Tennis Prose



When Connors Ended His 11 Straight Finals Losing Streak

By Scoop Malinowski

Tennis is a star driven sport and one of the privileges of being a star is the freedom to call the shots.

One such example happened before the 1988 Washington DC ATP final between Jimmy Connors and Andres Gomez.

Rain had delayed the tournament’s schedule. Connors didn’t want to play the final on Sunday because he said he was too tired to play two matches in one day (he beat Aaron Krickstein in the semifinal on Sunday). The 35 year old legend, then ranked 8 in the world, preferred the final be rescheduled to Monday. Subsequently Connors got his wish and the final was played on Monday.

Interestingly, Connors cruised to the final that week by winning all of his matches in straight sets against Bye, Jimmy Brown, Jorge Lozano, Jay Berger and Aaron Krickstein in the semis 60 64. Gomez actually had the tougher route to the final, needing three sets to beat Derrick Rostagno and Barry Moir in the SF and QF respectively.

Connors prevailed over Gomez 61 64 in that Washington Sovran Bank final at the Washington Tennis Center before 6,700 fans. Connors did not face a break point in the match. Match point was a backhand return long by Gomez.

It was an important victory for Connors – his first title since October 1984 at Tokyo Indoors and it was his 106th ATP singles title overall. Connors had played in 56 tournaments since winning Tokyo 1984 and he had lost in all eleven finals he reached.

Connors was his typical spunky, combative self with the media after winning the Washington title.

“I go through a career and win 105 tournaments, and that’s never enough, is it?” Connors said. “Now I’m stuck on 106 until I win 107. I know it hasn’t been 3 1/2 years since I’ve won a tournament now. Which is good, because I’ve taken a lot of crap over the last 3 1/2 years from you guys out there. It doesn’t feel as bad not having won a tournament in about 25 minutes as it has in 3 1/2 years.”

“My fun is going to end one day,”he said, “like [Kareem Abdul-] Jabbar’s fun is going to end one day, or Pete Rose’s fun ended one day. So until it ends, hey, have a good time. And that’s what I’m doing.”

1990 French Open champion Gomez won 21 ATP singles titles in his career, Connors is the all time ATP leader with 109. His last Grand Slam title was at 1983 US Open. Title no. 107 for Connors was won later in 1988 in Toulouse vs Andrei Chesnokov 62 60. Title 108 was also in Toulouse 1989 vs John McEnroe 63 63. Title 109 was in Tel Aviv 1989 vs. Gilad Bloom 26 62 61.

Connors 11 final match losing streak

1985 Ft. Myers, US Hard Ivan Lendl 3–6, 2–6
1985 Chicago, US Carpet John McEnroe Walkover
1986 Ft. Myers, US Hard Ivan Lendl 2–6, 0–6
1986 Queen’s Club, UK Grass Tim Mayotte 4–6, 1–2, ret.
1986 Cincinnati, US Hard Mats Wilander 4–6, 1–6
1986 San Francisco, US Carpet John McEnroe 6–7, 3–6
1987 Memphis, US Hard Stefan Edberg 3–6, 1–2, ret.
1987 Orlando, US Hard Christo van Rensburg 3–6, 6–3, 1–6
1987 Queen’s Club, UK Grass Boris Becker 7–6, 3–6, 4–6
1988 Milan, Italy Carpet Yannick Noah 4–4, ret.
1988 Miami, US Hard Mats Wilander 4–6, 6–4, 4–6, 4–6

1988 Washington final broadcast on USA Network

(Artwork by LeRoy Neiman)

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