From his US Open debut in 1970, when he lost in the first round to Aussie Mark Cox, through to his final foray in Flushing in 1992, when he was ousted in the second round by Ivan Lendl, tennis’ boisterous bad boy Jimmy Connors played a staggering 115 US Open matches – most of any player, man or woman, in the history of the event.
Connors, whose fiery play and feisty personality made him a perfect fit for the pressure-packed cauldron of the Open, helped to define the event as we know it today, encouraging crowd interaction while simultaneously enraging opponents with his in-you-face style of play. Virtually every one of those 115 matches was must-see theater, as Connors raged and roared, lifting the level of competition as well as the level of interest in the event and the sport. What was once a mere court became a great stage, and everyone wanted to be close to it.
From those 115 matches, Connors posted a career 98-17 mark – those 98 match wins most-ever among men and trailing only women’s star Chris Evert (101) all-time. Overall, he claimed five US Open singles crowns, winning the title in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1983, and is the only player to have won the US Open crown on three different surfaces – grass, clay and hard.