The second of three “Lipton Championship” editions when it made sense to call it “fifth Grand Slam”. The final was played in punishing conditions (30°C, 63% humidity), Connors  was wearing a headband around his neck throughout. He was attacking the net like crazy for four sets despite his very advanced age in tennis terms at the time (36). Even though they were serving at high percentage of 1st serves in (both above 70%), the serve wasn’t an important factor, only one game was won in the blink of an eye – the second of the 3rd set when Wilander  fired three aces in a row, and got the fourth point in a three-stroke rally. The Swede led *4:3 (30-all) in the 2nd set, in the 3rd set he trailed *3:4 (30/40) when a linesman called his ball long – it was inside the court, Connors didn’t protest when the chair-umpire overruled. In the 4th set Wilander led *4:1 (deuce), but Connors cut to 3:4* (30/15) and missed an overhead from quite good position. Wilander converted a match point after 3 hours 38 minutes with a passing-shot forehand winner (the ball clipped the net). “I went in there with a game plan,” said Connors, who obtained more than a half of his points attacking the net, “I stuck to the game plan.” Twelve years younger Wilander said: “I got stuck in my own tactics. The strategy was to stay back and slice to his forehand, wait for mistakes and rally from the baseline.” It was 11th final in a row lost by Connors (!), simultaneously 55th and last in his career (the last four finals before retirement he won).
Wilander’s route to his 28th title:
1 Leonardo Lavalle 6-3, 6-2, 7-5
2 Todd Witsken 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
3 Alexander Volkov 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2
4 Mark Woodforde 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-1
Q Aaron Krickstein 6-1, 6-2, 6-0
S Yannick Noah 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
W Jimmy Connors 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
32 – Wilander (1988)
27 – Federer (2006), Djokovic (2021)
25 – Nadal (2008)
24 – Sampras (1994)
Four big names of the late 80s, didn’t show up at Key Biscayne ’88: Lendl, Becker, Edberg & J.McEnroe;
certainly it helped Connors to reach his first big final since Wimbledon ’84
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