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Old 01-09-2008, 02:22 PM   #12
Moose Malloy
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,841

Just read this on the Tennis Channel website:

It was on New Year's Day in 1975 on the grass courts of Kooyong that Newcombe secured his last major singles title, toppling Jimmy Connors 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) in a stunning final round display. Connors had won three of the four major titles in 1974 and had lost only four matches that entire season, celebrating the greatest year of his illustrious career. He had seemed on the edge of invincibility as he headed into Melbourne, but then the wily and resourceful Newcombe cut him down methodically on the grass.

As Newcombe recalls, "Of all the Slams that I won, that was by far the most physical endurance that I had to encounter. Normally for a Slam I would be preparing for a couple of months whereas I had ten days to prepare for that tournament. I hadn't played for a month. I wasn't playing. I was stopping. But then I found out ten days before the tournament that Jimmy was coming, and that was when I decided to enter the event. I only entered for one reason: I wanted [to beat] Jimmy."

The reason Newcombe was so determined to take on Connors was because he had finished No. 2 in the world behind the American in 1974, and yet they had never met head-to-head the whole season. Newcombe, who had ousted Connors on his way to capturing the 1973 U.S. Open championship in their only previous meeting, had been the dominant player on the prestigious WCT circuit in the winter and spring of 1974 before Connors took over at the majors.

"I thought," Newcombe recollects, "that I had not done myself justice in 1974 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open [he lost to Rosewall in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the semifinals of the Open].So I wanted to play Jimmy, but I had a hard time getting to the final of that 75' Australian. On the last three days, I beat Geoff Masters 10-8 in the fifth set on Monday and then played a doubles match after that. On Tuesday, I beat Tony Roche 11-9 in the fifth from 5-2 down and four match points, and then I had to default the doubles because I was so exhausted. I had no memory of the last 45 minutes of my match with Tony. I had to play Jimmy on the Wednesday. If I had lost the fourth set tie-break to Jimmy in the final, maybe I would have been a spent force for the fifth. I was into a lot of uncharted territory."

Was that victory over Connors--- after all Newcombe had endured, after such an arduous set of circumstances--- his most rewarding ever at a Grand Slam event? Newcombe answers, " I think my real coming of age was when I beat Muscles [Rosewall] in the 1970 Wimbledon final because that meant I was up there with Ken and Laver. With the Connors match at the 1975 Australian Open, that whole match was a story in itself. When I thought back on it a few days later I was proud of myself for what I had been able to put myself through physically to attain my goal that I had mentally. I had gone into areas of my body I had never been into before so it was a fascinating experience. I had read in books about people enduring things physically and going beyond the capacity that they think they have, and getting into an area where you just keep going, where you are past exhaustion and you are into some inner reserve inside your body. That was a great feeling for me to achieve that right at the end of my career."
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