Tennis History Tuesday” is a feature every Tuesday on Tennisgrandstand.com that highlights the glorified history of the sport of tennis by virtue of access to excerpts from books The Bud Collins History of Tennis and On This Day In Tennis History and other sources.
The inaugural edition of “Tennis History Tuesday” brings readers events that happened “On This Day In Tennis History” with an excerpt from the book by the same name, written by, yours truly. It is a day that John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors will certainly never forget and reminds us that anything can happen in Davis Cup, which is a large part of the beauty of the competition. For more info on “On This Day In Tennis History,” go to www.tennishistorybook.com. It makes for a great stocking-stuffer for the Holidays!
1984 – In an ignominious low for the United States Davis Cup team, future Hall of Famers and the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, are embarrassingly straight-setted by Henrik Sundstrom and Mats Wilander, respectively, as Sweden takes a surprising 2-0 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup Final in Goteborg, Sweden. Wilander easily defeats Connors 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, while Sundstrom hands McEnroe only his third loss in the calendar year in a 13-11, 6-4, 6-3 upset. Connors is criticized for his rude and boorish behavior highlighted by many obscenity-laced tirades against chair umpire George Grime. Alan Mills, the event’s referee, considers tossing Connors from the series due to his behavior, but his decision to simply fine Connors $2,000 the next day is made a moot point when Sweden closes out the victory over the United States the next day in the doubles rubber. The behavior of McEnroe and Connors cause for the U.S. Tennis Association to implement a code of conduct for its players following the eventual 4-1 loss. Connors never plays Davis Cup again and McEnroe refuses to sign the USTA’s contract and does not play Davis Cup again until 1987.
1990 – Pete Sampras wins $2 million – the largest payout in tennis history – by defeating Brad Gilbert 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the inaugural Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany, a year-end tournament that features the 16 players who perform the best in all four major tournaments during the year. Sampras compares his win over Gilbert to his win over Andre Agassi in the final of the U.S. Open earlier in the year saying “I just felt similar to when I beat Agassi at the U.S. Open – that anything I hit turned to gold.” Says Gilbert, whose runner-up showing earned him $1 million, “I have bought a lot of bad stock and I would like to buy some stock in him (Sampras) because his stock is rising.”