Is Jimmy Connors actually underrated?

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

  1. Doug_Hartley_2012

    Doug_Hartley_2012 Rookie

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    Been away a few weeks and amazed at some of the posts. Orantes? Talented but not one of the big boys. Don't think he could mix it with Newk, Laver, Rosewall or Smith pre 1975. I think kiki may have been a bit generous about him. Excellent on clay; not much else to speak of on other surfaces. And even his US Open triumph was a big surprise- not just that he beat Connors in the final in stright sets but that he somehow survived a semi against Vilas when Vilas was leading 6-4 6-1 2-6 5-0 and held 5 match points. One of the best Europeans of his time and an all time great Spaniard, but - off clay and anywhere outside Europe - he was hardly noticed.
     
  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    One major advantage Rosewall had over Budge is his speed and footwork. Rosewall could get to the ball earlier than Budge and would have more choices plus better disguise on his shots. Both were great ball strikers obviously.
     
  3. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Rosewall may have had a slight speed/footwork advantage over Budge. Budge was bigger, stronger, very athletic for his size, and had more power from the ground and on serve. Rosewall was probably a bit more steady, but not much, and had a better overall net game, IMO. However, Rosewall's best shot was his backhand, but he had no advantage over Budge's vaunted backhand. I can see Rosewall having a winning record against Budge on clay, but, not on any other surface.
     
  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    If Budge at 50 was so strong he could have the edge vs a peak or close to peak Rosewall, then he certainly deserves GOAT honours.
     
  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Won a Masters on supreme at Houston, plus a Wimbledon semifinal.Of course, his best was on clay ( were he was possibly behind Borg and Nastase and superior to Connors and Vilas) but not a slump on faster turf.
     
  6. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    All this talk of Budge, did anyone ever read the article written in the early 80's where the author, a former decent collegiate player now in his early 40's is playing down in southern Florida one day, when this older fellow happens to walk past, notices his Jack Kramer Autograph racquet, and casually mentions what a great racquet it was but he himself had not played for quite a while. The author finally gets the old man begrudgingly on the court to hit a few with it and watches with amazement the beauty of the old fellows flat and driving strokes to the point where his punishing backhand are getting the better of the author (almost 30 years his junior). After a few minutes the senior citizen hands the racquet back to the author with a smile and thanks him for the chance to reminisce. It was shortly thereafter, he finds out that particular senior citizen was Don Budge.
     
  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I don't think Limpinhitter meant Budge was so strong in his 50's that he could challenge peak Rosewall but I think he meant that he saw Budge hit the ball when Budge was in his late 50's. So making normal allowances for age, he thought a younger peak Budge would have the edge over peak Rosewall.

    Excellent story. Can you find the article and perhaps set up a link?
     
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I know.I just kidding.I never watched Budge, but last time I saw Rosewall was about 50..and he could certainly give many pros a run for their money...
     
  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    "Jan and I have a similar type of game.Whomever wins between us will go on and do an excellent Open"

    Jimmy Connors prior to beating in 5 tough sets Kodes at the 1974 USO qf.it was speak Connors...
     
  10. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It was the Round of 16 in 4 sets. Connors won 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Connors then beat Metreveli, Tanner and Rosewall to win the title.
     
  11. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Then it must have been Wimbledon.I remember reading that quote on Connors book ( one of the most entertaining, but I don´t recall the journalist that wrote it, I look up)
     
  12. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    You're right. Connors beat Kodes 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-8, 6-3 in the quarter finals of 1974 Wimbledon. Connors then beat Stockton and Rosewall to take the title.
     
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Except Borg and Laver, Kodes put the other top players to the limit.
     
  14. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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    Connors reached the quarters at slams 41 times out of 57. Percentage71.9%
    Federer 40 out of 58 Percentage 68.9%

    Semis.

    Connors 31 semis out of 57 54.3%
    Federer 33 out of 58 56.8

    It’s incredible the ratio of Connors especially since he did not play at his very peak at the French from 1974 through 1978 and he did not play the Aussie Open but only 2 years.
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Metrevali had an extremely solid record at slams too.Never won one but a bunch of semis and quarters.
     
  16. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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    But Connors and Federer won some major tournaments :)Right?
     
  17. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes I think those guys put some balls into the court :)
     
  18. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Prime years

    Where their prime years intersected - say 1981 to 1984 - the head to head was 8 to 7 in Connors favour
     
  19. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    And this is why we still talk about Connors today; even tho' he did not win as many slams as Fed, over a 20yr period, he was consistently in the later rounds of the 2 biggies, Wimby and the USO, and sometimes, RG. Needless to say, he kind of made an impression. He crossed 3, arguably 4, generations of players.
     
  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes.In 79 and 80 Connors beat Lendl like 7-0.Lendl was an improved player but the second half of 1980.I´d say 81 to 84 is the best possible years for comparing them.From 1985, Connors was in clear decline.
     
  21. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    and many would tend to say Connors was past his prime at that point. But, I'd still consider those years "peak performance". He was still contending for slams pretty strongly. Really, at their respective best, there is not much between them. Lendl's superiority on clay is offset by Connors' on grass. They are pretty evenly matched on hard courts, slight edge to Lendl indoors. Mentally, Lendl used to fold in the beginning, but he got much tougher as time went on. The crowd, and Connors antics, became a non-factor for him.
     
  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors loved Lendl´s pace.That is the reason Lendl had already beaten Borg and Mc Enroe before pulling his first win over Connors.I recall that was a big debate in those years.
     
  23. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    this is very true; Lendl did much better against Connors in later years when Roche had him mix up his shots more...lots and lots of sliced backhands to the Connors forehand and such. He stopped trying to hit thru Jimmy, which was not the best of strategies. On a good day (of which there were many) Connors ate up the pace and turned the tables on him.

    Re: pace, I still get a kick out of watching the '89 USO QF between Connors and Agassi...Andre couldn't hit the ball much harder and Jimmy was going toe-to-toe with him at 37yrs old...fun stuff to watch.
     
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors also loved playing guys such as Arias,Krickstein...
     
  25. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Very impressive that Connors won 2 out of his final 3 official matches against McEnroe, despite being 6 and a half years older.

    He won their last ever match in a tournament final, official or unofficial, at Toulouse in October 1989, the best season that Mac had after his sabbatical.
     
  26. WCT

    WCT Rookie

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    A lot is made of the pace, but if you look, Lendl is slicing quite a bit in the 82 and 83 finals.
    Him surpassing Connors was, I think, other factors more than how he played Connors. His still ascending, Connors falling off a bit, and just confidence. Lendl getting the confidence that he could beat Connors. That he could win a major.

    Taking pace off wasn't the ONLY way to beat Connors. When Borg started beating him all the time he was hitting far less slice backhands. Besides the approach, I mean. I'm not saying that was the main factor. Like with Lendl, I think it was a lot about confidence and Borg was still getting better. But he wasn't beating Connors from the backcourt because of guile. It was remarkable power, consistency and athleticism.
     
  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, in his book Borg talks about how he became confident after he beat Jimmy in their 77 Wimbledon final.Same happened with Connors against Nastase, Connors lost all their matches until 1975 or so, then he steamrolled.
     
  28. WCT

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    Not 75. Nastase beat Connors like 4 times in 76, and Connors was no 1 that year. Frankly, I always thought Connors was fortunate that he played Borg in the final. Not like he was lucky, though. Like Nastase and Borg was close. Borg was beating him easily by that point.

    Nastase's last big win versus Connors was early 77 in Vegas. Finals of the WCT Challenge Cup. After that, I don't think he ever beat him. Not in a tournament. But Connors didn't beat him 15-20 times either. He claimed that in his book.
     
  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    and Nasty would not be intimidated by Jimmy like almost all the rest of the pro tour, since both had been longtime doubles mates.
     
  30. WCT

    WCT Rookie

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    Probably knew really Connors' game from practicing a lot with him, And there was no intimidation since he had originally taken Connors under his wing. Had that really good backhand slice approach shot that I think troubled Connors. Panatta and Armitraj, 2 other players who troubled him, had it as well.
     
  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Panatta won the then big indoor event at Stockholm defeating Connors in the final.It was 1975.

    Amritraj took off Connors at the WCT Invitational tournament held in Salisbury,Maryland in 1980 or 1981, and he did it in straight sets.His 1981 Wimbledon QF, which Connors took in five sets after being two sets down is also one of the best matches played there for many years.

    Almost as good as the Borg-Connors semifinal that took place two days later.
     
  32. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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  33. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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  34. juan guzman

    juan guzman Rookie

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  35. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    hard to put one before him

    I found that your old thread.
    I do not know if the old guy is undervalued, I know I have changed the parameters, once the Australian Open was not worth anything, came Sampras, Federer and Nadal.

    I started again to study the 70s and 80s and I realized that every passing week Connors earned a position at the top of it my ranking.

    I believe that no one has won more than him, but excluding Lendl won majors less heavy and not jumped 15 !!

    I believe that no one has won BIG titles like Jimbo, except Federer.

    I believe that no one has turned the court, except Borg.

    No one has ever played like him, nor ever will.

    It will never GOAT because jumped 15 majors and because he won 90% of the prize list in the US, and Europe was always seen as 2nd behind Borg (even when he was 1 !!!) but if you do a detailed analysis (they do not like old critics unprepared) is really hard to put one before him. Even Laver and Federer.
    Difficult. Very very difficult.
     
  36. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I started the thread and I truly believe he's greatly underrated but frankly the reason he was viewed by many as being behind Borg was that he was! Very simple and easy. Your partiality to Connors clouds your objectivity. I have looked at this carefully over the years and I have a lot of stats that are unavailable to you.

    That being said, you can easily make a decent argument Connors is in the top five of all time! I'm not saying I believe it but there are a lot of great arguments in his favor.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  37. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    You are ahead pc1 .
    I 'm coming back .
    Rewinding the tape.
    And I'm finding that the 70 were not dominated by the Borg , but Borg was even number one .
    It was the number 2 .

    The number one of the decade was ... Connors .
     
  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No he wasn't.
     
  39. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    pc1 on 70s commit a serious error . Very serious .

    And I'll explain very calmly , then everyone is free to think as he wishes :
    1972 Connors because Borg is too young
    1973 Connors is another category , he won already 3 great titles
    1974 Connors easy
    1,975 years bad for Connors but still stronger than Borg , continues to beat him always
    1976 Connors easy , it always beats
    1977 Connors fatigue but against Vilas . Borg is clearly third . After Wimbledon no longer see .
    1978 Borg exceeds Connors at Wimbledon , then pulls the plug and not win more . As in 1977. Connors surpasses end of the year .
    1979 Borg another category .
    End of the decade .

    Borg 1979 .
    Connors 1972-73-74-75-76-77-78 .
    I give you 1978 , not much changes .
    Hello .
     
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Some magazines I recall at the end of 1979 were pushing Connors for the title of Decade´s King.Not necessarily so but , at least, something to consider.
     
  41. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Connors wasn't a factor in until 1973. Connors was better in 1974 and 1975 but he only was a little better (if he was better at all) in 1976 when Borg won the WCT Championship and Wimbledon. Borg also won the US Pro. Essentially Borg won two majors that year. They both won 12 tournaments. You could easily argue Borg had a superior year in 1976.

    Borg was superior in 77, 78, 79 but it wasn't that he was superior but that he was FAR SUPERIOR. At one point during those years Borg won 125 of 128 matches. In those three years Borg won an incredible total of 52 tournaments and five majors. He won way over 90% of his matches.

    Connors in 77, 78 and 79 won 26 tournaments and one major over an injured Borg in the final. In those years they met 12 times and Connors won twice.

    In 1974, 1975 and 1976 Connors won 36 tournaments and four majors. Borg in those same years won 28 tournaments and three majors. Connors played Borg six times in those three years and won all of them. Borg won their first meeting in 1973 however. Borg also played on the WCT circuit which was tougher than the Bill Riordan Circuit that Connors often played on.

    Connors won 79 tournaments for the decade. Just super. Borg however won 90 tournaments for the decade which is super duper! Connors won five majors for the decade. Superb. Borg won eight majors for the decade which is a lot better.
    Both Connors and Borg won one Masters for the decade and WCT final.

    Borg is far and away superior to Connors for the decade. Head to head in the decade Borg won 11 of 19.

    So Borg won more tournaments, more majors, had a higher peak winning percentage and beat Connors most of the time. After he reached his prime Connors almost never beat Borg. Borg also won Davis Cup which Connors failed to do.

    So please explain to me how Connors is the player of the 1970's??

    I have a lot more stats all favoring Borg in this discussion.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  42. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Look at my post above. It's not close to being considered. I like Connors but to push him as better than Borg, well I don't know what to think! I've seen them both and from a subjective point of view there is no way I see Connors as superior and I love to see Connors play.

    It's like someone pushing Stan Smith as better than John Newcombe. I was a Stan Smith fan but I knew Newcombe was just plain better.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  43. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    Kiki, the speech is very simple, but the day of reckoning is very complex.

    1) when considering the majors the number one of the decade's Borg, end of story;
    2) when you consider everything, majors, other major tournaments, all tournaments, years from Connors it is number one.

    1) when considering Borg 1976, 1977, 1978, as did the critics, is Borg;
    2) considering the ranking ATP is Connors
    3) if you consider the years as I have described them myself (with the 1978 Borg, even though I do not agree) is Connors

    1) considering the decade 1970-1979 is Connors
    2) considering the decade 1970-1980 is Borg, because in 1980 the Swede made another incredible year. BUT 1980 is NOT 70s !!

    1) when looking at the overall results from 1970 to 1979 is Connors;
    2) when you consider the positive myth of the beautiful blond boy against the rude and ignorant bad guy, he is Borg.

    1) Europe existed only Borg
    2) in USA reigned Connors

    So I'm fine with Borg.
    Borg was a greatest, made legendary exploits.
    So they decided the media and to me that's fine.

    But the story is complex and I'm not stupid.
     
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No one called you stupid but please consider the facts. Look at post 391.
     
  45. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Borg was the best of the decade but Connors is the most representative

    The top ten is

    1/Borg
    2/Connors
    3/Newcombe
    4/Nastase/Vilas/Rosewall
    7/Smith
    8/Ashe/Kodes
    10/Orantes
    Laver could very well be the 10 and then there are Gerulaitis,Orantes,Tanner,Panatta and maybe GImeno and Edmondson.
     
  46. KG1965

    KG1965 Semi-Pro

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    Good list, thanks Kiki
     
  47. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    KG, if it makes you feel better Connors would have been the player of the decade in many decades but not the 1970's.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  48. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Rookie

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    Would McEnroe not sneak in there?


    I'm not sure Connors is underrated. One fact I can't get passed - he played 6 consecutive semi's at Wimbledon and the US from 79-81 vs Borg and McEnroe (3 each) and lost all 6. Can anyone find another example of a top player having such a poor run against other top players?

    Also, losing 4 slam finals against Newcombe, Ashe, Orantes and Vilas. Sure, great players, but not top tier and 2 of them were past their best. Again, any other all time great have such a record?
     
  49. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    John McEnroe only became a factor in the late 1970s. It was a little late to catch up to those other players. He won 15 tournaments in the 1970s and one major.

    Newcombe was clearly passed his best but he still was very tough on grass. Ashe was actually perhaps at his best ever although he may have declined a little physically. Ashe learned to play the percentages better. The next year in 1976 Ashe was dominant in the early part of the year. Although Ashe and Newcombe weren't top tier all time (although an in shape Newcombe at his peak was pretty close, perhaps superior to some that others call top tier) at their best they were capable of beating anyone that lived. But I will give you that Connors SHOULD HAVE BEATEN Newcombe in the 1975 Australian. It's a miracle that Newcombe won especially considering he went five sets with Roche the round before. Orantes in the zone was incredible and Vilas of course was always tough on har-tru but especially in 1977, his best year.

    What hurt Connors imo was that it was very tough for him to get past both Borg and McEnroe. I also don't think he took advantage when he was at his peak of the chances to play majors like the Australian and the French. He may have won a few of them which would have made his career record look better.

    I made a correction to my post 391. Borg didn't win 80 tournaments in the 1970s, he won 90 tournaments!
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  50. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Sorry, since he played two of the decade´s eyars I left him out.Yes, he should compete against Orantes for tenth place,

    Now, imagine the decade´s seeding list:

    1/Borg
    2/Connors
    3/Newk
    4/Nastase
    5/Rosewall
    6/Vilas
    7/Smith
    8/Kodes
    9/Ashe
    10/Orantes
    11/Mc Enroe
    12/Gerulaitis
    13/Tanner
    14/Panata
    15/Gimeno
    16/Laver

    wouldn´t that be a very rich, talent wise and personality wise seeding list?

    Then we could discute the rest of players until the top 50.
     

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