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EXCERPT | Sept. 16, 1974

King of the Court

Jimmy Connors ruled in the last U.S. Open on grass

After wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon—French Open officials didn't let him play because of his participation in World Team Tennis—Connors took over the No. 1 ranking on July 29. Joe Jares reported for SI.

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.

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 versus 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 Rosewall 6--1, 6--0, 6--1, the most lopsided final in the tournament's history and surely Rosewall's worst defeat since he learned to hit a backhand.

Connors held the No. 1 ranking for a record 160 consecutive weeks, a mark that stood until Roger Federer surpassed it in 2007.

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Photograph by LANE STEWART

JIMMY SLAM Connors won all three majors in which he was allowed to play in 1974. In the U.S. Open final, he dispatched Rosewall in one hour and eight minutes.