Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1991

Connors celebrates birthday with win at U.S. Open

On September 2, 1991, tennis star Jimmy Connors celebrates his 39th birthday with a fourth round win over Aaron Krickstein, 24, at the U.S. Open. The match was finally decided in a fifth-set tiebreak after a marathon four hours and 49 minutes of play.

Connors was playing with a surgically rebuilt left wrist that had ended his 1990 season after only three tournaments. At the 1991 French Open, he was forced to retire in a third-round match against Michael Chang, and though he entered the U.S. Open as a sentimental favorite, most regarded him as a competitive afterthought.

After winning a hard-fought five-set battle against long-time rival John McEnroe in the first round, Connors won his next two matches in straight sets before meeting Aaron Krickstein in the fourth round. While Connors attacked the net, Krickstein stalked the baseline and took the first set 6-3. Connors bounced back for a 5-1 lead in the second set, but double-faulted on set point. Though Krickstein soon evened the score, Connors was able to hold on to take the second set 7-6, after a trademark shouting match with the chair umpire. Krickstein put himself up 2-1 by taking the third set 6-1, but Connors refused to give up, tying the match at 2 sets apiece.

The fifth set was the defining moment of Connors’ late career. Krickstein broke Connors’ serve and then took a 5-3 lead in the set, but Connors broke back and held to force a 5-5 tiebreak in the final set. His infectious energy vividly recalled his younger days on the court and the crowd responded by cheering on the long time U.S. favorite. Meanwhile, Krickstein, his racket grip bloodied by a painful blister, wilted, and Connors took the tiebreak 7-4 to win the match.

After the match, Connor thanked his fans: “This was another Connors miracle, it was a war…and the crowd absolutely helped me win it. This was 20,000 making the noise of 60,000. By the fifth set, he’s under tension and I’m riding the tide, I’m flying, and was I ever gonna give up? Oh no, hell no.” Connors would go on to lose to Jim Courier in the semifinals.

Connors officially retired from tennis in 1996 after eight singles major championships, including five U.S. Open titles. He was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Vietnam independence proclaimed

Hours after Japan’s surrender in World War II, Vietnamese communist Ho Chi Minh declares the independence of Vietnam from France. The proclamation paraphrased the U.S. Declaration of Independence in declaring, “All men are born equal: the Creator has given us inviolable rights, ...read more

The Battle of Actium

At the Battle of Actium, off the western coast of Greece, Roman leader Octavian wins a decisive victory against the forces of Roman Mark Antony and Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Before their forces suffered final defeat, Antony and Cleopatra broke though the enemy lines and fled to ...read more

Japan surrenders

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II. By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive ...read more

First ATM opens for business

On this day in 1969, America’s first automatic teller machine (ATM) makes its public debut, dispensing cash to customers at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York. ATMs went on to revolutionize the banking industry, eliminating the need to visit a bank to conduct basic ...read more

Ho Chi Minh dies

President Ho Chi Minh of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam dies of a heart attack in Hanoi. North Vietnamese officials announced his death the next day. Ho Chi Minh had been the heart and soul of Vietnamese communism since the earliest days of the movement. Born in 1890, he ...read more

47th North Vietnamese MiG shot down

Phuc Yen, 10 miles north of Hanoi, and one of the largest air bases in North Vietnam, is smashed by U.S. fighter-bombers. During the attack, a MiG was shot down, bringing the total to 47 enemy aircraft shot down since the beginning of the North Vietnamese offensive. At this ...read more

Trial of Mathias Rust begins

The trial of Mathias Rust, the 19-year-old pilot who flew his Cessna plane into Red Square in May 1987, begins in Moscow. Rust had become an international celebrity following his daring intrusion into Soviet airspace and landing in the center of Moscow, but the Soviet government ...read more

McClellan is restored to full command

President Abraham Lincoln reluctantly restores Union General George B. McClellan to full command after General John Pope’s disaster at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, on August 29 and 30. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, saw much of his army transferred ...read more