Connors: The Spectrum´s owner

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    the US Pro Indoors at Philadelphia´s Spectrum was one of the biggest events of the year in the 70´s and 80´s, the greatest WCT regular tournament and the unofficial indoor world championships.

    Well, Connors lost to Stockton ( 77) and Mac ( 82 ) in two finals..but won a record of 4 titles, beating the best of the best: Bjorn Borg, whom he humilliated in 76, same he did to Tanner in 78 and Ashe in 79.His only hard final came in that classic match that he won against JMac in the 1980 tourney.

    Connors record on hard, grass and har tru makes it sometimes not that evident how sharp, dangerous and powerful he was indoors.Such as his Philadelphia´s results indicate.

    How could he do it? What made the difference? WHAT KEPT HIM GOING?
     
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  2. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    I liked Philadelphia a lot. An excellent and very well run tournament by the Fernbergers.

    Connors's record at the Spectrum from 1976-1980 was outstanding, winning 26 matches out of 27:
    1976 - Champions, destroying Borg in the final (he also beat Stan Smith and Laver at that event)
    1977 - Runner-Up, losing to Stockton in 5 sets in the final
    1978 - Champion, destroying Tanner in the final
    1979 - Champion, beating Tanner in the semis and Ashe in the final
    1980 - Champion, beating Mac in a 5 set final

    In 1980, he was struggling with a groin injury, and nearly pulled out of his semi-final against Mayer, but battled on. Mac had beaten him in their last 2 big matches at Dallas and the US Open in 1979, so Connors was very happy to beat him in the final and put his younger American challenger in his place (for a brief period anyway). That was a very entertaining 5 set match.

    Of course Mac took over Connor's mantle as the king of the spectrum, destroying him in the 1982 final and winning 4 titles in a row there from 1982-1985.

    The 1976 tournament during the Bicentennial year was enjoyable. A lot of people who had previously hated Connors and his behavior really warmed to him that week, with him being very friendly and engaging a lot with the fans, other players and media.

    He showered Laver with praise after their QF, and in the final he was a double break behind in the first set before winning it on a tiebreaker and steamrollering Borg in the next 2 sets. That was actually considered by some members of the media to be his first important victory in a while, which shows how highly regarded the tournament was. After losing in those 3 major finals in 1975, plus in the deciding rubber against Ramirez in the Davis Cup in Mexico, people had questioned his ability in big matches. But after his 1976 title, the headline was 'the kid is back'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, Mac beat Lendl in a great 1983 final too.

    Memphis was also big then, the second indoor event in importance held in the US

    Mecir made a name for himself at the 85 Phily event by beating Connors and losing to Mc Enroe in the final.
     
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    The Spectrum tournament was run by Ed and Marylin Fernberger and was seen as the exemplary tour event of the early open era. It was known for its great crowds, up to 70000 and more people over the week, and it was played on two courts side by side (the old Forest Hills stadium had similar two courts). The 1970 event saw the official beginning of the sudden death tiebreaker in pro tennis, at 6-6 and in the tie breaker at 4-4.
    Laver won the Philadelphia title 4 times, 1969 over Roche, 1970 over Roche, 1972 over Rosewall and 1974 over Ashe, losing the final in 1971 against Newcombe. He had won the US pro indoor title also in 1965 and 1967, both times over Gonzalez, when it was played at Old Armoury Arena in New York.
     
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  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    So a three men tie at Philadelphia: mac,Laver and Connors.How fitting¡¡
     
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  6. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I always felt that indoors on carpet was an ideal to showcase the Connors game. It rewarded his flat aggressive strokes, his return and focused the crowd involvement that stoked his fire. Frankly i was surprised he did not continue with success later in the 80's, but he was usurped by both Mac and Lendl, two absolute greats on carpet.
     
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  7. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Was it 78 or 79 that Connors defeated Tanner, even though Roscoe racked up like 35 aces during the match?
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors beat Tanner in 78 (Tanner had knocked out Borg in his quarterfinal) very easily.In 79, Connors needed 4 sets to beat Tanner in their semifinal, after Roscoe beat Mac at the quarters.

    Tanner is, after Connors and Mac, the best player at the US Pro indoors, at least, since 1975.He played the 78 final, the 79 semi and finaly, won the title in 1981, after beating Fibak in the final (Fibak scored his only win against Connors in the former rounds)
     
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  9. WCT

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    The side by side courts is what I remember about that tournament. Back then, you never actually saw it because it was for the earlier rounds and they were never televised. Not where I lived, anyway. Still, they would talk about it in the press coverage, and it was just so unusual. Matches going on at the same time separated by only a few feet.

    If Tanner had 35 aces it would have had to have been the 79 match. I saw the 78 match and it sure didn't happen there. Not enough games. I don't remember reading it about the 79 match either, but it's been a long time. Maybe he did.
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I don´t know if they played before.But 35 aces looks like a five set match, so it should be in 79.

    Tanner may have aced Connors as much in their 1980 Wimbledon quarterfinal.
     
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  11. WCT

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    79 Philly was a 4 setter. I mean the Connors Tanner semi.
     
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  12. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    WCT, there was a somewhat famous photo in Sports Illustrated or maybe it was World Tennis, I can' t remember now but it was a photo of Connors balancing his racquet by the end of the handle with one finger and the caption said something like, "the balanced hand that survived 35 aces and was still able to win". I can't find the photo but it was forever etched in my mind, because here you had the finest returner the game at probably ever seen at that time being aced that many times, it just tells you what Tanner's serve must have been like indoors.
     
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  13. WCT

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    To me, although he had arguably the best return, Connors was not the most difficult player to ace. He would guess sometimes. I've seen Connors aced on points where he was clearly moving in the opposite direction. Again, that doesn't mean he didn't still have the best overall return of serve.
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    After their 1980 W qf, at the press conference Connors said something like that: " When he is on an ace streak, the only thing you can do is let it pass through".

    Their 1979 and 198 Masters matches were also fantastic.I loved when both players played each other at their best.One of the greatest match ups I have seen, definitely
     
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  15. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Connors said that he loved the ‘carnival atmosphere’ at the Spectrum, and that it gave him an advantage over the other players in the field.

    Numerous players complained of the distraction of the two main courts being side by side, but Jimbo loved it. He said that during his R3 match against Fibak in 1979, he kept turning his head to watch and enjoy the Gerulaitis-Kriek match on the other court. He diffused Tanner’s power in his semi that year and was too strong for a veteran Ashe in the final.

    According to various articles at the time, the Ashe-Gerulaitis 5 set semi-final at that year’s event was supposed to have been a classic, with superb all-court tennis and cat and mouse tactics from both players, and a great comeback by Ashe from 2 sets to love down. However I don’t know if a copy of the match is available anywhere.

    A few weeks after the Masters in January had concluded the previous year's season, for many of the top players Philly was their first big event to kick-start the new season.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    That´s also my recolection of this tournament.The Ashe-Gerulaitis match was one of the best indoor matches of the season.Ashe did have a great first half, reaching three consecutive big finals at New York Masters, where he held a mp against eventual winner Mc Enroe, then Philadelphia ( and probably he ended too tired of his semi and was pretty flat in the final, he was aged 36¡¡) and Memphis, where he beat Tanner in the semis and lost in three sets to Connors.He took the second set from Jimmy, that shows he was much more fresh than in the case of Philadelphia, when Connors had smoked him in straights.The Phily and Memphis semis line up had the very same 4 players.

    He lost to the younger legs of Lendl at RG, then lost to RG finalist Victor Pecci,at the Queen´s club semis and was surprised at Wimbledon by the unknown aussie Chris Kachel ( whom I never heard of again).I think he played his last tournament in Gstaad, a few weeks after Wimbledon.That is when he had his first heart troubles; the rest is history.

    Coming into Philadelphia, there had been a former WCT event held at Birmingham, Alabama.Connors defeated Gerulaitis in three close sets in the semis and beat Dibbs in the final, also in the long distance.Dibbs had beaten Vilas in the other semifinal.

    The 1979 WCT tour was exhilarating.
     
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  17. WCT

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    Birmingham was another tourney where Connors had great success. I think he won it 3, maybe 4 times. Also, hwon Memphis at least 5 times, maybe 6.
     
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    WCT Tour 1979

    Birmingham: Connors / Dibbs /Gerulaitis/Vilas
    Philadelphia: Connors/Ashe/Tanner/Gerulaitis
    Richmond: Borg/Vilas/Mc Enroe/Ashe
    New Orleans: Mc Enroe/Tanner/Borg/Taygan (Connors lost in the first round to Tom Gullikson, whom Taygan beat later)
    Rotterdam: Borg/Mc Enroe/Fleming/Amritraj
    Milan:Mc Enroe/Alexander/Gerulaitis/Panatta ( Borg lost to Alexander in qf)
    Montecarlo:Borg/Gerulaitis/Pecci/Alexander
    Houston:Higueras/Mayer/Tanner/Orantes
    Dallas Finals: Mc Enroe/Borg/Connors/Gerulaitis

    Dibbs beat Pecci at the WCT Invitational hosted by Forest Hills and Borg beat Connors at the WCT Challenge of Champions played in Montreal.Those two events were non official.

    The WCT Doubles Finals was considered to be the greatest doubles team event in the year, and all the big teams took part.it was played at London´s Albert Hall; in 1979 Fleming and Mc Enroe took the title ( I think the runner ups were Gottfried and Ramirez or Fibak and Okker, not sure right now)
     
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  19. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    WCT, If I remember well, Connors won Memphis seven times.
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, the last title came in 1984, when he defeated frenchman Henri Leconte
     
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  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Tanner was reported in the press to have 16 and 17 aces in those two matches.

    I've got Tanner's ace count in these matches against Jimmy:

    1974 USO – 6 aces
    1975 Wimb – 13
    1976 Wimb – 19
    1977 Challenge Cup – 20
    1978 Philly – 16
    1979 Philly – 17
    1979 Rancho Mirage – 11
    1979 Masters RR – 15
    1980 Wimb – 16
    1981 Masters RR – 12

    I don't know what Tanner's career high in aces might be. Anyone know?

    The highest I know of is 23 aces, in each of 4 matches:

    - vs Borg, Albany, 1972
    - vs Vilas, Wimbledon, 1975
    - vs Dibbs, Philadelphia, 1978
    - vs Wilander, Wimbledon, 1983
     
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  22. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    I know he served 29 aces during his 5 set victory over Teacher in the 1977 NSW Open final in Sydney, but I'm not sure whether that's his career high total.
     
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    His last great win was vs Wilander at 83 Wimbledon.
     
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  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Phily has a glorious story behind it.Ed and Marilyn Fernberger were winning the awards as the best regular tournament organizers very often.
     
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  25. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thanks, makes sense it would be in a five-setter.

    At the time it was called his personal best: http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...AJ&dq=tanner chris lewis aces&pg=4055,3266420

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?i...AJ&dq=tanner chris lewis aces&pg=3342,5450548

    Interesting, that was just a few days before Tanner went to defend his AO title and got beaten by Chris Lewis in the first round (in another five-setter).
     
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  26. Vegito

    Vegito Professional

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    I fe had not physical problems, Vilas would have won Philadelpia in 1975.
     
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  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He would have won the GS several times :-?
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The Supreme court ( also named Blue Carpet) of the Spectrum was Connors favourite tournament outside the US Open.He beat the likes of Borg,Laver,Ashe,Mc Enroe,Tanner to win 4 titles, which is a record he shares with Laver and John Mc Enroe.

    In 1982 he lost to Mc Enroe in a straight sets final and in 1977, he was beaten in a five sets final by Dick Stockton.

    the US Pro indoors held at Philadelphia was considered the biggest indoor tournament in the world ( excluding Dallas and MSG) and the most important stop of the WCT tour, ever since its inception in 1971.

    Borg never won there, in spite of playing the 1976 final (lost to Connors).In 1978 he was roundly beaten by Roscoe Tanner in the last eight round and never came back.

    Mc Enroe, in addition to his 4 titles ( defeating Lendl,Gerulaitis,Mecir,Connors) also lost the 1980 final to Connors, in a very close five setter that many considered the best indoor match of the season.

    The other 4 times champion was Laver, who was also defeated in the finals twice: Roche in 69 and Newcombe in 71.

    Other outstanding players there were Ashe ( finalist in 1974 against Laver and in 1979 against Jimbo), Gerulaitis ( finalist in 1975 to Marty Riessen and semifinalist in 1979 and 1982) and, of course, Roscoe Tanner ( who also declared his love to Phily).

    Roscoe beat Borg en route to a final place in the 1978 tournament ( lost in straight sets to Connors), was a semifinalist in 1979 ( again, Connors) and finally won the title he so much seeked when he defeated Wojtek Fibak in 1981 ( Fibak had defeated Connors, for the first time of his life in the third round).
    Phily also had its share of surprises.Riessen was not expected to win the 1975 tournament, and then there were John Sadri in 1980, Pascal Portes and Thierry Tulasne in 1981, Chip Hooper in 1982 reaching the semis and, finally, an unknown Miloslav Mecir, who introduced himself to the tennis world when he reached the 1985 F ( lost to Mc Enroe but beat Connors in the semis)
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
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  29. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, What about Memphis (US Indoors)? Connors won it seven times.
     
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  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yeah¡¡

    Curiously the 4 men who played the semis at 79 Philadelphia did play the semis at 79 Memphis.

    and both, the 1979 and 1980 final of both events was the very same.In 1979 it was Connors vs Ashe and in 1980 it was Connors vs Mc Enroe

    In 1984 Connors won Memphis for the last time beating french Leconte.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
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  31. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, Thanks for these interesting statistics. I was not aware of them.

    Interesting also: Old Ashe (35) was able to win a set from peak Connors in that 1979 Memphis tournament.
     
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  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1979 Ashe was last version of Ashe but an excellent one¡¡¡

    He started the season with a Masters F against Mac. he had a mp but squandered it off and Mc Enroe won his first major.

    At Phili he beat Vilas in the last 16 and saved a mp at the semis vs Vitas.1-6,4-6,7-6,6-4,6-4¡¡ not bad ¡¡
    At Memphis, he beat Tanner in his sf.

    His last good result in his entire life came on grass, which was his best surface.SF at the Queen´s where Pecci beat him.
     
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  33. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    You are talking about Tanner, yes?
     
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  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, Roscoe Tanner
     
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  35. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Sampras won his first title at the Spectrum in 1990, beating Gomez in the final. Who would have thought back then that both players would go on to win majors later on that year?

    The 2 indoor titans Lendl and Sampras squared off there twice. Lendl came back from a set and a break down win their 1991 final in 5 sets, firing down 23 aces, and then also won their 1993 semi-final.
     
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  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I think Tanner also defeated Mc Enroe at Richmond 1983.Not sure, should check.But what seems clear to me is that 83 was the last year when he pulled up some good scalps, although he was not nearly as consistent as in his prime.

    Probably, Tanner last important title came, as I mentioned before here, at 81 Philadelphia.That was also his last consistent year, reaching a spot at the 1981 Masters, played in Jan 1982.

    In 82 he had a big big slump and fared very poorly.
     
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  37. Vegito

    Vegito Professional

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    Guillermo Vilas in Philadelphia WCT:

    21.01.1974; GP; Indoor: Carpet; Draw: 128

    Round Opponent Ranking Score
    R128 Cliff Drysdale (RSA) N/A L 4-6, 1-6
    --------------------------------------------------------

    20.01.1975; GP; Indoor: Carpet; Draw: 128

    Round Opponent Ranking Score
    R128 Bye N/A W
    R64 Raymond Moore (RSA) N/A L W/O
    ---------------------------------------------------------


    22.01.1979; GP; Indoor: Carpet; Draw: 64

    Round Opponent Ranking Score
    R64 Bye N/A W
    R32 Buster C. Mottram (GBR) N/A W 6-4, 6-3
    R16 Arthur Ashe (USA) N/A L 3-6, 5-7
     
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  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Vilas never did too well at the Spectrum.However, he still did pretty well indoors, with several Masters semis and that WCT final he lost to Borg.

    If I am not wrong, his last indoor final happened in Rotterdam 1983, against Peter Mc Namara.After which came the drugs scandal that finished Vilas off.
     
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  39. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    Indoor monster

    Kiki, US Indoor to Phila were top tournament '70. The 4° slam (with Las Vegas Alan King Classic & Palm Springs/La Quinta, right now Indian Wells).
    Connors destroys Borg in 1976. In 80 wins vs Mac (you can see full final in 5 sets, marvelous).
    In carpet indoor Connors have been the top four all time (with Gonzales, Mac & Lendl).
    Wins Wembley (Dewar Cup) 74+76+81 (vs Mac in 5 sets, see youtube full final).
    US International to Birmingham 77+79+80 & US National to Memphis 78+79+82+83, Japan Indoor to Tokyo 80+84 (vs Lendl see Youtube), Masters WCT to Dallas 1977+80 and Master GP 1977 (vs Borg youtube).
    A monster.
     
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  40. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    U.S. Indoor notes

    Notes:
    U.S. Indoor (to Philadelphia).... TOP TOURNAMENT

    U.S. National Indoor (to Salisbury up to 1976, and then to Memphis).
    Salisbury...best tournament I.P.A.-Riordan Circuit, type M250;
    Memphis... type M500 seventies years and M1000 eighties years.

    U.S. International Indoor (Birmingham) (little tournament I.P.A.-Riordan Circuit up to 1976, and them good tournament 1977 and 1978, TOP TOURNAMENT 1979 and 80);
     
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  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    KG1965, Philadelphia is one of my all time favourite tournaments.It was considered the unofficial world´s indoor championship and the second greatest WCT event after the Dallas finals.In the 70´s and 80´s, both, WCT Finals and Masters had slam like status, much over the Australian Open.

    Memphis was, along Tokyo, the second and third greatest indoor event.There were lots of important tournaments on carpet ( in Europe and USA ) that were central to the Grand Prix and WCT structures.Then, most of the big unofficial invitationals were also played on carpet.Except Boca Raton and Forest Hills, which were played on har tru, the whole rest of the important invitational tournments were played on the " blue Supreme carpet" which is such a simbol of the so called Golden Era.I recall Las Vegas WCT, Chicago,Munich,Frankfurt,Milano,Antwerp,Montreal and the Europe vs Americas in Spain and the Akai challenge series in Australia as the big invitational tournaments of the second half of the 70´s and the first half of the 80´s.

    For us, tennis fans of that era, those tournament have a very special value.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
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