Was Connors a Serve & Volleyer?

TTMR

Hall of Fame
Would Jimmy Connors be considered a serve & volley player? He didn't hit a serve and then hit a volley right away (serve too weak), but pretty much any groundstroke for him was an approach shot and he ended most of his points at the net. Would Connors be considered a serve and volleyer?
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
Would Jimmy Connors be considered a serve & volley player? He didn't hit a serve and then hit a volley right away (serve too weak), but pretty much any groundstroke for him was an approach shot and he ended most of his points at the net. Would Connors be considered a serve and volleyer?
I think he was a serve... and volleyer.
 

ichaseballs

Rookie
connors... i think of a relentless spirit, and grit.
american tennis embodied this back then... connors, mcenroe, agassi.
then you had pete who didnt need to play as hard cause he was so good at serve and volley
 
Definitely an interesting question.

At Wimbledon in the earlier years, you can definitely see Jimmy serving and volleying a lot, but not so much on other surfaces. By today's standards, you probably would call him and serve volley, but at the time a baseliner.

As time progressed, he seems to play more baseline with a rush net game. Example at Queen's 1997

Apart from being the GOAT of singles with 109 titles, he has won 16 doubles titles (more than joker, nadal and fed). Looking at the 1983 World Mixed Championship, Chris Evert notes in the post-match interview "at the beginning of the week everyone was laughing at us.. (saying) Jimmy and Chris can't play doubles". It looked a very solid performance to me on a doubles front from Jimmy (14.37- great point). Moreover, Jimmy Connors won 1973 Doubles at Wimbledon.

I think Connors had an all court game, and save (the lack of topsin), allowed him to span decades.
 

Xavier G

Hall of Fame
I think of Jimmy as an all-court player primarily. He was often happy trading strokes from the baseline, but would come in on short balls and finish points off in the forecourt or at net.
His serve wasn't the greatest overall, but sometimes he might serve and volley to change up play or catch an opponent by surprise iirc and I thought he was a pretty good volleyer.
 
“I think his skills were underestimated,” said rival John McEnroe. “He was a much better volleyer than people realized.”
That quote by Mac about Connors is in Connors' International Hall of Fame profile. Connors was a very good volleyer, on a par in my view with Becker and Sampras, but not as good as Mac, Edberg, Cash, Newcombe etc.
 

BumElbow

Rookie
Connors was an all-court player and an attacking/aggressive baseliner. As he got older, he tried to end points earlier in order to conserve his energy, and came to the net more. He was not a serve and volley player like McEnroe; not even close.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
He came in earlier in his career a lot more than he did later on when he was supposedly coming in more. Well, he probably was, but that was more relative to maybe late 79-81.
But 74-75 Connors s/v a lot on grass. 65ish% of all his serves on grass. Certainly not as much as prototype which was all serves. Still, that's a lot of s/v and far more than he did later on. Even on other surfaces, in the early years he s/v far less than grass, but far more than he did later on, What we have of the 2 1975 challenge matches, IIRC, he s/v about half the time on 1st serves.

When Segura was his regular coach? IMO, all court player is a perfect description. I think it becomes more arguable later on that baseliner applies. There are periods where he is simply not coming in as much.

To illustrate how much it changed. I had him s/v in the 65% range in the 2 1974 Rosewall matches. I think he s/v once in the 1981 Wimbledon Borg match. Wasp did the 78 final stats. Maybe 10 times there. So, depends on the period. Across all surfaces. I don't think he eve qualified as a s/v player. But on grass, at least early on, you could have a conversation about it. Later on, in no way, shape or form would he be called a s/v.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
old grass is a tricky indicator to judge a players game since just about everyone s/v’d on that surface including lendl... but like everyone else said he was an attacking baseliner/all ouster with very good volleys.. but back then having good volleys was normal lol
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
old grass is a tricky indicator to judge a players game since just about everyone s/v’d on that surface including lendl... but like everyone else said he was an attacking baseliner/all ouster with very good volleys.. but back then having good volleys was normal lol
Lendl was different in that, for the most part, he played textbook grass court tennis. He came in behind all serves, 1st and 2nd. I never saw Connors do that.
 

urban

Legend
Maybe Lendl should have stayed back on second serve more, like Borg did.. His middle and low backhand volley was very vulnerable. Connors had a good backhand approach shot, so he could come in on it. his low forehand was weaker and often a target for non-pace shots. But his reach on the bh volley was limited, and he never had that natural positioning on the t- line, that the Aussies and later Mac, Sampras, Becker or Stich had. They anticipated well and glided effortless into the right position, while Jimbo often had to play lunging volleys at the end of his reach.
 
LOL .. I missed that. Jimbo wasn't on the same planet as those two.
Not even close. Becker and Sampras were not only naturals at net, but highly creative--a devasating combination. None were workman at the net by any stretch of the imagination.
I repeat McEnroe's quote (which both of you left out when quoting me):“I think his skills were underestimated. He was a much better volleyer than people realized.”
I think you are underestimating Connors' volleying skills. I saw Connors hit loads of good volleys. Becker and Sampras were very good but not great volleyers. Edberg beat Becker in 2 Wimbledon finals because his volleying skills were superior to Becker's. Sampras was never considered the best volleyer in the world. The main factor in the success of Becker and Sampras in serve and volley was the serve not the volley.
I recommend his 74 US Open victory over Rosewall to see how good Connors' volley was.
 
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Connors could serve and volley. If you watch the last set of his Wimbledon final against Mac in 82 he serve and volleyed very effectively. That day he served better than he usually did in his career. However, if you look at his career as a whole he stayed on the baseline after a serve more than he serve volleyed. Connors' biggest weakness was his serve was usually not a weapon. This limited him as a serve volleyer. He often used serve and volley as a surprise tactic rather than as his bread and butter. The reason he could serve and volley was because he was a very good volleyer.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
I would say no. Very net oriented, aggressive, looking to finish points at the net - absolutely. But, IMO, "serve and volley" means the two in consecutive tandem - coming in behind the serve to volley.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i saw a recent interview of him and he said he came to net but he did call himself a baseliner for what its worth
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Connors could serve and volley. If you watch the last set of his Wimbledon final against Mac in 82 he serve and volleyed very effectively. That day he served better than he usually did in his career. However, if you look at his career as a whole he stayed on the baseline after a serve more than he serve volleyed. Connors' biggest weakness was his serve was usually not a weapon. This limited him as a serve volleyer. He often used serve and volley as a surprise tactic rather than as his bread and butter. The reason he could serve and volley was because he was a very good volleyer
I think you hit the nail on the head. Was he as good as Sampras or Becker? Not sure about Sampras, but probably on par with Becker. If only Jimmy had Boris's serve.....
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I would say no. Very net oriented, aggressive, looking to finish points at the net - absolutely. But, IMO, "serve and volley" means the two in consecutive tandem - coming in behind the serve to volley.
Umm.....he did that...in many of his Wimbledon matches....at least on 1st serves
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
I would say no. Very net oriented, aggressive, looking to finish points at the net - absolutely. But, IMO, "serve and volley" means the two in consecutive tandem - coming in behind the serve to volley.
i saw a recent interview of him and he said he came to net but he did call himself a baseliner for what its worth
He can't be called a baseliner either because for the most part he couldn't finish points at the baseline (except on opponent's error). He attacked the net at almost every opportunity except behind his serve.

What do you call that style of play?

Another (not as good) player like this was Santoro. He had no weapons off of the serve or groundstrokes and was always attacking the net. You can't really call him a baseliner either.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
He can't be called a baseliner either because for the most part he couldn't finish points at the baseline (except on opponent's error). He attacked the net at almost every opportunity except behind his serve.

What do you call that style of play?

Another (not as good) player like this was Santoro. He had no weapons off of the serve or groundstrokes and was always attacking the net. You can't really call him a baseliner either.
ROFL...are you serious? Connors couldn't end a point from the baseline???? No weapons off the ground? Comparing him to Santoro? You must be trolling here....
All-court player is the terminology ......which seems about right.....but many DO consider Connors a baseliner.
 

Olli Jokinen

Semi-Pro
He can't be called a baseliner either because for the most part he couldn't finish points at the baseline (except on opponent's error). He attacked the net at almost every opportunity except behind his serve.

What do you call that style of play?

Another (not as good) player like this was Santoro. He had no weapons off of the serve or groundstrokes and was always attacking the net. You can't really call him a baseliner either.
Have you ever seen Connors play?
 
He can't be called a baseliner either because for the most part he couldn't finish points at the baseline (except on opponent's error). He attacked the net at almost every opportunity except behind his serve.

What do you call that style of play?

Another (not as good) player like this was Santoro. He had no weapons off of the serve or groundstrokes and was always attacking the net. You can't really call him a baseliner either.
Connors hit harder off the ground than anyone else in the 70s and most people in the 80s. He was very aggressive and hit lots of winners from the baseline. Here's what Vilas said after being beaten by Connors in the 1976 US Open: "Is impossible for player to play so good so long, If player hitting 200 mph at you, can't hit 400 mph back."
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
He can't be called a baseliner either because for the most part he couldn't finish points at the baseline (except on opponent's error). He attacked the net at almost every opportunity except behind his serve.

What do you call that style of play?

Another (not as good) player like this was Santoro. He had no weapons off of the serve or groundstrokes and was always attacking the net. You can't really call him a baseliner either.
I'd call it an attacking style of play. I have no dog in the fight. If people want to call him a serve and volleyer, so be it. To me S&Ver means coming in off the serve the majority of the time - all the time.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Umm.....he did that...in many of his Wimbledon matches....at least on 1st serves
Lendl did on first and a lot of second serves at Wimbledon, yet we don't call him an S&Ver. I took the question as if we should identify Connors broadly as a "serve and volleyer," not whether he ever served and volleyed, which obviously he did.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Lendl did on first and a lot of second serves at Wimbledon, yet we don't call him an S&Ver. I took the question as if we should identify Connors broadly as a "serve and volleyer," not whether he ever served and volleyed, which obviously he did.
I would not call Connors or Lendl "serve & volleyers" since that was not their predominant style. However, could they both do it and do it well at times? Yes. Lendl pretty much DID play W as a serve & Volleyer....in most of his matches from the mid-80's onwards. I have to go back and watch his '83 and '84 semis as I don't recall him doing as much S&V there, but I've been told otherwise.

But, you know, they were both just meek baseliners with no real weapons.:-D:-D
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
Well Lendl invented the modern aggressive baseliner style. There were aggressive baseliners up to the sixties but in the seventies it was clearly replaced by serve and volley and defensive baseline play (defensive baseliners still s and v'd on grass). Connors wasn't an overly hard hitter. He hit approach shots and ended points at net, contra Lendl who preferred to end points from the baseline.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Well Lendl invented the modern aggressive baseliner style. There were aggressive baseliners up to the sixties but in the seventies it was clearly replaced by serve and volley and defensive baseline play (defensive baseliners still s and v'd on grass). Connors wasn't an overly hard hitter. He hit approach shots and ended points at net, contra Lendl who preferred to end points from the baseline.
I think many of us who watched Connors in the 70's and 80's would disagree. In fact, when he came on the scene, he was the hardest hitter out there. Lendl outhit Connors mostly when JC was older (mid 30's), but before then, Connors pretty much went toe-to-toe with him on the baseline. I mean, the guy was nearly 40 and holding his own with Agassi, so to say he didn't (or couldn't) hit hard is not quite right. What is more true is that he was somewhat less about generating the power on his own and more likely to turn the pace of your own shots against you. I think he and Andre were the masters of that particular 'hit on the rise' style.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Connors was an all-court player who came to net a lot on grass. But, he is not a prototypical serve-and-volleyer who came to net after his serve in most matches and on most surfaces. There were some grass-court tournament where he did S-V more than usual.

S-V is a specific term indicating that you run to the net right after you serve to volley the Serve+1 shot. It does not imply anything about your quality as a server or volleyer. You can be a below-average or average S-V’r just like you can be a bad or average baseliner. Many S-V’rs also chip-and-charge and rush the net after returns and you are more likely to see the S-V style in doubles.

I think that after the advent of poly strings, you see less S-V even in rec tennis outside of grass courts in singles. On the pro tour, the S-V‘r is almost an extinct species in singles and declining even in doubles as the slowing down of surfaces, higher average speed/spin of serves and better passing shots with poly strings has made it a difficult strategy to win with. I’m amazed at the number of pro doubles matches where I see 1-back or 2-back doubles formations.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
So many points. No way Connors was as good a volleyer as Sampras. Connors absolutely had weapons. His groundstrokes and return were major weapons. He was as hard a hitter as there was most of the 70s. How many winners did Connors hit, on clay, from the back of the court in the 76 US Open final.

Connors did not s/v a lot in the 82 Wimbledon final. Even the last set it sure wasn't every 1st serve. The last game maybe 2 or 3 times. I have the stats. From memory, maybe 20 to 25 times in the entire match. Most of his net play was off of approaches.

If you are trying to make an argument for Connors as a s/v player, the 80s is not where you want to look. The mid 70s is where you want to look. Now, there are exceptions. 82 Queens against Mac, he did it a lot. The 1984 Wimbledon final is another example, but there is no consistent trend of it. Well, his 1980 Wimbledon matches vs Tanner and Mac, he did a good amount. But he didn't do it once against Borg in 81. I have the Stockton and Tanner matches. He did it a bit. but not a lot. 1984 against Lendl. Came in a bunch, but almost no s/v.

You can't go match by match because they weren't all shown then. Probably even less available in 74 and 75, but he's s/v a good amount in all of them. There are just a bunch of 80s matches where he hardly does it. All this is about grass. As I said previously, across all surfaces at no point would I call him a s/v style of player. For me, that requires doing it far more consistently than he did, even in the mid 70s. Newcombe, that was a s/v player.

Before I forget, Lendl was s/v on ever serve in his 83 Wimbledon match vs Mac. The 84 match vs Connors is the one Wimbledon match that I recall him not doing it consistently, pretty much every serve, both serves. Same thing as with Connors, I wasn't seeing every complete match. But the ones I did see, that's how I remember it. And as the 80s progressed, and we saw more of the matches, I don't recall matches where he didn't do it.

Urban, couple months back I heard Steve Flink express the same opinion. That Lendl probably would have been better served not to follow all his 2nd serves in. I still fell he volleyed well. Sure as hell better than I would have thought he would coming in on every serve. Certainly not saying he was elite, but very good. This guy made a bunch of semis. You don't do that coming in behind every serve if you aren't volleying well. Unless you are returning tremendously.

Which was what I thought was at least as big a problem for him as any volleying weaknesses. He simply did not return that well. I mean relative to how well he returned on other surfaces. Relative to that, IMO, players like Connors and Agassi were better to much better returners. They didn't return as well either, but relative to their overall returning, clearly better. IMO, of course.

I would love to have a discussion with Connors about his game and what his style was. Same with Segura, while he was alive. I maintain, unequivocally that Segura's Connors could best be described as an all court player. Later on is where I think baseliner could certainly be argued at times. Again, at no point would I say a s/v player. Not as an overall player on all surfaces. Lendl, on grass, absolutely. But overall, never.
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
ROFL...are you serious? Connors couldn't end a point from the baseline???? No weapons off the ground? Comparing him to Santoro? You must be trolling here....
All-court player is the terminology ......which seems about right.....but many DO consider Connors a baseliner.
This is so eyerolling. I specifically pointed out Santoro was a similar type of player to Connors, albeit significantly weaker. Nadal and Robby Ginepri are both principally defensive baseliners, they are a similar type of player. That does not mean I consider them equal.

So many points. No way Connors was as good a volleyer as Sampras. Connors absolutely had weapons. His groundstrokes and return were major weapons. He was as hard a hitter as there was most of the 70s. How many winners did Connors hit, on clay, from the back of the court in the 76 US Open final.

Connors did not s/v a lot in the 82 Wimbledon final. Even the last set it sure wasn't every 1st serve. The last game maybe 2 or 3 times. I have the stats. From memory, maybe 20 to 25 times in the entire match. Most of his net play was off of approaches.

If you are trying to make an argument for Connors as a s/v player, the 80s is not where you want to look. The mid 70s is where you want to look. Now, there are exceptions. 82 Queens against Mac, he did it a lot. The 1984 Wimbledon final is another example, but there is no consistent trend of it. Well, his 1980 Wimbledon matches vs Tanner and Mac, he did a good amount. But he didn't do it once against Borg in 81. I have the Stockton and Tanner matches. He did it a bit. but not a lot. 1984 against Lendl. Came in a bunch, but almost no s/v.

You can't go match by match because they weren't all shown then. Probably even less available in 74 and 75, but he's s/v a good amount in all of them. There are just a bunch of 80s matches where he hardly does it. All this is about grass. As I said previously, across all surfaces at no point would I call him a s/v style of player. For me, that requires doing it far more consistently than he did, even in the mid 70s. Newcombe, that was a s/v player.

Before I forget, Lendl was s/v on ever serve in his 83 Wimbledon match vs Mac. The 84 match vs Connors is the one Wimbledon match that I recall him not doing it consistently, pretty much every serve, both serves. Same thing as with Connors, I wasn't seeing every complete match. But the ones I did see, that's how I remember it. And as the 80s progressed, and we saw more of the matches, I don't recall matches where he didn't do it.

Urban, couple months back I heard Steve Flink express the same opinion. That Lendl probably would have been better served not to follow all his 2nd serves in. I still fell he volleyed well. Sure as hell better than I would have thought he would coming in on every serve. Certainly not saying he was elite, but very good. This guy made a bunch of semis. You don't do that coming in behind every serve if you aren't volleying well. Unless you are returning tremendously.

Which was what I thought was at least as big a problem for him as any volleying weaknesses. He simply did not return that well. I mean relative to how well he returned on other surfaces. Relative to that, IMO, players like Connors and Agassi were better to much better returners. They didn't return as well either, but relative to their overall returning, clearly better. IMO, of course.

I would love to have a discussion with Connors about his game and what his style was. Same with Segura, while he was alive. I maintain, unequivocally that Segura's Connors could best be described as an all court player. Later on is where I think baseliner could certainly be argued at times. Again, at no point would I say a s/v player. Not as an overall player on all surfaces. Lendl, on grass, absolutely. But overall, never.
Good remarks. Let's say I agree Connors is not a serve and volleyer. What does one call his style of play? I don't feel that he's a baseliner, because he generally used groundstrokes to set up the volley. While a baseliner needs to come to the net from time to time, typically a baseliner's finishing shot is a groundstroke, not a volley.

What do you call that kind of player? I was taught there were only 4 styles of play: s&v, offensive baseliner, defensive baseliner and all-courter.
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
I think many of us who watched Connors in the 70's and 80's would disagree. In fact, when he came on the scene, he was the hardest hitter out there. Lendl outhit Connors mostly when JC was older (mid 30's), but before then, Connors pretty much went toe-to-toe with him on the baseline. I mean, the guy was nearly 40 and holding his own with Agassi, so to say he didn't (or couldn't) hit hard is not quite right. What is more true is that he was somewhat less about generating the power on his own and more likely to turn the pace of your own shots against you. I think he and Andre were the masters of that particular 'hit on the rise' style.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
This is so eyerolling. I specifically pointed out Santoro was a similar type of player to Connors, albeit significantly weaker. Nadal and Robby Ginepri are both principally defensive baseliners, they are a similar type of player. That does not mean I consider them equal.



Good remarks. Let's say I agree Connors is not a serve and volleyer. What does one call his style of play? I don't feel that he's a baseliner, because he generally used groundstrokes to set up the volley. While a baseliner needs to come to the net from time to time, typically a baseliner's finishing shot is a groundstroke, not a volley.

What do you call that kind of player? I was taught there were only 4 styles of play: s&v, offensive baseliner, defensive baseliner and all-courter.

I would never call him a defensive baseliner or a pure s/v player. He's either all court or offensive baseliner. That gets into the subjectivity of how much you need to come into the net to move from baseliner to all court.

As I have discussed numerous times on this forum, there is absolutely no question that Connors is coming into the net less as you get into the later 70s and early 80s. I have done stats on numerous matches of his. Later in his career, he might have come in more at times, but, IMO, never as consistently and as aggressively as he did in those mid 70s matches. IMO, that player is ABSOLUTELY an all court player.

Joel Drucker wrote a book about Connors about 15 years ago. He kept using the term counterpuncher in that book. Really like Drucker, and the book, but it's not how I saw prime Connors. Make no mistake, in some ways I think the term fits. What is the ultimate counterpunch in tennis? The service return which was Connors' biggest strength. Also, he undoubtedly fed off the other players' pace. That is a counter move.

However, to me, at least, counterpuncher has a connotation of a reactive or defensive player. Prime Connors, off the ground, dictates point. He is a puncher, not a counterpuncher. He is not waiting to see what you do then reaction. Basically getting everything back until the other player misses. He is going for the lines, for the corners, taking the chances. Very aggressive from the ground, very aggressive at net.

Segura wrote a book, maybe 1976 it came out. Said Connors and Newcombe had the best forehand volleys in tennis because of how aggressive and penetrating they were.
And while I think he went overboard with best, it was no doubt very aggressive. I mean Connors, obviously. Lots of people probably thought Newcombe had the best forehand volley. BTW, nowhere in that book does Segura call Connors a baseliner. He called it 2 styles of play. He could come in or stay back.

Anyway, that's what I don't see him as a counterpuncher because that also connotes defensive baseliner to me. That's just simply not how I saw him. But we all have our opinions, even Connors. Years ago, I saw a youtube clip of some old interview with Charlie Rose. At one point Connors says, my game was to get one more ball back. If I was standing next to him, I'd say, no that was not your game. One more ball back suggests just keep getting another ball back until the other guy misses. That was not Connors game. It was much more about him forcing you to miss.

That stat they have now about how much ground players have covered in the match? How many feet or miles they ran. I wish they had that stat when Connors played to see how many times he ran more. Not very often would be my guess. He runs you corner to corner, not vice versa. And when I think of a player who does that, I don't think of a counterpuncher.

That 92 linked match with Lendl? Connors s/v a lot in the 1st set of that match. On 1st serves I mean. Then he just ran completely out of steam. That, and Lendl was just much better at that point.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i think everyone knew he was a jerk , his endearing quality was that he didnt care lol
someone asked arthur ashe if connors was an ahole and he paused and said... "yea.. but hes my favorite ahole"
at least you know what youre gonna get from him and he'll tell you that lol
plus he was forgiven alot because he always tried so hard in his matches,
unlike some bratty players today like kyrgios
 

n80aoag

Rookie
i think everyone knew he was a jerk , his endearing quality was that he didnt care lol
someone asked arthur ashe if connors was an ahole and he paused and said... "yea.. but hes my favorite ahole"
at least you know what youre gonna get from him and he'll tell you that lol
plus he was forgiven alot because he always tried so hard in his matches,
unlike some bratty players today like kyrgios
If Kyrgios sought help from a Sports Psychologist/Psychiatrist I'd be curious how much of his potential he could capitalize on. We may never know.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
So, what's your point? That Connors was an a##h##e? We all knew THAT! LOL.
This was his last USO match in '92...not exactly at his prime, nor was Lendl for that matter.
Say what you will, but the fans came out to see the guy play, particularly at the USO.
And, he then started a seniors tour, admittedly centered around him, that ran strong for a good 7 years.
As Ashe said, 'he's an a##h##e, but my favorite a##h##le"
Connors, Borg and Mac drew tons of new fans into the game and the sport took off considerably from around 75 to 85 in the US.
If those guys were playing one another, I was glued to the TV.

And one more time....Connors is not similar to Santoro, thank you very much!
Not beating on Santoro, but their styles are not similar and they are in different universes, competitively speaking.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I would never call him a defensive baseliner or a pure s/v player. He's either all court or offensive baseliner. That gets into the subjectivity of how much you need to come into the net to move from baseliner to all court.

As I have discussed numerous times on this forum, there is absolutely no question that Connors is coming into the net less as you get into the later 70s and early 80s. I have done stats on numerous matches of his. Later in his career, he might have come in more at times, but, IMO, never as consistently and as aggressively as he did in those mid 70s matches. IMO, that player is ABSOLUTELY an all court player.

Joel Drucker wrote a book about Connors about 15 years ago. He kept using the term counterpuncher in that book. Really like Drucker, and the book, but it's not how I saw prime Connors. Make no mistake, in some ways I think the term fits. What is the ultimate counterpunch in tennis? The service return which was Connors' biggest strength. Also, he undoubtedly fed off the other players' pace. That is a counter move.

However, to me, at least, counterpuncher has a connotation of a reactive or defensive player. Prime Connors, off the ground, dictates point. He is a puncher, not a counterpuncher. He is not waiting to see what you do then reaction. Basically getting everything back until the other player misses. He is going for the lines, for the corners, taking the chances. Very aggressive from the ground, very aggressive at net.

Segura wrote a book, maybe 1976 it came out. Said Connors and Newcombe had the best forehand volleys in tennis because of how aggressive and penetrating they were.
And while I think he went overboard with best, it was no doubt very aggressive. I mean Connors, obviously. Lots of people probably thought Newcombe had the best forehand volley. BTW, nowhere in that book does Segura call Connors a baseliner. He called it 2 styles of play. He could come in or stay back.

Anyway, that's what I don't see him as a counterpuncher because that also connotes defensive baseliner to me. That's just simply not how I saw him. But we all have our opinions, even Connors. Years ago, I saw a youtube clip of some old interview with Charlie Rose. At one point Connors says, my game was to get one more ball back. If I was standing next to him, I'd say, no that was not your game. One more ball back suggests just keep getting another ball back until the other guy misses. That was not Connors game. It was much more about him forcing you to miss.

That stat they have now about how much ground players have covered in the match? How many feet or miles they ran. I wish they had that stat when Connors played to see how many times he ran more. Not very often would be my guess. He runs you corner to corner, not vice versa. And when I think of a player who does that, I don't think of a counterpuncher.

That 92 linked match with Lendl? Connors s/v a lot in the 1st set of that match. On 1st serves I mean. Then he just ran completely out of steam. That, and Lendl was just much better at that point.
Yes, counter-puncher is a misnomer for Connors, tho' some called him that. I tend to think of Michael Chang when I hear the term. Connors' game was very forcing, so to speak. If you watch his '91 match against Chang at the FO, that's the best counterpoint. JC is not the counterpuncher. His shots were aggressive. I think he and Agassi are similar in that way. Both hit early, both move the opponent around (a lot). Connors and Evert were experts at moving the ball around and making the opponent do most of the running. In that '92 USO match, Connors roared through that 1st set, and served and volleyed a lot...effectively. In the 2nd, Connors lost some steam and Lendl reverted to his 'slice and dice' game against Connors...one he had perfected. Thus, Connors rude comment.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Kyrgios is so wildly talented...but he seems to lack the discipline. Whereas a guy like Connors, maybe less raw talent, but played his #ss off like his life depended on it.
He needs Connors as a coach....that would be a hoot (and short-lived)

If Kyrgios sought help from a Sports Psychologist/Psychiatrist I'd be curious how much of his potential he could capitalize on. We may never know.
 
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