Match Stats/Report - Connors vs Borg, US Open final, 1976

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Jimmy Connors beat Bjorn Borg 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-4 in the US Open final, 1976 at Forest Hills, NY on green clay

It was second of Connors' Open Era record 5 US open title, and he had been runner-up the previous year. Borg, the Wimbledon champion, was playing the first of his 4 finals at the event. Connors had beaten Borg in the semi-finals the previous year

Connors won 141 points, Borg 139

Serve Stats
Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (96/132) 73%
- 1st serve points won (59/96) 61%
- 2nd serve points won (20/36) 56%
- Unknown serve point (1/1) 100%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (7/133) 5%

Borg...
- 1st serve percentage (102/146) 70%
- 1st serve points won (60/102) 59%
- 2nd serve points won (25/44) 57%
- Unknown serve point (1/1) 100%
- Aces 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/147) 13%

Serve Patterns
Connors served...
- to FH 16%
- to BH 80%
- to Body 7%

Borg served...
- to FH 21%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 10%

Return Stats
Connors made...
- 128 (43 FH, 84 BH, 1 ??), including 4 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH/return-approach/charge
- 12 Forced (2 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (128/147) 87%

Borg made...
- 124 (41 FH, 82 BH, 1 ??), including 18 runaround FHs
- 5 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 3 Forced (3 BH)
- Return Rate (124/131) 95%

Break Points
Connors 6/15 (10 games)
Borg 5/9 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Connors 55 (16 FH, 14 BH, 8 FHV, 8 BHV, 9 OH)
Borg 20 (5 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH)

Connors' FHs - 5 cc (1 at net), 5 dtl (1 pass), 5 inside-out (2 at net) and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 5 cc (1 pass), 5 dtl (1 return pass, 1 net-to-net), 2 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 lob

- 1 OH was hit on the bounce from no-man's land and not a net point

Borg's FHs - 4 cc (3 passes) and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (2 passes) and 1 longline/inside-out at net

- 1 OH was the second volley off a serve-volley point and 1 was hit on the bounce from no-man's land and not a net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Connors 98
- 73 Unforced (39 FH, 27 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)… including 14 approach attempts. 1 BHV was not a net point
- 25 Forced (8 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 5 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.9

Borg 79
- 38 Unforced (13 FH, 22 BH, 1 BHV, 2 OH)… including 4 approach attempts. 1 OH was off the baseline
- 41 Forced (20 FH, 20 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42.4

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Connors was...
- 67/86 (78%) at net, including...
- 1/4 (25%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
--
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 4/6 (67%) forced back/retreated

Borg was...
- 25/36 (69%) at net, including...
- 3/4 (75%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
--
- 2/4 (75%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A toughly fought match between a hard attacking Connors and a reactive Borg. Connors winning just 2 more points in the match - and Borg having had 4 set points (including the first two of the pair's combined 6) in the second set tiebreak indicate it was very close, but the final result is the most appropriate. Connors was the better player

To my eye, its a better match than the stats suggest: Connors 55 winners, 73 UEs and Borg 20 winners, 38 UEs aren't good numbers even for clay. But play is tough as can be. To use a cliché, like two heavyweights slugging it out.

Connors' attacking baseline shots and net play stand out for quality, especially the former. Of his 30 groundstroke winners, 21 are power baseline-to-baseline points nominally. Usually, such winners are hit from well inside the court, more often than not closer to service line than baseline. Here though, as many are hit from the baseline or even behind it... a remarkable demonstration of power on any court, let alone clay. Such a rate of hitting baseline winners remained unusual even on faster courts 'til about the late '80s (even by Connors himself)

Serve & Return
Not much of a net factor. Both players return very consistently (Connors 87% return rate, Borg 95%) and both serve at a high percentage (Connors 73%, Borg 70%) without seeming to be looking to do much with the first shot

In Connors' case, its unlikely trying to have done so would have made any difference. His serve just isn't strong enough to trouble Borg on this slow court. He does hit 2 aces by surprising Borg by going to the FH (he served relentlessly to the BH otherwise - 80% of time, to just 16% to the FH). Nadal often employs this play to Federer - with similar results

Borg though, probably had the potential to do a bit more damage with the serve. He mostly rolls it in, but obviously has the ability to crank it up to the level of being troublesome. Since there's hardly any difference in how well he does off either serve (wins 59% firsts and 57% seconds), its something he might have tried a bit more than he did. Probably wouldn't have made much difference - Connors' returning is typically strong and consistent and could cope with even Borg's biggest serves on the surface without undue difficulty
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Net
In a nutshell, Connors looks to overpower Borg and Borg looks to resist being overpowered. Quality of play varies plenty across the match for both players. Either Connors succeeds by winning the point, or he fails making an error - Borg's play is like the canvas, Connors' the paint. The feature that takes the eye is the obvious greater power Connors has. In other matches between the two, baseline exchanges are invariably close but its up in the air who the stronger hitter is. Here, its self-evident

From the baseline, Connors hits with exceptional power. About as hard as its possible to hit a tennis ball. In '83 Queens final between Connors and John McEnroe, sober headed commentator Dan Maskell expressed the opinion that Connors was hitting the ball harder than anyone ever had before (with possible exception of Ellsworth Vines). To my eye, he's hitting the ball a lot harder here than he did there. The commentators for this match (Trabert, Ashe and Summerhall) note the unusually large number of baseline winners coming off Connors' racquet. Ashe thinks the metal stick Connors played with has a large hand in it. Even so, Connors hitting looks 15-20 years ahead of its time on the power front

Forcefully winning points from the baseline aside, Connors looks to come to net when he's gained an advantage from the back to put the point to bed. And come in he does - 86 times, winning a very high 78% of those points. He neither comes in blindly nor looks to manufacture an approach for its own sake - its almost always after pushing Borg back and on the defensive

From the baseline, the downside to all this are the unforced errors - both from being aggressive and not being particularly consistent (compared to Borg anyway). 73 of them from Connors. Note the moderate UEFI of 45.9, indicating his UEs were not overly aggressive. He has a tendency to just miss routine shots - the opposite of Borg - though it should be noted that Connors' 'routine' groundstroke tends to be more attacking than Borg's, in terms of placement and power

From the net, the downside is approach UEs. Connors makes 14, most of them FHs. This hasn't come out in the stats, as approach shots have been counted baseline points. Once at net though, there is no downside - just 6 UEs from Jimbo up there to 16 winners and lots of errors forced out of Borg. Borg doesn't pass particularly well though, especially by his standard

Borg for his part, looks to just keep the ball in play, heavily without undue heat. He is typically consistent, but has lapses when he makes uncharacteristic UEs to routine balls. Again worth noting is that 'routine' is a relative term... routine balls against Connors is a bit less routine than it would be most anyone else. Solid enough stuff from Borg. Note the very low UEFI of 42.4, the scanty 36 approaches and conservative 20 winners. He was 'just' putting balls in play

Given how aggressive (and error prone) Connors was, it was a good plan - and a standard one for clay. Nowhere near flashy or eye catching aside, Borg's efficiency from the back was probably enough to see him win. Its his inability to handle Connors net play that makes the decisive difference

Assessing quality of passing is a slippery slope. Almost by definition, passing errors are 'forced' so statistically, not much comes out to indicate how well someone passed. Borg forces 8 volleying errors out of Connors (most were makeable, not flagrant) and has 6 passing winners. That's on the low side

Ironically, its Borg hitting a stunning BH cc passing winner from a defensive position middle of third set that showcases what he's missing. Such shots are a regular feature of his matches on all surfaces... but he makes very few of them here. Its a tall task to hit such shots even occasionally, but one he -

a) needed, given the strength of Connors' approach shots
b) was quite capable of, despite its difficulty

On the pass, Borg is down from his norm. Still, primarily credit to Connors net play, with just a note not amounting to discredit on Borg's passing.

Connors shows strong finishing ability on the volley. He doesn't have to make many low ones, gets a fair few easy ones (a product of strong approach shots) but doesn't dilly-dally with putting it away. The difficult volleys he faces are mostly wide balls, that he reaches and deals with reasonably well

Borg comes in rarely, just 36 times. It doesn't seem to be part of his game plan but is also partially down to him being forced (or wanting to stay) behind the baseline by Connors' power hitting. He wins a healthy 69% of his approaches though and could have got more out of the play

In Wimbledon final shortly before, he was proficient in approaching of BH cc slices. Here, he comes in strong top spin shots, turning only to the slices very late in the match and then just a couple of times. The shots he comes in off are so powerful that they were a handful even without an approach, but were he looking to approach more, the slice approach would have been a good option. Connors displays his well known relative weakness on low-ish FHs throughout the match (he has 39 FH UEs to 27 BHs). Even on not low balls, the Connors FH is the more error prone wing - though he belts those just as hard as the BH

Match Progression
In first set, everything Connors tries comes off. Thundering groundstrokes and net play - its a fusillade from him and Borg is overwhelmed. That Borg can keep it as close as 4-6 is testament to his quality. Just the 4 UEs from Borg... but Connors has 15 winners and wins all his net points. Back to back BH winners - 1 cc, 1 inside-out - in game 3, a BH inside-out to a regulation ball, a bruising BH dtl return pass standout for quality

In second set, Connors' UEs are the decisive factor. Mostly routine balls. Just bad play from him, though he does pull off the shot of the match down 0-40. Cornered on his FH side, Connors whacks a BH inside-in winner. Not a shot you see everyday, or almost ever. Virtually any other player caught in such a position would be looking to return to the middle and hit a FH

Third set is the scratchiest of the match. There are 6 breaks in the first 7 games. Connors' play is something between his showing in first two sets - blistering attacks and UEs running side by side. Borg is also error prone (by his standard)

Weak play from Connors gives Borg the advantage in the tiebreak. A double fault, an easy missed FHV and an ill advised attempt to inside-out drop FHV leaves him down 2 set points, but he pummels a third ball FH winner and ace to get back even. Borg has two other set points and they're dealt with just as thoroughly, with OH winners after being overpowered from the back. Connors brings up his own second set point with possibly the hardest hit shot of the match - a BH cc winner struck from behind the baseline. Set point is an anti-climax - Borg unusually going for a low percentage BH dtl attacking shot and missing it

Final set is just a little feeble from Borg. After the tension of the tiebreak, the start is somewhat routine, with both players holding easily. After that, there's a lack of heart in Borg's play, as if he'd given up or was deflated by the last set. He makes a number of out of character loose UEs and starts attacking net early in rallies (mostly successfully). Heart in it or not... the sets no runaway on the playing level. Just the one break in a error strewn game

Interesting Comments & Incidents
- When asked what was his biggest major win, former Wimbledon and US Open champion Arthur Ashe doesn't think long before answering the Davis Cup
Asked the same thing, Tony Trabert seems torn between Wimbledon and US Open, leaning towards US Open. Ashe states that 'generally', Wimbledon is seen to be more prestigious and Trabert counters that perhaps the pressure of playing for Slam of one's own country enhanced his feeling for US Open

- In the tiebreak, both players and the chair forget to change ends at 9-9. Its a ball boy who point it out and gets a well earned round of applause for it. Commentators mention such things aren't all that rare and mention a tiebreak a where Evonne Goolagong served three points in a row without anybody noticing 'til afterwards

- Couple of interesting issues about rules. Borg takes a tumble and gets a bad cut under his knee. The trainer on site treats it just a bit at the change over and Borg's out to play in good time after. Commentators discuss the legality of receiving any kind of treatment at all and according to them, in this case, Borg should not have received any treatment at all. Blood is still flowing out of the wound as Borg continues play... it doesn't seem to be an issue that the rules allowed a player to take any kind of extra time over. Borg's mobility is hampered for 3-4 games at least after the incident

- At the start of the tiebreak, the commentators state specifically that there are no breaks in between points. At the first change over, both players towel off very briefly and Borg has a swig of water on their way to the other side. Commentators point this out and seem to universally feel this was against rules. Compare to now, where its the norm and wouldn't even be noticed, much less commented on
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Summing up, very high highs from Connors interspersed with choppy play from one, the other or both players - but all of it scrappy and tough contest. Connors bolder, mentally tougher and the well deserved victor. My feeling of the match up more broadly on this surface is Connors' play isn't very sustainable long term... and Borg would likely win more often than not

Stats for the pairs Boca Raton match the year after - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...borg-vs-connors-boca-raton-final-1977.608541/
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
anywhere you can watch this match from start to finish? I've seen most of it, but in chunks here and there...nearly one set of play is supposedly missing, I seem to recall? that wicked cross court BH by Connors in the tiebreak is etched in my memory. And the forgetting to change sides (LOL). But you captured the essence....Connors was more aggressive, Borg more passive and it paid off on this particular day. I recall seeing Borg uncharacteristically miss some shots, but JC was hitting very deep, very hard, very fast. This one is on most of those 'best matches ever' list and is a standout in their long rivalry.
 

KG1965

Legend
Jimmy Connors beat Bjorn Borg 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-4 in the US Open final, 1974 at Forest Hills, NY on green clay
Great job as usual, waspsting.

I have a couple of things to tell, but the most important thing is an idea, this:
You did an excellent job on so many matches, my advice is at this point (in consideration of the fact that you now have a database of inestimable value), putting together all the data in your possession, comparing two players with total data, the career of a player on a type of surface, the whole career of a player ...
What do you think about it ? (you have an example in trying to see the differences between USO 76 and Boca Raton 77...).
You would be the only one in the world, and we will all be enriched by your great work.


As for this historic match, a few considerations:
together with 1974 and 1978 , .. 1976 is best year, perhaps it is the best year of Jimbo. He always wins apart at Wimbledon where he is overwhelmed by Tanner.
Versus Borg the match-up is certainly favorable in very fast terrains, but the swede got very close and in Forest Hills he lost to ... 2 points, despite Jimmy played one of his best matches.

The problem with Bjorn (which overtook the following years, especially since 1978, not so much in 1977) was that he
- didn't have a great serve,
- had a not particularly effective passing-shot and
- played a little too short with bh.
And Connors took advantage of these 3 weaknesses.
If we look at the matches of the coming years the bh manages to keep Connors back and when the american approaches the net, the rally is less determined, he seems to leave more space and at the same time the passing-shot of Borg seems stronger.

It obviously depends on which match you look at.
Some matches were without history (Tokyo 79 and Wimbly 79) others were very close (Wimbly 81, Masters 79 & 80).
USO 81 (which you had analyzed) seemed to be a simple match but it was not so, it was decisive the enormous and powerful serve of the swedish and a greater capacity of converter the break-points.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
many people point to 76 as JC's strongest year....(as we know, this USO final was in '76, not '74)...'74 was remarkable, but I think the competition was tougher in '76 w/Borg becoming more potent. I think he beat Borg the year before in the USO semis, no? Again, on the green clay. ANY wins over BORG on any CLAY surface is pretty outstanding, IMHO. Truth to be told, JC did not really have any 'bad' or weak years through '84. Sure, he did not win any GS events in '79-81, but he was always in the final 4 at most of them. and he was winning tour events every year during that time. Arguably, 74/76/82 were his best seasons.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
anywhere you can watch this match from start to finish?

I recall seeing Borg uncharacteristically miss some shots, but JC was hitting very deep, very hard, very fast..... This one is on most of those 'best matches ever' list and is a standout in their long rivalry.
I agree

I've seen a few clay matches recently with more winners than unforced errors. but on clay, I think I prefer matches with lots of tough rallies, even if they end mostly with UEs. More winners than UEs on clay might just be a sign of sub-par defence rather than high quality of play

Lots more UEs than winners here... but I thought it was a great match all the way

You did an excellent job on so many matches, my advice is at this point (in consideration of the fact that you now have a database of inestimable value), putting together all the data in your possession, comparing two players with total data, the career of a player on a type of surface, the whole career of a player ...
What do you think about it ? (you have an example in trying to see the differences between USO 76 and Boca Raton 77...).
Thanks for the kind words and its great idea

I've thought about doing something like that for some of the rivalries I have a large number of matches on - Federer/Nadal, Federer/Djokovic, Sampras/Becker, Becker/Lendl, Becker/Edberg

But its just more fun to watch and do another match instead:)

The problem with Bjorn (which overtook the following years, especially since 1978, not so much in 1977) was that he
- didn't have a great serve,
- had a not particularly effective passing-shot and
- played a little too short with bh.
And Connors took advantage of these 3 weaknesses.
If we look at the matches of the coming years the bh manages to keep Connors back and when the american approaches the net, the rally is less determined, he seems to leave more space and at the same time the passing-shot of Borg seems stronger.
Interesting, especially the bit about Borg's passing shots

its very hard to tell if a guy is passing well or not against Jimmy Connors because his approach shots are so strong

Borg passed splendidly in a '74 match I saw against Panatta… but Connors is a whole other thing. These approach shots of his would probably be winners with a '90s racquet

The big difference I saw here and in the '80 Masters match is the obvious power advantage Connors has. It seems to me Borg's power went up over time, as you've said, but Connors probably also went down (it can't go up from this match... ball wouldn't stay in the stadium, let alone the court)
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
watching something like this reminds all of us that some of the 70's players, such as Connors, could hit incredibly hard or serve bombs (like Tanner). I do believe if they had today's equipment they would be just as effective as the modern day player. And, watching them on video is not the same as seeing them in person....where it seems slower...guys like Connors and Lendl pounded the ball. And how JC did it with that little racket is remarkable...it did have a lot of power, but very hard to control, if you ask anyone who's tried it.
 

KG1965

Legend
Thanks for the kind words and its great idea
Taking not only inspiration but also from your inherent data 7 matches (USO 76, USO 78, Wimbly 78, Masters GP 79, Boca Raton 77, USO 81 and Richmond 82.... in 4 Borg won, in 3 Jimbo won) between the two players the result very tight is this:
773 points Borg
737 points Connors
-----------------------

+ 36 points Borg

"Only serves and returns (aces, winners and errors)"
: -97 Jimbo, - 15 Bjorn = 82 points of advantage for Borg .

If it follows that purifying from the total by the data "Only serves and returns" it results that Connors has made 722 points v 676 of Borg (46 points of advantage for Connors).

I think that it is very interesting to point out the fact that
1) the serve of Borg was a real weapon (arm) that disempowered the most famous shot of Connors (return), ... while on the contrary ...
2) in the remaining exchanges (baseline, approach and net-game) Connors leads to surprise and not a little.
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I think that it is very interesting to point out the fact that
1) the serve of Borg was a real weapon (arm) that disempowered the most famous shot of Connors (return), ... while on the contrary ...
2) in the remaining exchanges (baseline, approach and net-game) Connors leads to surprise and not a little.
Very interesting indeed and I think it gets to the heart of where Connors was lacking

Connors is an unusual player. Very attacking - and like all such - goes on unforced error runs occasionally.

This is normal, even for the best of the best. Becker, Sampras, Federer - we see the same thing

But those guys have their fat serves to fall back on. If they're playing badly, they can keep holding serve on the strength of their serve shot alone until it passes

Connors? Different story. A little run of errors is likely to cost him sets and matches. It did against Borg in '81 USO (or at least, it allowed Borg to move ahead from equal position). He can't afford little bad patches of play - but the way he plays, they're bound to happen

Do you know what happened to his serve? I saw the '74 matches with Rosewall… and its a strong shot. Fast forward to '76... and its an ordinary one. What happened in between?
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Very interesting indeed and I think it gets to the heart of where Connors was lacking

Connors is an unusual player. Very attacking - and like all such - goes on unforced error runs occasionally.

This is normal, even for the best of the best. Becker, Sampras, Federer - we see the same thing

But those guys have their fat serves to fall back on. If they're playing badly, they can keep holding serve on the strength of their serve shot alone until it passes

Connors? Different story. A little run of errors is likely to cost him sets and matches. It did against Borg in '81 USO (or at least, it allowed Borg to move ahead from equal position). He can't afford little bad patches of play - but the way he plays, they're bound to happen

Do you know what happened to his serve? I saw the '74 matches with Rosewall… and its a strong shot. Fast forward to '76... and its an ordinary one. What happened in between?
Unusual is an understatement. Not sure if there's ever been another baseliner quite like him, in terms of willingness to attack shorter balls. So true about the serve. I had seen the Rosewall match excerpts on You Tube and was floored by how hard Connors was serving. Maybe it was the grass making it look faster? Maybe his serve was just flatter then? Commentators made a big deal about his small improvements in '82, yet 74 was a much more solid shot, as far as I could see. Not sure why he would have changed it. To be fair, his serve and forehand are underrated. The forehand, overall, is very solid. The serve, perhaps not hard, but well placed and not so easy to attack. Unless you are Magic McEnroe, I suppose. I do recall a Connors serve being clocked at 108 mph at the open, when the radar first started. So he could turn it up when he wanted to. A very unique style and a dynamic character. We could use a few of those right now...
 

KG1965

Legend
Very interesting indeed and I think it gets to the heart of where Connors was lacking

Connors is an unusual player. Very attacking - and like all such - goes on unforced error runs occasionally.

This is normal, even for the best of the best. Becker, Sampras, Federer - we see the same thing

But those guys have their fat serves to fall back on. If they're playing badly, they can keep holding serve on the strength of their serve shot alone until it passes

Connors? Different story. A little run of errors is likely to cost him sets and matches. It did against Borg in '81 USO (or at least, it allowed Borg to move ahead from equal position). He can't afford little bad patches of play - but the way he plays, they're bound to happen

Do you know what happened to his serve? I saw the '74 matches with Rosewall… and its a strong shot. Fast forward to '76... and its an ordinary one. What happened in between?
Connors is an unusual player. I agree, and that is perhaps because he had many haters but also many fans who idolized him (like me), played in a very particular style, without owning a decent serve.

Becker, Sampras, Federer, but also Lendl and (as we recently discovered) Borg .... when they were in trouble they shot a serve winner.
It's rare that these players lost 6-0 or 6-1 just because it was very hard to make 2-3 breaks each set.
Jimbo always had to focus on his serve. Because he always had the risk of an opponent's break.

I don't know what happened to his serve after 1974.
It also seems to me that it serves stronger in 1974 but I can think that Rosewall (great player in return) was physically tired in those two slam finals (and annihilated)
Probably Jimbo wasn't a great server even in 1974.
Or he may have had a physical trouble that prevented him from posting better than that shot.
I've never read anything about it.
Some journalist said and wrote that Jimmy serve well in 1982. Perhaps a small improvement.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I don't know what happened to his serve after 1974.
It also seems to me that it serves stronger in 1974 but I can think that Rosewall (great player in return) was physically tired in those two slam finals (and annihilated)
Probably Jimbo wasn't a great server even in 1974.
Or he may have had a physical trouble that prevented him from posting better than that shot.
I've never read anything about it.
Some journalist said and wrote that Jimmy serve well in 1982. Perhaps a small improvement.

was floored by how hard Connors was serving. Maybe it was the grass making it look faster? Maybe his serve was just flatter then? Commentators made a big deal about his small improvements in '82, yet 74 was a much more solid shot, as far as I could see. Not sure why he would have changed it. To be fair, his serve and forehand are underrated. The forehand, overall, is very solid. The serve, perhaps not hard, but well placed and not so easy to attack
Don't think it was the grass making it look faster. I've seen him plenty of times on grass since and on grass-fast philly indoors. Never looked like that

Only parallel I can think of is Nadal serving like a demon in US Open 2010, but soon reverting to his more average norm. That I believe was related to shoulder issues, plus Nadal's games doesn't quite go with a big serve

If you saw Connors' game sans the serve, you'd think it had been built around a big serve

It did occur to me that those two Rosewall matches might just be anomalies... the best serving of his life, not necessarily an indicator of how well he served generally in '74

re: the 'improvements' in '82. Great improvements. Before, you had 10% chance of telling the difference between first serve and second serve. After, it was about 25%

I don't think the serve was terrible and am conscious that all I watch is him playing Borg, Mac, Lendl, Agassi... top notch returners who make a lot servers look weak. It looked a lot more effective in the matches I did against Noah and Leconte

Agree about the FH too. Its almost always more error prone than the BH, which is unusal, but rarely does he give up UEs off it in short rallies (which is my measuring stick for a weak shot) and it is damaging. Part of the reason though is average rally lenght was longer back than
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1 other shot of his that's talked about that I can't help but conclude is just pure exaggerated hype is the sky hook. I've read about it many times - Jimmy Connors and his sky hook

I haven't seen him hit 1 in 30 odd matches. Just a regular OH

The excitable Bud Collins on commentary in one match kept yelping "sky hook!", whenever Jimbo went for a normal OH

You can't go through 4 random Sampras matches with seeing a 'dunk smash' or 4 Nadal matches without seeing a 'banana FH'... but I don't see any sky hooks from Connors
 

KG1965

Legend
Don't think it was the grass making it look faster. I've seen him plenty of times on grass since and on grass-fast philly indoors. Never looked like that

Only parallel I can think of is Nadal serving like a demon in US Open 2010, but soon reverting to his more average norm. That I believe was related to shoulder issues, plus Nadal's games doesn't quite go with a big serve

If you saw Connors' game sans the serve, you'd think it had been built around a big serve

It did occur to me that those two Rosewall matches might just be anomalies... the best serving of his life, not necessarily an indicator of how well he served generally in '74

re: the 'improvements' in '82. Great improvements. Before, you had 10% chance of telling the difference between first serve and second serve. After, it was about 25%

I don't think the serve was terrible and am conscious that all I watch is him playing Borg, Mac, Lendl, Agassi... top notch returners who make a lot servers look weak. It looked a lot more effective in the matches I did against Noah and Leconte

Agree about the FH too. Its almost always more error prone than the BH, which is unusal, but rarely does he give up UEs off it in short rallies (which is my measuring stick for a weak shot) and it is damaging. Part of the reason though is average rally lenght was longer back than
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1 other shot of his that's talked about that I can't help but conclude is just pure exaggerated hype is the sky hook. I've read about it many times - Jimmy Connors and his sky hook

I haven't seen him hit 1 in 30 odd matches. Just a regular OH

The excitable Bud Collins on commentary in one match kept yelping "sky hook!", whenever Jimbo went for a normal OH

You can't go through 4 random Sampras matches with seeing a 'dunk smash' or 4 Nadal matches without seeing a 'banana FH'... but I don't see any sky hooks from Connors
The perception of the anomaly “Serve 74” remains. Only the american could explain the possible reason...
Rafa's example came to me too. On a couple of occasions I saw that he had a really powerful serve. It seems to me once a few years ago at the Queen's. Then Wimbly returned to normal.:(
I'm not surprised it's a shoulder problem.
I remember as a boy I had to change the serve movement (for dislocated shoulder) quite radically (do you believe me if I tell you that I copied Jimbo's movement?:-D)
I liked it a lot and above all it allowed me to not completely open my shoulder, it looked a little like the movement of the smash .


Noah and Leconte were two great performers but they gave 1-2 UE of return each game.

On the skyhook I agree with you that he played a few even because (unlike the Era Laver) the defenders almost always played the passing shot.
I will have seen about thirty of them (but I saw Jimbo play twenty matches more than those available on youtube).
Well, in spite of the few opportunities to see the skyhook, in my opinion it is a unique legendary shot because it compensated for the fact that the player was late on the opponent's lob.
However, the characteristic of the shot is the elevation of Jimmy above the average, his ability to jump high is quite important.

Like the tweener of Vilas, now they all do this shot (probably also Isner....) but before Guillermo nobody used this shot (in the 70s I believe no one, maybe in the 60s ... Santana ... I don't know).
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Don't think it was the grass making it look faster. I've seen him plenty of times on grass since and on grass-fast philly indoors. Never looked like that

Only parallel I can think of is Nadal serving like a demon in US Open 2010, but soon reverting to his more average norm. That I believe was related to shoulder issues, plus Nadal's games doesn't quite go with a big serve

If you saw Connors' game sans the serve, you'd think it had been built around a big serve

It did occur to me that those two Rosewall matches might just be anomalies... the best serving of his life, not necessarily an indicator of how well he served generally in '74

re: the 'improvements' in '82. Great improvements. Before, you had 10% chance of telling the difference between first serve and second serve. After, it was about 25%

I don't think the serve was terrible and am conscious that all I watch is him playing Borg, Mac, Lendl, Agassi... top notch returners who make a lot servers look weak. It looked a lot more effective in the matches I did against Noah and Leconte

Agree about the FH too. Its almost always more error prone than the BH, which is unusal, but rarely does he give up UEs off it in short rallies (which is my measuring stick for a weak shot) and it is damaging. Part of the reason though is average rally lenght was longer back than
----

1 other shot of his that's talked about that I can't help but conclude is just pure exaggerated hype is the sky hook. I've read about it many times - Jimmy Connors and his sky hook

I haven't seen him hit 1 in 30 odd matches. Just a regular OH

The excitable Bud Collins on commentary in one match kept yelping "sky hook!", whenever Jimbo went for a normal OH

You can't go through 4 random Sampras matches with seeing a 'dunk smash' or 4 Nadal matches without seeing a 'banana FH'... but I don't see any sky hooks from Connors
I think as he got older, the 'sky hook' became less frequent....LOL
 
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