Match Stats/Report - Wilander vs Connors, Miami final, 1988

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Mats Wilander beat Jimmy Connors 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Miami final, 1988 on hard court

The tournament was 7 full rounds, all matches best of 5 sets. Wilander was seeded first, Connors second. Wilander had recently won the Australian Open. Connors hadn’t won a title for 4 years

Wilander won 137 points, Connors 122

Serve Stats
Wilander...
- 1st serve percentage (97/131) 74%
- 1st serve points won (62/97) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (16/34) 47%
- Aces 10
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/131) 22%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (85/128) 66%
- 1st serve points won (51/85) 60%
- 2nd serve points won (18/43) 42%
- Aces 3
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/128) 11%

Serve Patterns
Wilander served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 62%
- to Body 4%

Connors served....
- to FH 25%
- to BH 71%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Wilander made...
- 112 (27 FH, 85 BH), including 9 return-approaches
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (112/126) 89%

Connors made...
- 101 (30 FH, 71 BH), including 1 runaround BH & 11 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 13 Forced (7 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (101/130) 78%

Break Points
Wilander 8/18 (11 games)
Connors 6/15 (9 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Wilander 29 (11 FH, 12 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Connors 55 (11 FH, 8 BH, 9 FHV, 16 BHV, 11 OH)

Wilander had 19 passes (9 FH, 10 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc, 4 dtl (1 net chord flicker), 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 lob
- BHs - 2 cc, 5 dtl and 3 lobs

- regular FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out at net

- 3 from serve-volley points - 2 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net being a drop shot, & 1 second volley (1 OH)

- 2 from return-approach points (1 BHV, 1 BH)... the BH being a cc at net

Connors had 6 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 re-approach point (1 FHV)

- 1 from a return-approach point, a BHV

- 1 other BHV was a net chord dribbler
- 3 OHs on the bounce (2 from no-man's land)... the 1 at net can reasonably be called a FH

- 11 passes (7 FH, 4 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc and 5 dtl (1 return)
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return) and 1 dtl/inside-out

- regular FHs - 2 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out and 1 inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 cc, 1 cc/longline, 1 inside-out and 1 net chord dribbler

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Wilander 52
- 13 Unforced (8 FH, 4 BH, 1 OH)
- 39 Forced (8 FH, 24 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 41.5

Connors 77
- 55 Unforced (16 FH, 26 BH, 5 FHV, 5 BHV, 3 OH)… with 1 BH at net & 1 BH pass attempt
- 22 Forced (9 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot (not net) & 1 drive baseline BHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.7

(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 are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Wilander was...
- 30/50 (60%) at net, including...
- 14/23 (61%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 12/20 (60%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/3 (67%) off 2nd serve
---
- 8/9 (89%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back/retreated

Connors was...
- 69/108 (64%) at net, including...
- 14/25 (56%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 13/24 (54%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
---
- 7/11 (64%) return-approaching
- 3/4 (75%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
Great match, both for the tennis and the struggle. The court is on slow side and the thermostat is showing 130 degrees. Wilander being fitter and having the better serve are critical factors in the outcome

Connors, though seemingly more affected by the heat and earlier, doesn’t drop his effort at all, but the amount of effort that’s in him naturally shrinks as match goes on. He’s feeling the heat by early thrid set, when his movements (most noticable on the return), drops and tired errors (particularly in forecourt) become more common. By 4th set, even the uber fit Wilander is feeling it and for the first time, rushes net looking to hurry things along

First 2 sets is strategically perfectly played by Jimbo. He’s always on the look out for approaching net, but not in a desperate rush to get there. Gets there he does - at no small cost of approach errors and while trailing in baseline consistency (not inconsiderably, but far less so than he does afterwards) - and that’s the heart of the contest; Jimbo on the volley vs Mats on the pass. 1

Both players serves are in constant danger. 12/20 games have break points in them, and there are 5 breaks in each set. At end of it, score is 6-4, 4-6 and both players have won exactly as many points as they’ve served (Mats 68, Jimbo 66). Can’t get much closer

Dynamic changes in next 2 sets. Wilander’s serve had been more effective than Jimbo’s earlier too, but serve shot hadn’t been a major factor. In second half though, Mats’ advantage becomes far more pronouced (more for Jimbo’s movements on the return dropping than a lift in quality of Mats’ first shot). 7 of his 10 aces are in third set, with Jimbo not moving over for them much. The aces dry up in 4th set, but he’s got Jimbo hopping and lunging about - this time, he’s putting as much into the serve as he can, trying to shorten points

On flip side, Mats continues returning like clockwork in the third. By 4th, even Jimbo’s throwing something extra into his serve, and Mats has joined him in depleted of movement state, and Jimbo’s able to get a little more out of the first shot than before earlier. But the changes after first 2 sets do shift balance of play from equality to Mats with an advantage

Break points
- 1st 2 sets - Mats 5/12, Jimbo 5/10 (both having them in 6 games)
- 2nd 2 sets - Mats 3/6 (5 games), Jimbo 1/5 (3 games)

As for match as a whole, there are multiple ways of looking at it. A simple one is Mats serve superiority being only difference between two player

Points won in play - Mats 106, Jimbo 107
Double faults - Mats 1, Jimbo 2

… leaves things dead even. Leaving…

Unreturned serves - Mats 29, Jimbo 14 (unreturned rates are almost exactly in same proportion - Mats 22%, Jimbo 11%)

There’s your match. Mats' entire advantage is his lead in freebies. He has the more damaging serve and he’s the more consistent returner

A more interesting way of looking at it is through playing dynamics
 

WCT

Professional
Now, this is a match I knew Connors came in a lot. This is 3 of their matches that was the case. Didn't do the stats on the Suntory Cup match that Connors won, but he didn't seem to be coming in as much.

LOL, that Connors unreturned serve rate is so low in so many matches. I see you have Mats with no ue volley errors. I had him with none in the 2 matches of theirs that I did stats and don't recall one in the Suntory.

I had totally forgotten about this tournament being best of 5 all the way through. I read it, in a thread here, maybe, probably within the last year. Before that, total blank. I remembered the late rounds were. That wasn't liable to help Connors at this point in his career.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Rallying to Net
For first 2 sets, serve-return contest is near even (Mats with edge, both for having slightly better serve and being slightly more consistent on the return), leaving things to be played out in court action, which follows

They rally from the back, neutrally
Jimbo approaches
Jimbo at net vs Mats on the pass

No undue rush to get forward from Jimbo. The baseline rallies are patient and he waits for right ball to come in. It’s the perfect way to tackle Mats; In general (and here), while very consistent, he doesn’t hit hard enough to keep opponents back. Unless opponent is bleeding UEs from the back quickly, he can take his time to wait for right ball to come in

Later in match, net play becomes more about serve-volley and return-approaches then rallying to net. Rallying to net, Jimbo is -

1st half - 33/50 or 66%
2nd half - 15/22 or 68%

So in first half, Jimbo constantly coming in (in terms of approaches per rally), without being afraid to rally for as long as it takes for suitable opening (which is bound to come)

The patient part does cost him. His BH gets the shakes in second set, and makes a host of UEs. Not necessarily early in rallies, but regularly. Mats, ever the smart one, picks up on it and plays more and more there. Initially, he’d more targeted Jimbo’s FH (targeted as in, played to. He’s looking for UEs and testing consistency, not attacking it in traditional way)

Jimbo BH with match high 26 UEs - 10 more than the FH (Mats has 12 across both wings - just normal, can’t-miss-a-ball-if-he-tried stuff for him

Ground UEs -
- Mats BH 4
- Mats FH 8
- Jimbo FH 16
- Jimbo BH 24 (excluding a net shot and a pass)

Right at start, rallies are dual winged, Mats slightly going more to Jimbo’s FH. He’s an expert at keying in on which side is faltering, and switches to playing more to BH when that side starts giving out. Also an expert at directing neutral balls off both wings to whichever side he wants in general - cc, line or even inside-out (including BH inside-out) - part of what makes him special in general

Of Jimbo’s net play, he typically gets very close to the net, and aggressively volleys away anything above net with semi-swinging shots. The most interesting part of it is how well he smashes. Lots of OHs to make against Mats’ excellent lob, particularly back-pedalling ones

In general, Jimbo’s not the best of back-pedalling smashers, compounded by his rarely going for anything short of an overpowering winner, but he smashes as well as I’ve seen him here

The 3 OH UEs come later in the match, at which point, he’s quite sloppy in all areas (smash, volley, groundies, even return to lesser extent), which is as more a product of tiring than technique. Excellent smashing by Jimbo against very good lobbing from Mats when both are fresh

The extent to which Jimbo targets Mats’ BH is curious. Is it justified? Mats, like virtually everyone else, probably passes better of FH than BH, but the gap is shorter for him than most. He’s an excellent passer of both sides. No reason to unduly target BH

Jimbo does, to the extent one would think he’s afraid of Mats’ FH pass. He doesn’t even target Borg or Lendl’s BHs (2 guys famed for their fearsome FHs in a way Mats’ isn’t) to this degree. Virtually every approach and volley is directed to Mats’ BH

Passing winners and FEs for Mats (overwhelming bulk of FEs being passes)
- FH - 9 winners, 8 FEs
- BH - 10 winners, 24 FEs

That does justify Jimbo’s approach. Even more so than the numbers suggest. He only approaches or volleys to Mats’ FH when court is wide open or Mats is in otherwise very unfavourable position - most of Mats’ FH FEs are hopeless situations. So for him to come away with more winners than passing errors of that side is even more impressive

Points ending with Jimbo volley winners are likewise, all set up by approaches or volleys to Mats’ BH

Gist of this is Mats’ FH pass are top-class. He barely gets a good look at a pass, and makes more than he misses anyway - and Jimbo’s been smart to avoid it. And he’s bent over backwards to avoid it, going there only when he has no choice or when its very obvious strong choice

Flip side is Mats preferring passing to Jimbo BHV. Just by a bit, nothing systematic. Explainable by standard playing dynamics - with Jimbo so close to net, Mats’ testing passes are about getting them wide, not low - and its easier to get a wide volleying error from the shorter reaching BHV (especially with Jimbo’s 2-handed one) than it is FHV. No significant difference in Jimbo’s volleys across wings

Jimbo’s volleys
- winners - FHV 9, BHV 16
- UEs - both 5
- FEs - FHV 2, BHV 3 (excluding a baseline drive pass attempt)

BHV more successful statistically. Practically, no difference worth mentioning other than he faces more of them than FHVs, and it’s a sound idea from Mats’ point of view for it to be so

In first half, Mats shows little interest in net. At the end, he’s rushing net (more behind the serve and return - which we’ll get to in a bit) than from rallies, but some of that too

Rallying to net, he’s just 8/18 or 44% (serve-volleying, he’s 61% and return-approaching 89% by contrast)

That’s all about Jimbo’s passing, which if anything, is even better than Mats’. He makes passes unlikely passes close to as often as not

Just 1 forecourt UE for Mats. He’s got 7 FEs by contrast. 6 volley winners for Mats, 9 passing ones from Jimbo (excluding a couple returns). Mats looks good at net, perfectly balanced and comfy. Misses nothing easy, places volleys away from Jimbo. He looks like he could make life easier by coming in more, but seeing how well Jimbo passes, sound enough move not to. He’s doing well enough passing and outlasting Jimbo from baseline to not risk approaching, when he’s not too successful there, thanks to Jimbo’s power passes

In total -
Winners - Mats 29, Jimbo 55
Errors forced - Mats 22, Jimbo 39
UEs - Mats 13, Jimbo 55

Aggressively ended points/UE differential - Mats +38, Jimbo +39… first rate stuff

Along lines of Jimbo the aggressor (he has 43 more aggressively ended points), Mats the comparitive rock (he has 42 more points won via UEs)

UE breakdowns
- Neutral - Mats 11, Jimbo 22
- Attacking - Mats 2, Jimbo 18
- Winner Attempts - Jimbo 15

Mats with 2:1 neutral advantage sounds about right. Mats’ with hardly any attacking UEs because he hardly attacks other than coming to net (where he has just 1 miss, an OH). Clearly, he’s not missing any approach shots either

At least half of Jimbo’s 18 attacking UEs are approach shots. With 15 UEs taken up by net shots (including a BH) and a pass attempt, that leaves 18 attacking or winner attempt UEs from the back. With about half of those being approaches, approximately 10 of those are baseline-to-baseline shots. Towards end, he starts going for back court winners more (usually failing)

Serve, Return & related Net Play
Mats with the stronger serve, Mats with the more effective return

His serve is bigger of pace, better of placement - and he has something in reserve. Jimbo’s is harmless to start and he has to strain to make it anything more than that (and even then, doesn’t bother Mats much

First couple of sets, comfy returning from both. Next set, Mats sends down 7 aces. Serves 3 apiece in 2 separate games. Its not because he serves harder. Jimbo just doesn’t move as well. Same kinds of serves weren’t even drawing errors, let alone not going for aces in first 2 sets

Last set, when even Mats is tiring, he does actually serve harder. Just the 1 ace, but he’s got Jimbo stretching and lunging about to reach the return (also, because he’s serve-volleying much more he has to serve harder). Maintains a good 66% in count so doing - which is better than he has in set 2 (its might just be a coincidence that that’s the one he loses… its just as close as set 1, where he serves at 83%)

Jimbo serves about the same throughout. In last set, he beefs up his serve as much as he can, getting a few troublingling wide. Still doesn’t trouble Mats too much

Return errors are open to interpretation -
UEs - Mats 5, Jimbo 6
FEs - Mats 6, Jimbo 13

… with Mats sending down considerably more tough serves, which means Jimbo sends down considerably more normal ones
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
In that context, Mats has done better. Just as few UEs (same number of UEs, with Mats facing more), while getting the benefits of his stronger serve. He’s better at putting tough serves back in play too (also, making it look easier)

Which brings us to serve-volley and return-approaching

Similar frequency of first serve-volleying (Mats 23%, Jimbo 29%), both players doing so most often near the end (Mats’ lot in particular are concentrated there)

Success - Mats wins 60%, Jimbo 54%. Good returns and passes from Jimbo accounts for Mats being kept that low, while Jimbo’s volleying behind the serve is a notch behind his overall. Can’t quite get into as good a position at net

Negligible second serve-volleying (Mats twice, Jimbo once), all near the end when both are in a hurry

Return-approaching success reads
- Mats 8/9 at 89%
- Jimbo 7/11 at 64% (+ 1 return error trying)

… and is one of the most intersting things about the match

These are not chip-charges, they’re hard hit shots. In Mats’ case, you can call them hit & run, often as not against first serves. When he hits the return wide, he dashes to net. Again, particularly near the end

With success like that, makes one wonder what might happen if he indulged more often. Of course, he’s a good enough backcourt rallier that he wouldn’t feel a need to. Jimbo to an extent, looks for the return-approach, but like Mats, comes in behind firm shots. Unlike Mats, usually not after hitting return particularly wide

Gist - Mats with stronger serve - and it’s a good one on whole - Mats with more consistent return (Jimbo’s not bad), Mats very successful when boldly coming in behind the return

And to repeat - unreturned serves make up virtually entire difference between two player - Mats has 15 more, and wins exactly the same number of points in the match

Match Progression
Wonderful set to open up. Returners are constantly getting into games, making them competitive. There are 5 breaks and only 3 games without break points in them (2 by Mats, 1 Jimbo)

Strategically, Jimbo plays perfectly. When rally starts (both players return regularly and rallies are abundant), he trades groundies for awhile, until getting a suitable ball to come in off. And the he comes in. Mats with better of neutral ground consistency (not too important, but in tight contest, nothing is unimportant) and Jimbo making fair few approach errors. Mats rarely throws in a serve-volley, but is content to pass

Some fine lobs from Mats, and Jimbo’s excellent on the back-pedalling or fully extended OH

Cute point where serve-volleying Mats has a little exchange of tricky volleys with Jimbo hitting tricky wide passes instead of full blasted ones that ends with Jimbo coming away with a BH dtl/inside-out pass winner. Cute because it looks just like a typical Mats passing combo

Break point numbers for the set - Mats 3/7 (4 games), Jimbo 2/7 (3 games)

Second set carries on in similar vein. It starts with 5 winners in succession - and first UE doesn’t come until 12 point of the set (a BH cc winner attempt by Jimbo). Jimbo’s BH starts giving away about a third of the way into the set, and Mats shifts to playing more to it. Jimbo takes to return-approaching some, though doesn’t serve-volley any more often than he had before

Some odd incidents. Jimbo uncharacterisitcally apologizes or at least, acknowledges a net chord dribbling winner. There’s another one late in the 4th set, which he doesn’t. Jimbo makes a 2-handed FH UE

The oddest though is a game that helps decide the set. Serving at 4-3 with a break in hand, Mats rolls serves in. It’s the only game of the match where he does. Also second serve-volleys out of the blue (he was rarely first serve-voleying), losing the point as Jimbo was also return-approaching. And double faults for only time in the match. Game sticks out like a sore thumb… almost looks like a tank, or as if Mats had injured himself. Gist - he’s broken to put set back on serve

Jimbo wins next 2 games to pinch the set, scoring the final game/break with a particularly net hungry display. He return-approaches and otherwise manufacture approaches quickly as can. Wins all 4 net points to take it. A McEnroe like game, different from the ready-rallying-&-waiting-for-right-ball to come in off thing he was doing

Break points for the set - Mats 2/5 (2 games), Jimbo 3/3

And then play changes, almost as the bell goes to start the third set. Jimbo looks tired, doesn’t move too well, particularly for the return. Makes tired errors from the back, goes for winners from there too (usually missing), engages in more quick-dash approaches (as opposed to waiting for suitable ball). Misses a few routine, easy volleys too. All this is a change form how he’d been playing. A shot of the thermostat shows the temperature to be 130 degrees

Still, he fights and keeps things competitive, but now, it looks like he’s hanging in (as opposed to even contest that could go either way) and even has chances to take the set. Action has changed from regular competitive games to more comfy for the server. Just 1 break and 2 additional games with break points in them

Mats first 3 serves in the set are aces, and he completes the love hold with a serve-volleying, 1st ‘volley’ BH drop shot at net. He has 3 aces in anotehr game down the line too. 7/10 of his aces for the match are in the set

Jimbo saves 2 break points in middle of set with winners (1 at net, 1 a groundstroke from the service-line). Has a break point at 3-4, but misses routine FH. Missing an OH has a hand in Mats going on to hold

Terrible game from Jimbo to get broken and lose the set - missing 2 line BHs (1 a winner attempt), the easiest of OHs (don’t think I’ve seen that easy an OH missed by that big a margin before) and finally, double faulting. Way he’s moving and the overt effort he’s putting in when striving, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise

While poker faced and breathing normally (Jimbo’s often breathing heavily), that the heat has gotten to Mats too becomes a bit clearer in the 4th set. He’s in a hurry to get over the finish line, starts manufacturing approaches off the ground, serve-volleys more and regularly follows a hrad hit return to net. With assistance from a still loose Jimbo, it brings him 2 break and a 4-1 lead, finish line beckoning

The BH lob winner he seals first break with is perfect. He grabs the second with net play, including 3 powerful return-approaches - all against first serves, snapping away a BHV winner to move to 4-1

Jimbo responds in kind, with return-approaches of his own (at least they’re against second serves) and strong passes to break back at once. 3 winners in a row from Jimbo to get the break back, and even the satisfaction of getting the break by having Mats blink an error from the baseline

That leave Mats a break up at 4-2. Rest of match is exciting, in a struggling, heroic kind of way. Both players do some Herculean chasing, both serves as hard as they can, Jimbo in particular is strained to make tough returns, but even Mats’ isn’t moving so well for them by now. Both come to net often, even second serve-volleying. Mats is able to hold onto his 1 break lead - and takes Jimbo to deuce once (no break points) before ending things with a FH dtl, net flicking pass winner

Summing up, a very fine match - high of quality in general, but particularly when both players are fresh and a tough, competitive struggle afterwards in extreme heat that takes it toll on both players - Connors more visibly and earlier

Connors is the aggressor. Early on, he rallies from the back until a suitable opening for approaching comes up, which he’s quick to seize. Fine contest with him at net and Wilander on the pass, the most interesting part of which is excellent smashing against very good lobbing

All kinds of things change after the heat takes it toll - tired sloppiness of errors, worse movements, bigger serving, shifts in serve-volleying and return-approaching frequency and readiness to approach - with Connors going first in most things, as he’s the one to tire first

Ultimately, Wilander has better of things. He has the bigger serve, he has the more secure return, he’s fitter and handles the extreme heat better (and for longer), and he has his own net play in reserve, which is excellent, but counter-attacked by powerful passes from his opponent

Connors holds even by visiting net much more frequently to counter-balance that, but when Wilander starts moving forward too, that equalizer takes a hit, and Wilander moves ahead more comfortably

Great tennis to start, a tough, inspiring effort from both players in extreme conditions to finish - a match of the epic kind, with one player being that much better than the other
 

BringBackWood

Professional
@Waspsting
I've recently watched this match. Actually think Mats was lucky to win. One reason why Connors could approach so much is because Mats' shots are so often landing short. I don't think this was in general deliberate either. Connors was quite sloppy on the volley at times, especially at key moments. I though Jimmy at this age was a step slower getting to the net, which meant he was taking them lower and contributed to him missing. Mats' wasn't doing an awful lot with the BH pass; often he couldn't because Jimmy's approaches were so good, and in fact I think he sometimes overdid the approach and ended up missing a fair few BH DTL appraoches.

I disagree about the tatics in the first set being spot on. In my view he was waiting too long to approach. The relative margins of error is always a consideration with Jimmy, and obviously the longer the point, the more that will tell. And the heat and his age swung the balance even further in favour of finishing points quicker. Like I say, a lot Wilander's shots were eminently attackable.
I thought he corrected that somewhat and was going in sooner in the 2nd set. The first 2 sets took 2 hours, albeit with copious towelling off. Very lenient on the time violations I thought.

Surprised you didn't mention the line calls. Connors is upset with a ball being called in (actually replays showed he was wrong) and gets the lineswoman swapped to a different line with, of all people, Jeremy Shales. Then she, this time incorrectly, calls a Connors shot out. Almost like she's saying 'you wanted me to call a close ball out, ...well that's what I'm going to do'. Later in the third set, there is an atrocious call on a break point against Wilander which then has to be replayed. That could have been pivotal; as you point out the third set could have easily gone either way. Although Jimmy probably still would have run out of steam in the 4th and 5th.

There's also a mention of an electronic line call system being piloted in an exhibition match - something like the balls had a sensor on it. Wonder what happened to that?
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I should watch this one again....I remember it being very competitive, super hot and Connors being hyper-aggressive in terms of getting to net. How much older was Jimmy? At least 10 years? He was pushing 36 at this point I believe. He finally did win a couple tournaments later that year (DC & Toulouse)...it was a weird 4yr drought, compounded by age and injuries. Someone mentioned their Suntory exo...would be curious to see those stats....Jimmy played superbly on an indoor court that seemed fast to me...others say not so much.
 
Something, perhaps the mixing of paces, bothered Connors when he played Wilander, who was 5-0 against him. I think that was the last time they played, no? Of course it may have been old age, given that their first match was in the summer of 1984.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Something, perhaps the mixing of paces, bothered Connors when he played Wilander, who was 5-0 against him. I think that was the last time they played, no? Of course it may have been old age, given that their first match was in the summer of 1984.
Wilander was very crafty and could easily extend points to aggravate Connors. But past '84, he was pretty much aging out. Still a strong competitor, but much less likely to reach a slam final (several semis tho, which spoke to his consistency). Oddly, I think Connors won all of their exos (supposedly?)
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Actually think Mats was lucky to win. One reason why Connors could approach so much is because Mats' shots are so often landing short. I don't think this was in general deliberate either... a lot Wilander's shots were eminently attackable.
They always do

He's not a difficult guy to take net against, if a player is looking to. Not a lot of power, and as you'd expect from someone who's so consistent, he'll drop a ball short sooner or later

I thought early on he was toying with BH slices to see if Jimbo's FH held up (good place to start)

Mats' wasn't doing an awful lot with the BH pass
He usually doesn't

He likes to pass with 2 shot combos - the first pass a bit wide, a bit low.... not intended to go for a winner but give a tricky or 'not-easy' volley. If it draws the error - great, but purpose seems to be to draw a weaker volley that he can then go for the winner from

Can't think of anyone who systematically passes like this. Everyone else just goes for the winner (or more broadly winning shot)

That's Mats' way - 1st pass is something that they volleyer can't put away, but should be able to put in play, 2nd pass for the winner


... I think (Connors) sometimes overdid the approach and ended up missing a fair few BH DTL appraoches.
He always does

With Connors, I find it necessary to mention when he's had a good approach day (that is, small number of errors)

With anyone else, I proceed from assumption that they're not missing many approaches - and so, find it worth mentioning if they do
With him, the opposite - assume he's misssing a good few - and so, mention if he doesn't

I disagree about the tatics in the first set being spot on. In my view he was waiting too long to approach. The relative margins of error is always a consideration with Jimmy, and obviously the longer the point, the more that will tell.

True

My take on Jimbo being spot on is based on realistic possibilites

Connors approaching early in rallies constantly is stretching that a bit

Put it this way; I wouldn't have been surprise if he didn't approach much at all, but kept slugging away from the back against this wall that he clearly can't take down. Good lot of matches where he does this with Lendl... you watch it and wonder what the hell does Connors think is going to happen? Does he think Lendl will miss more groundies than Connors himself will? Does he think his hitting is strong enough to beat-down Lendl? Is he crazy? Is he thinking at all?

Now I could tell looking at the scoreline that he probably came in a fair bit, because if he did try the out-last game with Wilander, you'd get 3, 2 & 3. (4 of Jimbo's lucky)


Surprised you didn't mention the line calls. Connors is upset with a ball being called in (actually replays showed he was wrong) and gets the lineswoman swapped to a different line with, of all people, Jeremy Shales. Then she, this time incorrectly, calls a Connors shot out. Almost like she's saying 'you wanted me to call a close ball out, ...well that's what I'm going to do'.

I'm glad you filled that in, I rather like that lineswoman. Looks like one of those humourless, sergent major types

Something, perhaps the mixing of paces, bothered Connors when he played Wilander, who was 5-0 against him

Wilander was very crafty and could easily extend points to aggravate Connors

Agree - particularly with the second point. Mats is safe as they come off the ground, Jimbo isn't

This is the only match of theirs I've looked at but from knowing their games -

- Mats will patiently probe away at Jimbo. Here, he has a go at slicing to FH. Even if Jimbo doesn't show a particular weakness, Mats will still outlast him and win big bulk of points

- ergo, to win, Jimbo has to come to net (or have Mats come in and have a really good day passing - that's not likely)

That's an intersting contest. Big strenght of Jimbo's net game is how close he gets to net, which allows him to be so decisive in his finishing. It makes him a bit vulnerable to the lob though, and Mats loves to lob and is very good at it

Of course it may have been old age, given that their first match was in the summer of 1984.

But past '84, he was pretty much aging out.

And this, of course

Connors' reputation seems to be marred by stuff like his poor record against people like Wilander and Becker - in my opinion, unreasonably

Contrast with Borg, who skipped out of the game at young age, so never faced this type of thing

Meanwhile, with McEnroe, it seems he's just given a pass post '85 - that's not the 'real John McEnroe' so it doesn't count kind of thing

If that's true, '88 or even '84 isn't the real Jimmy Connors either. I wouldn't hold his getting beaten so often by these great players against him much. He's done well to just show up
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
They always do

He's not a difficult guy to take net against, if a player is looking to. Not a lot of power, and as you'd expect from someone who's so consistent, he'll drop a ball short sooner or later

I thought early on he was toying with BH slices to see if Jimbo's FH held up (good place to start)


He usually doesn't

He likes to pass with 2 shot combos - the first pass a bit wide, a bit low.... not intended to go for a winner but give a tricky or 'not-easy' volley. If it draws the error - great, but purpose seems to be to draw a weaker volley that he can then go for the winner from

Can't think of anyone who systematically passes like this. Everyone else just goes for the winner (or more broadly winning shot)

That's Mats' way - 1st pass is something that they volleyer can't put away, but should be able to put in play, 2nd pass for the winner



He always does

With Connors, I find it necessary to mention when he's had a good approach day (that is, small number of errors)

With anyone else, I proceed from assumption that they're not missing many approaches - and so, find it worth mentioning if they do
With him, the opposite - assume he's misssing a good few - and so, mention if he doesn't



True

My take on Jimbo being spot on is based on realistic possibilites

Connors approaching early in rallies constantly is stretching that a bit

Put it this way; I wouldn't have been surprise if he didn't approach much at all, but kept slugging away from the back against this wall that he clearly can't take down. Good lot of matches where he does this with Lendl... you watch it and wonder what the hell does Connors think is going to happen? Does he think Lendl will miss more groundies than Connors himself will? Does he think his hitting is strong enough to beat-down Lendl? Is he crazy? Is he thinking at all?

Now I could tell looking at the scoreline that he probably came in a fair bit, because if he did try the out-last game with Wilander, you'd get 3, 2 & 3. (4 of Jimbo's lucky)




I'm glad you filled that in, I rather like that lineswoman. Looks like one of those humourless, sergent major types





Agree - particularly with the second point. Mats is safe as they come off the ground, Jimbo isn't

This is the only match of theirs I've looked at but from knowing their games -

- Mats will patiently probe away at Jimbo. Here, he has a go at slicing to FH. Even if Jimbo doesn't show a particular weakness, Mats will still outlast him and win big bulk of points

- ergo, to win, Jimbo has to come to net (or have Mats come in and have a really good day passing - that's not likely)

That's an intersting contest. Big strenght of Jimbo's net game is how close he gets to net, which allows him to be so decisive in his finishing. It makes him a bit vulnerable to the lob though, and Mats loves to lob and is very good at it





And this, of course

Connors' reputation seems to be marred by stuff like his poor record against people like Wilander and Becker - in my opinion, unreasonably

Contrast with Borg, who skipped out of the game at young age, so never faced this type of thing

Meanwhile, with McEnroe, it seems he's just given a pass post '85 - that's not the 'real John McEnroe' so it doesn't count kind of thing

If that's true, '88 or even '84 isn't the real Jimmy Connors either. I wouldn't hold his getting beaten so often by these great players against him much. He's done well to just show up
You make a good point...'84 may have been his last 'high performance' year, where he ended #2 in the world behind a stellar, otherworldly JMAC. I've seen a few of his Wilander matches...naturally, not blowouts, but battles of steadiness vs. aggression. Most of Jimmy's matches vs. Boris were dogfights. Perhaps if he were a bit younger, he might've pulled through in a few of these cases. People discount the fact that he was well into his 30's playing a whole new generation of up and coming stars. It's true about the Mac thing....he isn't really penalized for his inconsistency after '85...whereas in a strange way, Connors is by losing to the next gen. Even though he maintained a pretty high ranking through '89. And obviously, by stepping away at 25, Borg achieved everlasting sainthood :D
 

BringBackWood

Professional
Another sign of Jimmy's age - he kept cheating early to the crosscourt pass on his approach shots, leaving Mats' with a huge space DTL to pass him. Agreed about Connors reputation - it is very much to his credit that he was so good for so long, able to make matches like this close.

I reckon he should have have been hitting some of Wilander's lesser serves and coming in, as Mats did a few times quite impressively towards the end. Yeah that might 'not be his game' as commentators like to say, but he's more than capable.

Mats loses when he doesn't expect you to approach. That's partly why Mecir had success against him . He could be so deceptive as to when he was moving in. In that case, Mats' slices sit there to be swatted away. If he sees you, he will dip the shot awkardly.
 

WCT

Professional
That was a huge Arthur Ashe peeve on the telecasts. Getting passed crosscourt. You approach down the line and you cover down the line. It would mystify him when players didn't follow this rule.
 
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