•1981. Incensed by an overrule by umpire Chou Lu, Connors raged, shook the ump's chair, threatened to smack him with a ball and won only eight points in a 6-0 final-set loss to Jose-Luis Clerc.
•1982. Connors demeaned a fourth-round match between top-seeded Ivan Lendl and Wilander, the game's new star, saying he had needed No Doz to watch their baseline encounter. As for his own effort, Jimbo won just six games in a quarterfinal loss to Jose Higueras.
•1983. Angered by the way in which the French press portrayed his estrangement from Patti, Jimbo lost to the unknown Christophe Roger-Vasselin and made another controversial exit, complaining about "clay specialists." It was about then that Paris writers began referring to Connors as le Grognon ("the Grumbler").
•1984. Connors's always stormy relationship with McEnroe bubbled to the surface during a semifinal matchup that L'Equipe headlined LES DEUX CANNIBALES AMERICAINS. As Mac was questioning a line call on his way to a straight-sets victory, Jimbo approached the net, yelling and pointing at his younger countryman. "Shut up! Grow up!" Connors shouted. "You're a baby. I've got a son your age." He then erased McEnroe's ball mark with his foot.
Connors's metamorphosis from scatological scoundrel to Mr. Warmth probably has everything to do with his interest in preparing for a career after tennis. Undoubtedly realizing that he would soon be a media dog himself, Connors apologized a few years ago to journalists on French TV for being unable to do interviews "in your language." Collins, whom Connors once addressed as "——hole" and whom Jimbo once whapped with a tennis bag to avoid an interview, is now his good Bud.
And so it went last week, Connors continuing to see the light in the City of Light. Following his 3-hour-and-39-minute marathon victory over Agenor, which turned on a call in the fifth set, after Connors had slyly forced an umpire's overrule on an apparent Agenor ace, Jimbo was asked what he thought of his next foe, Chang. "He's younger than I am," said Connors.
"Everybody is," said Sal Zanca of the Associated Press.
In the old days, such a remark would have produced a stream of four-letter Jimboian invective. This time, however, he laughed and said, "That's cold."
"The part maniac in him gives Jimmy a chance to win [against Chang], but it's not likely," said Andre Agassi, echoing the locker-room scuttlebutt. From the beginning, Connors was up to his old/new, full-maniac act: pumping his arms, kibitzing with linespersons and ball children, gasping for breath, stoking himself, playing the crowd better than he ever has and, ultimately, having the fun match of his life. "Getting old is a bitch," said Connors at one point to Becker's manager, Ion Tiriac, who was sitting in the first row.
After the players had split the first two sets, a courtside phone began ringing in the first game of the third. "Tell my wife, Patti, I'm being good, don't worry!" screamed Connors. But soon, he was a hurting, creaking old man. Norris appeared twice to aid Connors, but the crowd—"Allez, Jheemee, allez"—carried him through that remarkable fourth set.