The steady evaporation of big names from the U.S. Open has the man New York really misses, Jimmy Connors, thinking he maybe should have played this year.
Connors reasons that, at 41, he can survive just as long as the many top seeds who have lost early at Flushing Meadow. Furthermore, Connors suggests that proving it at selected ATP Tour events in 1994 is a possibility.
"I guess with what's happening at the Open, I'm getting a little desire back," Connors said by telephone yesterday after No. 1-ranked Jim Courier was upset by France's unheralded Cedric Pioline.
"If I can play on [his new over-35 tour] and some ATP tournaments, that would be fine. Whether the French [Open] and Wimbledon fit in I don't know. The tour we have comes first."
Connors, the driving force behind the Champions Tour, will be at Thousand Oaks' Sherwood Country Club from Sept. 29-Oct. 3 for the second tournament on the new circuit. He beat Bjorn Borg in Ohio for the title at the inaugural event last month.
The U.S. Tennis Association held a wild-card spot for Connors until the last minute. Connors ultimately declined, making it the first Open in 23 years not to include either him or John McEnroe.
Connors turned 41 last Thursday, celebrating the occasion in New York, albeit off the court. He was there on business, hidden from the stadium-court crowd that got to see him play on his past two birthdays.
"It was a little bit quieter than the last couple," he said. "I didn't invite all 20,000 of my friends."
Connors said he has not been following the Open too close, partly because "I was never one to watch really any sport." He also has been taking care of his 8-year-old daughter, Aubree-Leigh, who is ill.
Were he forced to be a fan the last few days of the tournament, Connors sees only one player he could root for.
"If I had to pick out somebody that I would sit down and watch, it would be Michael Chang," Connors said. "Someone who gives it your best effort, point after point, for four-and-a-half hours. Whatever it takes."
( Sounds awfully familiar.