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Old 11-02-2011, 06:16 PM   #25
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,532

Sports Illustrated had a good report on the match:


The occasion was the final round of the $91,000 Marlboro Australian Open, and the first leg of the Grand Slam. Their get-together was to many people the ex post facto 1974 tennis championship of the world, and to a few others simply the best match of the decade: Connors, the awesome young champion and winner of 99 of 103 matches in 1974, against Newcombe, the crafty, charismatic, over-30 champion one year removed. In four sets of superlative tennis Newcombe regained the unofficial title and gave Connors a solid lesson in playing pressure-packed tennis, as well as showing him something about strategy and some good old mix-'em-up and spit-'em-out scrambling and serving. Newcombe saved his best stuff for the end, and kept an ace up the serving sleeve of his untucked tennis shirt. Seventeen aces, to be exact.

….After an easy match against the silver-haired Australian Trevor Fancutt, Newcombe sweated through three five-set matches in his next four rounds.….Those skin-of-the-teeth survivals only served to further endear Newcombe to the partisan crowd, despite his torturing them with his constant, almost deliberate toying with defeat. But Newcombe apparently throve on the pressure, and he knows how to prepare for the big one.

He quietly and intently observed Connors' matches from the stands and on television, while Connors smugly declined to return the compliment.

"You have to know how to serve to beat Connors," Newcombe said. "Serving to Jimmy is like pitching to Hank Aaron. If you don't mix up your stuff he'll hit it out of the ball park. He's strong from the service line, but he's got certain weaknesses in his volley. He doesn't disguise his shots, except for his lob. He relies on his power stroke and the brute strength of his forehand. And on his second serve he likes to stay back because he's not sure of it."

.... Newcombe won on the strength of his serve and some smart lobbing, an attack he had planned while watching Connors. One indication of the effort Newcombe put into his serve—his 17 aces aside—was that he also served seven double faults to none, save the intentional one, by Connors.

Later a composed, congratulatory Connors bristled at suggestions that he played at a level below his best. "I tried my butt off out there today," he said graciously if solecistically. "Newcombe has pride in his game and above all pride in himself. But just because I lose one match doesn't mean I'm not No. 1 in the world anymore. I won more tournaments than anyone else in 1974, and I'm still No. 1 until someone disproves it."

But Newcombe's defeat of Connors in seven of the eight sets they have played over the last two years was one indication that it may already have been disproved, at least for the time being....
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