PDA

View Full Version : Borg vs. Wilander


Zimbo
01-26-2007, 02:59 PM
I started playing and watching tennis in the mid 80’s, so I never had the chance to really watch Borg play. However, I remember how people would always compare Wilander’s game to that of Borg. Some would say Wilander had more of a complete game, while some would say Wilander was just a mini version of Borg. I recently joined this forum and read similar sentiments when the two are compared. So for those who were lucky enough to have seen both players play can you give me a comparison?

Compare
1. Forehands
2. Backhand
3. Volleys
4. Serves
5. Foot speed
6. Mental toughness
7. Anticipation
8. Strategies
9. Endurance
10. Return of serve

Another question. Why do so many people believe Borg left the game because he knew he couldn’t compete anymore with McEnroe? If Borg was that much better then Wilander, as most people believe, wouldn’t Borg still be able to beat Mac, cause Wilander did have a pretty good h2h with Mac (6-7).

Rabbit, Five0, OrangeOne, Moose, etc…….. I would love to hear from you guys.

snapple
01-26-2007, 03:22 PM
Wilander is my alltime favorite player...will provide you with a shot by breakdown when I have a bit more time but the short answer is that Borg did most things a smidgen better than Mats.

stormholloway
01-26-2007, 03:26 PM
Borg just burnt out. He played from quite a young age and dominated for a while. Borg was quicker than Wilander and perhaps even more consistent, but I'm a huge Wilander fan. Wilander proves that Borg's game would have been plenty good enough to beat more modern players like Lendl.

Moose Malloy
01-26-2007, 03:28 PM
Rabbit, Five0, OrangeOne, Moose, etc…….. I would love to hear from you guys.

I must be so predictable, becuase I was already about to respond before reading the last line.

My 2 cents-Borg was better in almost everything, & I think Wilander was a fine player.

Borg won 5 Wimbledons S&V on every first serve, while Wilander never even reached the semis there (getting thrashed by a baseliner, Mecir, in his best slam year, 1988)

Even with a wood racquet Borg's serve was more forceful, an actual weapon, not so with Wilander, who used it to just start the point up most of the time.

Wilander may have had better volleys, but he didn't have enough stick on his serve or groundies to consistently get gimmes up there like Borg. Borg was a very strong guy.

Fitness-about even-both guys could stay out there forever.

Speed-Borg-I think Borg is the fastest guy ever in tennis, but Wilander is no slouch. Even Pmac & Drysdale were reluctant to say Federer moves better than Borg, during this week when they were constantly saying Federer was the best ever at pretty much everything.

I don't think Borg left the game due to Mac(though it was a factor)
Borg was a pro since 16 & a worldwide superstar since 18(he was probably the world's most famous athlete & its richest by the time he was 20)
And he wasn't enjoying the pressures of that. He was growing tired of the game & drastically reduced his schedule in 1981, drawing major fines/criticism from the atp. The writing was on the wall before he started losing to Mac in slam finals, he was basically a part-time player in 1981.

And Wilander vs Mac wasn't a factor in that decison, since he wasn't a factor on tour when Borg retired.

Coincidently Wilander also burned out at a young age. Drysdale actually predicted he would do so, comparing him to Borg in that way as well.

stormholloway
01-26-2007, 03:39 PM
Maybe Swedes can't handle success.

AndrewD
01-27-2007, 01:30 AM
1. Forehands Borg
2. Backhand Tie (Wilander had the better slice)
3. Volleys Wilander
4. Serves Borg
5. Foot speed Borg
6. Mental toughness Borg (but Wilander was very close)
7. Anticipation Wilander
8. Strategies Wilander
9. Endurance Borg
10. Return of serve Borg (again, Wilander is bloody close)

McEnroe was starting to usurp his position but I do believe it was merely a convenient excuse to say that he couldn't beat him any longer or that losing Wimbledon broke his spirit. Simply, Borg had run out of steam and needed a break from the game. If he hadn't retired, of course he could have beaten McEnroe and he would most certainly have added to his tally of majors. Wilander was a fantastic player but he was a light-weight in comparison to Borg.

Grimjack
01-27-2007, 04:21 AM
Another question. Why do so many people believe Borg left the game because he knew he couldn’t compete anymore with McEnroe? If Borg was that much better then Wilander, as most people believe, wouldn’t Borg still be able to beat Mac, cause Wilander did have a pretty good h2h with Mac (6-7).


To whatever degree people think this is true, what they mean is that they thought Borg couldn't beat McEnroe any more at Wimbledon. An absurd assertion in its own right, considering how competitive their last couple Wimbledon finals were. But there was a sense the torch had been passed, and that winning there would be an uphill battle from that point forward, with McEnroe the clear favorite. (You can judge for yourself to what degree that turned out to be true.)

Now, an understanding of the above needs an understanding of the next thing, too: in the early 1980's, Wimbledon was the only thing that really mattered. There were other big tournaments, of course, but they got scattered coverage and practically zero discussion by the public at large. Borg wasn't "11 time slam champion, six time French champion, and five time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg." He was "five time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg -- period."

You could be a good player without Wimbledon. You could even be a great, or famous player without Wimbledon. But only one thing made you a rock star; only one thing put you in the dinner-table conversation ahead of the world news. And Mac came along and took that thing away. Losing that would have to be a psychological blow if you were a guy who absolutely owned that title for years.

I still can't give full credence to the idea that Mac's rise at Wimby is fully to blame for Borg's departure. But it probably played more of a role than most want to admit.

Rabbit
01-27-2007, 11:03 AM
I agree with Moose and Grimjack's posts.

Borg versus Wilander, the only comment I have to add is that Wilander had even more patience than Borg did. Borg would try and end a point at least once in a while. Wilander was the ultimate grinder. His strategy was to let the other guy miss and miss and miss. After his great year in 1988, Wilander began to drop his two-hander in favor of a slice and did alter his tactics, but he wasn't as successful as 88 and before.

The biggest difference between Wilander and Borg, IMO, was that Wilander lacked the big weapon. Borg had a bigger serve, bigger ground strokes, and bigger footspeed. Wilander was what Borg was when Borg was in the first half of his career, a grinder.

None of this is to denigrate Wilander. Today, he's an attacking player and knows the game inside and out. He is also Davis Cup coach for Sweden and one helluva nice guy.

With regard to Borg and McEnroe, I think Borg was simply burnt out. IMO, he decided that it wasn't worth it any more when he lost Wimbledon. He could have won the French until he was 40 (tongue in cheek). He actually could have won the French a couple of more times easily IMO. I think Borg put more emphasis on his loss at Wimbledon than he should have.

Wilander took Borg's early strategy and built a career on it. Wilander was never devout enough in his devotion to the game to equal Borg's later development when Borg became the hardest hitter on tour. Plus, Wilander wasn't physically as strong as Borg IMO.

Mick
01-27-2007, 11:17 AM
Borg vs Wilander:
http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/headtohead/?player1=bjorn+borg&player2=mats+wilander

Zimbo
01-27-2007, 12:17 PM
I agree with Moose and Grimjack's posts.

Borg versus Wilander, the only comment I have to add is that Wilander had even more patience than Borg did. Borg would try and end a point at least once in a while. Wilander was the ultimate grinder. His strategy was to let the other guy miss and miss and miss. After his great year in 1988, Wilander began to drop his two-hander in favor of a slice and did alter his tactics, but he wasn't as successful as 88 and before.

The biggest difference between Wilander and Borg, IMO, was that Wilander lacked the big weapon. Borg had a bigger serve, bigger ground strokes, and bigger footspeed. Wilander was what Borg was when Borg was in the first half of his career, a grinder.

None of this is to denigrate Wilander. Today, he's an attacking player and knows the game inside and out. He is also Davis Cup coach for Sweden and one helluva nice guy.

With regard to Borg and McEnroe, I think Borg was simply burnt out. IMO, he decided that it wasn't worth it any more when he lost Wimbledon. He could have won the French until he was 40 (tongue in cheek). He actually could have won the French a couple of more times easily IMO. I think Borg put more emphasis on his loss at Wimbledon than he should have.

Wilander took Borg's early strategy and built a career on it. Wilander was never devout enough in his devotion to the game to equal Borg's later development when Borg became the hardest hitter on tour. Plus, Wilander wasn't physically as strong as Borg IMO.

Hardest hitter on tour? Even harder hitting then Jimbo back in the days of the wood racket?

Zimbo
01-27-2007, 12:18 PM
Borg vs Wilander:
http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/headtohead/?player1=bjorn+borg&player2=mats+wilander

Mick I would have expected more of an insightful post from you. That comparison don't really give me any insight.

Mick
01-27-2007, 12:22 PM
Mick I would have expected more of an insightful post from you. That comparison don't really give me any insight.

oops, sorry :)

I am a big Borg fan but not much of a Wilander fan because by the time he came into the picture, Lendl was my hero .

Rabbit
01-27-2007, 12:36 PM
Hardest hitter on tour? Even harder hitting then Jimbo back in the days of the wood racket?

Borg was the first player to routinely hit winners from the baseline with his opponent on the other baseline. Trust me, this was some feat with a wood racket.

Did Borg in his prime hit harder than Connors in '74-'78? Tough call and I really can't say. Connors, in his later career, did exactly what Agassi did in later years. He gave up hitting everything as hard as he could and began working the court.

stormholloway
01-27-2007, 12:51 PM
I didn't know Lendl was anyone's hero. That's like rooting for Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie.

Mick
01-27-2007, 02:30 PM
I didn't know Lendl was anyone's hero. That's like rooting for Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie.

haha. sorry Zimbo for going off topic but that's what was so cool about lendl. I lost interest in tennis after he had retired and just started following tennis again last year :)

Jet Rink
01-27-2007, 02:37 PM
I must be so predictable, becuase I was already about to respond before reading the last line.

My 2 cents-Borg was better in almost everything, & I think Wilander was a fine player.

Borg won 5 Wimbledons S&V on every first serve, while Wilander never even reached the semis there (getting thrashed by a baseliner, Mecir, in his best slam year, 1988)

Even with a wood racquet Borg's serve was more forceful, an actual weapon, not so with Wilander, who used it to just start the point up most of the time.

Wilander may have had better volleys, but he didn't have enough stick on his serve or groundies to consistently get gimmes up there like Borg. Borg was a very strong guy.

Fitness-about even-both guys could stay out there forever.

Speed-Borg-I think Borg is the fastest guy ever in tennis, but Wilander is no slouch. Even Pmac & Drysdale were reluctant to say Federer moves better than Borg, during this week when they were constantly saying Federer was the best ever at pretty much everything.

I don't think Borg left the game due to Mac(though it was a factor)
Borg was a pro since 16 & a worldwide superstar since 18(he was probably the world's most famous athlete & its richest by the time he was 20)
And he wasn't enjoying the pressures of that. He was growing tired of the game & drastically reduced his schedule in 1981, drawing major fines/criticism from the atp. The writing was on the wall before he started losing to Mac in slam finals, he was basically a part-time player in 1981.

And Wilander vs Mac wasn't a factor in that decison, since he wasn't a factor on tour when Borg retired.

Coincidently Wilander also burned out at a young age. Drysdale actually predicted he would do so, comparing him to Borg in that way as well.

Well done again, Moose - and a great topic of consideration.

I'll add this:

Wilander was a supreme counter puncher and was extremely fit. One of the best tacticians the game has seen (just key in his website and pick up some of his match analysis and you're in for a real treat).

Mats' game diversified - like Borg's too. If you watch his AO final vs. Cash ('88?), here you've got Wilander almost exclusively hitting slice backhands - one handers. Contrast this with him when he broke in at the '83 French (essentially) and he was another Swede with a two-hander in the tradition of Borg.

I'd say all of Borg's strokes are "bigger," and they were different guys. But they also had many similar characteristics.

Mats is, in my opinion, the most underrated player of all time.

Jet

vive le beau jeu !
01-29-2007, 01:31 AM
Borg vs Wilander:
http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/players/headtohead/?player1=bjorn+borg&player2=mats+wilander
interesting : this 61 61 win over (young) wilander was borg's first (official) match after his loss against bigmac in the 1981 USO final.
and geneva was going to be the last tournament he won in his career...

Zimbo
02-14-2007, 02:50 PM
Thanks for all the replies to my question. Today I was doing a web search For Borg and Wilander and I found an interesting article. Here is a small excerpt from it. Wondering what you guys think about it.

"Bjorn Hellberg, rare among Swedish journalists in that he was reporting Wimbledon in the pre-Borg era, makes interesting comparisons between Borg, Wilander and Stefan Edberg. "I watched them as juniors, when they were 11 years old", Hellberg tells me, "and from the very beginning Wilander and Edberg have always been nice to work with: extremely pleasant young men. Always modest, helpful and generous. Wilander has kept his calmness, his controlled mood, during his whole career. Edberg was a little patchy as a junior, - more temper on court - but that disappeared very early. Two gentlemen. Borg is a different story but on court Borg, too, was a gentleman. What would have happened if they had all been at their best at the same time? Well, Borg always had trouble with attacking players and because of that I think it would have been extremely difficult for him to beat Edberg on fast surfaces. On the other hand I believe Borg would have beaten Edberg on clay, any time.

"With Wilander it is more difficult to say, because he has such a high standard when he is motivated. When he is really "on" he is probably the best of them. The highest potential. Wilander has changed his game all the time. When he beat Vilas in the 1982 final in Paris he won only on his patience, his youth, his willingness to work, and his safe ground strokes. After that he gradually improved his game. He still has his double-fisted backhand but he also has a one-handed sliced backhand, which won him the final of the 1988 U.S. Open against Lendl. He has also improved his attack - his approach game and his net play. On the other hand tennis meant more to Borg and means more to Edberg than it does to Wilander, who finds other values in life. He can have spells when he doesn't look so interested"...

After reading this I remember the post I read this morning:

I mprovement
CAREER SLAMS in slams

Borg 576-124 82.29% 141-17 89.24% 6.95%
Connors 1222-269 81.96% 233-49 82.62% 0.67%
McEnroe864-194 81.66% 167-38 81.46% -0.20%
Lendl 1070-238 81.80% 222-49 81.92% 0.11%
Wilander 571-222 72.01% 144-37 79.56% 7.55%
Edberg 806-270 74.91% 178-47 79.11% 4.20%
Becker 713-214 76.91% 163-40 80.30% 3.38%
Sampras762-222 77.44% 203-38 84.23% 6.79%
Agassi 870-274 76.05% 224-53 80.87% 4.82%
Federer 490-125 79.67% 119-21 85.00% 5.33%

It seems like Wilander did do better when the occasion got bigger. I'm assuming his his % would be better if we didn't count the years after his burn out (post '88).

Thoughts people.