Mens Tennis Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Can't be bothered anymore
Joined
·
23,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Borg may still be at top of his game
Saturday, 14th July 2007

SYDNEY: After five years of trying, Roger Federer finally matched Bjorn Borg’s record winning streak at Wimbledon.

Last month, it was Rafael Nadal emulating the Swedish great’s unprecedented French Open hat trick.

It seems every time Federer and Nadal step on to a court chasing tennis history, they are chasing Bjorn Borg.

Which begs the question: just how good was Borg?

Many say he was the greatest, and most agree that if he was not quite the greatest, then he is right up there with the very best, alongside Rod Laver and Pete Sampras.

Certainly, if Federer can be considered arguably the greatest, Borg can too.

His list of achievements is extraordinary.

Born in Sodertalje, near Stockholm, Borg left school at 14, made the Swedish Davis Cup team at 15, was a Wimbledon junior champion at 16, a quarterfinalist on debut at the All England Club at 17 and won the first of his 61 ATP titles at the Italian Open before his 18th birthday.

And that’s not even the start of it.

He was French Open champion at 18 and helped Sweden win its first Davis Cup a year later in 1975.

Then he really got hot.

His five straight Wimbledon triumphs between 1976-80 are well documented; in compiling these, Borg shattered Laver’s mark of 24 consecutive wins on the famous London lawns.

John McEnroe stopped the streak at 41 wins in the 1981 decider, a year after succumbing to Borg in their unforgettable final, which many still believe to be the greatest tennis match ever played.

It was during his dominance in the mid to late ’70s that Borg completed one of tennis’ most difficult assignments the French Open-Wimbledon double three times in a row, from 1978-80.

Only eight male players in more than a century of tennis have achieved the feat in the same year, and only Laver, in 1962 and ’69, when he completed the coveted Grand Slam sweep of the sport’s four majors, has done so twice.

In the professional era, Andre Agassi is the only other player to have won both the French and Wimbledon trophies during their entire career.

All up, Borg accrued 11 Grand Slam titles third only behind Sampras’ 14 and Roy Emerson’s 12 and equal to Federer.

Incredibly, though, Borg required just 27 Grand Slam tournaments to rack up his 11 victories from 16 final appearances. It has taken Federer 33.

Borg won his last major, and his record sixth at Roland Garros, the day after his 25th birthday.

He retired at just 26, after a dispute with officials who challenged the Swede’s insistence on taking a fourmonth break each year.

Who knows how many more slams he might have won had he played on, or bothered to make more than the one trip to Australia, in 1974.

Only two players ever beat Borg in Grand Slam finals McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, who had looked nigh unbeatable on grass before the incomparable Swede emerged to ignite two of the great rivalries tennis has seen.

Borg, McEnroe and Connors shared the world No 1 ranking for the best part of a decade, with Borg holding top spot for a total of 109 weeks during six different stints between 1978-81.

But for all their championship qualities, the CVs of McEnroe and Connors don’t come close to matching Borg’s.

While Borg’s exquisite and powerful baseline play and athletic ability allowed him to dominate equally in Paris and London, McEnroe and Connors were never able to make the transition from clay to grass.

Between them, the two Americans made only one French Open final from 23 attempts, which is one more than Sampras could manage in his 13 years of trying.

Borg beat Connors the last eight times they met, despite putting away his racquet before experts believe he reached his peak.

Statistics and records, though, cannot do justice to how much Borg meant and still means to his sport.

The man transcended tennis.

With long blond locks and Scandinavian cool, Borg was the game’s first real heart-throb, so idolised, particularly in England, that Wimbledon’s aptly-named ‘‘tennyboppers’’ threw knickers at him each year at the All England Club.

He made two-handed backhands fashionable, and his imperturbable temperament is the stuff of legend.

Revered as the ‘‘Ice Man’’ or ‘‘Ice Borg’’, he ground opponents into submission without so much as a blink of an eye.

McEnroe still takes delight in claiming he once riled Borg so much he forced the unflappable Swede to dispute a line call. Just the once.

Relentlessly accurate, if he ever caught the line with a groundstroke, Borg called it a mis-hit. He never dared take such unnecessary risks, instead directing his shots to land a good few centimetres inside the line.

Super fit, Borg rarely lost in five.

In fact, he rarely lost. His Grand Slam strike rate of winning 89.8% of matches is unsurpassed.

So, too, was his ability to live a drama off the court.

Borg’s marriage to Romanian tennis professional Mariana Simionescu in Bucharest in 1980 was the major social event of the year. Their union lasted but three years before he wed Italian singer Loredana Berte. Borg’s life after retiring mirrored a soap opera. There was the failed comeback in 1991, the drug overdose and denials of attempted suicide, and more turbulent marriages and affairs. Borg’s decision last year to sell all his treasured trophies to Bonhams Auction House in London prompted McEnroe to call his old friend and foe. ‘‘What’s up? Have you gone mad?’’ McEnroe said, and persuaded Borg to buy back the silverware for an undisclosed amount. For perhaps one last time, McEnroe scored a priceless win over his storied rival. Few others know the feeling. It’s why in his homeland, Borg was voted Sweden’s athlete of the 20th century. In tennis, Borg just may well be the best of all time. The argument continues.
AAP

Source: http://www.odt.co.nz/article.php?refid=2007,07,14,47,04700,81ac9f4ac47f8816953ff2aa556f5a9f&sect=6
 

·
Not a Registered User
Joined
·
30,181 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
12,385 Posts
Yeah every year Roger had a chance to win his 5th straight Wimby, but blew it like the choker he his 4 straight years, until he finally converted and won 5 Wimbledons all at once!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,866 Posts
Yeah, that was lame, but the rest of the article is interesting. I love Bjorn. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,166 Posts
It's nice to see that they got Borg' reason for retirement correctly, rather than saying that the US Open loss to McEnroe drove him out.
 

·
Anathemaniac
Joined
·
41,908 Posts
It's nice to see that they got Borg' reason for retirement correctly, rather than saying that the US Open loss to McEnroe drove him out.
Indeed. Apart from the above already described, this is a pretty good article.

Borg :hug: :hug: :hug:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,866 Posts
I'd be more inclined to believe Roscoe Tanner drove him out than McEnroe. I'll never forget the look on Borg's face that year at the USO, under the lights, when Tanner broke the net and the game was delayed while they replaced it.

Now that the author mentions it, I vaguely remember something about Borg being told he had to qualify for a tournament and refusing to do it. Four months is a very long break though, it's a pity they couldn't reach some type of compromise, we might have had his genius for another year or two.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,166 Posts
I'd be more inclined to believe Roscoe Tanner drove him out than McEnroe. I'll never forget the look on Borg's face that year at the USO, under the lights, when Tanner broke the net and the game was delayed while they replaced it.

Now that the author mentions it, I vaguely remember something about Borg being told he had to qualify for a tournament and refusing to do it. Four months is a very long break though, it's a pity they couldn't reach some type of compromise, we might have had his genius for another year or two.
Tanner didn't drive him out. By 1981 Roscoe was past his prime and hardly a danger to Bjorn.

If I recall correctly their last tight match was the US Open QF rematch in 1980, which went to a fifth set. Borg won the last two sets, having to come back from two sets to one.

You're right about Bjorn's retirement and tennis politics. In 1983 Bjorn wanted to play in the majors but was told he would have to qualify. As his ranking slipped he also began to struggle getting into smaller events. His patience ran out right there.

Perhaps it's a good thing he did retire. I don't think Borg would have been the same as he had clearly began to live a rather adventurous nightlife. It would have affected his game.

Interestingly enough, Borg owned McEnroe in most exhibition matches in '82 and '83.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,866 Posts
I know he didn't, I was being a bit facetious. Your memory is a lot better than mine, I don't remember those details (but I was bit more preoccupied with dolls and things at that age and my local newspaper didn't cover tennis very well at all). :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,484 Posts
Borg may have indeed done a good thing by retiring from grand slams in 1981. But I still think that he should have played more Aussie Open titles. He certainly would ave won at least one title. Also I have no problems with Borg's comeback in 1991 but I just wish he had played with modern racquets instead of playing with his wooden racquet!
 

·
Blown Out On the Trail
Joined
·
62,739 Posts
Tanner didn't drive him out. By 1981 Roscoe was past his prime and hardly a danger to Bjorn.

If I recall correctly their last tight match was the US Open QF rematch in 1980, which went to a fifth set. Borg won the last two sets, having to come back from two sets to one.

You're right about Bjorn's retirement and tennis politics. In 1983 Bjorn wanted to play in the majors but was told he would have to qualify. As his ranking slipped he also began to struggle getting into smaller events. His patience ran out right there.

Perhaps it's a good thing he did retire. I don't think Borg would have been the same as he had clearly began to live a rather adventurous nightlife. It would have affected his game.

Interestingly enough, Borg owned McEnroe in most exhibition matches in '82 and '83.
Definitely wasn't Tanner. Tanner wasn't a serious threat to Borg. I think that Borg is right. He lost his motiation to strive and struggle in the tennsi world. He started so young and there seemed to him to be a fun life he wass missing. Swedes have a bit of a trouble with depression too and maybe Borg was in a mental slump after losing at Wimbledon. He always had to fight so hard against Connors on the American hardcourts, and then McEnore came along too. I think Borg really recognized McEnroe's genius.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top