban

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    Players like the ones I mentioned above would have a decent chance against Connors on red clay, especially Orantes, Nastase and Vilas.

    Good point, since Orantes beat Jimmy at Us open in '75 and Villas beat him at the '77 Us open I think both on green clay. So, red clay would have been a much easier surface for them to beat connors.
     
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  7. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    His best shot would've been '74-76, I think. He had some chances in the early 80's but didn't seem consistent enough throughout...but, it's not like he couldn't play on the red stuff. He was just so much more effective on the faster surfaces; his strokes came thru just much more quickly on the fast surfaces. Still, I always get a kick out of watching him play Chang at the FO in '91. Michael is really pretty baffled at times...Connors just gave him very little time to react off the ground, time and time again; don't think he ever saw anything quite like Jimmy's game.
     
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  8. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    The fact that he never won a tournament on European red clay is Exhibit #1 as to why he would not have won the French in 1974. Connors wasn't comfortable on the slow red clay in Europe. He was much more vulnerable. While it's true Connors wont he 1976 US Open on Har Tru over Borg, it was at a time when Connors was at his best. It was still a very close match. Connors was bested by Orantes and Vials rather routinely in the 1975 and 1977 US Open finals. Even on the faster clay courts in America he was vulnerable.

    Best of five set matches on slow red clay in Paris? Jimmy would have had a hard time just getting to the finals.
     
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  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you but it's still a shame he never got a chance to even try. No matter what Connors was still capable at that time of beating anyone on red clay. Perhaps it was for the best. Perhaps if he played the French and lost it would have been harder to adapt to the grass of Wimbledon.

    Orantes at the 1975 US Open just mesmorized me with his great play. I actually couldn't conceive of how Connors could beat him if he maintained his standard of play that he had throughout the tournament. I just couldn't see the power of Connors bothering him and at the same time Connors couldn't stay at the baseline and rally with him because he'll lose most of the rallies. Orantes had such a beautiful style and great touch.
     
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  10. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    He never really put much effort into the European leg of the tour, so the fact that he "never won a red clay event" is highly misleading. I'd say the Orantes win was a bit of an aberration; the match w/Vilas could have gone either way. And, he had beaten both of these guys on the har-tru at one time or another, so you are not talking one-sided rivalries. But, agree w/the premise that he was more vulnerable on clay; that does not mean he could not have made the FO finals. He was a semi-finalist 3 times, I think, so you are talking just one more match.
     
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  11. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    Connors didn't put an effort into the European clay season. And why?

    Apart from 1974, he had every opportunity to play European clay events.

    He conveniently snubbed his nose at those tournaments, because he knew playing in them would hurt his air of invincibility - such as it was during those years - and give more guys the belief they could beat him elsewhere.

    It isn't highly misleading that Connors never won a European clay court tournament. It is an ACTUAL FACT. No two ways about it. a FACT!

    Aberration or not, Connors was the definite favorite at the 1975 US Open, and Orantes cut him down handily. Vilas thrashed Jimmy a year after Connors thumped Willie in the US Open semis, for the loss of just 7 games.

    European clay wasn't his thing. He knew it. So he avoided it as long as he could.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
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  12. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    No one is disputing the FACT, but your interpretation of it is surely subjective. You are suggesting that he didn't play the Euro clay circuit because he could not win a tournament on red clay, which many (or most?) observers of tennis history would question. Perhaps if he did play it regularly from '74-'78 he would have won a tourney (or two?), but we will never know.

    And while he may have been the USO favorite in '75-77, there was considerable competition from the European contingent; despite this, he made the finals 3 years in a row, winning one of them. Not seeing the '77 match as a thrashing, either. Vilas was very formidable on clay and yet Connors was a tough match for him under any circumstances, any surface. It was a tremendous win for him, no question, but I'd say it was somewhat less shocking/unexpected than the Orantes victory.

    So, it's OK not to like Connors or think very highly of his play on clay, but it's not like he was some sort of piker who could not hold his own on this surface. Not his best surface surely, but he was still pretty formidable.

    I don't find it shocking that Connors, or any player, would lean towards playing on his/her favorite surface over others. There have been numerous "clay court" specialists over the years who often avoided grass, for instance. Connors was pretty much an all-court player who was at his best on the faster surfaces, but with no one "specialty" surface. He certainly had the opportunity to play the Euro clay circuit, his reasons for avoiding it, well one can only guess/infer. Maybe he'll talk about it in his book.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2011
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors lost on clay, not just to baseliners like Orantes and Nastase ( and also Higueras in his great 1982 year), but also to guys like Pecci and Gerulaitis, who were pretty offensive players.I think he had a bit of a complex on european clay.
     
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  14. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    "He never really put much effort into the European leg of the tour, so the fact that he "never won a red clay event" is highly misleading."

    Agreed.

    "I'd say the Orantes win was a bit of an aberration;"

    It was considered a big upset by Orantes at the time. No one gave him much chance particularly given the nature of the win (and how late it went) against Vilas in the semis.
     
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  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It may have been considered a big upset, especially since he took so long to win the Vilas match but as a person who watched Orantes play during that US Open I thought that his level of play was incredible. I really didn't think it was a big upset considering how well Orantes played during the tournament.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011
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  16. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I think Connors would have a shot in most any tournament he played. Great heart, will, smarts, and his skills/talent I think often go underrated (ballstriking, footwork, return, eye-hand coordination, etc..). His serve was somewhat of a drawback for him though (overall). On red clay, two things come to mind, besides much of the excellent analysis thus far:

    (1) Connors troubled folks by keeping the ball low (while he was great at staying low while hitting his shots).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    (2) Sure footwork on hard courts and even at Wimbledon on the old grass. His "little steps" were amazing. Somehow, he couldn't really master the different type of footwork on red clay though.

    I tend to think that these were among the reasons for why Connors had more difficulty on red clay. Having said that, had Connors played at the FO in say 1974-1976, he'd have a chance I think, but I would answer that he would likely not have won during those years. There were too many great clay court specialists/great clay courters around at that time (Orantes, Panatta, Vilas, Borg just to name a few). On top of all that, perhaps he like McEnroe tended to struggle trying to hit balls up very high above their strike zone, over, and over again (the war of attrition at times on red clay).
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
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  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I think that Connors was a better player on fast grass than on slow european clay.yet, Tanner and Ashe handled him easily when he was peaking, at Wimbledon.I can´t see a peak Orantes,Vilas,Nastase or Borg having a losing record to Jimmy on red clay.he´s never had a winning record on that surface against top players ( altough he beat Vilas,Orantes,Borg on the US green har-tru which was somwehat faster than red clay)
     
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  18. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    No, we already know. This is a FACT. Absolutely OBJECTIVE:

    Connors never won a European clay court event. EVER!

    Spin it any way you want.

    But Jimmy Connors NEVER WON A EUROPEAN CLAY COURT EVENT!

    Oh it was a thrashing alright. 6-0 in the fourth.


    So a player who doesn't play in tournaments not contested on their favorite surface? Hmmm.....there's a reason for that: FEAR OF LOSING. And with Connors, he always tried hard to control the image and persona he had. That he was so tough, and would beat up on every one. Except the true dirt ballers. The Panattas, Vilases, Orantes, Borgs, even Dibbs and Solomon would have picked him apart on slow red clay. Not to mention the journeyman pros who would relish the opportunity to slow ball and junk Connors to death on a slow red clay court.
     
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  19. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Uh-huh. Whatever. Taking anger management classes, I hope.

    You divert from fact (that he never won a red clay event, which we all know as fact) to fictionalizing matches he might've played on the red clay. I have no doubt many would junk ball someone like Connors, however, not everyone was effective w/that strategy. It's not really the easiest to execute, frankly. Only the top guys (Vilas, Higueras, Orantes, et al) could pull something like that off well against a guy like Connors.

    It's really all hypothetical, cause the guy did not play very much on that surface, even if he could beat some of the guys at least some of the time....
    was it fear? who knows, unless you can read minds....frustration perhaps, but fear? Well, I'd be hard pressed to believe that. The guy was playing the FO well into his 30's; if he was really that "scared", why bother? His records/accomplishments were secure at that point, so he easily could've walked away from red clay entirely.
     
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  20. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    After losing to Lendl at the French in '85 Connors told the press: “My preparation for the French is almost non-existent. It’s my own fault, and I’m not complaining. But I don’t have the time to come over here and play on clay five or six weeks to get ready.”
     
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  21. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    No my darling. I am quite happy indeed. Happy, too, that Jimmy Connors never won a tournament on slow red clay.

    But I get it, the facts get in the way of your happiness now, don't they? I mean, clearly I touched a nerve by

    Well my dear, didn't you do the same thing:
    Yeah? But I guess we'll never know. Since Connors was chicken$h... to play much on red clay!

    Naturally he would have walked away from red clay! For one reason: FEAR OF LOSING! I mean if he was just so darned good, so secure, he would have wiped everyone with that messy red dirt? Guess better to just simply avoid the surface, and take a really bad "L".....right?
     
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  22. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Darling? Dear? Yikes, you really do need some help! I really don't give a rat's behind if Jimmy Connors won a red clay event or not.....fact is that he didn't and he did not play very many red clay events. And, he skipped the FO during what many feel were his prime years. Yet, he played there during years when he was past his prime, even when he himself would admit it was not his best/preferred surface. Those are in fact, FACTS. Facts are also that he won numerous events over top clay court players on Har Tru/green clay. After that, it's all 100% hypothetical...he might've won some red clay events, he might not have.

    But, if he was truly scared of losing, then let him 'fess up to that. That supposition, however, I do think a lot of people would disagree with. "Scaredy-cat" and "Jimmy Connors" never appeared in the same sentence, as far as i can recall.
     
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  23. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I think he would have won in both 74 and 75, beating Borg in the final both years. He was so far ahead of Borg in those years that on any surface he would have prevailed. 76 he might have won too since Borg was upset and Panatta ended up winning. 77 he wouldnt have won even with Borg out, since if Vilas beat him on green clay that year at the U.S Open he would have for sure beaten him on red clay (and Vilas even beat him indoors that year). So 2 or 3 titles. No chance ever again after 77.
     
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  24. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Give it up, man. You're trying to argue with a kid.
     
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  25. DMan

    DMan Professional

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    Not a chance. EVER!

    But really boys and girls.....why was someone so supremely confident, cocky and arrogant as Connors was, just why oh why didn't he play the French? If he was so darned good, shouldn't the French have been a 'cake walk' for him?

    Green clay and red clay aren't the same thing. likewise, playing on green clay in the U.S., 2 out of 3 sets, is NOT the same as best of 5 on slow red clay in Europe.

    Connors = EPIC FAIL on red clay.

    You can speculate all you want. FACTS are FACTS. And I know how touchy some get (you know, just like Selestials) when you bring FACTS into a discussion.
     
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  26. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I dont even like Connors. I was just giving my opinion, which is what it seems this thread was supposed to be about. As for why he didnt play, the reason he didnt play in 74 was obvious, he wasnt allowed to. The following years it was supposably a grudge to the ITF and the event for costing him the 74 Grand Slam (whether that is true or not is anyones guess).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2011
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