The 19-year-old McEnroe has been the youngest ‘Masters’ champion (it was his fifth title) since that triumph. His 35-year-old opponent, participated in the event due to withdrawal of five higher ranked players (Borg – 2, Vilas – 3, Gerulaitis – 5, Tanner – 11, Orantes – 12). The tournament was played in January 1979 – it was the last year of Ashe’s career. After ‘Masters ’78’ he was competing in two other finals (Philadelphia, Memphis – lost both to Connors). Even though Ashe had stopped professionally playing in July ’79 (suffered a heart attack then), he finished the year as No. 7 in the world (record: 30-15). McEnroe committed three double faults in a row having a triple set point in the 1st set (!), he wasted also fourth set point missing an overhead; in the 3rd set he trailed *1:4, afterwards saved a double match point on serve in the 10th game. On second match point Ashe played BH return winner but the linesman called ‘out’ McEnroe’s service which was very close to the line…
McEnroe’s route to the title:
rr. Arthur Ashe 6-3, 6-1
rr. Jimmy Connors 7-5, 3-0 ret.
rr. Harold Solomon 6-3, 6-2
S Eddie Dibbs 6-1, 6-4
W Arthur Ashe 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 – 2 m.p.
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