Match Stats/Report - Newcombe vs Connors, Australian Open final, 1975

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
John Newcombe beat Jimmy Connors 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) in the Australian Open final, 1975 on grass

It was Newcombe's second Australian Open title and the last of his 5 Open Era Slam titles. Connors was the defending champion, having entered the event for the first time the previous year. He would never enter again
@krosero previously posted https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/some-stats-for-1975-australian-open-final.165639/

Newcombe won 139 points, Connors 135

Newcombe serve-volleyed off all serves, Connors the majority of first serves and occasionally off seconds

{Note: I'm missing entirely 2 Newcombe serve points - 1 won by either player - and the beginning (serve type, direction, return type and serve-volley info) of 1 Connors point. The latter has been marked a net point but not serve-volley for Connors

Missing points - Set 2, Game 4, Points 1 & 2
Missing partial - Set 4, Game 8, Point 1}

Serve Stats
Newcombe...
- 1st serve percentage (83/133) 62%
- 1st serve points won (66/83) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (23/50) 46%
- Unknown serve points (1/2) 50%
- Aces 17, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (44/133) 33%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (98/139) 71%
- 1st serve points won (63/98) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (27/41) 66%
- Unknown serve point (0/1)
- Aces 4, Service Winners 2 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/140) 28%

Serve Patterns
Newcombe served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 75%
- to Body 2%

Connors served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Newcombe made...
- 101 (34 FH, 66 BH, 1 ??), including 4 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 8 Winners (3 FH, 5 BH)
- 33 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 29 Forced (7 FH, 22 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (101/140) 72%

Connors made...
- 82 (14 FH, 68 BH)
- 8 Winners (1 FH, 7 BH)
- 26 Errors, all forced...
- 26 Forced (7 FH, 19 BH)
- Return Rate (82/126) 65%

Break Points
Newcombe 4/7 (6 games)
Connors 3/10 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Newcombe 35 (7 FH, 6 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 6 OH)
Connors 44 (2 FH, 15 BH, 11 FHV, 10 BHV, 6 OH)

Newcombe had 19 from serve-volley points
- 11 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 FH at net)… 1 FHV was a net chord dribbler
- 6 second shots (2 FHV, 3 OH, 1 FH cc)… 1 OH was on bounce from no man's land and FH cc was hit while retreating. Both have been marked forced back points
- 1 third volley (1 OH)
- 1 forced back shot (1 OH), hit from the baseline

- 1 BHV from a return-approach point
- 1 OH was a drop shot

- 8 returns (3 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc pass and 2 inside-in (1 pass)… the non-pass inside-in was against a non-approach, would-be 'delayed' serve-volley
- BHs (all passes) - 3 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- 3 regular passes (2 FH, 1 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 1 lob
- BH - 1 dtl

Connors had 23 from serve-volley points
- 13 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 BH at net)
- 9 second volleys (5 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 OH)… a drop shot

- 1 other OH cc, gently struck at a sharp angle that can reasonably be called a drop shot

-8 returns, all passes (1 FH, 7 BH)
- FH - 1 inside-out
- BHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl and 2 inside-in

- 7 regular passes (1 FH, 6 BH)
- FH - 1 cc
- BHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 1 longline and 1 lob

- 1 BH at net chord dribbler

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Newcombe 44
- 12 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 32 Forced (10 FH, 9 BH, 8 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.8

Connors 59
- 20 Unforced (11 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)… including 1 FH at net, 1 OH from baseline and 3 approach attemtps
- 39 Forced (15 FH, 18 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 Over Shoulder)…. including 2 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index

(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
Newcombe was...
- 80/119 (67%) at net, including...
- 71/108 (66%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 48/65 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 23/43 (53%) off 2nd serve
---
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 3/5 (60%) forced back/retreated

Connors was...
- 71/105 (71%) at net, including...
- 57/84 (68%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 48/73 (66%) off 1st serve and..
- 9/11 (82%) off 2nd serve
--
- 1/10 (10%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A very good match with some unusual tactics from Newcombe. Like many grass matches, it comes down to a point here, a point there and who-plays-the-important-points better plus a quixotic gesture from the loser

Essentially, the match is a volleyer vs passer affair. Newcombe serve-volleys off all serves. Connors stays back on some first serves and most seconds, but usually comes in early when he does. Overwhelming bulk of points are with 1 server at net and returner on baseline. Action can be depicted as (great server/great volleyer vs great returner/ great passer) vs (good server/good volleyer vs good returner/good passer)… the former referring to Newcombe at net, Connors on baseline and the latter Connors at net, Newcombe on baseline. Newcombe's extreme lob centered passing strategy is the standout feature that distinguishes action from other matches of the same basic type

Before getting to the action, lets get a couple of side issues out of the way

Connors' Attitude
I don't think Jimmy Connors took this match - and probably, the tournament - with his customary professional seriousness

He's joking and laughing and light heartedly interacting with the crowd and his opponent throughout the match. Including at the most critical junctures like when Newcombe serves for the match or in the deciding tiebreak. Commentators say more than once that Connors has and has won many friends/fans in Australia, especially on this trip... they make this comment both early and late in the match. This suggests that he played the whole tournament in this fashion, not just the finals

I've seen Connors play an exhibition with Bjorn Borg in 1982 in America and another in Japan, as well as what was very likely seen as an exhibition tournament in Boca Raton '77. In 2 of those matches, he had moments of lightness... but nothing close to how he conducts himself here. He also jokes a bit in '84 La Quinta final against Yannick Noah and in his US Open matches with Andre Agassi in '88 and '89. The Noah match was not a very big tournament and his relaxed way in the Agassi matches were used to waste time and/or when the match was good as over... and those aren't a fraction of what he shows here either

After the match, he speaks - and is referring to a piece of paper as he does so. He's full of praise for everything and everyone, like a diplomat. Calls the Australian Open 1 of the 4 biggest tournaments in the world.

He never played there again. And a few years later, took what can readily be interpreted as a veiled swipe at the tournament in reference to what he'd do to keep rival Bjorn Borg from completing a Grand Slam

Connors plays well. There's no need to think a more serious demeanour would have improved his play. Presumably, he played more seriously later in the year at Wimbledon and US Open - and was beaten in the finals far more convincingly than here. His attitude might even have helped his play

Still, worth noting. He does not appear to be taking this match too seriously. Almost as if coming across as a nice guy is more important to him than playing as hard as he can. Near 15 years later, he'd be on the other end, when Andre Agassi bent over backwards to try to be nice while playing a by then extremely popular Connors in US Open. Here, Newcombe goes his own way, serious and normal of face, amidst Connors' overdone niceness. A niceness that leads to...

Throwing a point and getting broken
With the match evenly poised at 1 set all and on serve, Connors is up 40-15. Two of the points he won were with unreturned serves that Newcombe somewhat irritably reacted to, feeling they had been faults. The crowd pick up on Newk's reaction and express their disapproval too

Connors responds by throwing away a point with an intentional double fault. And goes on to get broken. And goes onto lose the set, one break down

The first unreturned serve was very near the line, no telling if it was out or in for certain. There are at least half a dozen similar calls in this match and most others. The second is an ace and Newcombe holds his hands 6 inches apart to indicate where the ball had landed relative to the line. He's right. That's about how far inside the line the ball was - the ball is a clear ace

Connors throwing a point is in line with his overly eager to please conduct throughout the match. I think its more bone-headed than sporting

To his credit, I've never seen Connors himself accept charity of this sort. He clearly declined and more or less did so in similar situations when he was in Newcombe's position in matches against Henri Leconte and Andre Agassi in future matches
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Time between points norms?
Play in matches from around this period seem to be very continuous with minimal time between points. When in trouble, Connors takes a bit more time than usual. Very little by today's standard - maybe 15 seconds, certainly under 30 - but commentators point it out almost every time

They aren't overly critical, but there is an underlying suggestion that it isn't the done thing. At least once, a commentator suggests umpire should intervene

Were there any hard rules about time allowed between points?

On one occasion, after being forced back from net and 3 times on the same point, Connors jokes a bit before starting the next point. A commentator sees it as 'clever' time wasting to recatch his breath, disguised as banter.

I doubt that true. For one thing, the point was unusual enough as to have been funny. Two, Connors was doing things like this all through the match. Three, allowing a few extra second after a hard point seems like just common sense - though I'm not sure what the rules were exactly

The way commentators point out things like this from around the period is noteworthy. In '76 US Open final between Connors and Borg, they expressly pointed out that one of the players had taken a guzzle of water on the changeover in middle of tiebreak though the rules state play must be continuous.

Finally, there's a 10 minute break after the third set. Don't know what that's all about. As tape cuts off, commentators seem to be querying "will they be taking a break now?"... which suggests that it wasn't a fixed thing but subject to umpires discretion or/and players wishes. Commentary later on after resumption states the break was 10 minutes of duration. Seems strange to modern eyes. Haven't seen anything like it other than an advantage set Davis Cup match and certainly not any of the other majors

Newcombe's service games
Newcombe's service games are standard big game stuff. He serve-volleys 100% of the time. Connors returns knowing this, Newcombe volleys to try to finish points, Connors tries to pass him to finish points - usual stuff

Usual stuff of type and high of quality from both players

Newcombe has a very strong serve, both first and second. 17 aces and a service winner are excellent numbers. 7 double faults is on the high side, but acceptable given the strength of the second serve. It'd make for a passable first serve. Suffice to say, good powerful and timely serving for Newks, who often finds big serves when he needs them

He needs to serve well because Connors returns with customary vigour and consistency. but not wisely... he goes BH cc too often

Newks follows standard big game procedure and serves 75% to BH, especially out wide to deuce court. When not being aced, Connors typically reaches wide balls and sends them back (26 return errors, to 33 from Newks - who was facing a weaker serve and not irregularly, a non-serve-volleying situation). He seems to almost always go BH cc to the Newk FHV

Connors' returns are powerful enough that even balls over the net aren't too easy to deal with, but Newks volleys well to cope

Figures need some explanation. Newks has to make many more FHVs than BHVs and mostly, the matter isn't up to him. In that light, 5 FHV UEs to 4 BHVs is indicative of BHV being less consistent. 9 FHV-FH1/2V FEs to 4 BHV is a clearer indicator regarding where Connors was predominantly returning and passing (as are the winners - 10 FHV, 6 BHV). While both of Newk's volleys are good, the FHV is fairly clearly more consistent and more damaging. So why does Connors keep going to it?

Obviously, its easier to return BH cc over middle than dtl over the high part of net but even against such a strong serve, Connors is regularly in control of the shot enough to have gone the harder option. He wasn't often hopelessly stretched and just poking balls back in play anywhere and way he could... he was able to reach them and take full swings. Note also the 3 BH dtl winners on return, which is high given how rarely he went that direction (he has 2 cc, of a lot more attempts). While having reasonable success in forcing FHV errors through power and width, Newcombe generally was getting better of the exchange. Definitely worth a few more dtl shots to mix it up and test the less secure and dangerous BHV

On ad court, its not much of an issue. Connors doesn't play many BH inside-out returns - in this match or in general

The post return volley vs pass battle is high end too. Power blasting by Connors, excellent volleying from Newcombe. Lots of difficult low and powerful passes put back in play and most balls are volleyed into corner while being punched through. Newks getting the better of matters

Between the strength of his serve and quality of his volley, Newks dominates service games - as usually happens for such play on grass. Plenty of credit to him, as he was up against strong returning and passing
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Connors' service games
These are a lot more interesting and subtle, though probably lower quality play going on in Connors' service. Key to it is lobbing

First, his serve isn't nearly as strong as Newcombe's. Second, Newcombe's returns isn't nearly as strong as Connors'. Third, he doesn't serve-volley all the time. Fourth and fifth, his volleys aren't as good as Newk's and Newk's passes aren't as strong as his. However -

i) Connors' serving isn't weak by a normal standard by any means. Its a good strong serve, but he takes something off it after the first set for unfathomable reasons
ii) On the return, Newk doesn't have Connors' power and misses odd easy returns, but is more artful. Chipping most returns, he places them here wide, there low and now and then (including at the most important times) gets stuck into one. Especially after working Jimbo over with lobs - its almost as if he's training the champion like a pet with the shot - it makes for very interesting play
iii) Though not serve volleying al the time, Connors is at net virtually all the time on service points, usually approaching off the third ball or otherwise, early in rallies. Newk shows little interest in coming in himself. Surprisingly?
iv) Good volleying from Connors, even after the training. Newcombe lobs about as often as he hits regular passes (hereafter just referred to as 'passing' for simplicity's sake)

Connors' serving level drops noticeably after first set. In that set, he'd his unreturned rate was 16/42 @ 38% with 3 aces and a service winner. Newcombe's was 13/34 @ 38% with 3 aces and 2 doubles

For rest of match, Connors' numbers are 23/98 @ 23% with 1 ace and 1 service winner

Why the huge drop? To an extent, its just Newcombe warming up to returning and other seemingly telling stats are a tad misleading. 1 ace and the service winner from first set are both products of bad bounces. Newcombe's rate dropping too (for the match, his unreturned rate is 33%), though not as drastically, but yes, Connors does serve less aggressively after the first serve.

In first set, he's serving more to the BH and genuinely serving wide. Thereafter, he serves close to body and Newks can return most balls without moving much. He also serves more to the FH and body, though its clear Newk's FH return at least is damagingly dangerous. In first set, he appears to be serving with more power too

No real difference in service percentage. First set its 69% to 71% for the whole match. Just eases back on the shot is all

Newk's returning gets better as match goes on, probably as much due to Connors serving strength dropping as anything. Its so clear that his FH return is stronger than the BH that I'd question 'just' serving 63% to BH. Newks by contrast served a full 75% to Connors' BH... and there's a much smaller gap in strength across Connors' two wings

Lacking power of the BH side, Newk relies on touch placement to be effective with the return. As 8 return winners - most of them based on perfect placement - he's good at it. When not striking winners, his best returns are falling on and/or appreciably wide of the incoming Connors. Its tricky volleying against it, but Connors is up to it. Lots of difficult low volleys and picks up made by Jimbo and just 7 forecourt FEs (Newks has 13)

The trickiness of Newk's passing is enhanced many times by his lobbing, which is the key to the match

In additions to forced back 10 times from net (loses all but 1 such point), Connors is pushed back an additional 8 times when he re-approaches (not in 8 points). Newk's lobs are something in between offensive and defensive. They're not winner attempts - he has just 1 lob winner. They're not desperate, putting the ball in play shots either. The purpose of them seem to be to push Connors back

One would think one of the very best times to approach by Newk is when Connors is running back to retrieve lobs. Usually though, he doesn't come in at such times. In fact, he shows little interest in approaching from rallying all match

2 very strange points illustrate this. On the first, Newk's forces Connors back 3 times - Connors just re-approaches a shot or two after retrieving the lob. Second is near carbon copy, this time with 2 forced backs. Connors wins both points with Newks missing lob attempts

What is Newcombe trying to do??? Play had clearly established that Connors was going to be coming in. and he does 5 times in those 2 points. Nor are the lobs in question irretrievable, thus the likelihood of him doing so is apparent. Was Newcombe planning on Connors missing an OH? Did he want Connors at net so he could pass him (he doesn't try on those points)? If Newcombe wants to win those points, surely the easiest way was for him to have come in as Jimbo was backtracking. Maybe he let his sense of humour get the better of him?

Fun as those points were, it adds to an exhibition-ish feel to the match

In addition to getting lobbed back to baseline, he also has to make a large number of awkward OHs in the match that he can't putaway. He doesn't play the shot particularly well... though usually tricky, it was possibly to at least hit most such balls attackingly enough to strongly force errors if not hit winners (which seems to be beyond him)

There's another cat and mouse point where Connors stayed back off first serve and unlike other such points, played regular baseline shots instead of coming in early. Newk's groundstroke replies are clay-court tennis like pushes of passivity. The message is clear. He's not coming in and he wants Connors to do so. And when Connors does come in... he's not trying to pass him, but push him back. Wash, rinse and repeat

Only other thing I can think of is Newk's wanted to run Jimbo around. It doesn't seem worth it to lose the points and Connors having an obvious stamina advantage anyway

To be clear, Newcombe does approach while Connors is moving back - and volleys away winners - a couple of times later in the match, but generally, he just lobs him, stays back, Connors retrieves and re-approaches

The unusual play has a long term consequence which works in Newk' favour. For most of the match, Connors net positioning is adversely affected for being on constant look out for the lob. This is important because Newks' passing is such that a tight at net Connors would almost certainly have been able to just pick off volley winners one after another. But he wisely doesn't stay tight at net because inevitably, a lob will push him back. I doubt this was Newks express intent... but it works. If it was his intent, its the greatest stratagem I've seen. Whatever it is... its very well executed

In latter part of match, the court not being quite as quick as Wimbledon grass showcases itself. Connors is most definitely punching his volleys through, but they tend not to go through so to speak, and Newk is able to take a stab at passes/lobs that on typical Wimbledon court, would have finished points. This is less apparent when Newcombe is volleying because his finishing volleys aren't just punched through right, they're near perfect and would probably be winners on hard courts and possibly clay too
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Match Progression
First set is mostly comfortable holds. Newcombe has the slightly better of it, with a break point in the opening game, which is aced away, and pushing Connors to deuce one other time (including a point he pushed Connors back from net, approached himself and forced an error)

He gains the break as Connors serves to take set into tiebreak. Its an odd game in many ways. Newcombe wins the first point with a drop shot OH, very intentionally played. at 30-15, Connors plays a very strange third ball BH... trying to squeeze it inside-out from the baseline and misses. 40-30 up, Connors slips slightly as he's coming forward and is passed by the return. There follows the point where Newks forces Connors back 3 times, and Connors re-approaches every time... on such a critical point, its particularly strange that Newk would trust to such play rather than come in on the 3 chances he created to do so. Connors somewhat gives up the rest of the game with poor play - routine third ball misses (1 from baseline, 1 volley) bring up break point. On it, he's faced with low volley with the ball not powerfully hit and the court wide open - and misses it

Connors comes out swinging in set 2 and breaks to go up 2-0. 2 very strong returns forces a pair of volley errors but he gets some help from his opponent to close the game. at 30-30, Newk has a floater at net he can swat anywhere and chooses to go at Connors, who is up to reflexively blocking the ball back for a passing winner. And then Newk double faults

Connors nurses the break through without much incident. There's another point where he's forced back twice but Newks doesn't come in which ends the same way as the one before. And Connors hits his own OH drop shot winner, though the sharp cc angle is as much part of it being a drop shot as the touch on the shot is

Third set is going on serve until Gentleman Jim throws in his intentional double fault to take the score to 40-30 (its his only double of the match). Good play from Newk to finish the game though - first forcing a volley error with a wide shot, then coming in after forcing Jimbo back for the second time in a point to hit a FHV winner. On break point, he swats a FH return hard enough to go for a winner, with Connors a couple of steps inside the baseline.

Newk can't serve out though. Bad game from him, starting with a double and followed up by missing 2 routine first volleys. He saves those three break points but is met by two blistering returns - the first BH cc goes for a winner, the second yorks Newk - to be broken

Newk breaks to love to love next game to take the set. Superb game with 2 BH pass winners (dtl and cc return) and a point where he forces Connors back and comes in immediately himself to force a turnaround passing error. Its in this set that Connors' serve descends to ordinariness and Newk has no trouble at all returning

This returning trend continues in fourth set, but play remains about even. Connors hits another drop shot OH winner.

A game after the 10 minute break, Newks breaks with strong play to leave himself serving for the match. He's met with blistering returns and goes down 0-40, but serves his way back to the next 4 points to have championship point. On it, he can't control a hard hit ball to BHV. Next point, Connors turns the tables by forcing Newk back to baseline and he has no hesitation in coming in to finish the point. He finishes with BH cc passing winner hit about as hard as a ball can be

Newk is clutch in the tiebreak while Connors blinks a bit. The game is notable for the two combining to make 15/16 first serves (Connors being the one to miss 1, but he wins the point at net - and jokes about it with crowd). Connors has the first 2 set points. On the first, he misses a pass he had a good look at. A Connors-esque blasted BH cc return winner from Newk wipes out the second; Its the second BH return winner in the game from Newk, probably the two most powerful returns he makes all match. Great time to do it. Connors misses a routine FHV down the middle of the court next point (he'd earlier missed a makeable FH return) to give Newcombe his first match point in the tiebreak, which he snatches

Summing up, excellent match with Newcombe maxing out to serve strongly, volley very well against strong passing and returning and employing a well executed if lob-heavy passing strategy. Connors also plays well - if not with obvious full dedication - but isn't quite able to master Newk's lobs as well as Newk does his power passes. Ultimately it comes down to a few key points as it often does on grass, and Newcombe is the more clutch on them
 

Drob

Professional
John Newcombe beat Jimmy Connors 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) in the Australian Open final, 1975 on grass

It was Newcombe's second Australian Open title and the last of his 5 Open Era Slam titles. Connors was the defending champion, having entered the event for the first time the previous year. He would never enter again
@krosero previously posted https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/some-stats-for-1975-australian-open-final.165639/

Newcombe won 139 points, Connors 135

Newcombe serve-volleyed off all serves, Connors the majority of first serves and occasionally off seconds

{Note: I'm missing entirely 2 Newcombe serve points - 1 won by either player - and the beginning (serve type, direction, return type and serve-volley info) of 1 Connors point. The latter has been marked a net point but not serve-volley for Connors

Missing points - Set 2, Game 4, Points 1 & 2
Missing partial - Set 4, Game 8, Point 1}

Serve Stats
Newcombe...
- 1st serve percentage (83/133) 62%
- 1st serve points won (66/83) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (23/50) 46%
- Unknown serve points (1/2) 50%
- Aces 17, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (44/133) 33%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (98/139) 71%
- 1st serve points won (63/98) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (27/41) 66%
- Unknown serve point (0/1)
- Aces 4, Service Winners 2 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/140) 28%

Serve Patterns
Newcombe served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 75%
- to Body 2%

Connors served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Newcombe made...
- 101 (34 FH, 66 BH, 1 ??), including 4 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 8 Winners (3 FH, 5 BH)
- 33 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 29 Forced (7 FH, 22 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (101/140) 72%

Connors made...
- 82 (14 FH, 68 BH)
- 8 Winners (1 FH, 7 BH)
- 26 Errors, all forced...
- 26 Forced (7 FH, 19 BH)
- Return Rate (82/126) 65%

Break Points
Newcombe 4/7 (6 games)
Connors 3/10 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Newcombe 35 (7 FH, 6 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 6 OH)
Connors 44 (2 FH, 15 BH, 11 FHV, 10 BHV, 6 OH)

Newcombe had 19 from serve-volley points
- 11 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 FH at net)… 1 FHV was a net chord dribbler
- 6 second shots (2 FHV, 3 OH, 1 FH cc)… 1 OH was on bounce from no man's land and FH cc was hit while retreating. Both have been marked forced back points
- 1 third volley (1 OH)
- 1 forced back shot (1 OH), hit from the baseline

- 1 BHV from a return-approach point
- 1 OH was a drop shot

- 8 returns (3 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc pass and 2 inside-in (1 pass)… the non-pass inside-in was against a non-approach, would-be 'delayed' serve-volley
- BHs (all passes) - 3 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- 3 regular passes (2 FH, 1 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 1 lob
- BH - 1 dtl

Connors had from serve-volley points
- 13 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 BH at net)
- 9 second volleys (5 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 OH)… a drop shot

- 1 other OH cc, gently struck at a sharp angle that can reasonably be called a drop shot

-8 returns, all passes (1 FH, 7 BH)
- FH - 1 inside-out
- BHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl and 2 inside-in

- 7 regular passes (1 FH, 6 BH)
- FH - 1 cc
- BHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 1 longline and 1 lob

- 1 BH at net chord dribbler

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Newcombe 44
- 12 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 32 Forced (10 FH, 9 BH, 8 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.8

Connors 59
- 20 Unforced (11 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)… including 1 FH at net, 1 OH from baseline and 3 approach attemtps
- 39 Forced (15 FH, 18 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 Over Shoulder)…. including 2 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index

(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
Newcombe was...
- 80/119 (67%) at net, including...
- 71/108 (66%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 48/65 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 23/43 (53%) off 2nd serve
---
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 3/5 (60%) forced back/retreated

Connors was...
- 71/105 (71%) at net, including...
- 57/84 (68%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 48/73 (66%) off 1st serve and..
- 9/11 (82%) off 2nd serve
--
- 1/10 (10%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A very good match with some unusual tactics from Newcombe. Like many grass matches, it comes down to a point here, a point there and who-plays-the-important-points better plus a quixotic gesture from the loser

Essentially, the match is a volleyer vs passer affair. Newcombe serve-volleys off all serves. Connors stays back on some first serves and most seconds, but usually comes in early when he does. Overwhelming bulk of points are with 1 server at net and returner on baseline. Action can be depicted as (great server/great volleyer vs great returner/ great passer) vs (good server/good volleyer vs good returner/good passer)… the former referring to Newcombe at net, Connors on baseline and the latter Connors at net, Newcombe on baseline. Newcombe's extreme lob centered passing strategy is the standout feature that distinguishes action from other matches of the same basic type

Before getting to the action, lets get a couple of side issues out of the way

Connors' Attitude
I don't think Jimmy Connors took this match - and probably, the tournament - with his customary professional seriousness

He's joking and laughing and light heartedly interacting with the crowd and his opponent throughout the match. Including at the most critical junctures like when Newcombe serves for the match or in the deciding tiebreak. Commentators say more than once that Connors has and has won many friends/fans in Australia, especially on this trip... they make this comment both early and late in the match. This suggests that he played the whole tournament in this fashion, not just the finals

I've seen Connors play an exhibition with Bjorn Borg in 1982 in America and another in Japan, as well as what was very likely seen as an exhibition tournament in Boca Raton '77. In 2 of those matches, he had moments of lightness... but nothing close to how he conducts himself here. He also jokes a bit in '84 La Quinta final against Yannick Noah and in his US Open matches with Andre Agassi in '88 and '89. The Noah match was not a very big tournament and his relaxed way in the Agassi matches were used to waste time and/or when the match was good as over... and those aren't a fraction of what he shows here either

After the match, he speaks - and is referring to a piece of paper as he does so. He's full of praise for everything and everyone, like a diplomat. Calls the Australian Open 1 of the 4 biggest tournaments in the world.

He never played there again. And a few years later, took what can readily be interpreted as a veiled swipe at the tournament in reference to what he'd do to keep rival Bjorn Borg from completing a Grand Slam

Connors plays well. There's no need to think a more serious demeanour would have improved his play. Presumably, he played more seriously later in the year at Wimbledon and US Open - and was beaten in the finals far more convincingly than here. His attitude might even have helped his play

Still, worth noting. He does not appear to be taking this match too seriously. Almost as if coming across as a nice guy is more important to him than playing as hard as he can. Near 15 years later, he'd be on the other end, when Andre Agassi bent over backwards to try to be nice while playing a by then extremely popular Connors in US Open. Here, Newcombe goes his own way, serious and normal of face, amidst Connors' overdone niceness. A niceness that leads to...

Throwing a point and getting broken
With the match evenly poised at 1 set all and on serve, Connors is up 40-15. Two of the points he won were with unreturned serves that Newcombe somewhat irritably reacted to, feeling they had been faults. The crowd pick up on Newk's reaction and express their disapproval too

Connors responds by throwing away a point with an intentional double fault. And goes on to get broken. And goes onto lose the set, one break down

The first unreturned serve was very near the line, no telling if it was out or in for certain. There are at least half a dozen similar calls in this match and most others. The second is an ace and Newcombe holds his hands 6 inches apart to indicate where the ball had landed relative to the line. He's right. That's about how far inside the line the ball was - the ball is a clear ace

Connors throwing a point is in line with his overly eager to please conduct throughout the match. I think its more bone-headed than sporting

To his credit, I've never seen Connors himself accept charity of this sort. He clearly declined and more or less did so in similar situations when he was in Newcombe's position in matches against Henri Leconte and Andre Agassi in future matches
Newcombe wrote that he thought although he understood why Jimmy double faulted, he thought the gesture was patronizing and that it made Newk more determined to break. He said no one should ever do that.

BTW, you might want to correct title of thread.

Good report.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Great details. I have seen some of this on You Tube, including the point Connors threw, which I was shocked by. I also found his jovial demeanor very surprising...who WAS this guy out there? Not the JC I knew....LOL. Who knows, maybe he was in relaxed state of mind...I mean, he just came off an incredible 1974, was #1 and favored against Newk, surely. Some very good shotmaking in this...not like Connors played poorly. Newk was pretty crafty at times.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Newcombe wrote that he thought although he understood why Jimmy double faulted, he thought the gesture was patronizing and that it made Newk more determined to break. He said no one should ever do that.
Didn't stop him from stopping him doing it though

It was obvious that's what Connors was about to do after the first serve. Commentators saw it at once, "don't tell me he's going to double fault", one of them said after the rushed, languid first fault

Commentators discussed the etiquette of doing such a thing. one of them named Frank (Sedgeman?) said he was against it because there'd be pressure on Newk if the situation were reversed and also raised concerns about when a player might do it and when they wouldn't. Fellow commentators pointed out that this Frank did apparently do it sometimes

All commentators didn't seem to like the move, without being overly censorious

I don't know why Jimbo did it. One of the calls was obviously correct, so much so that I imagine he'd have had a good idea that it was (or maybe he had such great confidence in Newks judgment and honesty as to doubt it?)

Seemed to me he just wanted to come off nice to the crowd

BTW, you might want to correct title of thread.
Thanks. Been awhile since I've done something like that:)

I also found his jovial demeanor very surprising...who WAS this guy out there? Not the JC I knew....LOL. Who knows, maybe he was in relaxed state of mind...I mean, he just came off an incredible 1974, was #1 and favored against Newk, surely. Some very good shotmaking in this...not like Connors played poorly. Newk was pretty crafty at times.
I'd be curious to see how Connors conducted himself during their big money exho in Las Vegas and would be shocked if it were half as casual as this

This is the second match of Newcombe I've done. His play is entirely in keeping with his reputation - big serve, great volley (especially FHV), big FH, nice looking but not powerful BH

The craftiness isn't something he's particularly famous for, I think? But its there in both matches I've looked at

Against Borg on clay, he kept drawing his man to net... and Borg made a bunch of errors there. Here, he keeps lobbing at Connors, pushing him back, keeping him from getting settled at net

Both ploys require a great deal of measured skill to pull off. Both have potential to go disastrously. But he pulls them off in both matches - great job

Am curious what his usual modus operandi was facing net players. Remember reading he kept lobbing Ken Rosewall in '71 Wimby doubles final, likely with an eye to wearing him down for their singles final... which is doubly crafty, if true

Without seeing either match, don't think its justified to assume his reasons for the ploy in the doubles match, given he and Tony Roche won the match comfortably
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Didn't stop him from stopping him doing it though

It was obvious that's what Connors was about to do after the first serve. Commentators saw it at once, "don't tell me he's going to double fault", one of them said after the rushed, languid first fault

Commentators discussed the etiquette of doing such a thing. one of them named Frank (Sedgeman?) said he was against it because there'd be pressure on Newk if the situation were reversed and also raised concerns about when a player might do it and when they wouldn't. Fellow commentators pointed out that this Frank did apparently do it sometimes

All commentators didn't seem to like the move, without being overly censorious

I don't know why Jimbo did it. One of the calls was obviously correct, so much so that I imagine he'd have had a good idea that it was (or maybe he had such great confidence in Newks judgment and honesty as to doubt it?)

Seemed to me he just wanted to come off nice to the crowd



Thanks. Been awhile since I've done something like that:)



I'd be curious to see how Connors conducted himself during their big money exho in Las Vegas and would be shocked if it were half as casual as this

This is the second match of Newcombe I've done. His play is entirely in keeping with his reputation - big serve, great volley (especially FHV), big FH, nice looking but not powerful BH

The craftiness isn't something he's particularly famous for, I think? But its there in both matches I've looked at

Against Borg on clay, he kept drawing his man to net... and Borg made a bunch of errors there. Here, he keeps lobbing at Connors, pushing him back, keeping him from getting settled at net

Both ploys require a great deal of measured skill to pull off. Both have potential to go disastrously. But he pulls them off in both matches - great job

Am curious what his usual modus operandi was facing net players. Remember reading he kept lobbing Ken Rosewall in '71 Wimby doubles final, likely with an eye to wearing him down for their singles final... which is doubly crafty, if true

Without seeing either match, don't think its justified to assume his reasons for the ploy in the doubles match, given he and Tony Roche won the match comfortably
Newk actually won a number of key points in this match with cross-court backhands, a stroke which he did not possess earlier in his career.

Rosewall himself used the tactic of lobbing to tire his opponents, most notably in the 1963 world championship series against Laver....what goes around comes around.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
For comparison sake, I also had Connors s/v 84 times, but I had 74 of 95 on 1st and 10 of 40 on 2nd. I had him 110 times at net. 72 of 110. Bit of difference there. Probably my error, Wasp. Your stats are SO much more comprehensive than mine.

While Connors had some light hearted moments, I do not think for a second that it effected his desire to win this match. You can't possibly look at the end of that 4th set and think he lacks intensity. He broke back to stay in the match and had 2 sets points in the tiebreaker. I'd hardly call Newcombe's BH return any sort of consistent weapon in this match. However, he made a couple of beauties when it counted.

Connors has been light hearted in tournament play numerous times. Granted, not in the finals of GS tournaments, though. I do think he wanted them to like him and that may have influenced throwing that point.

I've said this before. Connors is unusual in that he became a worse sport as he got older. He's 39 years old calling an umpire an abortion. If you watched the ceremony, Connors is very gracious in defeat as he was in the ceremony after the 1975 US Open.
Newcombe compliments him on this and calls him a champion because of how he behaved in defeat.

You don't see Connors berating umpires or linesmen in any of the matches from this era.
Now, losing really gracefully pretty much ended with the 75 US Open. He was not heaping praise on how well his opponent played after that. You had the end of the Vilas match in 1977. Still, you didn't have him berating umpires.

Wasp, all I've ever seen of the 75 challenge match is the last set. It's up on youtube. Newcombe s/v on every serve as here. Connors doesn't s/v as much. I have it as 9 of 21 on 1st and 3 of 6 on 2nd. Connors also had 11 unreturned serves. 11 out of 27 is about as high a unreturned % as you'd see from him.

As with this match, though, there are no extended rallies when Connors doesn't s/v. Connors comes in within maybe 6 shots. And, in both matches, except for once at the Australian, I think, it's Connors who comes in. He's just as anxious to get to the net as Newcombe is. He's just not doing it right off the serve. Well, he just wants to set the point up better. He justs good to very good at net. Newcombe is sublime.

Connors makes some excellent volleys in this match. Aggressive volleys. They are both very decisive volleyers. Newcombe can make the really difficult volley better and doesn't miss as many % wise. At the time Segura, in a book wrote, ranked them as having the 2 best forehand volleys in tennis because of how aggressive they were. Wouldn't go that far with Connors. but this match sure could leave you feeling that way about Newcombe.

Connors wasn't playing his best, IMO. Still played pretty well, I thought. Newcombe is hard to break. He also came up with some great returns at the right time. Connors made a couple errors and that was it. Close match. Can't act like it's some great upset when Connors had never beaten Newcombe up until that point.

Neither player had an easy road to the finals. Connors didn't have any close calls, but a bunch of 4 setters against not very highly ranked players. Newcombe had 5 setters. I believe the announcer said that he entered at the last minute. That place had as about a spacious center court as you could find. The players could run forever on that court. Would seem to be an advantage for Connors. Not enough of an advantage that day.

I remember CBS showing this match on tape delay. I think because it was Connors and Newcombe.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I'm guessing maybe for the same reason a lot of players skipped it. It was over the holidays and really far away. And Grand Slams weren't viewed the same way then. Certainly not this Grand Slam. The field in 1975 isn't deep. It's got Connors and Newcombe, but the majority of the top players skipped it.

However, by 1983ish almost everyone was playing there and Connors still stayed away. IIRC, there was a year he was entered and then pulled out. Maybe 1984. If he had kept playing there, in the 70s, I think he could have picked up a few titles. I suppose the same could be said for others. Now, if Borg had won the US Open in 78, 79 or 80 there would have been a great field. Borg would have played there and I think several others would have followed him .
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Connors is unusual in that he became a worse sport as he got older. He's 39 years old calling an umpire an abortion. If you watched the ceremony, Connors is very gracious in defeat as he was in the ceremony after the 1975 US Open.
Newcombe compliments him on this and calls him a champion because of how he behaved in defeat.

You don't see Connors berating umpires or linesmen in any of the matches from this era.
Always good to see you, WCT

I know Connors' been defaulted a couple of time, and seen a couple of short videos of him losing it, but in full matches I've seen, he's one of the best for dealing with bad calls. I'm talking all the way into mid '80s

Has a word, lets it be known he think the call was bad... but doesn't go overboard. And at other times, he's downright relaxed about it. In one match, he not rudely or bossily corrects a linesperson's position

I remember CBS showing this match on tape delay. I think because it was Connors and Newcombe.
I think commentators specifically say so - something like good job by Americans to take on the match, and then explain they mean the channel bringing it to American audiences. Implication is that they wouldn't have if the match wasn't such a clash of the titans
---

Watched a good deal of Connors since last we chatted - and its just like you've been saying from the first time I looked at him

He cut back on coming to net drastically at some point.

These mid '70s matches, I'd describe his game as net based all courter. Mid '80s... baseliner who comes to net sometimes is a fair description, even baseline based all courter is a bit of a stretch

In those later matches, he's wasting his time on the baseline with Lendl and Mac. Can't take Lendl out from there and waiting for the inevitable Mac approach … but won't come in himself

Of course, all I see is matches against those top guys. Am curious how he dealt with the field, which he was still topping comfortably. Good enough to boss them about from the baseline? More confident coming in to them?

Earliest I've seen him err on side of caution was '78 Wimbledon final. Remarkable post-match self-assessment too... said with straight face, no less

Would like to hear your thoughts on that one - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-borg-vs-connors-wimbledon-final-1978.656924/
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Nice to chat with you too, Wasp. I've said it a couple times, but since it's so true, I'll say it again. Your stats are awesome. I don't know how you have the patience to do them in such painstaking detail, but it's that detail that makes them so revealing.

Regarding Connors and umpires and linespeople, I would never put him in Mcenroe's league but he could be rough. He stared down and mocked a bunch of linespeople over the years. Mostly the 80s and then the 91 Open. He berated a few umpires.

It was the late 70s, I believe, when they put in the umpire overrule for the umpire. They could just overrule the line call on the spot. Absolutely, positively WORST thing an umpire could do against Connors was overrule a call that went against him. Then he
wanted anything within 2 feet overruled for him the other way. I can still hear it now. "You set the precedent." I repeat, though, not Mcenroe. Still, if they had an umpire poll on most difficult players to nandle then he'd make the list. If not top 5, certainly top 10.

Yes, CBS was not scheduled to televise the Australian ahead of time. They picked up the match strictly because it was Connors vs Newcome. By the way you mentioned Frank Sedgman like you weren't sure who he was. He was a great Australian player.

The 1978 Wimbledon final. I also did the stats for this match, years back. I had 24 to 8 in unreturned serves, I had a bunch less times at net for each. I think I have the explanation. If someone served and volleyed and there was no return put in play, I didn't count it as a net point. I called it a s/v free point and kept it as a separate stat. But I see I don't have that stat for this match for either player. Probably forgot to write it down. I stopped doing it that way long ago. Now it's all net points. However, without it I'd naturally have lower net point totals than you did.

I assume you do the stats listening to the announcers. You just referenced what they said in the Australian. Anyway, on the NBC version, Newcombe addressed Connors not s/v enough. That he needed to do it more. That he didn't think Borg was returning that low over the net. I did write down, on my stats, how many times Connors s/v. I had 11.
11, 12 whatever out of 97 or 98 is REALLY low.

Borg has an excellent return, no doubt. Was it better than Ken Rosewall's? In 1974, both Rosewall, Connors s/v about 65 to 70% of the time. That's combined. And it wasn't like Borg. all the time first and not at all 2nd. Connors was not quite as much on the 2nd, but still more than half the time.. Then maybe 70%+ on the 1st.

That said, Connors did come in 59 out of 182 times in the match. I would not describe him as a baseliner in this match. Borg cam in on all his 1st serves and came in on a lot of rallies. That eliminates Connors coming in.

Certainly, Connors is not coming in as quickly, even if the ground as he was in 74 or 75.
That said, he still came in a bunch. Connors did speak, later in the summer, about not having coming in enough in this match. Talked about it after the 1978 US Open final where he, BTW, came in about 25 times less than this match.

He was going on about watching himself play this match made him sick. How he had 5 or 6 shots a point to come in on and didn't. Personally, I think that is a real exaggeration.
Granted, I haven't watched the match in multiple years, but that is not my memory. That Connors had short balls galore to come in on and didn't. Again, absolutely, the lack of s/v is glaring. And if you think that is glaring, I don't think he did it a single time in their 81 Wimbledon match. Also, I don't dispute that he didn't fail to come in on some short balls, I just don't think it was glaring. There were 182 points with 31 unreturned serve points. Plus all the times Borg s/v where Connors can't come in. Now, you have 120 points left, maybe? Connors came in on 47 of them. It's not like he was avoiding the net like the plague.

SO MANY 79-81 matches where it was so much more egregious. The one I always think of is Clerc at the 81 French. I had 4 sets of the match and 225. Nets points were 39 for Clerc and 25 for Connors. Jose Luis Clerc is coming in more than JImmy Connors? Are you kidding me? Mcenroe 1979 US Open. Connors came in about 10 to 12% of the points in that match.

Everything is relative into what you consider a baseliner. I started watching and sometimes see guys come in 5 times in 2 or 3 sets. Recent years, Nadal might come in 6 or 8 times in a set and Mcenroe is going apeshit like he's a net rushing demon.

What is pretty clear to me is that Connors was never as aggressive about coming in as he was when Segura was his regular coach. I think it lessened as he went through the 76 through 78 years. Later 1979 is when I really noticed it. I mean back then.

For a long time I did my stats wrong. I was most interested in how much Connors came in and how many unreturned serves he had. Those were my bugaboos from watching. I thought he spotted the Borgs and Mcenroes so many free points. I wanted to see if the stats backed my memory up. Same with the net. Had he really come in less in these years or did it just seem that way to me?

Anyway, the error I made in keeping stats was not counting all the points. So many matches I did stats on that I don't know how many points. That's what you need. What % of the points was he at net. What % of his serves were unreturned. It's not that Borg had 24 and he had 7. It's even more glaring with the % because Connors served so many more points. You lose that context without the %.

Still, although I started doing it late, I've got the % for dozens of matches and they tell the story. Connors is coming in over 40% of the points in a bunch of 74 and 75 matches. He's over 40 % in 2 of the Pepsi Grand Slam finals and over 30% in the other. The % are just clearly lower later on. Obviously, the opponent plays a factor. If he plays a big time, s/v both serves every point player, he's not likely to be 40%. But it was more than that. Trust me.

BTW, Wasp, I saw your 1977 Wimbledon semi stats. IIRC, you had Borg s/v 20 times. There is a case of memory vs reality. My memory was that Borg did not s/v at all on second serves. My memory was more like this 78 match. Most, if not all, of 1st serves, none on 2nd.

To be clear, I'm talking title years and 1981 Borg. I've seen some of the 1973 Roger Taylor match and he 's coming in behind plenty of 2nd serves. He was doing the same thing in the 1974 US Open vs Armitraj. But that was before he was contending for, and winning, these tournaments. My memory had always been that when he was winning Wimbledon titles that he stayed back on the 2nd serve. If you do anymore of his Wimbledon matches I'll be interested to see if that was really the case. Or if, like the 77 match, he did come in some behind it.

Something I forgot to mention before in relation to the 78 final. I did the stats for the Connors/Gerulaitis semi. I had Connors s/v on 71 of 87 serves. I believe that is the number, both serves combined. Highest % of s/v I have in any of the matches I've done. Which I suppose makes it even more puzzling why he didn't do it more often in the final.

It would be nice of any of his earler round matches were available. Then we could see if the Gerulaitis match was an aberration.
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Nice to chat with you too, Wasp. I've said it a couple times, but since it's so true, I'll say it again. Your stats are awesome. I don't know how you have the patience to do them in such painstaking detail, but it's that detail that makes them so revealing.
Thanks

So much interesting stuff to comment on

The 1978 Wimbledon final. I also did the stats for this match, years back. I had 24 to 8 in unreturned serves, I had a bunch less times at net for each. I think I have the explanation. If someone served and volleyed and there was no return put in play, I didn't count it as a net point. I called it a s/v free point and kept it as a separate stat. But I see I don't have that stat for this match for either player. Probably forgot to write it down. I stopped doing it that way long ago. Now it's all net points. However, without it I'd naturally have lower net point totals than you did.

I assume you do the stats listening to the announcers. You just referenced what they said in the Australian. Anyway, on the NBC version, Newcombe addressed Connors not s/v enough. That he needed to do it more. That he didn't think Borg was returning that low over the net. I did write down, on my stats, how many times Connors s/v. I had 11.
11, 12 whatever out of 97 or 98 is REALLY low.

Borg has an excellent return, no doubt. Was it better than Ken Rosewall's? In 1974, both Rosewall, Connors s/v about 65 to 70% of the time. That's combined. And it wasn't like Borg. all the time first and not at all 2nd. Connors was not quite as much on the 2nd, but still more than half the time.. Then maybe 70%+ on the 1st.

That said, Connors did come in 59 out of 182 times in the match. I would not describe him as a baseliner in this match. Borg cam in on all his 1st serves and came in on a lot of rallies. That eliminates Connors coming in.
The thing about the Rosewall matches is Connors' serve was much harder than in '78, making it an easier choice to come in behind. Think he'd be fine coming in behind the '74 serve to Borg. What little he did, he was fine coming in behind it in '78, though I would expect him to get into trouble if he did it regularly (still, less trouble than he got into staying back)

Rosewall matches are here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-connors-vs-rosewall-wimbledon-us-open-finals-1974.656840/

In '78 Wimby final, I have him coming to net from rallying 46 times, to Borg's 40. Those would be from Connors service games (sans small number of serve-volleys) and Borg's second serve points (he serve-volleyed 100% off first serves, so no scope for Jimbo to come in)

As the server of most of the points that approaches came out of, Connors should have greater scope or earlier oppurtunity to come in. Just 6 more times than Borg is sign that he didn't take advantage. I've noted in report that Borg is quicker to come to net (as in, having no hesitation on a ball that's not obviously there to come in off) than Connors, which would surprising?

Whether its surprising or not isn't too important, because Borg was eager to come to net from rallying by a normal standard

Basically, Borg looks like the all-courter, Connors the baseliner who comes in now and then (even sans Borg's extra serve-volleying)

Compare to '76 US finals. Connors regularly pops forward off third ball in that - on clay no less. Also against Tanner in Wimby '75... lots of third ball approaches

Connors did speak, later in the summer, about not having coming in enough in this match. Talked about it after the 1978 US Open final where he, BTW, came in about 25 times less than this match.

He was going on about watching himself play this match made him sick. How he had 5 or 6 shots a point to come in on and didn't. Personally, I think that is a real exaggeration.
Bit of an exaggeration, but I'm glad to hear him say that. Right after the match he told Bud Collins he should have hung in points more and not gone for so much on his shots. I cleaned my ears. The exaggeration about 5-6 shots to come in off is closer to how I saw the match then what he told Bud

He came in slightly less than Borg in that USO match too - 37 to 42, sans serve-volleying 32 to 33... but Borg made a particular effort to approach in third set, probably because his finger was bugging him

that one's here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-reports-connors-vs-borg-us-open-final-1978-semi-final-1981.659112/

BTW, Wasp, I saw your 1977 Wimbledon semi stats. IIRC, you had Borg s/v 20 times. There is a case of memory vs reality. My memory was that Borg did not s/v at all on second serves. My memory was more like this 78 match. Most, if not all, of 1st serves, none on 2nd.

Something I forgot to mention before in relation to the 78 final. I did the stats for the Connors/Gerulaitis semi. I had Connors s/v on 71 of 87 serves. I believe that is the number, both serves combined. Highest % of s/v I have in any of the matches I've done. Which I suppose makes it even more puzzling why he didn't do it more often in the final.
Off second serve, I have Borg serve-volleying 5 times in the '76 final against Nastase (serve-volleyed all but 6 times off first serves) and just once in '78 final (serve-volleyed 100% off first serves)

I guess Vitas is a guy whose return wasn't feared? as opposed to Borg or Connors returns

Another reason to serve-volley off second serves is to keep returner from chip-charging the return. Not a factor when serving to Connors or Borg... might be one with Vitas

Do you have serve percentage for the Connors-Vitas semi? 71/87 serve-volleys comes to 81.6%

For Connors, his first serve percentage might be high as 80%... so that high serve-volleying frequency might be 'all first serves and just a few seconds'

A question for you about Connors serve. In the '74 matches with Rosewall, it looks strong. Slightly less but still a good serve in '75 Aus and Wimbledon

'76 onward - it looks downright soft. You've got Mac and Borg returning about 90% on fast courts

What on earth happened to it? To my eye, its more glaring than his decreased net approaching
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Mentioned earlier, but I only recall Connors being defaulted ONCE in his very long career ('86 Lipton vs. Lendl, a real doozy). Was there any other time. And while Mac was bad, I agree, Lendl was no peach either. Some of the umpires were pretty lame, Jeremy Shales getting the vote for all time worst. But, JC typically knew how far he could go with his antics...not crossing that final line.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Thanks

So much interesting stuff to comment on



The thing about the Rosewall matches is Connors' serve was much harder than in '78, making it an easier choice to come in behind. Think he'd be fine coming in behind the '74 serve to Borg. What little he did, he was fine coming in behind it in '78, though I would expect him to get into trouble if he did it regularly (still, less trouble than he got into staying back)

Rosewall matches are here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-connors-vs-rosewall-wimbledon-us-open-finals-1974.656840/

In '78 Wimby final, I have him coming to net from rallying 46 times, to Borg's 40. Those would be from Connors service games (sans small number of serve-volleys) and Borg's second serve points (he serve-volleyed 100% off first serves, so no scope for Jimbo to come in)

As the server of most of the points that approaches came out of, Connors should have greater scope or earlier oppurtunity to come in. Just 6 more times than Borg is sign that he didn't take advantage. I've noted in report that Borg is quicker to come to net (as in, having no hesitation on a ball that's not obviously there to come in off) than Connors, which would surprising?

Whether its surprising or not isn't too important, because Borg was eager to come to net from rallying by a normal standard

Basically, Borg looks like the all-courter, Connors the baseliner who comes in now and then (even sans Borg's extra serve-volleying)

Compare to '76 US finals. Connors regularly pops forward off third ball in that - on clay no less. Also against Tanner in Wimby '75... lots of third ball approaches



Bit of an exaggeration, but I'm glad to hear him say that. Right after the match he told Bud Collins he should have hung in points more and not gone for so much on his shots. I cleaned my ears. The exaggeration about 5-6 shots to come in off is closer to how I saw the match then what he told Bud

He came in slightly less than Borg in that USO match too - 37 to 42, sans serve-volleying 32 to 33... but Borg made a particular effort to approach in third set, probably because his finger was bugging him

that one's here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-reports-connors-vs-borg-us-open-final-1978-semi-final-1981.659112/



Off second serve, I have Borg serve-volleying 5 times in the '76 final against Nastase (serve-volleyed all but 6 times off first serves) and just once in '78 final (serve-volleyed 100% off first serves)

I guess Vitas is a guy whose return wasn't feared? as opposed to Borg or Connors returns

Another reason to serve-volley off second serves is to keep returner from chip-charging the return. Not a factor when serving to Connors or Borg... might be one with Vitas

Do you have serve percentage for the Connors-Vitas semi? 71/87 serve-volleys comes to 81.6%

For Connors, his first serve percentage might be high as 80%... so that high serve-volleying frequency might be 'all first serves and just a few seconds'

A question for you about Connors serve. In the '74 matches with Rosewall, it looks strong. Slightly less but still a good serve in '75 Aus and Wimbledon

'76 onward - it looks downright soft. You've got Mac and Borg returning about 90% on fast courts

What on earth happened to it? To my eye, its more glaring than his decreased net approaching

First off, here is the s/v breakdown I have for the 1978 Vitas match. 43 of 50 on 1st serves and 28 of 37 on 2nd. Obviously, this shows that he doesn't fear the Vitas return as much, but the disparity in s/v % between the semis and finals is still glaring.

Now, I am absolutely not saying he should s/v like he did against Vitas. But how about maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the time on 1st serves. Hell, in that 1977 Pepsi Grand Slam final, on clay. he s/v 10 times. If you ever do the stats for their 81 semi, I think Connors didn't s/v once. Maybe once, and I don't think even that.

While I do believe that Connors serve was harder in 74, by no means would I call it a big serve in the vein of really big serves. Still, those unreturned serve numbers are so low. When I did 1977 Wimbledon, I had him at 9 in 5 sets. Always wondered if I had made a mistake there. It's not like Borg's 28% is that high for grass, either. It's just that Connors is so low.

I absolutely, positively would not categorize Connors as a baseliner who came in occasionally based on this match. Noone who comes to net 59 times in 182 points, even on a grass court, meets my defintion of a baseliner. Unless, of course, he was continually being drawn in with drop shots. That clearly didn't happen this match.

Is he coming in as quickly as 1974 or 75? Absolutely not. But that doesn't make him a baseliner, IMO. If you come in on the 6th or 7th hit of the rally instead of the 3rd, in my mind, you still came in. In 74 and 75, he's not coming in AS quickly as Newcomebe and Laver where they are basically s/v on every serve while he mixes it up. His not being AS aggressive in coming to the net doesn't mean he wasn't interested in it ala a baseliner.

You can't have it both ways, Wasp. Yoy can't decry how weak and anemic Connors serve has become yet still claim that, in the games he serves, he should be the one coming in so much more in rallies, than Borg, because he has the advantage of the serve.

Bottom line, he came in more when they rallied. Borg s/v 41 times. In my mind, that is where most of his advantage in net points came. I will certainly admit that you can look at it a number of ways. Even in this match, from the ground, I think Connors is hitting harder and deeper although Borg has increased his length. That would probably lead to Connors having more short balls to come in on than Borg.

That is where I thought the US Open 78 final was jarring for me. Borg was hitting the ball as hard, going for more off the ground, than I had ever seen him against. I imagine because of wanting to shorten points because of the thumb. Not the entire match, more like the second half of it. He is running Connors as much as I ever saw him. Problem was, he made a lot of errors. I think that is the majority of the last set points.I still maintain, though, that I think the first ser and maybe 1/3 is very good quality tennis. Borg isn't playing like he did at Wimbledon, but he was still playing pretty well. Connors was not missing a lot that day. First game or two some easy errors. After that, not a lot.

You did the stats for the 79 US Open Mcenroe match, right? If you think he was a baseliner in this match, what about that? How about the first 3 1/2 sets of their 1980 US Open semi? There are a bunch of matches in the late 79 thru 81 era that I could cite.

You said that Borg s/v on 1 2nd serve in the 78 final and all his 1st serves? Not according to the stats you posted in the thread dedicated to that match. It says Borg s/v 31 of 41 all 1st. And he was 46 of 85 1st serve %

You refer to coming in on 3rd ball. Do you include the serve and return in that? So, the first ball off the return, but not with a volley? You think Connors did that a lot at the 76 US Open final? I don't think so. Don't denying he did it some, especially on the big points in the tiebeaker and when he had match points. But overall? Not to my recollection. I don't have my stats broken down that specifically, though. I'm open to being proven wrong.

I had Connors at the net 86 times, out of 280 or 286 points? IIRC, it was a little over 30%. Go back and look at that match closely. Just look for balls that land at the service box or inside. There are a bunch he didn't come in on. IMO, he is not coming in as quickly as he did the year before against Orantes. It's not jarringly clear, but if you are really dissecting it, as I have, I do believe it's the case.

Again, that does not make Connors a baseliner. It means he is not quite as aggressive about coming in. He still came in 86 times on a clay court. SURE AS HELL isn't my idea of a baseliner. That is what you call an all court player. Certainly so in that almost none of it was s/v.

Same with so many of the 74/75 matches. Said it for years. There is a 15 stroke rally in the 2 Connors/Rosewall matches. And neither was all s/v. Maybe 65 to 70 % of all serves they s/v. That's close to 1/3 that started with a rally. But they both would come in on anything that landed within. 2 or 3 feet of the service line.

Same with the 75 Newcombe and Tanner matches. If there a 15 hit rally in either? I don't believe there were any in the set we have of the Newcombe challenge match. Not sure in the Laver match, either. Might have been a couple in that one. Not more than that, though. Certainly there were some against Orantes. Still, Connors was at the net 73 times in 170 points, on a clay court.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
My post has too many characters. Here is part 2

I can give you another time where Connors expresses regret about how he player 78 Wimbledon. You can find it on youtube. A Tony Trabert interview with Connors and Borg after th Pepsi final, where Borg beat him 2 and 3. The video is just of the interview.

At one point, Connors laments how he didn't come in at Wimbledon.. Watch that interview and tell me that Tony Trabert sees Connors as a baseliner. Now contrast that with his comments during the 84 Mcenrie US Open match. When Newcombe poses the question, do you think that maybe Jimmy should be coming in more. To which Trabert replied, that isn't really his game.

When I watched it live, I was like, she sure used to think it was his game, Tony. Look at his commentary on any CBS 74-78 Connors match you can find and he sure wasn't saying it then. Mind you, when he said it in 84, I think it was true. Well, what did I expect then? I wanted to hear him say, this guy didn't used to play this way.

Same thing was true with Cliff Drysdale's commentary, to a lesser degree. He wasn't doing matches until about 78, for WCT. Still, early on, he never called Connors a baseliner.

I've told this story several times. Later in the 80s, I called them when they were guests on New York Sports talk radio, Before FAN, I think. Maybe WNBC. Not at the same time. 2 different shows, One Trabert and the other Drysdale. Anyway, exactly what I did here. Why did you change your tune? Not in the sense that what they were saying was wrong when they said it. Why weren't you saying, this guy didn't used to play this way. He ised to come in more, clearly more. Both of them conceded my point, said I was right. I don't mean they apologized for not saying it on the air back then. I wasn't looking for that. Just acknowledgement that this wasn't my imagination. His style of play changed in that aspect.

I've always attributed it to Segura and him losing influence with Connors. But doing all these stats I see it more as a gradual thing. He's drifting in that direction. I first noticed it later in 79, particularly the Mcenroe match. I wasn't thinking in 77 or 78, he's not coming in quite as much. I didn't watch the 76 US Open final and notice that he's not coming in quite as quickly as the year before. I needed to do stats and really look at the matches to see that.

Whatever the reason behind it, it's true. Wasp, you notice it. Maybe not in the same exact way or degree, but we both agree it's different. The serve I don't get either. Wonder if Segura influenced that. Not that he had any big serve himself. My thing with it always was, he spots some players such an advantage. Borg and Mcenroe were hard enough to beat if you didn't spot them any adavantage. Spot them 15 plus point on unreturned serves, they are just that much tougher to beat.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Mentioned earlier, but I only recall Connors being defaulted ONCE in his very long career ('86 Lipton vs. Lendl, a real doozy). Was there any other time. And while Mac was bad, I agree, Lendl was no peach either. Some of the umpires were pretty lame, Jeremy Shales getting the vote for all time worst. But, JC typically knew how far he could go with his antics...not crossing that final line.
k, thanks - my mistake

From what I've seen, when Lendl acted up - he was right
Connors usually too in the full matches I've looked at - but I've seen clips where he's just being difficult
Mac's a different kettle of fish. whack job and hypocrite who made much ado over nothing regularly

Even Mac just got defaulted once, right? Aus '90 was it?

The worst I've seen Connors do was when he got a game penalty against Edberg at USO '89 and it was more silly than offensive. He'd played a terrible game to get broken and was swearing in frustration/self-directed anger - and got a warning

Which led to a lively, not heated, chat with the umpire. Said something about masturbating, which got him a second warning and point penalty. Best I can make out, he was trying to explain to the umpire (again, lively but not angrily) why whatever he said about masturbation doesn't qualify for code violation... which got him a game penalty. And this was all in-between games, so he wasn't wasting time

@WCT - let me get back to you when I can do your post justice
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
As I said, Connors wasn't Mcenroe bad. But just like with not coming to the net like Laver or Newcombe, that doesn't mean he wasn't bad. Well, Nastae would be another player that I think was tougher on umpires.

Is whether he got defaulted the standard? In my mind, it's really abusing the umpire or linespeople, The 1987 Miami semis vs Mecir. He gave Rich Kaufman a really hard time and got a penalty for abuse. Cliff Drysdale was really critical of him for the behavior.

Certainly not claiming that he did this all the time, but it happneed multiple times. He's not at the top of the worst offenders. I'd certainly guess top 5 or 6, though. I mean for his period.

Like I said befoe, though, it's from later on. More the 80s and that 91 Krickstein match. Whereas you'd think he'd mellow, get better with officials, later on, I think he was better early. And certainly a better sport in some of those 1975 losses.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
First off, here is the s/v breakdown I have for the 1978 Vitas match. 43 of 50 on 1st serves and 28 of 37 on 2nd. Obviously, this shows that he doesn't fear the Vitas return as much, but the disparity in s/v % between the semis and finals is still glaring.

Now, I am absolutely not saying he should s/v like he did against Vitas. But how about maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the time on 1st serves. Hell, in that 1977 Pepsi Grand Slam final, on clay. he s/v 10 times. If you ever do the stats for their 81 semi, I think Connors didn't s/v once. Maybe once, and I don't think even that.
Wow - that is glaring difference

And it was 0 in the '80 Masters match

4 times in '81 USO semi, that one's here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-reports-connors-vs-borg-us-open-final-1978-semi-final-1981.659112/#post-13950948

I absolutely, positively would not categorize Connors as a baseliner who came in occasionally based on this match. Noone who comes to net 59 times in 182 points, even on a grass court, meets my defintion of a baseliner. Unless, of course, he was continually being drawn in with drop shots. That clearly didn't happen this match.

Is he coming in as quickly as 1974 or 75? Absolutely not. But that doesn't make him a baseliner, IMO. If you come in on the 6th or 7th hit of the rally instead of the 3rd, in my mind, you still came in. In 74 and 75, he's not coming in AS quickly as Newcomebe and Laver where they are basically s/v on every serve while he mixes it up. His not being AS aggressive in coming to the net doesn't mean he wasn't interested in it ala a baseliner.
I suspect what constitutes a "baseliner" has changed over time?

Today, Nadal can serve-volley 5-6 times in a 5 set final and people are impressed with his inclination to come to net. Obviously, that wouldn't be true in 80s, let alone 70s.

The way I read it, not coming in today is logical - because you can forcefully end points from the baseline consistently (i.e. hit baseline-to-baseline winners or force errors). Back in 70s and 80s, you couldn't... if both players stayed on baseline, the point will end with an unforced error

"attacking baseliner" would be an oxymoron. "attacking" means net player. Obviously, that's not true today. I'd categorize Roger Federer as an attacking baseliner, for example

So my question would be, in 1978, 59 approaches in 182 points... does that constitute baseliner figures for the time (particularly considering the surface)?
Who were some of the guys called "baseliner" in the times? Vilas, Dibbs, Solomon? How often did they come in on grass? My guess would be a similar to 59/182 - or at least, as close to it as Borg's 81/182

59/182 comes to 32%. To put that in perspective, I have Borg at net 50/233 @ 21% on clay in '74 vs Panatta (with Panatta at net 90 times or 39% of the time severly curtailing Borg's scope to come in). Borg on clay I'd call a baseliner

Or Vilas again on clay, coming in 25% of all points vs Borg in Monte Carlo '80 (admittedly, off much, much longer rallies than Connors in '78 grass)

I think the key to answering this would be if we had figures for approach rates on grass for guys like Vilas, Orantest, Dibbs etc.... guys who were generally accepted to be 'baseliners' round about that time

You did the stats for the 79 US Open 9 match, right? If you think he was a baseliner in this match, what about that? How about the first 3 1/2 sets of their 1980 US Open semi? There are a bunch of matches in the late 79 thru 81 era that I could cite.

You said that Borg s/v on 1 2nd serve in the 78 final and all his 1st serves? Not according to the stats you posted in the thread dedicated to that match. It says Borg s/v 31 of 41 all 1st. And he was 46 of 85 1st serve %

You refer to coming in on 3rd ball. Do you include the serve and return in that? So, the first ball off the return, but not with a volley? You think Connors did that a lot at the 76 US Open final? I don't think so. Don't denying he did it some, especially on the big points in the tiebeaker and when he had match points. But overall? Not to my recollection. I don't have my stats broken down that specifically, though. I'm open to being proven wrong.
Completely agree - Connors in '78 Wimby final.... much, much more net seeking than the matches you've mentioned

The Wimby serve-volleyed on all first serves is correct. That means all "non-ace/service winner first serves"

3rd ball refers to shot after the return.

Coming in off 3rd ball is a pretty good way to play if you can draw a non-attacking return - which most first serves can - but serve isn't so strong that you fancy serve-volleying. Particulalry good for Connors, I think

Yoy can't decry how weak and anemic Connors serve has become yet still claim that, in the games he serves, he should be the one coming in so much more in rallies, than Borg, because he has the advantage of the serve.
bit of explanation here that goes a bit beyond numbers

Borg's return is characterized by consistency i.e. getting huge chunk of returns back, measured via return rate. Compare to Connors, who's consistency is lower, but damaging abiltity is higher (no clear stats measure for this)

Put another way, Borg's return leaves server with initiative of point from the baseline. Connors by contrast, may well snatch it

Against serve-volleyers, Borg's return leaves them in good stead to make good first volleys. Not putaways or easy ones all the time - but reasonably good. Connors much more often leaves them with very difficult first volleys

Therefore, Connors gets the extra shot to come in on his service points on which he hasn't serve-volleyed. Its not like Borg's return has pushed him on defensive (the way his own tends to do to others)

I would argue, this is doubly so because Connors return to Borg's second serve tends to be strong enough to give Borg a not comfortable third ball. By "not comfortable", I mean a ball you wouldn't see as an approach oppurtunity

Putting all this together, I would expect Connors to come in more than Borg in rallies, if they are equally net hungry. He has the extra shot to do so off

In the '78 final, it doesn't seem to me that Connors was as net hungry as Borg. About equal maybe. Borg's net-hunger was enough to qualify as 'looking to come in', so that doesn't mean Connors was disinclined to …. but probably should have more, given he wasn't serve-volleying

Again, that does not make Connors a baseliner. It means he is not quite as aggressive about coming in.
I think we essentially see it the same way

Good discussion
 
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WCT

Semi-Pro
Man, I reread my last post before looking at what you said. LOL, could there be any more errors, typos? LOL, clearly I did not proofread that one. First, I'm a slow typist. Second, I have a quastionable keyboard. Let's see if I can cut down some this time.

First off, about today's play. Agree 100%. It is so much harder to come in with today's equipment. Players can make passes, from extremely difficult positions, that make volleying very hard. I veer towards Federer as all court. Certainly in the last several years. Federer can really volley. I shake my head every time someone says that Nadal volleys better. He does not have to make nearly as many difficult volleys. And I think Nadal volleys well, just not as well as Federer.

I still don't agree about Connors 1978 as a baseliner. I wish more Wimbledon matches were up on youtube. Watch the 81 Connors/Armitraj match. If you think he's a baseliner against Borg, tell me what you think he is in this one. He sure isn't coming in as quick against Borg in 81.

You can't just pick one or two clay court matches where Borg came in. I can do the same thing. 77-79 Pepsi Grand Slam finals. I'm not sure that Borg was at the net 20 times in 8 sets and he was brought in with drop shots maybe 8 times. Connors is at the net 40, 30 and 41% of the points in those 3 matches I don't have Borg by %, but obviously it's very low.

Orantes is lucky if he came in 5 times in the 75 US Open final. I saw a lot of 70s matches where players came in less than 10 times on clay. Hell, indoors sometimes.
Never saw Dibbs or Solomon play on grass, but I saw plenty of women who didn't come in that much. I don't mean 3 or 4 times, but I'd wager no way 32% of the time.

Do you think Connors was coming in quicker in the 78 US Open final than Wimbledon.? I don't. There are balls around the service box where he stayed back. I understand, though, a different surface. A surface with a true bounce. Although it was mentioned at the time that it played very fast that year

Now is now, but 20 years ago was different. How many Agassi matches did you do where he isn't at the net 10 times? You can't say it's impossible to s/v at the time when Sampras did it a lot. If Connors is a baseliner at 78 Wimbledon, what is Agassi in 92?

Regarding Connors and Borg and serving. I don't think that when Borg served second serves, and stayed back, that Connors put him in immediate danger much. Like with Lendl, I think the majority of points he put either in trouble right off the return was on 1st serves. He used the pace. Again, I'm only talking when they stayed back. You s/v on the second serve he might consistently kill you with the returns.

I think you may be underestimating Borg's return against a 1st serve s/v. He makes lots of low dipping returns. They are not as hard hit or as aggressive as Connors', IMO. But I wouldn't categorize it as just sort of getting it back where the server doesn't really have to make difficult volleys, either. Of course, that wasn't an issue with Connors in 78 since he s/v so infrequently. And I'm not claiming that he was putting Connors in immediate trouble, either. Still, I don't think he was returning weakly, either. Been years since I watched the match, though.

I still come back to this. When there was a rally, Connors came in a bit more. There were so many later matches I saw where I thought he was so much less inclined to come in. I repeat, no way is Connors coming in as quickly as 74 or 75. Zero dispute there. I just would not call him a baseliner when he came in that much.

I don't find that term to be an oxymoron. You have different types of baseliners. There are counterpunchers and aggressive or attacking baseliners. You don't think someone that consistently goes for winners, and the lines, from the baseline is attacking?

When Connors was on the baseline in the 75 and 76 US Open finals, he was attacking. Borg and Orantes wee counterpunching. Later on that's what Drysdale said about Connors. In the 80s. "He's agressive, but he's aggressive from the baseline."

Did you watch the Trabert video? I looked and it was still up. You don't type in Trabert. I found that out. Just type in Borg Connors interview. I may have to wind up looking at this match again. Last time was when I did the stats. Maybe 5 years ago? So, you clearly have the advantage in that regard. If do look again, I'll give you my opinion. Perhaps I would feel differently. Notice more short balls that he didn't come in on.

There is no denying the subjectivity here. There is no dictionary definition for a baseliner. No hard and fast come in x % of the time or you are not. Then there is the context of who the opponent is and how they play. Connors played Laver in 1975 and was at the net much less than him. He's s/v just about all his serves. Connors has no chance to come half the games.
 
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