Andy Roddick and Jimmy Connors finally split up. It's about time.
It’s blunt and maybe harsh. But there is no other way to put it.
Ever since Roddick and the legendary Connors joined forces in the summer of 06, following a disappointing 3rd round loss to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, I have questionned the association.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to give Roddick any type of advice. No one, but Roddick himself, knows what’s best for him and his career. He is in charge and is doing pretty well. But still, why Connors?
First off, I still can’t figure out why he split up with Brad Gilbert in December 2004.
He started working with Gilbert after the French Open in 2003 and went on to win two masters series, in Montreal, Canada and Cincinnati, Ohio that summer. And of course, he concluded his winning run on his native soil with what remains his only Grand Slam title to date, at the U.S. Open in New York.
He also finished the season atop the ATP Tour rankings that year, becoming the second-youngest player to claim the honor since the computer rankings were introduced by the ATP in 1973.
Back to my initial question: why Connors?
Connors was a fantastic player. An amazing fighter. And definitely a bona fide superstar. He was also known for being a hard case. One of the greatest and most memorable personalities on Tour. But I have never heard anybody praised his technical prowess or his tactical adjustments. All that a coach is supposed to bring you.
What made Connors great was mostly his will, his relentless attacks from the back-court and his fighting spirit. His final run at the U.S. Open in 1991, where he lost to Jim Courrier in the semifinals is in everybody’s mind (or should be). However, no one remembers Connors for his flawless forehand or his devastating serve.
I am not saying he was a bad player. Far from it. He won the U.S. Open five times out of a total of eight Grand Slam titles. That’s enough to make you one of the greatest ever. He was also No.1 in the world for 268 weeks. Enough said.
Yet, nothing that made Connors great can be taught, or only at a very young age. What Gilbert brought to Roddick, which is “how to win the next match,” Connors couldn’t offer.
And it showed.