Tennis Prose



Nothing Beats Jimmy Connors 1991 US Open Run

By Scoop Malinowski

Tennis has produced a lot of electric, spectacular moments. But nothing has ever surpassed, and nothing will ever surpass the Jimmy Connors 1991 US Open run at age 39.

It was the most unique miracle happening right before our eyes. Connors later said “it was the best eleven days of my tennis career.”

It may be the best eleven days in sports history.

The hysteria began in the first round. Connors, a wildcard, was down two sets to Patrick McEnroe but somehow ended up prevailing 46 67 64 62 64. Patrick McEnroe won a Grand Slam doubles title and he was an ATP champion in singles and doubles but that loss to Jimmy Connors is the only match anyone remembers.

In the second round, Connors routed Michal Schapers 62 63 62.

Jimbomania was rolling now and in the third round he steamrolled the no. 10 seed Karel Novacek 61 64 63.

The fourth round would see the Connors volcano of tennis genius erupt again in the epic marathon five setter vs. Aaron Krickstein. Down 25 in the fifth, Connors summoned his secret formula again and zapped Louis Armstrong Stadium into a frenzy by prevailing 36 76 16 63 76. Again, Krickstein was a successful pro, he won nine ATP singles titles, but the only match people remember of his was this dramatic duel with Jimmy Connors.

In the quarterfinals awaiting Connors was Paul Haarhuis, who won the first set 64. Once again Connors transformed a routine Grand Slam quarterfinal into the greatest show on earth like only he could. Connors, pumping with the packed Armstrong Stadium willing him to another shock victory, overcame the Dutchman 46 76 63 62.

Haarhuis was a fine player who won all four Grand Slams in doubles and 55 ATP titles in his career but nobody remembers anything about Haarhuis except for the US Open thriller vs Jimbo.

Probably physically and emotionally drained after three of the most emotional wins in Grand Slam history, Connors was out of gas in his spirit and 39 year old legs and lost the semifinal to fourth seeded Jim Courier 63 63 62.

Every year when those old 1991 Jimbo reruns come on during the US Open, you have to watch and relive it all over again. 32 years later tennis is still trying replicate Jimbomania.

What Jimmy Connors did those eleven days at US Open, transcended tennis and sport. It’s impossible to imagine anything ever exceeding what Connors achieved in 1991 in terms of electrifying tennis performance, mesmerizing drama and unforgettable images of emotion and adrenaline.

Jimmy Connors also shared the memory of the best he’s ever played in this feature “The Joy Of Tennis.”

Artwork by LeRoy Neiman.

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