Wimbledon 1984: John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors

Extract: Serious by John McEnroe

Some people talk about my 6-1 6-2 6-2 destruction of Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon as my greatest match ever, but the truth is – between you and me – I thought Jimmy was just a little flat that day.
I was also having one of those days, when everything seemed to be going almost too right. I got out of bed in the morning feeling great, and in my practice session, the ball looked as big as a cantaloupe. Since I always manage to worry when things are going well, I stopped the session early – I was afraid of leaving my best stuff in practice.

But it just kept getting better.
In fairness, Connors had had a tough semi against Lendl, a four-set slugfest on a very hot afternoon,while I had won in three agaisnt that feisty Aussie whippersnapper Pat Cash. Cash was a tough serve-and-volleyer in that great Down-Under tadition, still a little green at nineteen, but a great athlete and a fine tennis player. I thought he was a comer – especially after he shouldered me on a changeover during the second-set tiebreaker. That, I felt, was a very interesting move: here I was, number one in the world, a two-time Wimbledon champ, one of the game’s grand old men at twenty five … This kid’s got the right attitude, I thought.

Meanwhile, my attitude had utterly changed. I had wasted too much energy at the French by getting angry, I realized; from the first match at the All England Club that year, I was determined not to do anything that would derail me from avenging Roland Garros – my only loss in fifty-two matches so fa in ’84 – and winning my hat-trick Wimbledon. I was on a five-match winning steak against Jimmy, and I felt confident I could make it six.
I just didn’t know it would be so easy.

The heat wave had continued, but I was hotter than the weather that Sunday afternoon. From the start, Connors just couldn’t find his rhythm, while I was serving unbelievably well – slicing it wide, popping it up in the middle, doing whatever I wanted. I hit seventy-four percent of my first serves in the match, with ten aces and no double faults. I had three –three – unforced errors in the match.

That’s the best I ever played

I said in the press conference afterward. It was also the best I’d ever acted at Wimbledon: The London tabloids dubbed me ‘Saint John‘.

Comments
4 Responses
  1. don_budge says:

    but johnny…why didn’t you mention that you were playing with a suped up racquet compared to jimmy’s dinosaur. 1984 was the end of classic tennis. the end of an era. no wonder you say that connor’s was half a step slow…it was the racquet differential. not that you didn’t play well. but you racquet was 14% bigger than his. quite an advantage in the hands of an assassin. it was like connors brought a knife to a gunfight.

  2. Major Sharpe says:

    You could’ve given Jimmy three racquets and the entire A-Team as back-up and it still would not have made the slightest difference to the result that day. Mac touched the gods and Connors paid the price.

  3. Wickstrom says:

    I stayed home from church to watch this match!
    I was just 9 years old, but I vividly remember how well Mac played. Thats probably why I begged my mom to buy that 45$ Shirt years later!

  4. Bruce Davidson says:

    Total thrashing, the most one-sided big match I’d ever seen. Interesting that Connors played both roles in Wimbledon A-whuppins, 10 years apart, having crushed Rosewall by similar scores in 1974. I’ve never quite understood the ‘fighter’ reputation Connors had, considering he was crushed in several Slam finals, unlike Mac and Borg, who when they lost did not get blown out. (1975 Wimb/Ashe, 1978 Wimb/Borg….and a few others) – Mac clearly the superior player between these 2, just a shorter career.

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