Jimmy Connors remains edgy, will play John McEnroe in Charlotte

At 61, Jimmy Connors doesn’t play a lot of tennis anymore.

Connors, the world’s No. 1 player in 1974-78 and an eight-time Grand Slam champion, will make an exception Thursday night in Charlotte. He will be one of the headliners at a senior men’s tennis event at Time Warner Cable Arena, where he will face former nemesis John McEnroe in a one-set match.

Connors and McEnroe had one of the great rivalries in American tennis, exacerbated by the fact that their playing styles were very different and they didn’t like each other much.

“I guess the further you get away from being what you used to be, the calmer things should get,” Connors said of his relationship with McEnroe, 55. “But there’s no guarantee about that. … I’m sure there will always be a quiver when we’re around the tennis. Even though the days of playing for the U.S. Open and Wimbledon championships are gone, there will always be that little feeling of anxiousness when you run into somebody you had such a great rivalry with.”

Thursday night in Charlotte is part of the PowerShares Series, where four former tennis greats play each other in a one-night tournament. McEnroe and Connors will play in one semifinal and Pat Cash, 48, and Ivan Lendl, 54, in the other. The schedule purposely mimics one of the best days ever for tennis from the U.S. Open in 1984, a so-called “Super Saturday” when McEnroe edged Connors and Lendl nipped Cash in five-set matches.

The two semifinal winners will then play a one-set final, with the entire event expected to take around three hours.