Connors: Players Content With Mediocrity

06-22-2006, 05:50 PM
Connors: Players Content With Mediocrity

By Tennis Week

Jimmy Connors won more tournament titles than any man in the Open Era and never seemed to lose his desire to win every time he stepped on the court. But when the Hall of Famer looks over the landscape of tournament tennis today he believes the wealth of prize money in the game makes many players content with mediocre results and prevents them from paying the price necessary to claim championships.

"The guys playing the pro tour now are satisfied with mediocrity; they make a good living with some effort," Connors told The Guardian's Tanya Aldred. "It is a luxury to be able to not have to worry about money. I don't know if it is a luxury which breeds the right sort of athletes."

The 53-year-old Connors, who says he is having "discussions" about joining Andy Roddick's camp as a coaching consultant though no deal has been finalized, respects the effort exuded by two-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal and the smooth style of World No. 1 Roger Federer and is hopeful Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis can challenge the top two on a consistent basis.

"Nadal plays with a passion and exuberance and I also like [Roger] Federer because he is laid back and calm, and the way he goes around playing is something to see," Connors told The Guardian. "It would be nice to see some others step up to the challenge. [Andy] Roddick for one [with whom he may work in the future — 'we're in discussion, let's put it like that'], Ivan Ljubicic and Marcos Baghdatis too."

A six-time Wimbledon finalist, Connors crushed Ken Rosewall, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4, to claim his first Wimbledon title in 1974, then lost three Wimbledon finals before dethroning defending champion John McEnroe, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, to win his second Wimbledon crown in 1982. Connors returns to the All England Club to serve as a commentator for the BBC's coverage of The Championships for the second straight year. Though he did not share the booth with former foe and fellow BBC analyst McEnroe last year, Connors said he would welcome the chance to recreate the pairing that was once tennis' most incendiary rivalry.

"We worked for the same organization but we weren't in the booth together," Connors told The Guardian. "It certainly would be a very interesting opportunity for the BBC to pair us together... (The booth would have to be) big enough to square off in, that's for sure. But Wimbledon is up against some heavy competition this year with the World Cup, so who knows? I had a great time last year. I was working with John Lloyd, who is a buddy, and Boris Becker and Tracy Austin. I worked 14, 15 years ago for NBC but commentary for the BBC is quite different. They want to hear the crowd and the tennis is center stage, which is quite right."