Did Connors in fact win tournaments on Red Clay?

timnz

Legend
It is usually stated as a fact that the only clay courts Connors won on were Har-Tru courts found in the US.

However, I noticed in 1978 & 1979 that he won three smaller tournaments in South America, twice against the great clay courter Vilas & once against Clay supremo Borg:

1979:
September 15–16 Rio de Janeiro - 4-men invitational Clay win over Guillermo Vilas 6–3 6–4 6–3

September 28–30 Asuncion - Boqueron International Clay Guillermo Vilas 7–5 6–3

1978:
Also in September of 1978 he beat the other great clay courter of the 1970's Bjorn Borg:

Buenos Aires - 4-men invitational Clay win over Björn Borg 5–7 6–3 6–3

So my question is, were these three South American Clay Court tournaments on Red Clay like in Europe? I always have assumed that South America Clay was like European.

If I am right then Connors did in fact win tournaments over top quality players on Red Clay (Borg and Vilas - cannot get two more dominant players on clay in the mid to late 1970's), which blows the Myth that he couldn't play well on that surface. And it also adds to the speculation that he could have perhaps won Roland Garros in 1974 if he hadn't been banned.


Note: Yes, I know these are smaller non-ATP sactioned tournaments, however a tournament is a tournament - especially against such quality opposition!).
 
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the events listed here for connors on red clay are vey minor events and ther the south american event over borg in 1978 nededs a source to confirm it.

the main point is connors never won a 32 or 16 man draw event on red clay ever and never even reached a french open final. REmember in 1982 and 1983 he won slams at wimbledon and usopen but failed to get past the qf in either year in paris. for a great player connors is very weak on red clay. In 1977 connors suffred his only legit 1st round defeat in years (since 1973) when panatta beat him in houston on red clay


jeffrey
 
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CyBorg

Legend
I don't think anyone's saying Connors wasn't a good clay court player.

I did say that he never won an important clay court title.

I think Agassi is overrated on clay, but he won in Rome and made two finals at RG before winning on it.
 

timnz

Legend
Someone able to confirm an answer to my question

"So my question is, were these three South American Clay Court tournaments on Red Clay like in Europe? I always have assumed that South America Clay was like European."

Just wondered if South American Clay was like European - especially the events I quoted.
 

AndrewD

Legend
Even past his best Connors reached the semis at the French in 79,80,84 and 85!!!

He was really good on clay, and if had played the French Open in 74 to 78, I now think Borgs record would look slightly different:)

79 and 80 Connors was still playing his best tennis - that's why he won Wimbleodn in 82 and the US Open in 82 and 83. Plus, he was only 27/28 during those years - not what you'd call old.

84 and 85 are a different matter and do show how good he was. Red clay wasn't his best surface (he thrived on pace) but he knew how to play on it, same as all of the old-school greats.

I don't necessarily think that Connors' presence would have done anything much to Borg's dominance. However, I do think it would have improved the standard of tennis. Borg was allowed to get away with playing incredibly defensive tennis because there was no-one of sufficient calibre to make him do otherwise. It was only when Panatta played to his best in 76 that Borg ran into an opponent who could show that the best clay-court tennis involves attacking the net.

Not suggesting that Borg wouldn't have done as well if he'd faced a legion of guys like Panatta - but I do think he'd have had to raise his game to adapt and, in the long run, he'd have been a better player for it. Somewhat similar to Nadal at the moment. He's just not running into anyone who knows how to attack on clay so he's not pushed to play at his maximum capacity.
 

jimbo333

Hall of Fame
the events listed here for connors on red clay are vey minor events and ther the south american event over borg in 1978 nededs a source to confirm it.

the main point is connors never won a 32 or 16 man draw event on red clay ever and never even reached a french open final. REmember in 1982 and 1983 he won slams at wimbledon and usopen but failed to get past the qf in either year in paris. for a great player connors is very weak on red clay. In 1977 connors suffred his only legit 1st round defeat in years (since 1973) when panatta beat him in houston on red clay


jeffrey

The important point you are missing here, is that Connors didn't play the French Open for 5 years when he was at his peak. I'm not saying he would have definitely won any from 74 to 78, but in my opinion he probably would have won in 74, and probably reached a final in the following 4 years. This would have shown that he was a very good player on clay:):)
 

timnz

Legend
Sources

the events listed here for connors on red clay are vey minor events and ther the south american event over borg in 1978 nededs a source to confirm it.
jeffrey

From Wikipedia on Jimmy Connors the source is quoted:
Source: The following are the sources for the information that is not on the Association of Tennis Professionals Web site:

Michel Sutter, Vainqueurs Winners 1946-2003, Paris 2003. Sutter has attempted to list all tournaments meeting his criteria for selection beginning with 1946 and ending in the fall of 1991. For each tournament, he has indicated the city, the date of the final, the winner, the runner-up, and the score of the final. A tournament is included in his list if: (1), the draw for the tournament included at least eight players (with a few exceptions, such as the Pepsi Grand Slam tournaments in the second half of the 1970s); and (2), the level of the tournaments was at least equal to the present-day challenger tournaments. Sutter's book probably is the most exhaustive source of tennis tournament information since World War II, even though some professional tournaments held before the start of the open era are missing. Later, Sutter issued a second edition of his book, with only the players, their wins, and years for the period of 1946 through April 27, 2003.
John Barrett, editor, World of Tennis Yearbooks, London from 1976 through 1983

The real point here is to respond to the notion that Connors didn't play well on Red Clay. These tournaments from 1978 & 1979 show that Connors could beat the top clay guys (in the late 1970's these were indisputably Borg and Vilas) on those surfaces.

Now it is very clear and understood that Borg was a significantly better clay courter in 1978 than in 1974 (the latter time only being barely 18 years old). Whereas Connors was 21 and near his peak or at his peak. Hence, these 1978 & 1979 wins doesn't prove Connors would win in 1974 but it gives us a jolly good reason to think that he could have done very well then.
 
connors red clay

i know that connors won those minor 4 man eventsin south america over borg and vilas.

THe source michael sutter is not quoted on connor's this page. sutter's book does not include 8 man and 4 man invitational events; the only one he counted was pepsi grand slam cup; suttet is not quoted on connors's page for his results. the resuts you quote can all be found in tingay and barrett's world of tenis yearbooks. ie connors won the events , but their is no source for the surface as red clay; it is not proven. sutter did not include such events in his books. Its a guess on the surface by who ever entered the word clay in wikki. ; an original newspaper account of the matches in south a merica is need to prove it was clay; I REPEAT sutter is not a source for these event .


JEFFFREY
 
no its not obvious its clay; it could be clay of some sort, but there is no reason either that these events could be played at a multipurpse arena like wemblely or madison square garden, which would make them indoors. 4 man eventswere were usually played at non-traitional tennis venues. In otherwords the connors win over borg in 1978 might well not have been played at the same veue used for the argentine open in 1978.

jeffrey
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
And we must take into account that Jimbo's clay win in September of 1978 over Björn with a healthy handful of salt just because Borg wasn't at his best in September -- the thumb-blister from the Open-final still had destroyed his practice cycle. Borg was only back in form again in late 1978...

And yes, Panatta did beat Borg at RG -- but Adriano's not exactly a shoo in for RG 74, 75, 77 OR 78 right? Especially since Borg beat him those years...

Some people disregard context and said not long ago for example: Roger beat Rafa in Hamburg 2007 therefore he's the favorite to win RG 2007... Strange logic...
 
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hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
It was only when Panatta played to his best in 76 that Borg ran into an opponent who could show that the best clay-court tennis involves attacking the net.

Yes, Borg against Vilas at the French was a match Borg could win in his sleep: outlast a slower, defensive baseliner.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
And we must take into account that Jimbo's clay win in September of 1978 over Björn with a healthy handful of salt just because Borg wasn't at his best in September -- the thumb-blister from the Open-final still had destroyed his practice cycle. Borg was only back in form again in late 1978...

And yes, Panatta did beat Borg at RG -- but Adriano's not exactly a shoo in for RG 74, 75, 77 OR 78 right? Especially since Borg beat him those years...

Some people disregard context and said not long ago for example: Roger beat Rafa in Hamburg 2007 therefore he's the favorite to win RG 2007... Strange logic...

You didn't mention the infamous 1978 Italian Open final is which Borg was pelted with coins, cans, boos from the hostile crowd and the worst lines calls ever and still won in five sets over Panatta on red clay. Borg probably would won in straight sets under normal circumstances. An amazing match by Borg.

Actually Panatta never should have reached the final since he was about to lose to Higueras when the crowd acted up and Higueras defaulted.
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
You didn't mention the infamous 1978 Italian Open final is which Borg was pelted with coins, cans, boos from the hostile crowd and the worst lines calls ever and still won in five sets over Panatta on red clay. Borg probably would won in straight sets under normal circumstances. An amazing match by Borg.

Actually Panatta never should have reached the final since he was about to lose to Higueras when the crowd acted up and Higueras defaulted.

Thanks for reminding me. That match is weirdass masterpiece if ever there was one. Only seen it once in Italy and Borg plays really well despite the total unhinged insanity that tornadoes around him. It looks so strange seeing Borg being so assaulted and then cooly bang a precision passingshot directly after. And all of the "questionable" linecalls as you said -- worst I've ever seen by a long shot. And not just three or four of them either. Almost every other ball after a while...

It must've been humiliating even Adriano. He was good guy and a friend of Björn's.

But not even God's lightningsbolts could disturb The Ice Man when he wanted to win it seemed...
 
Even past his best Connors reached the semis at the French in 79,80,84 and 85!!!

He was really good on clay, and if had played the French Open in 74 to 78, I now think Borgs record would look slightly different:)

Was he really past his best in 79 and 80? He did have one of his best years ever in 1982 after all. He had amazing longevity both playing near his best (74-82 maybe) and playing at a very high level (even until 1991) which is one of many reasons he is such a great player.
 

martin

Banned
It's a pity that Connors skipped the australian for most of his career and the French Open in his best years. I bet he would have won four grandslams more at least. People should consider this when they compare all time greats.
 
connors's peak years

my view is 1974-78 when he topped the atp rankings which how ever useless they are in taking account of factors like (proper weights for slams ; average system of caculation with a minimum of 12 events; no points for wct finals, masters , davis cup; or other 16 and 8 man wct events like the cbs classic, wct challenge cup in hawaai and vegas or sharkey' tournament of champions; shameless promotion of their own tournaments in the rankings eg connors received about 130 for winning us and wimbledon 1974 - laver received 120 for winning alan king classic in vegas) do reward consistency.

after 1979 his win loss ratio declined significantly and he started losing to weak players, paricularly on clay , where he lost to cajoulle in monte carlo in 1980, beaten in 1982 (he we won wimbledon in 1982 because he improved his service compared to its total ineffective state from 79-81) by higueras in straight sets in qf in paris and lost in 1983 french to vassellin in qf despite winning the us open that year. In 1979 i saw connors play a lot and not only was he thrashed by borg and every time i saw them play (pepsi and wimblledon) and by mcenroe at dallas which l also saw; he never played a good match. at wimbledon i saw all of his matches and he played mediocre tennis every match far below the way he crushed opponents on the way to 1978 final, where borg played the best match i saw him him play at wimbldeon.


borg's peak was 1976 to 1980. in 1981 he reached all 3 slam finals but in ordinary events was very poor. in 1979 borg beat connors 7-0 in 1979 showing how poor connors was. In 1982 connors beat borg 7-1 and remember borg had a 3-0 edge over lendl in 1982 and his wins in australia over lendl, gerulatitis and mcenroe in a 4man event played all over 5 sets showed borg could still really play in 1982. connors's 7-1 edge is no fluke. you look at borg's record in invitaional 4 man and 8 man events and borg always played to win .


jeffrey
 
P

PERL

Guest
Connors had very few appearances in the major events on european red clay anyway, Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg even. I don’t know if the european clay season counted that much in the seventies for an american player. Today even Roddick might skip a few more clay events if he had the choice.
 

BTURNER

Legend
It is usually stated as a fact that the only clay courts Connors won on were Har-Tru courts found in the US.

However, I noticed in 1978 & 1979 that he won three smaller tournaments in South America, twice against the great clay courter Vilas & once against Clay supremo Borg:

1979:
September 15–16 Rio de Janeiro - 4-men invitational Clay win over Guillermo Vilas 6–3 6–4 6–3

September 28–30 Asuncion - Boqueron International Clay Guillermo Vilas 7–5 6–3

1978:
Also in September of 1978 he beat the other great clay courter of the 1970's Bjorn Borg:

Buenos Aires - 4-men invitational Clay win over Björn Borg 5–7 6–3 6–3

So my question is, were these three South American Clay Court tournaments on Red Clay like in Europe? I always have assumed that South America Clay was like European.

If I am right then Connors did in fact win tournaments over top quality players on Red Clay (Borg and Vilas - cannot get two more dominant players on clay in the mid to late 1970's), which blows the Myth that he couldn't play well on that surface. And it also adds to the speculation that he could have perhaps won Roland Garros in 1974 if he hadn't been banned.


Note: Yes, I know these are smaller non-ATP sactioned tournaments, however a tournament is a tournament - especially against such quality opposition!).
You miss the typical problem here. Its not that Americans like Connors, McEnroe, or Sampras can't win some big matches against some really great clay courters or even some one week tournaments. The problem is that they only have so many good matches in them before a bad one shows up and RG requires two weeks and 7 in a row and that always seemed to be just too demanding. Its round, after round, after round, after round, after round, after round, after round in succession that is the problem. Your ' 4 man invitational' for example isn't a good test of consistency.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
You miss the typical problem here. Its not that Americans like Connors, McEnroe, or Sampras can't win some big matches against some really great clay courters or even some one week tournaments. The problem is that they only have so many good matches in them before a bad one shows up and RG requires two weeks and 7 in a row and that always seemed to be just too demanding. Its round, after round, after round, after round, after round, after round, after round in succession that is the problem. Your ' 4 man invitational' for example isn't a good test of consistency.
Although, in 1956 the most inconsistent player in the history of tennis, in the opinion of some, won the RG event.
 

timnz

Legend
So he actually won 3 more 'shared' titles due to finals being called off. So actually brings his actual number of ATP titles to 112.
I would say 3 more runner-ups. Not a winner unless won the tournament. But should definitely be recorded as runner-up at least.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I would say 3 more runner-ups. Not a winner unless won the tournament. But should definitely be recorded as runner-up at least.
If the event considers it a shared title, why shouldn't ATP? Rain, bomb scares, etc....not the fault of either player, really.
 

urban

Legend
Even Boris Becker won a small exo tournament in the Netherlands in the late 80s. I saw the final on tv, when he beat the great clay courter Sampras.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Given that Connors played relatively few red clay events over the course of his lengthy career, it's hard to assess what COULD have been.
In the 70's/early 80's there were many green clay events, you really could just stay stateside if you wanted to.
The exos called out at the start of the thread obviously demonstrate that he COULD play well on the surface on a given day or match
The Har-Tru results support that claim too.
But, he mostly chose not to do the European red clay tour.
 

NoMercy

Hall of Fame
Given that Connors played relatively few red clay events over the course of his lengthy career, it's hard to assess what COULD have been.
In the 70's/early 80's there were many green clay events, you really could just stay stateside if you wanted to.
The exos called out at the start of the thread obviously demonstrate that he COULD play well on the surface on a given day or match
The Har-Tru results support that claim too.
But, he mostly chose not to do the European red clay tour.
The exos called out at the start of the thread in Rio and Buenos Aires were played indoor carpet though.
 

timnz

Legend
I don't think anyone's saying Connors wasn't a good clay court player.n

I did say that he never won an important clay court title.

I think Agassi is overrated on clay, but he won in Rome and made two finals at RG before winning on it.
1976 US Open
 
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eldanger25

Hall of Fame
This comes up every few years - he won the Volvo in North Conway, NH, 3x on red clay, in 1975, 1976, and 1980.

Source: https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news...cle_374f67c2-f17f-5249-84e9-f612fbf51eaa.html
Excerpt from source: "It's hard to believe but 30 years ago, the Volvo (as the international tennis tournament was known to regulars) left the red clay of the championship courts of the Cranmore Tennis Stadium in 1984 for the hard courts of Stratton, Vt., where it stayed till 1990 before going to the Yale Stadium in New Haven, Conn."
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
This comes up every few years - he won the Volvo in North Conway, NH, 3x on red clay, in 1975, 1976, and 1980.

Source: https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news...cle_374f67c2-f17f-5249-84e9-f612fbf51eaa.html
Excerpt from source: "It's hard to believe but 30 years ago, the Volvo (as the international tennis tournament was known to regulars) left the red clay of the championship courts of the Cranmore Tennis Stadium in 1984 for the hard courts of Stratton, Vt., where it stayed till 1990 before going to the Yale Stadium in New Haven, Conn."
Sheesh....why did I think it was Har Tru? When there are You Tube videos featuring the beautiful red clay! OMG. I clearly remember when it was at Stratton, whereas I may not have seen a match from N. Conway. Still, I always believed it to be on Har Tru, since most of the other clay events in the US were on that surface. :oops:
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Connors won 109 tournament titles.
Without doing any research, I imagine that there are some red-clay titles in that number.

Edit: maybe not.
In Connors 109 titles, I find 14 titles listed as on clay. Only one (1975 Bermuda Open of the Grand Prix Circuit in Paget, Bermuda, win over Vitas Gerulaitis) is outside the US (where Har-Tru is common).
Maybe some of the US clay titles were on red clay, but it is not easy to acertain.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Connors won 109 tournament titles.
Without doing any research, I imagine that there are some red-clay titles in that number.

Edit: maybe not.
In Connors 109 titles, I find 14 titles listed as on clay. Only one (1975 Bermuda Open of the Grand Prix Circuit in Paget, Bermuda, win over Vitas Gerulaitis) is outside the US (where Har-Tru is common).
Maybe one of the US clay titles was on red clay, but it is not easy to acertain.

Well, the courts at North Conway are/were clearly red. Unless, there was such a thing as red Har Tru?
I know the tournament here in S. Orange, NJ was on red clay (way, way back!)
So, it does exist in the US :)
 

urban

Legend
Boston US pro also had red color in the mid 1970s, if i remember it right. I don't know, if it was har tru or European clay. Real red clay had the Houston River Oaks tournament.
 

NoMercy

Hall of Fame
Bretton Woods, North Conway and River Oaks were the only red clay tournaments played in the 70s in the USA.
1976 final (Connors vs. Ramirez) was played indoor on carpet though.
 

WCT

Professional
Well, the courts at North Conway are/were clearly red. Unless, there was such a thing as red Har Tru?
I know the tournament here in S. Orange, NJ was on red clay (way, way back!)
So, it does exist in the US :)


South Orange was on red clay? Not what I remember seeing. I remember har tru. I mean when the surface there was clay.

I didn't think it was any secret that North Conway was red clay and that Connors won on it. The detractors would say that it isn't the same as the red clay in Europe and South America, and from what I've heard it's not.

The most common criticism I've seen leveled is that he never won on European red clay. And as I've said for years he didn't play that many of them. Relatively speaking. In his prime, he often skpped their tour and even after she started playing the French again, he played at most 3 of them. And that was only 1 year. There were multiple years where he just played the French. 81 was the year that he played 3 and made the finals in rained out Monte Carlo and the German where he lost.

I've said this before. We know his US har tru titles. Then the question becomes just how huge the difference is between that and the red clay. US Open was played on har tru for 3 years. Who made the quarters on those 3 years? Checks the names. When most of the US summer circuit was on har tru, who is contending for and winning these titles? Check the names. Do you see Ashe, Stockton and Gottfried winning these titles? The players winning are mostly guys who would win on red clay.
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
Someone able to confirm an answer to my question

"So my question is, were these three South American Clay Court tournaments on Red Clay like in Europe? I always have assumed that South America Clay was like European."

Just wondered if South American Clay was like European - especially the events I quoted.

The South American clay is quite similar to European in general. At least in my experience. Might not be quite like RG, but like the clay at the other Euro tournaments.
 
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Drob

Hall of Fame
South Orange was on red clay? Not what I remember seeing. I remember har tru. I mean when the surface there was clay.

I didn't think it was any secret that North Conway was red clay and that Connors won on it. The detractors would say that it isn't the same as the red clay in Europe and South America, and from what I've heard it's not.

The most common criticism I've seen leveled is that he never won on European red clay. And as I've said for years he didn't play that many of them. Relatively speaking. In his prime, he often skpped their tour and even after she started playing the French again, he played at most 3 of them. And that was only 1 year. There were multiple years where he just played the French. 81 was the year that he played 3 and made the finals in rained out Monte Carlo and the German where he lost.

I've said this before. We know his US har tru titles. Then the question becomes just how huge the difference is between that and the red clay. US Open was played on har tru for 3 years. Who made the quarters on those 3 years? Checks the names. When most of the US summer circuit was on har tru, who is contending for and winning these titles? Check the names. Do you see Ashe, Stockton and Gottfried winning these titles? The players winning are mostly guys who would win on red clay.

IMO and experience, genuine clay courts are significantly different from Har-Tru. Were I doing the historical record-keeping, I would not call Har-Tru events “clay”, but rather “Har-Tru”.

This does not mean that Connors could not have won on real clay. As noted above, he was in the MC final. The score was 5-5 in the first of five sets when it was suspended - forever.

Connors won the US Clay Court Champ several times as you know. The question in my mind is, when did Indianapolis switch from real clay to Har-Tru?

Connors himself indicates that the 1974 US Clay Court Championship was real clay. He beat Borg there that year:

“Although in the US the Indianapolis clay probably came closest to resembling Roland Garros, it wasn’t the same: it was faster . . .” The Outsider, Kindle p. 185

Well, the same is said of the Foro Itálico compared to RG, but if you win the Italian title you are a top clay courter.

This might be a good question to ask @NoMercy. I think he has said Indy always Har-Tru in Open era but I am not sure. He might know in which precise year the surface was changed.
 
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