Is Jimmy Connors actually underrated?

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

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.Many haven´t seen peak Newcombe, which happened at the start of the open era.He could beat many all time greats on a five sets final, specially in the fifth set...Ashe´s talent was underrated, but he could hit almost any shot wih power and grace, and his serve was one of the decade´s best ( maybe just a tad below Newcombe and Tanner but just as good as Mc Enroe´s)
     
  2. Gary Duane

    Gary Duane Hall of Fame

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    I loathe comparisons by decade. Connors was born in 52. By 79 he was 27 years old. By 79 Borg was 32. A couple years later or so he quit.

    A four year difference between players is huge - in this case more like 3.5 years, but still big.

    Otherwise I'm neutral. I loved watching Connors, although I did not like him, and I was also a huge fan of Borg.

    There was much the same difference in age between Laver and Rosewall, more like 4 years, so in some ways the Laver/Rosewall story might be similar.

    I'm never sure if history favors the younger or the old player. It is o seldom that peaks for the greatest coincide within about one year (Nadal/Novak, JMac/Lendl).

    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.[/QUOTE]
     
  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors was the player that, for longer and wider played the best tennis of the decade.He was born in 1952, so that is an advantage to him,Borg was born in 1956.We should, maybe, do a comparative 1972-1981.In 1972 Borg started to play in the pro circuit and Connors had already reached a top ten position, as he reached the year´s end Masters semifinals at Barcelona.
     
  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I actually love the rallies when these two play because they are two of the best groundstrokers (best players too) in history. I love to watch both of them. Connors against McEnroe was also great to watch.
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Actually in 1979 Borg would turn 22.

    It's always hard to say. I think in this case it favored Connors because he was able to take advantage of Borg's game before Borg reached his peak. Borg essentially retired in 1981 and Connors wasn't even 30 yet so he didn't have the decline period that Borg could take advantage of.

    In the case of Lendl versus Connors I would say that because Connors played so long that Lendl was able to take more advantage of the older age of Connors.

    In Rosewall versus Laver I would possibly say that Rosewall may have the advantage in the age matchup because of the tour they played so often when Laver first turned pro in 1963. Rosewall took more advantage of Laver's inexperience and jumped to a huge advantage on that tour by a margin of 34 to 12 at one point and 36 to 13! Laver eventually ended up with the edge by 80 to 64 which meant Laver won 67 of the last 95 matches. I think a most of it was due to the improvement in Rod's game and not age decline by Rosewall because in 1964 Rosewall was 29 most of the year. Rod defeated Rosewall 15 out of 19 that year in matches.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    However, in major finals Connors leads Borg 3-2.Connors won the 76 US Open, the 77 Masters and the 78 US Open while Borg won the 77 and 78 Wimbledon finals.

    But if we include the semifinals, then it is all about Borg.Connors won their 75 US Open semi, but Borg won their 1979 Wimbledon semifinal and their 1981 semifinals at both Wimbledon and the US Open.
    And Borg won their Masters matches in both, 1979 and 1980.So Borg leads here 7-4.Their last match was the 1981 US Open semis, and Connors was 29.Pretty young, isn´t it?

    - curiously enough, they never faced at Dallas or Roland Garros-
     
  7. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    [/QUOTE]

    Where he won more tournaments , Borg ?
    In Africa?
    In the 70's ?
    That ATP is the Davis Cup ?

    How can you be the number one of the decade a player ( phenomenon ) that was number one from April 1979 to December 1979 ?????
     
  8. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    Borg incredible phenomenon, but number 2 of the 70s

    kiki e pc1 I understand that it is difficult to defend the number one Borg, because Borg was the most incredible phenomenon in the history of tennis!

    How do you play so well at 18 and winning at RG? A 20 win Wimbledon !! And replicate, replicate, replicate.

    It 's true, Borg was an alien.
    But it was the second of the 70.
    Connors won far less on retirement, partly because no one has won as the American (except Laver and, perhaps Federer).

    In H2H Connors it was best.
    Bjorn has won many times in 1979 but even if they had played 7 times in 1973, in 1974, in 1975, in 1976, in 1977, in 1978 Connors was ahead 32-18. O 30-20.
    It was too strong until 1977.

    If you tell me that Borg was stronger than the peak Connors (1979 Borg and Connors 1976) for me it is ok.
    If you tell me that Borg was an icon, an idol, a phenomenon that has had a historic unbelievable, better than Connors for me is ok.

    If you tell me that 70 is the decade of Borg and Borg who won on retirement over Connors I will not take it seriously and discussion for me ends here.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I do not understand your logic. Incidentally the ATP often didn't count WCT tournaments in their rankings. I suppose it doesn't matter since your mind is made up already.
     
  10. Gary Duane

    Gary Duane Hall of Fame

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    Borg was born June 6, 1956. He turned 23 in 79.
    Borg had the same kind of freaky early development that Nadal had.He won RG in 1974, barely 18, so there is a freaky parallel between Fed/Rafa and Connors/Borg.

    And people now to try to say that Connors was so good, at the beginning, because it was a "weak" era.
    There you have about a 7.5 year difference, not good for comparison.
    Because Laver was the better player, it was inevitable, I suppose that he would gain the H2H advantage. But the 4 year difference always plays a role.
     
  11. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I don't think it was a weak era for Connors. Connors won because he was a great player. The thing about the Borg-Connors rivalry is while Borg was always a top player he wasn't nearly at the level he would be later when he was playing Connors in the early years. His topspin sometimes landed short and Connors would pound the short balls. Borg around 1977 I believe became the better player but Connors did defeat Borg I believe six out of seven times in the early years. I saw a lot of those early matches and the power of Connors shots were too much for Borg in those years.

    It's hard to say whether Laver would gain an advantage because of Rosewall's huge early advantage. Very rarely does a player make up a 23 match deficit I would think. Rosewall was very lucky to play Laver so often in the one year he was clearly the superior player. I believe Laver and Rosewall played 46 times that first year or around that at least.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  12. Gary Duane

    Gary Duane Hall of Fame

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    Of course not. ;)
    Not so different from what Fed did, off clay, to young Nadal.
    It's complicated because there were three dominant players in the mix, Connors, Borg, JMac, with Lendl following about a year later. That's a lot of ebb and flow.

    Not so different from today's "big four" except that Murray has been less competitive overall. I would need to go back and think very hard about the peak years of each. Borg is easy, JMac is easy, Connors is more complicated, more like Agassi and Rosewall, with perhaps lower peaks but with amazing longevity.
    That period was part of that strange time that is still hotly debated to this very moment. Both players were mostly invisible during their pro days, so we did not turn our full focus on them between their amateur slam days and their emergence into open tennis. Lost of questions about how a guy won the CYGS between the age of 30 and 31 (Laver), and how a man 4 years older also won some. That whole period (early open) was unique.
     
  13. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    We don't know how Borg would've handled being a 27 y/o tennis player (Connors's age when he got married and had a kid, and his 5 year mastery of most of the rest of the tour - and rough stalemate with Borg - ended) because Borg was basically AWOL by then. Maybe Mac beats him like a rented mule through the mid-80s (how do you think a late 20s Borg who'd lost at least half a step would've fared against Mac circa '84?), and he also has to deal with a resurgent Connors and a Lendl who took conditioning to the next level.

    Borg is clearly the best player of all the above names (and of the 70s), but you can't lose sight of the fact that he robbed us all of perspective when he walked away. He's eternally 24 and peaking in every match he plays in our minds, unlike all the other greats, who we watched age and struggle etc. That stuff has an impact.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  14. Anyone4tennis?

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    The Chief was never a pro in the 50's; he turned pro in 1960. Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall both became pros in 1957, and the only professional major that Hoad won in the 50's was the Tournament of Champions in 1959, a tournament that began in 1956. Furthermore, Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, and Trabert were never No. 1 in the 50's as professionals; only Sedgman and Hoad got as high as No. 2.

    Segura, on the other hand, was a powerhouse during the 1950's. He was ranked as high as No. 1 in the world as a pro in 1950 and remained No. 1 arguably for the next two years up until 1952, and throughout most of the 1950's, he was consistently ranked in the top 3 as a professional player even though he was already in his 30's. He played his most brilliant tennis during this decade, and it was a shame that the Majors at this time excluded the pros from competition.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_number_1_male_tennis_player_rankings#1913.E2.80.93present
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    are you serious? Sedgman and Hoad were the greatest amateur number one of all time bar Kramer and Laver
     
  16. Anyone4tennis?

    Anyone4tennis? New User

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    Of course, I am serious. You made a comment about "pros in the 50's." As you can see, I responded accordingly.
     
  17. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    I explained myself badly , I see it right, however eldanger supports in part my point .
     
  18. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    Borg is a great, if it continued after 1981 might have been the GOAT alltime but did not do so.
    Stopping in 1981 won a lot less than Connors. Not less, much less.

    Borg must be judged "over" the results for what they gave to the court, for the transformation impressed, because it's amazing to play so well at 18 and win the RG, because he won Wimbledon at 20 years. And for other reasons.

    But it was the second of the 70s.
    Clearly second.

    In H2H Connors it was better.
    Bjorn has won seven times in 1979.
    From 1973 to 1978 if they met 7 times each year Connors would be 30-20. Always he won until 1977 !!
    It was too strong until 1977.
    Too far away from Borg, Bjorn not seen him even with binoculars !!

    If you tell me that Borg was stronger deli Connors peak (1979 Borg and Connors 1976) for me it is ok.
    If you tell me that Borg was an icon, an idol, a phenomenon that has had an incredible history, better than Connors for me it is ok.

    But Connors won much more.
    He has won a lot more in the 70s.

    1973 Connors >>>>> Borg
    1974 Connors >>>>> Borg
    1975 Connors >>>>> Borg
    1976 Connors >>>>> Borg
    1977 Connors> Borg
    1978 Connors << Borg
    (But also in 1978 Borg does not capitalize, and Connors wins more and is number 1 !!!)
    1979 Connors <<<<< Borg
     
  19. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    Borg was much better in 1979 , it is true .
    Connors never played like the Borg in 1979 ( and 1980 but is 80s ) .

    But Connors was best 1972-1978 .

    Much better .
     
  20. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I give you all the facts. All the information and yet you persist. It's your choice but stop beating people over the head with this.

    So explain to me how Connors is number one for the decade? Now all of a sudden you leave out 1979. Borg won many more titles, three more majors and beat Connors more often than not in the 1970's even though Connors was better in the beginning. Therefore you concluded Connors was the best of the decade. How I don't know.

    If you leave out Borg's 1979 season why not leave out Connors' 1974 season?

    You like Connors I get it. Believe it or not I like Connors too but I'm realistic. I liked Stan Smith more than John Newcombe but I never believed Smith was superior to Newcombe.
     
  21. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    If you get irritated stop immediately .
    But how can I say that I took 1979 ?
    1979 Borg was from another planet . Of course that count !!

    But how do you sustain that from 1972 to 1978 was stronger Borg on Connors ????????

    How do you argue that Borg was stronger in h2h Connors ? Why he won 7 matches in 1979 ???
    Imagine if Connors faced Borg 7 times in 1974 or in 1975 or in 1976 ? In years where he won 20 times out of 20 against Borg .

    Borg was better because Connors was an icon and why did the achievements. I accept it .

    But you do not tell me who has won more tournaments or which was stronger in the years 70s .
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  22. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I wrote for the decade of the 1970s and I included 1979 which you conveniently left out. If you leave out Borg's year in 1979 you should also leave out Connors year in 1974.
     
  23. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    pc1 understand me or not?
    I do not exclude 1979 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    UNDERSTAND THE 1979 BUT .... CONNORS 'it WAS MORE ' STRONG AND HAS WON MORE ' IN THE DECADE 1970-1979.
     
  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    You wrote 1972-78 in the first post. I put it in bold for you. And I did write who won more in the 1970s. Check my post 391 below.
    In my opinion Connors was stronger than Borg in 73 to 75 clearly but not by a huge margin. In 1976 it was not much difference and in fact you can argue Borg had a better year than Connors in 1976 because he won Wimbledon, the WCT Championship and reached the finals of the US Open.

    In 1977 to 1979 Borg was far superior. I've given you all the stats already. Seem my post 391 above for the statistics.

    You add the fact that the Riordan Circuit was not considered nearly as strong as the WCT and ATP circuit Borg played on most of the time. Connors played a lot on the Riordan Circuit. So overall I would say Borg played tougher competition.

    Borg won 90 tournaments in the 1970's.
    Connors won 79.
    Advantage Borg

    Borg won 8 majors in the 1970's.
    Connors won 5 majors.
    Advantage Borg.

    Borg beat Connors 11 of 19.
    Advantage Borg.

    And Borg did this while playing many of his matches against Connors before he reached his prime. Connors was already a top player in 1973 and in his prime.

    Don't forget that the computer system often did not take into account many tournaments in WCT and others like for example the Pepsi which Borg played and often won.

    I'm obviously not going to change your mind on this and you have a right to your opinion so I just leave it at that. I think it's fruitless to continue this discussion. I respect your opinions and you are clearly very knowledgeable about tennis.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  25. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    Titles: 79-52 Connors 27 titles +

    WCT titles all numbered from ranking

    1976 Connors destroys Borg to Palm Springs ( hc ) , destroys Borg to Philadelphia ( carpet / indoor ) and beats him at the US Open ( clay ) .
    He wins too many major tournaments in more ( Wembley , North Conway , Indianapolis , Washington , Las Vegas , US Indoor , Palm Springs ).
    It has twice points atp Borg , twice .

    How do you maintain that it was better to Borg in 1977-78 that Connors is ahead in the ranking and won more great tournaments ?
     
  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Look at the big titles and Borg did there pretty better than Connors.Still,I think 1976 Connors was the best player in the world.
     
  27. KG1965

    KG1965 Professional

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    Great titles better Borg ?
    Borg: Wimbledon + Dallas ( if there was Connors ... ) + Boston. He did not win another
    Connors: Palm Springs Philadelphia + + + USOPEN Wembley + Las Vegas + Indianapolis ++++++++++++++

    It's better Dallas without Connors o Philadelphia and Palm Springs with Borg ?
     
  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Dallas, you just don´t enter it.You qualify for it.
     
  29. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Error. Double post.
     
  30. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Kiki,

    Both Connors and Borg won 12 tournaments in 1976. KG wrote Borg didn't win another and that's wrong.
     
  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I just made a point on his Dallas argument.
     
  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I know Kiki. KG made a statement about no more tournaments and I just wanted to clarify everything. For what's it worth I think Connors was slightly better in 1976 but it is very close.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  33. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    This is true, though it is equally true that Connors and Borg played many matches after Connors entered his late 20s and Borg was 23-25 years old. They played 13 matches b/w 1979-81, with Borg winning 11; they played 7 times b/w 1974-76, with Connors winning all 7.

    This isn't really either one's fault - the tour was more organized from '79-'81 after the WCT and the Grand Prix circuit temporarily merged and everybody started playing the YEC year after year; you can see a decent spike in instances where the top guys played the same tournaments starting around '79 or so. They'd have likely played a few more matches against one another during Connors's peak years had the alphabet soup of tours and circuits been less all over the place.

    One other small point in favor of the Borg-Connors rivalry - they played multiple matches across all surfaces through the 70s (I think they faced each other on clay as much or more than any other surface during the decade) - this is in contrast to the celebrated Borg-Mac rivalry, which never featured a tussle on dirt of any color (Mac's fault of course).
     
  34. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    I agree re: '76, though the h2h was lopsided enough for me to change "slightly" to "moderately." As well, Philly and Palm Springs had better fields than Dallas that year, and didn't provide combatants an automatic bye to the quarterfinals (I know, I know, it was a matter of qualifying).

    Anyway, Borg's '76 is one of the great runner-up seasons in the Open Era - as was Connors '78. As far as '77 goes, I think Borg was the best player that season, though Connors was most consistent and Vilas most accomplished. Borg is my PoY for '77.
     
  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with everything you wrote except I'm not sure of the Philly and Palm Spring fields so I cannot comment on that.

    It was always fun watching these two play because even in a rout the rallies were interesting.

    I wonder what player in history had the best record for a number two ranking for the year or at least the Open Era. That's an interesting question that you brought up.

    Maybe Nadal in 2013 because they did name Djokovic player of the year? I do tend to think of Nadal in 2013 as number one however. Connors in 1978 perhaps? Maybe Newcombe who won two majors in 1973 although he didn't do much else in tournaments that year.
     
  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Nice observation here, I'd never really thought about why Borg and Connors suddenly met so often in '79. To the extent I thought about it at all I may have assumed it was just one of those times in a rivalry when both players start making their "appointed meetings." Without looking into the details, I'm sure you're right that it had something to do with the changes happening on the tour. If things had continued as chaotic as they were in '77, for example, Borg and Connors would have had fewer meetings.

    I agree Borg's '76 was one of the strongest runner-up perfs. And that's really only because of the debates on this board; before that, I had always assumed Borg was far behind Connors in '76. It's closer than that; not hairline close (Connors has too much going for him in '76, e.g., significantly fewer losses than Borg), but respectably close.
     
  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with your post. This begs the question, who had the greatest number two season in history?
     
  38. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    '76 Borg, '78 Connors -- both seasons had closer races for #1 than I had always assumed. '95 Agassi pops to mind.
     
  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Agassi in 95 had the best GW% in his career. It was in my opinion his best year for level of play. His level of play that year imo was superior to Sampras, the official number one.
     
  40. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Where Connors and Lendl's primes overlapped 1981 to 1984 they were pretty even. Lendl led 8 to 7 for those years.

    Connors Prime (not peak): 1974 to 1984
    Lendl's Prime (not peak): 1981 to 1991
     
  41. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    First, they are officially 7-7 during this period. Unofficially, Lendl is up 8-7, but that's because Lendl won the first set on carpet in Rotterdam in 84 when the match was abandoned because of a bomb scare. It doesn't actually count in the ATP.

    Connors generally won when it really counted though. He went 3-0 against Lendl in Slams during this period, winning the 82 and 83 US Open finals and 84 Wimbledon semis, and he also beat Lendl in the Davis Cup. The other interesting thing is that four of Lendl's wins over Connors in that period are on carpet, never Jimmy's best surface. Two were on hard courts and one on clay. Connors won twice on grass and five times on hard.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  42. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    what about the big exhibitionals? I am probabling leaving a few aside, but as far as I recall it goes like:

    Chicago Challenge of Champions: 1-1
    Moolson Chalenge: 1-1
    South Africa: Connors leads 1-0

    That would compensate the Rotterdam affair.
     
  43. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    Thanks - yeah, I couldn't precisely quantify it, but I can say that the back-of-the-envelope work I did recently on ATP Top 3 joint appearances supported that there was some kind of shift in '79, and it seems like that brief WCT-Grand Prix detente is a decent candidate for an explanation (at least in part).

    Pretty sure that the two of 'em entered more (sanctioned) events together in '79 than in '76 and '77 combined.
     
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Timnz,

    While I can see your point I do feel that in observing Connors at that time that Connors had a noticeable decline in playing level in 1984. He was defeated handily by Lendl at the Tournament of Champions and by McEnroe at Wimbledon. While McEnroe's performance at Wimbledon was amazing I think Connors just a few years earlier would have make it far closer.
     
  45. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    In their biggest matches, who won?
     
  46. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Both Lendl and Connors don't get their full respect.
     
  47. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree. Some make it seem like they're not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Federer or Nadal.
     
  48. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Rookie

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    In 1979 Connors lost 11 matches. However, only 3 of those were not against Borg or McEnroe. One was to an inspired Pecci at RG and another was the always dangerous Tanner. So his only "bad" loss was against Gullikson.

    In 1984 Connors lost 14 times. However, only 2 of those were not against McEnroe, Lendl or Wilander. 6 were against McEnroe, including all 3 slams. One of those 2 losses was against Cash in the davis cup, so once again the only "bad" loss was against (the other) Gullikson.

    I would argue that in those 2 years McEnroe, Borg, Lendl and Wilander were better than anyone Connors played between 74-76.
     
  49. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Rookie

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    I assume you're talking unofficial/"real"? Because of course Borg was the ATP number 2 in 78.

    I think maybe Djokovic in 2013. What about pre-ranking years?

    Lacoste in 1925
    Perry 1937
    Budge or Vines 1938
    Sedgman 1953
    Hoad or Gonzalez 1959
     
  50. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Connors won 3: Wimbledon 84 and US Open 82 and 83
    Lendl won 3 : 82,83 and 84 Masters

    They had already played at the WCT/Masters 2 matches in 1980 and they wouldn´t play at the French until 1985
     

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