Tennis: McEnroe puts Connors in his place
Saturday 04 December 1999
"If I was 60 and he was 55 and we just hit a few balls for exercise we would still be trying to prove something to one another - just out of memory," said Connors. "That is good because you have a reason to go out and try to lift your game to another level. Hopefully, it brings out the best in both of you. But unfortunately it just brought out the best in him today."
McEnroe said: "There is no question that Jimmy Connors is one of the greatest players who ever stepped on a tennis court. I still get more of a rise playing Jimmy Connors. It is still there."
The Albert Hall is used to encores, yet this was no repeat of the spectacular matches they played in the 1970s and 1980s, even if the score was close to the 1984 Wimbledon final, won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 by McEnroe. Both players looked in excellent physical condition, McEnroe's grey hairs the only obvious sign of middle age. However, McEnroe's game was much the sharper and at times his crisp volleys and well-timed groundstrokes brought back memories of the old days, though there were no McEnroe outbursts, just the odd sarcastic smile after a close line call.
Connors was unable to live with his younger rival, who could still test some of the top players on the ATP Tour on a fast indoor court.
Both Connors and McEnroe had already reached the semi-finals of the Honda event before yesterday's game following earlier victories, and it is still possible they could meet again in tomorrow's final. The American veterans remain a major attraction and the Albert Hall was at least two-thirds full. Among the watchers was the former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, who McEnroe would love to welcome to the senior tour. He remains eager to test himself against the best in the world and the recently retired Becker is top of his list.
"If I see he is going to do it, I will try and play the tournaments he is playing. I want to play those guys," McEnroe said. "It gives me incentive to hang with it and keep in shape.
"He's better than about everyone but maybe a handful of guys in the world on grass, so he's not exactly thinking senior tour yet. But hopefully in a couple or years when he has the time to reflect..."
Latest in Sport
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Eden Hazard exclusive interview - All is rosy in the garden of Eden
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Robbie Savage avoids driving ban - because he would get 'accosted' too much if he had to use public transport
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer; Dmitry Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr - boxing on TV this weekend
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...