Ashe d. Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 Ashe actually has a higher rate of winners here than in the '69 match where he and Laver were ripping the ball. Of course, power is not the only way to produce winners, but I was still surprised at how much power Ashe produced in this match. I'm just seeing the match for the first time, partly because from everything I've read about it, I had the impression that it was mainly about junkballing from Ashe and errors from Connors. The match was actually more complex than that. Steve Flink included it as one of the 20 greatest matches of the century. He said that previously Ashe had been a low-percentage player, going for big shots at ill-advised moments. Against Connors, I thought he was still often going for the big winner, but he never seemed to do it when he was out of position or the opening wasn't there. He was playing the percentages, in other words. Sometimes to create an opening he would need some touch and finesse, and then he would go for the big shot; sometimes he didn't need it and would just do classical Big Game serve-and-volley. He just always seemed to know when he could go for it. When he did, I sometimes expected Connors to react well, since Jimmy liked pace; but then he'd be already out of position, or off balance, or just didn't have his strokes in groove. Ashe wasn't letting him get in a groove. He wasn't moonballing Jimmy or junkballing his way through the match; he was mixing it up. The following are my counts. Ashe won 135 points overall, Connors 101. SERVICE Ashe won 69 of 105 points on his serve (or 66%); Connors 65 of 131 (or 49.6%). Ashe served at 73%, making 77 of 105 first serves. Connors served at 75%, making 98 of 131 first serves. Ashe's percentages by set: 69, 71, 74, 77. Connors' percentages by set: 70, 55, 77, 86 Ashe had 4 aces, 30 other unreturned serves (of which I judged 2 as service winners), and 2 double-faults. Connors had 1 ace, 27 other unreturned serves (of which I judged 6 as service winners), and 3 double-faults. Ashe converted 8 of 21 break points. Connors converted 3 of 4 break points. He did not earn a break point until the last game of the second set. Ashe put his first serve into play on 3 of the 4 break points he faced. Connors put his first serve into play on 17 of the 21 break points he faced (or 81% of the time). After serving a second serve on break point in the first game of the third set, he faced break point 13 more times and put his first serve into play every time, though he was still broken 3 times in that span. WINNERS Ashe made 31 clean winners apart from service: 3 FH, 8 BH, 13 FHV, 3 BHV, 4 smashes. Connors made 38 clean winners part from service: 14 FH, 8 BH, 5 FHV, 5 BHV, 6 smashes. Ashe's winners by set: 7, 8, 8, 8 Connors' winners by set: 3, 6, 19, 10 The real surprise here is Ashe’s forehand volley, the stroke known as his weakness: it was his most destructive stroke, with 13 winners. The only stroke in the match that exceeded it was Connors’ forehand, again a mild surprise because that shot often failed Jimmy throughout his career – especially on the low approach. Ashe gave him the low forehand and Connors missed it at times, but it wasn’t what lost him the match. Maskell thought it was actually Connors’ backhand approach that was costing him the match; no question his approach from that side was often short or missed. Both players are known for having stronger backhands than forehands, but neither one dominated here from the backhand. That shows that Ashe was successfully keeping the ball away from Connors’ backhand; and that Ashe was not driving his own backhand as much as he might have usually done. It was on passing shots that Ashe most often chose to dink, slice or lob. The only other Ashe match for which we have stats (by Urban) is that semifinal against Laver at the '69 Wimbledon. Ashe had 7 aces and the following winners: 6 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, and 3 overheads. That match was only two games longer than this one, so it’s a nice comparison (although Ashe lost that one). Against Laver, Ashe was really pumping the first serve, and sometimes serving consecutive aces, as I recall; against Connors he took some speed off. He had very few winners at the net against Laver – largely because his forehand volley was not as successful then. (His backhand volley winners against Laver and Connors were nearly the same). And against Laver he had almost twice as many ground stroke winners as he did against Connors – partly because Laver presented constant target at net, and Ashe just went for his passing shots then. By contrast, there was one time in the third set here when Connors was at net and Ashe just tried to power the backhand past him. Jimmy cut it off and wagged his finger at Arthur, as if to say that he couldn't put it past him. He was comfortable with pace and he got a little more of it in the third set; he even went all the way up to 3-love in the fourth. Ashe had two service return winners, both backhands off Jimmy’s first serve. Both were passes. He had six other passing shot winners – four from the backhand (including a pair of lobs). Connors had 10 service return winners, including 6 forehands off Ashe’s second serve. The remaining return winners were all off Ashe’s first serve, split evenly between forehand and backhand. Ashe was coming in on all the return winners. In addition, Connors had 10 passing shots, including 6 from the forehand. One of his backhands was a lob. Errors (forced and unforced) Subtracting the aces and clean winners from the total points won: Ashe made 62 total errors. Of those I counted 27 return errors and 2 double-faults. That leaves him making 33 errors in points that had at least a successful return, that is, in rallies. Connors made 100 total errors. Of those I counted 30 return errors and 3 double-faults. That leaves him making 67 errors in rallies. Ashe’s margin over Connors in the “rally” points is 34 – the same margin by which Ashe won the match.