Originally Posted by timnz
I thought about the 'old' theory, but it just didn't stand up. After all later in the year when Connors faced McEnroe at the US Open he was his normal self again - competed with McEnroe on an even footing.
Connors' decline, i.e. the "old theory", didn't just happen all at once. There were early signs in 1984, where in some smaller matches, he would play poorly and barely win games, but he was still there when it mattered in the big matches against Lendl, but a peak McEnroe was usually too much. Of course, at the US Open, it was different, but that's Connors' best and favourite tournament. There's also the racquet factor that I mentioned.
1985 saw Connors be good and consistent, but his days of reaching major finals were over, and he couldn't win a tournament. 1986 was much the same, except with the 10 week suspension controversy added in, which probably had a factor in his poor showing in the majors that year. 1987 was an excellent year for an older Connors of reaching major quarter and semi finals, but still no tournament. 1988 saw some tournament wins, but his form in the majors was now declining, and it got worse in 1989.
1984 was the early signs of decline, but I still think that Connors was the second best player of that year. He would still beat Lendl in the biggest matches in 1984, whereas after the 1984 Tokyo Indoor final, Connors never beat Lendl again despite the odd close match.