Perhaps it is time for all of us to seriously consider the merits of blowing on our fingers before serving, of bouncing the ball on the turf—one, two, three, four times—of staring absently at the ground and with hostility at opponents. Maybe we should all hold the racket in our left hands, wear Prince Valiant haircuts, scream at linesmen and clown a bit when the mood strikes you. Do whatever Jimmy Connors does. Because whatever he does works, as it did again last week at Forest Hills.
Here was Connors, facing 39-year-old Ken Rosewall for the second time in two months—finals, grass, major championship—a sassy 22-year-old rebel vs. a tennis legend, a man who had won at Forest Hills in 1956 when Connors was four. In their first meeting, at Wimbledon in early July, Connors won in straight sets, allowing Rosewall only six games. Impressive? You bet. But Rosewall had just beaten John Newcombe and Stan Smith back to back. He was tired. Not a fair test.
Now they were at it again, and for those who doubted his ability Jimmy Connors proved he is quite a tennis player. He crushed Ken Rosewall 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, the most lopsided final in the history of Forest Hills and surely Rosewall's worst defeat since he learned to hit a backhand.
For Connors the U.S. Open capped a tremendous year in which he won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and all but three of his other matches. He might have won the Grand Slam, but he was not allowed to play in the French Open because he was "tainted" by team tennis.
The Connors-Rosewall match could have been high drama. Connors has a devastating serve, but throughout the rain-prolonged tournament Rosewall had proved that he was still capable of taking anything hit at him and whipping it cross-court or down the line, bringing up chalk as often as not.
But not against Connors. The first set was over in a flash, Connors making Rosewall look like a middle-aged club player. It would have been delightful if the old pro had come back to make a match of it, as he has so often. There was no way. Connors wiped him out in one hour and eight minutes. Connors' return of serve was so devastating that Rosewall won only 19 points on his serve in the whole match.
"The best tennis I've ever played in my life, all 22 years of it," exulted Connors. "I didn't miss a ball."
Didn't he at any time have pity on the old man across the net?
"I've seen people pity Ken Rosewall and then see him win 6-3 in the fifth," answered the now-undisputed No. 1 player in the world.
The Billie Jean King- Evonne Goolagong women's finals was far more entertaining. Goolagong, a beautiful player on grass, has seldom beaten King—the notable exception being 1971 when she won Wimbledon as a 19-year-old. On Monday Goolagong took the first set 6-3, dropped the second by the same score and looked in great shape when she went ahead 3-0 in the third, but although she broke King's serve again she could not hold her own serve (lack of a strong service in many ways makes women's tennis more interesting than men's, especially on grass). King broke to go ahead 6-5 and held her own serve for the match. Just as Connors had done, she threw her racket high in the air.