American tennis great Jimmy Connors was one of the most successful tennis players of the 1970s and 1980s. A left-hander, his two-handed backhands were among the best that the sport has ever had.
Connors did not have a great serve and his forehand wasn't the best but his ability to hit flat and low shots repeatedly from the baseline made him a potent force. He had a very long and successful professional career spanning 24 years. Post-retirement, Connors has dabbled in many different roles, including commentating and coaching.
He was involved in many heated discussions with old rival John McEnroe while the duo shared space in the commentary box covering Wimbledon matches. Later, Connors took up coaching responsibility of fellow American Andy Roddick and later, Russia's Maria Sharapova and Canada's Eugenie Bouchard.
Connors had the habit of energizing the crowd with his on-court antics to turn the match in his favour. Many a time, these antics helped him win quite a lot of big matches but sometimes they also drew the ire of the crowd.
Here's a peek into the past to look at four of the greatest records set by Jimmy Connors in the course of his hugely productive tennis career.
#4 12 consecutive years reaching at least the semi-finals of the US Open
One of the most consistent players of all-time, Connors maintained a high tempo for many years. Such was his level of consistency that for 11 straight years from 1974-1984 inclusive, Connors was ranked inside the ATP Top-3. In fact, he was ranked inside the Top-10 for 15 straight years from 1974 to 1988 - a record matched by only Roger Federer.
For 16 years from 1973 to 1989, Connors reached at least the quarter-final stage of the US Open barring just one year. As a matter of fact, he made the semi-finals for 12 consecutive years between 1974 and 1985.
Few could energize the New York crowd the way Connors did.
#3 Only player to win the US Open on three different surfaces
The previous slide spoke volumes about Connors' longevity, especially at the US Open. Here we come to the part which actually matters, silverware.
Together with Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, Connors holds the record for the most US Open titles won in the Open Era with five titles. Connors' US Open record was simply extraordinary, he had a win-loss record of 98-17 aggregating a win percentage of 85.22%. He registered more wins in New York than any other player.
What makes his US Open achievements even more remarkable is that he is the only player in history to have won the US Open across three different surfaces - lawn, clay, and hard court. For a three-year spell from 1975 to 1977, the US Open was played on clay.
#2 More matches played and match wins than any other player
Connors had a spectacularly long tennis career. He became the oldest ever to play in the Open Era to feature in a Grand Slam semi-final. He achieved this feat at the US Open of 1991. On his 39th birthday, he defeated 24-year old Aaron Krickstein in 4 hours and 41 minutes despite trailing by 2-5 in the final set.
He described his journey to the semi-finals as 'the best 11 days of his life'. The winner of eight Grand Slam titles and three ATP Finals trophies, Connors won a total of 1256 matches out of 1535 appearances (both all-time records). His win percentage of 81.96% is among the highest in the Open Era.
Connors continued to play tennis against much younger opponents even at the age of 41. However, post-1993, his appearances were few and far in between. He finally retired in 1996 at the age of 44.
#1 Most Singles titles
If there is one statistic which defines Jimmy Connors as a player and talks about his success more than anything else, it has to be the number of titles that he won on Tour. Connors won a record 109 Singles titles, eight Grand Slam titles (one Australian Open, two Wimbledon and a joint-record 5 US Open wins), three ATP Finals, 17 Grand Prix Super Series.
At the Team level, he helped USA win the Davis Cup in 1981. Connors participated in a record 164 Singles finals matches. His first title came at the Jacksonville Open of 1972 where he beat fellow American Clark Graebner in the final.
His 109th and final title came in 1989 at the Tel Aviv Open. For 13 straight years, From 1972 to 1984, Connors won at least four Singles titles every year - an Open Era record. Roger Federer with 99 Singles titles till date has a realistic chance of surpassing Connors' tally of 109.