Friday, 2 May 2008

Great moments in tennis No 9 – Connors rides the wave all the way to the semi's

New York, September 1991, Jimmy Connors becomes at 39 the oldest man to reach the semi of the US Open since Ken Rosewall in 1974.

Coming into the event Connors was ranked 174 in the world after sitting out almost the entire 1990 season with a wrist injury.

But Connors always loved the US Open. Connors was a five times champion in New York -and the only player to have won it on three different surfaces - grass, clay and hardcourt - but arguably 1991 was his finest hour.

Few thought he would get through the early rounds. And it looked like the doubters were right as he found himself 2 sets and 3 - 0 down to Patrick McEnroe in the first round.

But there's nothing Connors liked more than a battle against the odds, and he hauled it back to beat McEnroe jnr in 5. This was the start of something special.

The second and third rounds were straight set wins, and then in the 4th round Connors again had to come back from 2 sets down, although this time he then found himself 5 - 2 down in the final set. But to the crowd's delight he fought back to win in a tie break.

Same story in the quarters when he came back from a set down to overcome Paul Haarhuis to reach the semi's. It was like something out of a movie.

Sadly Connors ran out of juice against Jim Courier, who was on a roll after his victory at Roland Garros earlier in the year. Courier made short work of it winning in 3 sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Despite that result it was still seen as being Jimmy's tournament. Although Connors - for whom winning was everything - would probably disagree...

You can watch (some blurred footage of) the tie break below


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Steve said...

Good to see McEnroe is still enjoying the blog...

No seriously MMT, its good to be challenged. And I hear what you are saying about Connors' character.

But for me that doesn't take away from the fact that his run to the semi's, at the age of 39 was an unbelievable achievement.

But that's great thing about the internet, we're free to disagree.

Let me know if there are any other great moments in tennis history you feel I should cover instead.