Stats for Ashe-Connors (1975 W final)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by krosero, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The issue of Connors' injury is a difficult one because, as with any injury, it's impossible to know exactly the impact it made on the match. I do think there's a lot of evidence, however, showing that Ashe's win over Connors does not need an injury by Connors to be explained.

    One is Connors' poor form throughout this year. He was putting on weight and having a lot of head-scratching losses.

    Tanner predicted just before Wimbledon started that Connors would not defend his title successfully. That was just after he'd beaten Connors at the Wimbledon tune-up in Nottingham.

    WIMBLEDON, England (AP)—Jimmy Connors, twice beaten on grass in two weeks, remained the early favorite to win the Wimbledon tennis title for the second straight year.

    But on the eve of the two-week run of the All-England championships, the odds were lengthened, making him a 3-2 shot instead of 5-4...

    Pre-Wimbledon warmups traditionally produce upsets as the stars tune up on English grass. Connors’ image was tarnished after two defeats, but not his confidence….

    The men who beat Connors were Bernie Mitton of South Africa at Chichester two weeks ago and Roscoe Tanner of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., at Nottingham….

    The Wimbledon champion has been involved in several lawsuits. He has filed actions against Commercial Union, the insurance company that sponsors the Grand Prix, and Jack Kramer, associate adviser to ATP. And Kramer has filed a suit against Connors.

    While Ashe professed astonishment at the lawsuit, one player was emphatic that Connors would not win Wimbledon again. Tanner said: “Jimmy is not ready to defend his title. He hasn’t played enough matches. The man I beat is not the Connors that defeated John Newcombe in the world challenge match. It really shows when he has to play big points.​
    So Connors went oh-for-4 in his grasscourt tournaments in '75, including the AO.
     
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  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In '76 Connors started Wimbledon, again, looking invincible. Tanner took him out in a straight-set quarterfinal, ironically, by adopting Ashe's tactics from the year before.

    AP report:

    With Ashe already out of the tournament, the way looked wide open for Connors to regain the title he wanted so badly. He had breezed the the first four rounds this year without dropping a single set.

    But the seventh-seeded Tanner, famous for his 140-mile-per hour plus serve, today showed he has all the other shots in his armory as well....

    Tanner slammed 19 aces.

    The early part of the match gave no hint of the upset to come. Connors broke Tanner’s service in the first game and dropped only one point in his first three service games. Connors looked set for victory as he served at 4-3, but suddenly the course of the match turned. Tanner began returning service short, and Connors made one error after another, missing or netting low volleys.

    Tanner broke service, leveled at 4-4 and then held service for 5-4. As he stepped up his game, Connors lost his touch and finally lost the set by serving his first double fault of the match.​
    What stands out for me here is how quickly the match turned when Tanner changed the pace. That is very much like the Ashe-Connors match, where Arthur was dominant so long as he kept to the plan but lost the third set when he momentarily reverted to his natural habit of playing with power.

    Wire Service Reports:

    Roscoe Tanner, saying he never served faster in his life, blitzed 19 aces past Jimmy Connors to send the odds-on favorite crashing out of Wimbledon in straight sets today.

    Tanner, whose serves have been timed by radar at 140 miles an hour, was grinning from ear to ear as he met newsmen after pulling off the biggest upset of the $280,000 tournament.

    “I have never served harder than I did today,” said the man from Lookout Mountain, Tenn. “But I also served intelligently. I tried to vary the pace of every serve. Against Jimmy, if you serve two the same he knocks the second one off—if he hasn’t already knocked off the first one.”

    Tanner said he came off center court last year after the same match “shell-shocked” after Connors had beaten him in three sets. “I played it very differently this year. I didn’t try to match him for power. I was trying to float it back and drop short on him with a little sloppy sort of shot.”

    The strategy worked partly because Connors played well below his best form – a fact which Tanner acknowledged. “He missed a lot of easy shots and volleys which let me into the match – but I’m not complaining.”​

    UPI:

    Connors, who lost only 29 games in his previous four matches, appeared to be in unbeatable form on the sun-baked grass of the All England Club.

    But Tanner, who fired 19 aces by Connors in one of the most awesome displays of serving the famed center court has ever seen in the late stages of the tournament, threw in some “little sloppy sort of shot” to make Connors appear unusually slow-footed and indecisive, much the same tactics Arthur Ashe employed in his upset victory in last year’s final, and which Manuel Orantes used at Forest hills in the final of the U.S. Open.​
    Again, though I have not seen this '76 match, the description used in the report is very much what was said about Connors in the Ashe match: "unusually slow-footed and indecisive."

    In essence, Tanner pulled off a mix of power-and-junk to beat an in-form Connors. But if Tanner could do that, Ashe certainly could, injury or no.

    And Connors was very much in-form in '76. He'd put on weight in '75 but was slimmed down in '76, a little chastened from so many defeats the previous year, and more eager and focused than ever.

    Those 29 games he lost on his way to the quarters, turns out to be his personal record at Wimbledon. He had only three years when he made it that far without dropping a set: 1975 (33 games dropped), 1976 (29 games) and 1981 (39 games).

    In ’74, ironically, he dropped six sets and a total of 63 games in reaching the quarters. In ’82 he dropped two sets and a total of 45 games.

    I think that puts perspective on Connors' run to the final in '75. It was superb, but over the course of '75 as a whole it looks like a momentary blip in a year of poor form.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
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  3. JCat

    JCat Rookie

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    It seems that the whole point of this New York Times article was to make it sound like Connors was making excuses in his book for this loss to Ashe, forty years later. Like so many articles about Connors through the years, I found it very slanted. I was particulary surprised by Donald Dell's remarks that he had never heard these claims that Connors was injured before. I've known about it for years, so how did HE not know? The first I read of it was in a famous piece on Connors back in 1978 for Sports Illustrated, called "Raised By Women To Conquer Men." Dell was a good friend of Ashe, so I think he just does not like any suggestion that Ashe's victory was not 100% pure. And the thing is, I never got the impression from Connors' book that he was blaming the loss on his leg injury. He clearly stated that Ashe played perfectly against him that day. He was just stating the facts of what medical treatment he was receiving during that tournament. Is that not allowed? Is this breaking some unwritten rule?
     
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  4. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Going into the 1975 Wimbledon final, Connors had a win-loss record for the year of 47-2, winning 6 tournaments in the process. The two losses were to Newcombe (world number 2) in the Australian Open final, and to Tanner at Queen's Club. Connors had also won two big exhibition matches in Las Vegas against Laver and Newcombe. Connors didn't drop a set on his way to the 1975 Wimbledon final, so it was much more convincing than his run to the 1974 Wimbledon final, and he did a real job on Tanner in the 1975 Wimbledon semis.
     
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  5. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Those three losses in those three GS finals cost Connors any chance of being called the greatest player of all time. had he been able to repeat his 1974 showing he would be in the top 5, probably.
     
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  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    yes, the author of that piece got it wrong; it wasn't a new claim by Connors.

    I have issues with how much to make of the injury, but I don't think the injury is made up or that there's anything wrong with reporting it.

    And I agree that the way Connors talked about it in his book does not come off as blaming the injury for the loss; that angle was sensationalized a bit when the book came out.

    47-2, I take it, is the figure derived from the current ATP stats, but that doesn't include the Chichester tournament where Connors lost to Bernie Mitton. Not sure why the event is not counted; it was a Wimbledon tune-up tournament, not an exo.

    So he'd been beaten 3 times going into the Wimbledon final (all 3 times on grass). And 2 of the losses had happened just before Wimbledon. Connors had not played since April; since coming back he had not won any title.

    I think Tanner was spot-on when he said that Connors had not played enough, and that this showed in the way he played big points. That great run he had to the Wimbledon final, makes sense, physically, because he was starting to get his strokes back, starting to hit cleanly again; and he was well-rested, so it's no surprise he could look spectacular, in simple straight-set matches. He wasn't pushed; he didn't have to play big pressure points.

    It wouldn't be the first time in tennis history that someone has run through lesser competition only to show vulnerability when really pushed, in the later rounds or in the final. Sometimes you need some tough matches -- especially if you're lacking match play.

    I know the clay/grass transition was difficult, but this is one year where I think Connors would have benefited enormously by going to RG. He would've have to sweat and fight and play big points. He would have had a lot of practice against off-pace tennis. It could actually have helped him when it came time to face Ashe's tactics, in a close battle.

    And if he played enough matches he could have whipped himself into shape sooner. That may have changed the course of his injury. Maybe, being fitter, he would not have incurred the injury. Maybe he would have still been injured. Maybe he would have been injured at RG instead of Wimbledon. Who knows, but it might have played out differently.
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Mustard btw a thousand thanks for providing the excerpt from Tanner's book, in the other thread. I'll have some comments on it but just wanted to express thanks for taking the time to put all that material here where we can read it (I don't have his book).
     
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  8. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    My pleasure :)
     
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