Is Jimmy Connors actually underrated?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I certainly won't argue with that. Connors had some bad experiences with the French Open early in his career. I don't think he ever liked the tournament, and as he got older the grind of playing 5 set matches in the slow clay would have taken a toll.

    Still, he is probably the best all-court American player of all time. He won Wimbledon twice and the US Open 5 times on 3 different surfaces. When he won the US Open on clay in '76, he beat Vilas easily in 3 sets and Borg in 4. In other words, he beat the 2 best clay court players of his time during their prime in the biggest clay court tournament of the year.
     
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  2. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I think you need to look at the matches a bit more closely; Jimmy had some very big wins late in his career. And, at 36yrs (not 35) vs. a young Andre, I'd say Jimmy played a very dumb match trying to slug it out against Andre. He was actually much more competitive using a smarter game plan a year later in their QF match. He then nailed Andre in a few big money exhibitions after that.

    Take a young Connors vs. a young Andre and I'd pick Connors every time. He was quicker, smarter and could actually volley (as opposed to that frying pan Andre using to swing at net).
     
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  3. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    And there's also the fact that Connors didn't even play at the French Open during some of the best years of his career when he would have been most likely to win the tournament. Had Connors been allowed to take part in the 1974 French Open and had he actually won it, Connors' 1974 would probably be talked about in the same breath as Laver's 1969, but Connors was prevented from having that opportunity by politics. And unlike with Borg in 1977, the ruling of "playing WTT = Ineligibility for that year's French Open" wasn't as crystal clear.

    The thing with Agassi is that were periods in this career when you felt he was underperforming and struggling to get all the pieces together. In 1994-1995 and 1998-2006, Agassi was very dedicated to being the best that he could be as a tennis player. Agassi under Bollettieri was a lot more unpredictable and went with instinct a lot more than using his brains. 1996 was hit-and-miss but mostly miss as he struggled to deal with his 1995 US Open final loss to Sampras. 1997 was the nadir of Agassi's career.

    With Connors, you always felt he was giving it everything he had all the time, and that he was always putting everything into his matches, week in-week out, year in-year out. One gets the feeling that Connors would still be out there now if it wasn't for the inevitable age factor catching up with him. Connors loved the challenge of playing tennis matches, whereas Agassi by his own admission, hated tennis and the pressure it put on him. Agassi needed to search for inspiration, whereas Connors always had inspiration in bucketloads. Finding a way to win points/games/matches/tournaments was all the inspiration Connors needed.
     
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  4. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    More weapons? At best, it's a wash. Andre's serving was hot or cold...it could be pretty ragged. Jimmy has the better approach and volley game, by far. Return of serves, pretty even; Andre hits them harder, Jimmy better reach on explosive serves. Forehand goes to Andre, backhand to Connors. Foot work and court coverage, Connors. Mental game, strategy, both to Connors. So, not sure where Andre is getting all of these "weapons". Not picking on Andre, I like him a lot. He is one of the all time greats. But, he is no Jimmy Connors.
     
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  5. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I think you are downplaying how well Mac was playing at the French, up until his last 3 sets of the tournament! He had never beaten Connors on clay until that match. He then went out and smoked Lendl for 2.5 sets and we all know what happened after that.

    Jimmy's chances against Ivan at RG in '84 likely would not have been great, I agree. But you wonder about the psychology that would've been at work. Up until that point, Jimmy was a huge "thorn" in Ivan's side at the GS events. The Wimbledon semi was a good one, I thought and both guys played well. Connors then came out flat in the final against a red hot McEnroe. At the USO, I would've picked Connors over Lendl, only because next to Mac, he was playing some exceptional tennis.
     
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  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    By 1984 he was already maturing as far as bringing his level up on the biggest stage, which he certified by winning that match against McEnroe -- who had been beating him soundly, even on clay, for quite some time. Lendl at the '85 USO was not suddenly some new player, but rather a fully mature player who had been maturing gradually, by hard work.

    Connors of course was Lendl's toughest ticket, but all those scenes we remember from the USO finals, with Jimmy and the crowd pumped, and Lendl cowed as if he just felt he didn't belong there on that stage -- I just don't see those things happening at Roland Garros. This is the issue I've argued with you about with regard to Lendl/Connors. It wasn't JUST a problem with the "biggest stages" that resulted in Lendl losing those USO finals. Those matches were a result of a lot of factors, including the big stage, Connors' proficiency on hard court, his relationship to the crowd -- and the ability and maturity of the two players as of 1982-83. It's not as if all you need to do is put Connors and Lendl on ANY big stage, such as Roland Garros, and you're going to suddenly see Connors pouring the winners and the crowd upon Lendl. What special relationship did Connors have to THAT big stage, that we should be imagining him running rampant across that court, especially when the surface was so little to his liking?

    And what special problems did Lendl have at the French? Would it be MERELY the presence of Connors on the other side of the net? The one thing in Connors' game that was a special problem for Lendl was that Connors liked Lendl's pace of shot. That was true on fast courts and especially on hard. On clay the rallies would not have looked like that at all. Connors would get none of that pace, and would merely be locked in a war of attrition with a younger man who could get everything back with topspin or slice. And he would see a LOT of low, off-pace balls to his vulnerable forehand. That was how Jimmy often exited the French in the 80s -- making a slew of errors against more consistent, natural claycourters like Higueras and Clerc.

    I can't see all of that suddenly being reversed just because the man on the other side of the net is Ivan Lendl.

    The closest "big stage" to the USO finals -- the closest analogy -- might be the Masters in New York. Connors had the crowd, at least potentially; and it was a good surface for him. And yet even in '82 and '83 when Connors beat Lendl at Flushing, he lost to Lendl both years at the Masters -- each time in straight sets.

    Now throw clay into the equation, and what are we suppose to imagine? Connors walking away with another victory and a victory over Lendl? Or something more like what happened when they actually met at Roland Garros the very next year: a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 rout by Lendl?
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Mac did play at an extremely high level, no question. I don't think it means anything, though, that he hadn't beaten Jimmy on clay. They had only ever played on clay in 1977-79. Five years passed without a meeting on clay, and when one finally happened, McEnroe beat Connors in straight sets just as he did to him in a lot of places in '84, such as Dallas and Wimbledon. And that's really what you would expect. Both of them were best on fast courts; clay was the weakest surface for both. So you wouldn't expect clay to throw a big advantage to either player.

    I don't mean to downplay Mac's level of play at the '84 French, but what Lendl did in the semis was more impressive. Here's Wilander, arguably the best claycourter of the 80s, and Lendl beat him in straight sets. And Wilander was a guy who had quite a bit of success against Lendl in the Slams, even from the mental point of view that's being emphasized here. Just six months earlier Wilander had swept Lendl in straights in the AO final, and he had Lendl looking beaten mentally in that match. I think that was largely due to Lendl's weakness on grass; I don't think it had any bearing on their next Slam meeting, and obviously Lendl didn't think it did either. And why would he? This was on clay, at the French. Lendl went into that meeting with confidence, and beat Wilander in straights.

    As for Jimmy being a thorn in Lendl's side in the Slams, that's true. But it was still true one year later at the '85 French, and that did not prevent Lendl from beating Connors soundly.

    During that year Lendl had not beaten Connors at a Slam. In fact during that year Lendl lost yet again to Connors at a Slam (1984 Wimbledon), so if anything, by the time the '85 French rolled around Connors was just as big a thorn as ever in Lendl's side (as far as the Slams are concerned, anyway, since that is the argument here). But all that history turned out to mean nothing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
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  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Can't disagree with anything you wrote. The US Open finals remarks were right on the money in my opinion and I was near courtside of the 1983 US Open final. It was hot, the crowd was against Lendl and Lendl to put it mildly was extremely upset. Who would believe that Lendl would love the US Open just a short time later?
     
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  9. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    The psychology of that 1985 French Open semi final was totally different, though, compared to what a hypothetical 1984 French Open final between Connors and Lendl would have been like. This is because Lendl was the reigning French Open champion during their 1985 FO semi as well as Connors being 1 year older (32) and Lendl being 25 and an extra year closer to being better at the majors. A hypothetical 1984 French Open final between Connors and Lendl, by contrast, has Lendl as the favourite (just like the 1982 and 1983 US Open finals) and Lendl still getting the criticism of "he can't win the big ones". Connors senses this kind of insecurity like a bloodhound. It would have been an interesting match.

    Even if Lendl were to win that hypothetical match, I think we can safely say that Connors was favourite for the 1984 Wimbledon and 1984 US Open titles without McEnroe in his way, which was the point I made when I said that McEnroe had prevented Connors winning "up to 3 majors" in 1984.
     
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  10. krosero

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    Lendl still very much had that criticism by the time of the '85 French. As I said, in that time he had lost to Connors again in a Slam, lost a USO final to McEnroe, lost early in Australia. By the time of the '85 French Lendl's victory the prior year had begun to recede and people were again doubting him. And in the end he was not that impressive in his loss to Wilander, so it's not as if he was that much different 12 months later. Better, yes. On his way to his best, certainly. But free of the monkey on his back? Not by a long shot. Connors, in '85, met an opponent with a monkey on his back -- and still lost to him in straights.

    The part about Lendl being defending champion in '85 -- that did not radically alter the way that people viewed Lendl. In June '85 McEnroe was #1, and regarded as such. And plenty of people thought that Lendl only won the '84 French because McEnroe choked it. So I don't see how the passage of those 12 months really changes the complexion of a Connors/Lendl meeting. Lendl was a little better, and Connors a little older. But it takes a LOT more than that to take a 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 loss in '85 and, somehow, imagine Connors winning in '84.
     
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  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think you can only say that safely about Wimbledon, since Connors actually beat Lendl there. The '84 USO, definitely arguable either way. I think Connors would have had an immensely difficult task, though. At 32 a bruising five-set victory over McEnroe less than 24 hours earlier might have drained him and left him flat. Apparently he came out flat for his Wimbledon final that year partly because of a draining four-set victory in the heat over Lendl. And that was with a two-day break. I think we've seen what happens to 30-plus-year-olds with that one-day turnaround at Flushing, even the toughest competitors (think of Sampras in 2001).

    It's true that Lendl was hurting on Sunday, too. I think it's arguable either way. I do NOT think it's safe to call Connors a favorite over Lendl.
     
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  12. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Lendl was on his way to being the number one player, no question. He also beat Mac and Connors a few weeks ago badly at the WCT clay event in Forest Hills. Jimmy's only double bagel loss in his career. Plus, that '85 RG semi had damp weather; it had just rained and the clay was very heavy ....after it had been hot and dry all week; damp and slow red clay was not going to help Connors, at all.

    Connors was still a very good player in 1985, no question. But, he seemed a notch (or two) below the level he was in 1984. Perhaps it's a subjective assessment, but I think the age factor was starting to catch up to him.
     
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  13. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The double-bagel was in '84 but I agree with your points here. Age did seem to be catching up to him more than ever by '85. And the damp conditions always made his job harder on clay.
     
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  14. big ted

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    my view is agassi's game to me is a 2.0 version of connors. similar games but agassi had more margin for error with more variety and topspin. connors had better volleys and his mental toughness alot better than agassi... but i favor agassi's serve and forehand over connors, and backhand and return of serve probably tied, imo...like i said before i think agassi had a better game but if they played in their primes i would probably put my money on connors due to his mental toughness and strong will.. although the later stage agassi who knew strategy might have a chance at picking apart connors' low forehand, so who knows...all speculation by me..
     
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  15. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    It is speculation, I agree. Agassi's ground game had more tospin and more room for error. He could punish you off of both wings. And he did improve his serve over time. But at his best, Connors did not miss all that much. He went toe-to-toe w/Borg numerous times and more than held his own. Lendl as well. Nor was it all that easy to pick on his forehand; had to be a low, mid-court ball w/out a lot of pace on it. Otherwise, you'd be in for a world of hurt if it sat up for him.

    I think Andre played more strategically when he was older (as did Connors, for that matter). So, I could see how one might see Andre as a 2.0 version of Connors. Yet, Connors had that intensity that Andre often seemed to be lacking....perhaps because he enjoyed the game a lot more than Andre ever did.
     
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  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I can see Big Ted's opinion and it's perfectly logical. But I do think that Connors just had a better overall game than Agassi. No one questions that Connors moved far better than Agassi and by that I would tend to think his passing shots on the run were superior to Andre's. I also think Connors lobbed better than Agassi.

    Both players have been argued to have the best groundies in history by some so it's hard to pick on anything major off the ground. Agassi probably had some more topspin on his groundies generally speaking with Connors having flatter shots.

    Agassi was about as good as anyone when he controlled the rallies. But when he didn't he was in a little trouble. Connors, with his superior mobility would in my opinion win a lot more points if he was not in control of the rally.
     
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  17. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Connors had very good "wheels" as they say....when watching Andre later in his years, I realized he played a lot like Connors, in that both would control the point from the center of the court. Making their opponents run side to side, while they themselves did not run all that much! Guess that's why they could play well into their 30s/40s!
     
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  18. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not sure they played each other in their primes. Connors best year was 1974; his second best was maybe 1982. After that Connors was in decline.

    Lendl did not become a professional until 1978. He did not win a major until 1984. Lendl's best year was probably 1986 or 1987.

    Yes, they did overlap, but their "primes" were years apart if not a decade apart. The age difference is 8 years. The H2H record seems to bear this out: Connors won their first 8 matches 1979-82. After that they alternated a bit from 1982-84. After that Lendl won the last 17 matches from 1984-92.

    In 1979 Lendl was 19 years old; in 1992 Connors was 40. When Connors was in his prime, Lendl was too young. When Lendl was in his prime, Connors was too old.
     
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  19. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    There seem to be some Connors fans who just want to support their guy regardless, nothing wrong with that.
     
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  20. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    1982 was the overlap year

    I don't know that I agree. I think 1982 was the overlap year. Lendl was 22 years old. In many ways Lendl was hugely dominant in 1982 (except in Grand Slam tournaments but he won 2 defacto majors) - he won 15 tournaments and was runner up in 5. He destroyed McEnroe at the Masters and the WCT Finals (Which were defacto majors in those days). Losses were rare. It was his first really great year. Connors was only 29 for most of the year and didn't turn 30 until September - so he was young enough. In fact if Lendl had managed to win that US Open final over Connors - then he would have been the unquestioned number 1 in everybodys books - no-one else could even come close to his acheivements that year. I think it is the only case in tennis history when the year end number 1 came down to one match.

    Not one person would have questioned Lendl being number 1 for 1982 had he won that US Open final against Connors. His overall record was just too good to deny.

    PS: When looking at Lendl's amazing 1982 - on top of that 15 wins and 5 finals of official tournaments, he won 2 extra unofficial tournaments (Toronto - beating McEnroe again and Melbourne) and was runner up in another (Sydney - Akai - losing to Borg in the final).
     
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  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting.

    I'd put both Lendl and Connors behind Borg. But I rate Lendl (no. 10) slightly ahead of Connors (no. 13), and pretty far ahead of Mac (no. 20) all-time.
     
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  22. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I think you're stretching it to say that Lendl was too young. When Lendl came on the scene he was no pushover. He had wins over Borg and McEnroe long before he was able to get a single win over Connors. By '83 Lendl was 23 and Connors was 31 (age advantage Lendl), and Lendl was winning when the matches were unimportant, but when it really mattered Connors won.
     
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  23. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    now that's funny, after the false info you posted earlier in this thread multiple times (in order to 'prove' Agassi had better longevity)

    at the least the Connors fans are just stating their opinions, not providing inaccurate 'facts' in order to 'support their guy.'
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
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  24. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    Lol, i just got it wrong, I don't give a rat's about Agassi, actually, other than thnking he is clearly a much more important player than Connors. My favourite player from the modern era was Rafter, but he was a throwback and never really top of the tree..

    The link I posted speaks for me, though. Connors is clearly fit, in form and behaving (as usual) like a massive ass. Agassi, at 18, supposedly 'mentally weak', completely smashes him.

    I don't actually think their games are as similar as some here seem to think, they both take it early, sure, but technique wise they are quite different. But whatever, lol
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Stroking technique is quite different for both but they are similar in that both are among the best service returners ever and both are among the greatest groundstrokers ever.

    I'm not really a fan of Connors and I often rooted against him but I must admit he was very enjoyable to see hit the ball.
     
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  26. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    And neither among the greatest servers.
     
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  27. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    In what tennis universe would Andre be deemed a "more important player" than Connors? Seriously?? You've got to be trolling w/remarks like that one. Regardless of which one you believe is the better player, accomplished more, etc, Jimmy's impact on the game was tremendous. Connors, Borg, Mac really brought the game to the masses and out of the country clubs. Tennis was never as popular in the US as when those guys were playing...those halcyon days are long gone, unfortunately.

    I'd equate this with saying that Borg was "just a baseliner".

    As far as your clip is concerned, it's not "prime" Connors by any stretch in 1988, in that match in particular. Reality check, please.
     
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  28. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    This is always the conundrum of the Lendl/Connors comparison. Ivan had not really hit his peak as #1, but others would argue that those in front of him in the early 80's (borg, mac,jimmy) were simply better players. And Ivan had youth on his side, if not as much experience. Ivan played some terrific tennis in '82; he clocked Connors right before the USO. But, on that stage, at that time, Jimmy was still the better big match player. He'd been in those pressure cooker situations many times before.

    But, Jimmy was NOT a good match up for him early on because Connors could handle the pace off the ground and return his serve aggressively. He was a totally different challenge for him than Mac was; he could hit right thru Mac, not so much w/Connors. It took Ivan a long time to figure out that slice and junk balls worked better than trying to consistently outhit the guy.
     
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  29. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    You're exactly right about that. Lendl's rise to #1 seemed to coincide with the demise of all 3 of those legends. You have to give Borg, McEnroe, and Connors credit for making a great player like Lendl into a solid #4.

    Yes, Lendl could sure hit the ball thru McEnroe. In fact, Lendl had a winning streak going against Mac for a while and still lost to Connors. Mac later figured out that he had to play more aggressively against Lendl in order to have a chance.

    Another guy Lendl could always hit thru was Agassi. If Agassi was indeed better than Connors off the ground, how come he couldn't handle Lendl's pace?
     
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  30. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    Jimmy brought nothing to the game it hadn't seen before, simple as that. I doubt too many of the next generation of young players modelled themselves after that flat bat hacker, that's for sure! Connors was very successful with his style, but you needed to BE Jimmy Connors to win matches with that game.

    Agassi now, whole different story, like it or not...

    As for bringing the game out of the country clubs, I guess that is an american perspective, it has never really been the case in my lifetime elsewhere.

    I tend to forget most of you only really know the US tennis scene.
     
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  31. Cuculain

    Cuculain New User

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    Troll!

    What a troll! and how condecending to American tennis fans to assume they know nothing of none American players.. I'm not American and think you are talking nonsense..
    Oh and by the way while I like Agassi ,he's a poor man's Connors..




    QUOTE=Timbo's hopeless slice;6058028]Jimmy brought nothing to the game it hadn't seen before, simple as that. I doubt too many of the next generation of young players modelled themselves after that flat bat hacker, that's for sure! Connors was very successful with his style, but you needed to BE Jimmy Connors to win matches with that game.

    Agassi now, whole different story, like it or not...

    As for bringing the game out of the country clubs, I guess that is an american perspective, it has never really been the case in my lifetime elsewhere.

    I tend to forget most of you only really know the US tennis scene.[/QUOTE]
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    There are very few players in the last 30 years or so (maybe longer) who bring a totally new unique style. Maybe Agassi qualifies but I'm not sure about that. In my opinion Agassi's style was, as most great groundstrokers are, of controlling the rally with some but not a huge amount of topspin. Agassi of course could hit with tremendous topspin but I don't think the rpms on his shots could compare to let's say, a Nadal.

    Is that a unique style? I don't think some because players like Don Budge did that in the 1930's.

    No I don't think Agassi's style is totally unique but Agassi is a great player nevertheless.

    For what it's worth I agree with you that the Connors' style isn't totally unique either but Connors, with the overall way he plays, makes it most effective than just about anyone and it makes him a unique player. Connors has been compared with Budge and Rosewall.

    I could use the same words for Agassi with some slight changes in the names. Agassi, in the way he plays his groundstroking style makes it unique but the style in itself isn't that unique.

    Hopefully I'm being clear here. :)
     
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  33. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Just my two cents, but think about some of the similarities between Bjorn Borg and Andre Agassi. When Agassi won his W title, I was thinking, who is this guy trying to be, a modern version of Bjorn Borg? I was rooting for him though. That W title was splendid for him. Notice the dropping to the knees, the long hair, the donnay frame, the reliance on baseline oriented play even at the big W....Where did all that come from?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    Major reasons:
    1. Early on when Lendl faced Agassi, Agassi was a mental midget
    2. Connors was a better mover then Agassi's
    3. Connors defense was better then Agassi's
     
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  35. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    [/QUOTE]


    read it again, have a think, and perhaps you will realise you have somewhat missed the point,
     
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  36. falkenburg

    falkenburg Banned

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    No, but you quoted stats on 2 different players and were dead wrong on both, and, perhaps not coincidentally, both mistakes supported the points were trying to make. Timbo's hopeless stats?:)
     
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  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Despite the disagreements on the relative merits of an old Connors and an old Agassi, I think we can all agree that both were excellent players into their thirties.
     
    #87
  38. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Connors and Lendl played on green clay once in 1984 at the Forest Hills semifinals. Lendl won that match 6-0 6-0.

    It's true that the big stage seemed to bother Lendl early on. In 1982 Lendl had just beat Connors 6-1 6-1 in Cincinnati right before the USO. In 1983 he also beat Connors in Montreal 6-1 6-3 just a few weeks before -- and none of that mattered one bit when it came to the big stage.

    But by 1984 things were quite different. That year, McEnroe was beating Connors and Lendl on every surface. (In the 1984 Forest Hills, after Lendl double bagled Connors in the semis, he went on to lose to McEnroe in the final.) The fact that Lendl was able to beat Mac at the French, who in turn had easily beat Connors in the semis, does suggest that Lendl should have been able to handle Connors well there.
     
    #88
  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I was at that double bagel match in 1984. That's one of the reasons I mentioned that despite Connors excellent results in the majors that year I felt he clearly lost something from even the previous couple of years. I don't know if it was around this time or a bit later but I remember Lendl mentioning that Connors played defensively on shots now that he would have attacked a few years before.

    Remember the Tournament of Champions in 1984 was played at the old West Side Tennis Club and on har tru where Connors won the US Open over Borg in 1976 on that surface. Lendl fed Connors a lot of junk in that match in 1984 but Borg did a lot of that also in 1976 and yet Connors won in 1976 while he got crushed by Lendl. I am not saying that the 1976 version of Connors would have beaten Lendl that day but I do think it would have been an excellent match.

    I agree with you that Lendl probably would have been a clear favorite to beat Connors at the French this year if they played.
     
    #89
  40. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    That year he also won the European Community Championship in Antwerp, beating McEnroe in 4 sets in the final. This was probably the biggest non-official tournament in the 80s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECC_Antwerp
     
    #90
  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I see 1984 as the same, apart from a dominant McEnroe being in the field. Lendl leads Connors 6-0, 1-0 in the Rotterdam final before a bomb scare, and then Lendl beats Connors 6-0, 6-0 in the Forest Hills semi final, but then Connors beats Lendl by the score of 6-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 in the Wimbledon semi final. Big stage again. It's a pity that Connors badly injured his ankle before his 1985 US Open semi with Lendl, because the match would have been fascinating.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
    #91
  42. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    1982 is a very weird year anyway because of the split between ATP and WCT. Only 6 of the 15 titles won by Lendl counted for the ATP ranking, as the others were in the WCT system. If 1982 had been a unified tour, it’s hard to imagine a ranking system where Lendl wouldn't have been ranked number one by a fairly large margin (even with the USO final loss). This can be easily seen by the fact that McEnroe ended the year ranked number 1 in the ATP system, ahead of Connors but with a far worse record than Lendl who ended as number 3. All those finals Lendl won in the WCT system, except Forest Hills, were best of 5. But Connors winning the two most important majors is also hard to argue with, so it would have been a controversial end of year ranking if the system had been unified.
     
    #92
  43. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Who knows. But I think the surface would have been a big factor in Lendl's favor in that hypothetical 1984 match at the French. Hard to see Connors being able to confuse Lendl that much on red clay by 1984.
     
    #93
  44. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    You have a funny way to choose "evidence". In 1988 Agassi was a top 3 player. Connors was 37 or 38 years old. There is nothing to see there.

    As pc1 already explained, the record speaks for itself. Connors has a far better record than Agassi, there is no comparison.
     
    #94
  45. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Clearly, this is a debate in psychology perhaps more than actual tennis...but, I do think in 1985 Connors was a shadow of his old self. He won 5 tournaments in '84 and was runner up 3 times in 1984. In '85, he only made r/up in 2 events. It was not a very good year, even tho' he maintained a decent ranking and was in 3 GS semis (respectable, granted, but not a successful year by JC standards). Jimmy really was much better in '84 and I think the results point to that. He did reach the #2 ranking late in the year, I seem to recall.

    I think '85 WAS the breakthrough year for Lendl and the criticism was in fact fading. Re: Connors, he really got that "monkey" off his back in the Masters semis, where he came from behind to win that 3 setter when it looked like Jimmy would close it out. He never lost again to Connors from '85 on (tho' there were some close ones in the mix). RE: Wilander, I never could quite figure out some of his losses to Lendl. When you expected him to win, he often lost, and when you expected him to lose, he won! '84, '85 and '87 RG matches between them all turned out opposite from what I expected! LOL
     
    #95
  46. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I watched that match on TV; had forgotten it was '84, not '85. And, Mac was impressive in downing Lendl in the final the next day. [only to screw it up a few weeks later!] Lendl was playing very, very well in that semi, and Jimmy was well, just flat. Which started happening more and more to him in his 30's. So, I tend to agree that Lendl would have a big advantage in a hypothetical '84 RG final, but one would think that JC would be highly motivated, Lendl a bit nervous and the crowd likely behind Connors. RG crowds have always been rowdy...maybe not like the USO, but much more involved than Wimby.
     
    #96
  47. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Ah yes, the old WCT vs. ATP ranking systems led to some really weird results! At best, you could say Lendl OR Connors was top dog in '82, but there sat Mac in the #1 slot on the ATP. Connors winning both GS helped his case . But Lendl certainly had a good case for the top ranking headed into that USO final. Never really thought of that as the deal breaker for the year; if Lendl had won it, I think most would have put him ahead of JC.
     
    #97
  48. krosero

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    The last time Connors and Lendl had met on grass was at Queens Club in '83, and Connors destroyed him 6-0, 6-3. That's what you would call a small tournament. By your own way of looking at things, Lendl did much better when the big stage rolled around -- he pushed Connors in a tough four-set match when they met at Wimbledon. It was actually not a bad performance from him. He had lost in grass Slams to McEnroe and Wilander, both times in straight sets -- but when he met Connors he pushed it to four.

    I used to suspect, from the scoreline of that match, that Lendl must have had another mental collapse like he had at the USO. That is, until I saw the match recently. Lendl seems to have physically reached his limit. Connors himself told the press that he thought Lendl's loss was due more to physical reasons than to mental ones. The press reports do not ascribe Lendl's loss to mental factors, and a few reports praise the quality of the match all around.

    But instead of looking at Queens Club as their last meeting on grass, you've chosen to look at their Forest Hills match on clay as the significant previous match, which seems an astounding thing to do at any time but particularly in this time period when clay and grass were as radically different as can be. Your post above merely looks at the scores of the matches and the names of the tournaments, creating superficial patterns, without even a glance at the surfaces.

    Look at these two alltime greats. Their profiles on the surfaces could not be more different. Lendl's weakest surface is grass, without question; doesn't even have to be debated; Connors' weakest is just as easy to pick out. Connors never made a French final in the 80s, nor did Lendl ever win a grass Slam. We're talking major fault lines here; this is not some ordinary case where someone might be a little better on this surface, a little weaker on another. The differences in skill and accomplishment are about as stark as can be. And yet you keep naming the "big stage" as the reason that Lendl lost that Wimbledon semifinal to Connors.

    Connors in '84 was actually still regarded as a better grasscourter than Lendl. But for you the stage is the reason Lendl lost. Presumably, then, the only reason Lendl blanked Connors on clay at Forest Hills was that it was a "small stage", right? But in actual fact Lendl in '84 was easily regarded as a better claycourter than Connors.

    And they certified these respective reputations on these surfaces when the French and Wimbledon rolled around. But somehow people have the desire to imagine that Connors could have turned all that around if he had gotten a free pass into the final round at Roland Garros, just because it was Lendl who would have been waiting for him then. And all this when an actual Connors/Lendl meeting at RG is very close at hand, just 12 months away -- and the evidence of THAT scoreline is about as starkly against Connors as you can have. I mean, you've made all these links between the USO scorelines, and Rotterdam and Forest Hills, linking them up with an imaginary meeting at RG. But there's this score available, in an actual RG meeting between the two men in question, and I get the sense you want to explain it away, rather than make any kind of link to it -- when that link would be the most direct and natural of all.

    Can't understand this.

    Surface comes up yet again when you talk about age. Where do you need young legs the most? Roland Garros. And what about the particulars of their games? Okay, what type of rallies is Connors most likely to win? Short ones or long ones? Obviously, the longer the rallies go, the more likely he is to make an unforced error -- particularly on the forehand. Where are the longest rallies? On clay. Where does the ball travel slowest, giving Jimmy the kind of ball that he hated because he had to generate his own pace? On clay.

    On clay Connors would have had trouble merely staying in the rallies, much less mounting an attack. Lendl with his topspin and slice could make the rallies last all day.

    Their '85 RG meeting bears all this out. But somehow I keep hearing it explained away.

    Sorry about the rant but I can't understand this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
    #98
  49. big ted

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    i think connors was a much better grass court player than
    lendl (2 'W' wins vs. 0 and 4 finalist vs. 2 finalist), and obviously lendl was a better clay court player than connors. a neutral surface to compare them would be us open hardcourt. and you could tell connors age started to catch up with him in 1984 i think thats why he started tinkering with different racquets starting that year. that was the last year he was to win a tournament for a while, and in the gs tournaments he lost somewhat convincingly except for at the us open but if he were to pull off beating mcenroe, that would have been an upset, but if it were a year before would it have been that much of an upset?
     
    #99
  50. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Okay. I agree with this.

    I've seen the match and Connors outplayed him when it mattered in the middle of the match and especially towards the end when he breadsticked Lendl in the fourth set. Connors did this despite not having won a single game in their previous 2 matches. This is not only the 6-0, 6-0 match on green clay at Forest Hills, but their Rotterdam final on indoor carpet that was going a similar way (6-0, 1-0) until it was abandoned because of a bomb scare.

    Their 1983 Queen's Club match was over a year earlier, though, and they had met many times since then.

    Lendl beat Connors 6-0, 6-0 at Forest Hills not only because he was better on clay but because it was a smaller stage. That is my opinion. Connors turned it around at Wimbledon because it's a bigger stage and Connors is better on grass and thus Lendl shows more weaknesses on grass compared to the clay.

    We can't know for sure, it's all hypothetical.

    1985 Connors was clearly worse than 1984 Connors. I think that is obvious. 1985 was the first of 3 calendar years in a row when Connors didn't win a tournament. By the 1985 French Open, Lendl was the defending French Open champion (although still getting criticism in some circles) while Connors was a worse player compared to the previous year. It was a great victory by Lendl, but the circumstances has changed a lot since the previous year, and were much more in Lendl's favour than a slamless Lendl in the 1984 French Open final against Connors would have been. Still, as I said before, we can never know for sure, so there's no point in ranting about abstracts and hypotheticals.

    You've explained here why Lendl beat Connors in straight sets at the 1985 French Open.

    Why do you seem to think that their 1985 French Open semi final is no different to a hypothetical French Open final the previous year? In 1984, Lendl was slamless and his mentality on the biggest stages was severely questioned, while Connors was a better player in 1984 compared to 1985 and would have been one match away from being French Open champion and completing the career Grand Slam, something to sink his teeth into. The mental situation is totally different between the two scenarios.

    Why rant about an hypothetical? There's no right or wrong in these instances because it's all subjective opinion.
     

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