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Old 06-17-2012, 11:50 AM   #36
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,533

One of the quirks of this match is how Newcombe was well below 50% success on second serve, while Connors, with the much weaker service, was winning about two-thirds of all points on his own second serve.

A few months later Connors d. Newcombe in a Challenge Match in Las Vegas, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Vines, writing in 1978, thought that Newcombe lost that match because he came in too much behind his second serve.
The Connors-Newcombe $250,000 showdown at Caesar’s Palace ... served to dramatize a salient tactical weakness in the “big game” method of attaining the net. Newcombe lost because he invariably followed in his second serve in the deuce court. This was the tragic flaw – in an otherwise outstanding performance – that allowed Connors to break serve and turn the tide. In fact, I think Newcombe might well have won if he had avoided this tactic; his mighty second serve could have given him the offensive jump on his first groundstroke. As it was, he actually outsteadied Jimmy in most of their rallies. But when Newk failed to mix up his serving tactics, Jimmy could concentrate all his efforts on making an offensive passing shot.

Another drawback of the “big game” can be inferred from this match. Newk double-faulted nine times, not because he was serving badly, but because of his total commitment to the “big game.” In the light of Connors’ awesome ability to return, Newcombe was forced to attempt too much with his serve.

Ironically, Connors hit more aces and double-faulted only a third as much, even though Connors’ delivery isn’t in the same league with Newcombe’s. But Jimmy had the advantage of not having to worry about following in his serve. And because he seldom took the net on service, he could relax and be content with placing it well … and deep. On the other hand Newcombe, who perhaps has the best second serve in the world, couldn’t transcend the basic advantage a greater returner has against a net attack. All I can say is, if you are one of those rare creatures blessed with a strong second serve, the “big game” can be a fine strategy against an average groundstroker. But when you face a great returner, the lesson is clear: be wary of the net on your second serve in the deuce court.
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