Jimmy Connors beat me in iconic 1991 US Open match – then we didn't speak for over 20 years | The Sun

JIMMY Connors has won five US Opens, two Wimbledons, and an Australian Open during his incredible career.

But if you ask him what his favorite run at a tournament was, he'd almost certainly say reaching the semis at Flushing Meadows at 39 in 1991.

Connors hadn't won the title in New York for eight years by this point, having been largely usurped at the top of the game by the likes of John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl.

His trademark competitive fire still burned within Connors, however, and he received a wildcard to enter the tournament in 1991.

In round one, he produced a sensational straight sets win over eighth-seed Andre Agassi.

Connors then backed up his amazing victory over Agassi by beating Jaime Yzaga and Francisco Clavet to reach round four.

He would then meet Aaron Krickstein.

Despite Connors being 14 years his senior, Krickstein had a good relationship with the tour veteran going into the match.

That swiftly came to evaporate as they prepared to face one another, however, with the older man snubbing his young apprentice.

What followed was a match that would live long in tennis fans' memories – largely thanks to being played by CBS during rain delays virtually every year until Arthur Ashe Stadium unveiled its new roof in 2016.

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"It certainly wasn’t the greatest quality tennis match ever played by a long shot," Krickstein went on to say.

"There’s so many great tennis matches over the years with great champions. Yet that match has been played more on TV and is more famous than probably any match other than maybe Borg–McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980.

"So it’s kind of cool to be associated with someone like Jimmy Connors, a great champion like him, and play a match like that at the Open, even though I lost."

Krickstein, who harbored ambitions of winning his first grand slam in New York, having reached the semis there two years earlier, took a two sets to one lead.

He subsequently dropped the fourth 6-3 to Connors, before leading the fifth by five games to two.

And then he choked.

Connors went on to win the match 7-4 in the fifth-set tiebreak – sealing his victory with a backhand volley and sending the partisan crowd into a frenzy by performing his signature one-leg celebration.

Krickstein would never be allowed to forget his defeat, with the match having gone down in US Open folklore.

But to make matters worse, his rift with Connors continued for over 20 years.

The veteran went on to reach the semi-finals – beating Dutchman Paul Haarhuis in the quarters before finally falling to American compatriot Jim Courier in the semis.

Connors had captured the hearts of the nation one final time, even if it cost him a friend along the way.

Eventually, after Connors had undergone three hip replacements – Krickstein gave the then-62-year-old a call.

"There was no rhyme or reason – our paths just never crossed," Krickstein said of their rift, as per ESPN.

"It wasn't like I was holding a grudge against Jimmy Connors because I lost that match in 1991."

Krickstein invited Connors to play an exhibition match against him at the St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, where he was director.

He managed to take mild revenge on Connors, beating him 8-5 – with his old rival cheekily taking a dig by saying: "I wish I was 47 again!"

Embracing his bad-boy persona, Connors wistfully said of the good old days: "We gave you everything – fun, controversy, excitement, drama, characters. And you didn't like us for it. All we did was get criticized for it."

He then added: "I was a good villain."

So the two finally buried their feud, after 24 long years of Krickstein constantly being reminded of his crushing defeat.

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But how does Connors truly reflect on that run in late summer 1991, which included his Labor Day win over Krickstein?

"The best 11 days of my tennis career," the 70-year-old later admitted.

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