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View Full Version : My Problem with the Borg vs. McEnroe Rivalry


noeledmonds
03-10-2007, 03:22 PM
This tennis rivalry has gone down as one of the greatest in history but I belive it was flawed in several ways. The reason people loved it was because of the massive contrasts in playing styles and tempermants however these are my issues.

There was a career gap. Now although Borg and McEnroe are relativly similar in age Borg flourished much earlier as a player. Borg also burnt out much earlier, and even if he had been able to continue mentally it would have only been a small number of years before the physical style of play was too much of a strain on his body for him to continueing playing effectivly. In terms of Grand Slam rivalries the players did not meet in a grand slam until Wimbledon 1980. By this time Borg had already won 7 grand slams and was nearing the end of his best playing years.

Their lack of many different surface battles. This is defenitley my biggest problem with the rivalry. Now everyone remember the classic Wimbledon confrentations, particularly the 4th set teibreak in the 1980 final, however this is really as far as the grand slam rivarlry went. Consider that Borg always struggled with the noisy American crowds and the night sessions under the lights. This really meant that McEnroe was always going to prevail here. Then there is the clay. The two never met at the French Open (or on clay at all). However it is very clear who would win over 95% of the time. Borg was near untouchable on clay, and McEnroe was very vunerable there. Many people state that McEnroe would have gone on to take a Head to Head lead against Borg if his career had continued. This is probabely true, but it would not be reflective of their greatness. Consider that Nadal holds a lead against Federer as they have met mostly on Nadal's strongest surface (clay) and this is Federer's weakest. Borg's Head to Head with McEnroe would be nowhere near as even if they had played as many matches on European clay as they played on American hard court and carpet.

This is almost soley a Wimbledon rivalry in terms of grand slam contests (a rivalry which only extended to two matches). I don't belive that the greatest tennis rivalry in history can be one in which the players (lets say players A and B) never played on player A's strongest playing conditions or on player B's weakest playing conditions while playing many matches on player B's strongest playing conditions and on player A's weakest playing conditions. Note I am using playing conditions to cover the surface and the crowds and any scheduling issues.

laurie
03-10-2007, 04:15 PM
Umm Noel, how long have you had these "issues". These two guys haven't played eachother since 1981 in a competitive tour match.

Having said that you make some interesting points. Problem for me is it's so long ago I don't have a real opinion on it. Plus I was a very young kid. I didn't get into Tennis until around the late 1980s.

But I'm sure some other guys here can answer your thoughts with some interesting insights so I look forward to reading those.

Deuce
03-11-2007, 12:13 AM
What you've managed to do, edmonds, is point out that rivalries are full of intangible elements. While you seem to require that everything within a rivalry be nicely and equally measured, and put in a nice little neat package that you can easily understand, most people seem to realize that these ingredients would extinguish any rivalry that existed.
Because - as you so succinctly pointed out - the main ingredients of a rivalry are its intangible elements.

noeledmonds
03-11-2007, 05:14 AM
What you've managed to do, edmonds, is point out that rivalries are full of intangible elements. While you seem to require that everything within a rivalry be nicely and equally measured, and put in a nice little neat package that you can easily understand, most people seem to realize that these ingredients would extinguish any rivalry that existed.
Because - as you so succinctly pointed out - the main ingredients of a rivalry are its intangible elements.

By a measured rivalry what I really strive for is a fair, extensive and balanced rivalry. Of course the rivalry has to be measured. Federer's rivalry with Roddick is not viewed as a great rivalry because the H2H is so extreme and unmeasured. Equally a rivalry that does not extend accross the tennis surfaces is incomplete. I don't really follow you with these seemingly mythical "intangible elements". I think most elements of a rivalry are tangible as they can be contemplated, evaluated and a conclusion can be drawn from this by a sometimes extensive, but none the less possible, proccess.

FiveO
03-11-2007, 01:13 PM
I disagree with the OP. While most rivalries are subjective or "in the eye of the beholder" there are some omissions in the in the argument against Borg/McEnroe being a noteworthy rivalry that are key.

From '79 to '81 Borg and McEnroe met 13 times during those three years.
For comparison Federer from 2004 through 2006 met:

Nadal 9 times, 3 times in majors, two in major finals.
Roddick 7 times, three times in majors, all in finals.
Hewitt 9 times, 5 times in majors and in one major final.
Safin 5 times, twice in majors and in one major final.

Borg v. McEnroe 13 times, 4 times in majors, ALL of which were in finals.

Realize to that this rivalry occurred during a time when many of the world's best skipped the Aussie Open.

Borg played the AO once in '73 and NEVER played it again.

McEnroe first played the AO in '83 and then again in '85 when the event was held in November. He played again in '89, '90 and '91 after the event was moved to January.

McEnroe also skipped RG in '78 and '79. Borg himself skipped the RG in '77.

So from '79 to '81 McEnroe played 8 majors and Borg 9.
In '79 Borg won RG and Wimbledon. McEnroe the USO.
In '80 Borg won RG and Wimbledon denying McEnroe in the final of Wimbledon and being denied "3 of 3" by McEnroe in the final of the USO.
In '81 Borg won RG and lost to McEnroe in the finals of both Wimbledon and USO.

Of their 13 meetings '79-'81, 9 were in finals including the WTC Championships, 2 Wimbledons and 2 USO's. Three of the remaining four happened in the SF's and the fourth in the RR of the Masters.

So from '80 to '81 Borg and Mc met in the final of 4 of the 6 majors they played and whether it was reflected in the computers or not, the consensus was that whoever won the USO would have been the #1 in those years.

Additionally while the AO was still suffering from lack of top player attendance and prestige, the WTC Dallas finals and Masters were not. Borg and McEnroe met in the final of the '79 WTC Dallas Championships and at the Masters in both '79 and '80 all held on carpet, the THIRD of the four surfaces the most prestigious championships of the day were held on. Borg dominated the fourth surface, as we know.

Was Borg burned out by the end of '81 or before? Yep. But I agree with his coach who felt that it was caused more by the grueling travel schedule Borg subjected himself to in order to cash in on too many exo's he played at his zenith than by a demanding or implosive game style.

Was Borg v. Mc too short lived? Yes. Was it still one of the best rivalries the Open era has seen? Without a doubt.

federerfanatic
03-11-2007, 01:21 PM
I disagree with the OP. While most rivalries are subjective or "in the eye of the beholder" there are some omissions in the in the argument against Borg/McEnroe being a noteworthy rivalry that are key.

From '79 to '81 Borg and McEnroe met 13 times during those three years.
For comparison Federer from 2004 through 2006 met:

Nadal 9 times, 3 times in majors, two in major finals.
Roddick 7 times, three times in majors, all in finals.
Hewitt 9 times, 5 times in majors and in one major final.
Safin 5 times, twice in majors and in one major final.

Borg v. McEnroe 13 times, 4 times in majors, ALL of which were in finals.



Yeah Federer did not meet Nadal, Roddick, and Hewitt as much as Borg met McEnroe, but 7-9 times in 3 years, 3-5 times in majors in 3 years, is still a pretty good number of meetings. The fact it isnt as many as Borg-McEnroe does not mean it still isnt a substantial amount.

FiveO
03-11-2007, 02:39 PM
Yeah Federer did not meet Nadal, Roddick, and Hewitt as much as Borg met McEnroe, but 7-9 times in 3 years, 3-5 times in majors in 3 years, is still a pretty good number of meetings. The fact it isnt as many as Borg-McEnroe does not mean it still isnt a substantial amount.

I think you are arguing a different point than the OP who questioned the validity of Borg v. Mc being a true rivalry.

For contrast Fed v. Roddick appears the closest comparison in that they met 3 times in major finals during three complete years. Realize that this constitutes 3 finals of twelve majors during that time frame or 25% the majors each played from 2004 to 2006.

Borg met McEnroe in 4 finals of the 9 majors he played '79 to '81 or 44%. In finals. Borg also won an RG a year during those 3 years. From Mc's perspective he played Borg in the finals of 50% of the majors he played, in that time frame 4 of 8. Finals. Remember too that Borg won 5 of the 9 majors he played from '79 to '81. McEnroe won the other 4.

Fed and Roddick's seven total meetings are one more than half of that played by Borg and Mc over the same period of time.

My point is, questioning what a rivalry is while offering today's best match-ups for a comparison, seems to prove Borg/Mc was in fact a higher quality one.

Another subjective part of "a rivalry" is to consider when those major meetings took place in the draw. I agree that 9 meetings over 3 years is a good sampling, constituting a nice match-up on it's face but the whens and wheres of those meetings need something to drive it further, i.e. #1 being in the balance, a back and forth, something.

From '93 through '95 Sampras met Courier 9 times, 5 times in majors. Sampras met Todd Martin 11 times '94 to '96, 4 times in majors.

Nice matchups? Sure. Good matches? Yeah. Rivalries? Okay, I guess. A storied rivalry in the Borg/Mc sense? I would submit: Not.

noeledmonds
03-11-2007, 03:44 PM
I disagree with the OP. While most rivalries are subjective or "in the eye of the beholder" there are some omissions in the in the argument against Borg/McEnroe being a noteworthy rivalry that are key.

From '79 to '81 Borg and McEnroe met 13 times during those three years.
For comparison Federer from 2004 through 2006 met:

Nadal 9 times, 3 times in majors, two in major finals.
Roddick 7 times, three times in majors, all in finals.
Hewitt 9 times, 5 times in majors and in one major final.
Safin 5 times, twice in majors and in one major final.

Borg v. McEnroe 13 times, 4 times in majors, ALL of which were in finals.

Realize to that this rivalry occurred during a time when many of the world's best skipped the Aussie Open.

Borg played the AO once in '73 and NEVER played it again.

McEnroe first played the AO in '83 and then again in '85 when the event was held in November. He played again in '89, '90 and '91 after the event was moved to January.

McEnroe also skipped RG in '78 and '79. Borg himself skipped the RG in '77.

So from '79 to '81 McEnroe played 8 majors and Borg 9.
In '79 Borg won RG and Wimbledon. McEnroe the USO.
In '80 Borg won RG and Wimbledon denying McEnroe in the final of Wimbledon and being denied "3 of 3" by McEnroe in the final of the USO.
In '81 Borg won RG and lost to McEnroe in the finals of both Wimbledon and USO.

Of their 13 meetings '79-'81, 9 were in finals including the WTC Championships, 2 Wimbledons and 2 USO's. Three of the remaining four happened in the SF's and the fourth in the RR of the Masters.

So from '80 to '81 Borg and Mc met in the final of 4 of the 6 majors they played and whether it was reflected in the computers or not, the consensus was that whoever won the USO would have been the #1 in those years.

Additionally while the AO was still suffering from lack of top player attendance and prestige, the WTC Dallas finals and Masters were not. Borg and McEnroe met in the final of the '79 WTC Dallas Championships and at the Masters in both '79 and '80 all held on carpet, the THIRD of the four surfaces the most prestigious championships of the day were held on. Borg dominated the fourth surface, as we know.

Was Borg burned out by the end of '81 or before? Yep. But I agree with his coach who felt that it was caused more by the grueling travel schedule Borg subjected himself to in order to cash in on too many exo's he played at his zenith than by a demanding or implosive game style.

Was Borg v. Mc too short lived? Yes. Was it still one of the best rivalries the Open era has seen? Without a doubt.

Please don't misunderstand me there is no rivalry in the game today that matches up to the Borg McEnroe rivalry, however the rivalry was flawed for the reasons I discuss above. I am not disputing the number of matches they played and don't patronise me with talk of the AO I am well aware about the AO's position as a grand slam before 1988. Many people seem to view this rivalry as the defenitive tennis rivalry and it undoubtably captivated the fans at the time, however if you look at if more clinicaly you realise that they did not compete at their true peaks and that their rivalry never extended to one of the main surfaces which makes up between one third and one quarter of the tour every year. Why is this rivalry singled out over rivalries such as Borg vs. Connors (a true all surface rivalry, although the FO itself was not involved as Connors was banned), McEnroe vs. Lendl (they met at all the grand slams and played in finals at the FO and USO), Lendl vs. Willander (two uncharsmatic charcters, but none the less encounters at all the GS and five GS finals in all) Agassi vs. Sampras (met at all grand slams and 16 ATP finals in total)

Deuce
03-11-2007, 10:22 PM
By a measured rivalry what I really strive for is a fair, extensive and balanced rivalry. Of course the rivalry has to be measured. Federer's rivalry with Roddick is not viewed as a great rivalry because the H2H is so extreme and unmeasured. Equally a rivalry that does not extend accross the tennis surfaces is incomplete. I don't really follow you with these seemingly mythical "intangible elements". I think most elements of a rivalry are tangible as they can be contemplated, evaluated and a conclusion can be drawn from this by a sometimes extensive, but none the less possible, proccess.
Sorry, but no truly great rivalry can be broken down into mere numbers and statistics, as you seem to believe.
As I stated, there is much more involved in a great rivalry - elements that are indefinable.

Not everything in life fits into a nice, neat, pre-formed package.

FitzRoy
03-11-2007, 10:54 PM
Sorry, but no truly great rivalry can be broken down into mere numbers and statistics, as you seem to believe.
As I stated, there is much more involved in a great rivalry - elements that are indefinable.

Not everything in life fits into a nice, neat, pre-formed package.

Well said, Deuce.

Deuce
03-12-2007, 03:23 AM
Well said, Deuce.
Thank you.

I was just thinking of an analogy...

What edmonds is saying is similar to saying that some of the great classical music pieces - 'Canon', 'The Blue Danube', 'Bolero', etc. - aren't really great, because they have no lyrics - and a song can't be great unless it has lyrics.

Some people just don't get it. They understand numbers and words and statistics only... they don't comprehend feeling.

bluegrasser
03-12-2007, 06:02 AM
Sorry, but no truly great rivalry can be broken down into mere numbers and statistics, as you seem to believe.
As I stated, there is much more involved in a great rivalry - elements that are indefinable.

Not everything in life fits into a nice, neat, pre-formed package.

I agree, it comes down to the contrast in game styles ( baseline v/s S&V), personalities...which is big IMO, the tension their matches brought to the table.

noeledmonds
03-12-2007, 07:24 AM
Sorry, but no truly great rivalry can be broken down into mere numbers and statistics, as you seem to believe.
As I stated, there is much more involved in a great rivalry - elements that are indefinable.

Not everything in life fits into a nice, neat, pre-formed package.

Not all rivalries can be broken down into stasitics, but statistics are the only nonsubjective way to define and describe a rivalry. While feelings play a part, feelings are subjective and vary from person to person. It is possible to define emotions and feelings and how they relate to different people, and maybe you are just not perseptive enough to be able to do so. Admitablt feelings are a lot harder to descirbe and define than than facts and statstics, but they are none the less definable within the arbituary boundaries that we place on ourselves. While you feelings may convince you that the rivalry is the greatest rivalry, they are no good at persuading others. Perhaps your aim is not to persaude but simply to state, however you can't avoid the question by stating that there are intangabile factors. There are no intagible factors, feelings and emotions can be defined, everything can be defined, particualry within the parameters of a sport which is a manmade concept after all. As for everything not falling into nice packages, everything fits into science and its principles. All events are consequences of previous events, all thoughts are conequnces of chemical reactions in the brain. While these may seem difficult to define you must understand that they are only difficult to understand as our emotions themselves distort our understanding of them.

Rabbit
03-12-2007, 11:19 AM
I think when we look at that era, there were so many great rivalries. There was Borg and Connors, Borg and McEnroe and to a lesser extent, Borg and Lendl. On top of that, there was Connors and McEnroe who hated each other so much they didn't speak for two years! And then McEnroe and Lendl were pen pals either. On top of that, Connors and Lendl weren't taking long walks on the beach together.

No, the only problem with that era was picking your favorite rivalry. All the guys at the top hated each other and it showed. Well, none of them actually hate Borg, but Borg aside, the rest of them wouldn't walk across the room and pee on the others if they were on fire.

Today's game is BORING by comparison:

Roddick "Yeah, Roger is such a nice guy on and off the court"
Federer "I really respect what Andy has done off the court. His serve is really much better than mine"
Nads "I'm good too!"
Blake "Yes, Rafa, you're a good player too. It's great to see someone who is OCD overcome it all to rise to the top of their profession."
Federer "I agree with James. Rafa is a nice kid and shows great promise. He really owns me on clay."
Roddick "Yes, but don't forget some of the newer guns like Querry and Kendrick. They'll be knocking on the door pretty soon and we'll all be struggling to win."
Federer "Yes, those new guys are really better at that age than we were."
Nads "I'm good too!"

And they all pat Rafa's head and give him an animal cracker.

Dedans Penthouse
03-12-2007, 12:06 PM
Today's game is BORING by comparison:

Amen!

And it's boring on the woman's side as well. I mean, what happened to the "good old days" when you'd find tramps littering the WTA tour; trashy, mascara-laced tramps such as Andrea Temesvari, Virginia Ruzici not to mention everybody's favorite 'cave-dweller', Little Miss Sleep-Around" herself: Chris Evert. I mean after Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis and maybe Tatiana Golovin, exactly where are today's tramps?

Rabbit
03-12-2007, 12:24 PM
Yep. All of them hated Anne White after she graced the All England Club with her white body suit. I don't know if any of them could have pulled it off, pardon the pun.

federerfanatic
03-12-2007, 08:40 PM
I in fact agree with that. The top players today are all too nice, even Roger is too nice for my liking and he is my favorite. From what I can tell Borg and McEnroe were friends but were still very competitive, none of them were friends with Lendl or Connors, I dont believe there were real friendships with Wilander or Becker when they came later either. Vilas was kind of friendly with McEnroe, but not so much Borg or Connors who he seemed to play more often especialy in big matches. Basicaly most of the players were out for blood, regardless the results.

Even the guys who are not good friends off the court go into a gushfest over one another, are careful to always be completely respectful of the other player, boring.

The women are not as bad in that way, but they are super boring now too since over half of the top women are always injured, and it creates an unbalance in the pecking order that you cant even figure out the womens game anymore. Great rivarlies like Evert-Navratilova, Graf-Seles, Graf-Sanchez Vicario, Graf-Sabatini, Evert-Austin, no longer exist in womens tennis either.

CEvertFan
04-14-2007, 12:21 AM
I in fact agree with that. The top players today are all too nice, even Roger is too nice for my liking and he is my favorite. From what I can tell Borg and McEnroe were friends but were still very competitive, none of them were friends with Lendl or Connors, I dont believe there were real friendships with Wilander or Becker when they came later either. Vilas was kind of friendly with McEnroe, but not so much Borg or Connors who he seemed to play more often especialy in big matches. Basicaly most of the players were out for blood, regardless the results.

Even the guys who are not good friends off the court go into a gushfest over one another, are careful to always be completely respectful of the other player, boring.

The women are not as bad in that way, but they are super boring now too since over half of the top women are always injured, and it creates an unbalance in the pecking order that you cant even figure out the womens game anymore. Great rivarlies like Evert-Navratilova, Graf-Seles, Graf-Sanchez Vicario, Graf-Sabatini, Evert-Austin, no longer exist in womens tennis either.


Well said! My thoughts exactly.

Azzurri
04-14-2007, 10:59 AM
Bottom line is the rivalry heightened tennis' popularity. That's all a sport like Tennis could ask for. Imagine if we had one (short as it was) today.

BigboyDan
04-15-2007, 03:28 PM
1979 WTC Finals, Dallas; 1979 Wimbledon... wow!

Gilgamesh
04-15-2007, 11:20 PM
As much as I loved the Borg and JMac rivalry this is why I love the Sampras and Agassi rivalry.

Both competed against each other at the same stage of their careers.

rjkardo
04-16-2007, 02:15 AM
I in fact agree with that. The top players today are all too nice, even Roger is too nice for my liking and he is my favorite. From what I can tell Borg and McEnroe were friends but were still very competitive, none of them were friends with Lendl or Connors, I dont believe there were real friendships with Wilander or Becker when they came later either. Vilas was kind of friendly with McEnroe, but not so much Borg or Connors who he seemed to play more often especialy in big matches. Basicaly most of the players were out for blood, regardless the results.

Even the guys who are not good friends off the court go into a gushfest over one another, are careful to always be completely respectful of the other player, boring.

The women are not as bad in that way, but they are super boring now too since over half of the top women are always injured, and it creates an unbalance in the pecking order that you cant even figure out the womens game anymore. Great rivarlies like Evert-Navratilova, Graf-Seles, Graf-Sanchez Vicario, Graf-Sabatini, Evert-Austin, no longer exist in womens tennis either.

I seem to remember Borg saying that he and Vilas were friends.
When I get back I will have to look it up in his book.
(No, I am not confusing Vilas and Vitas :)

Rod

vive le beau jeu !
04-16-2007, 08:44 AM
I think when we look at that era, there were so many great rivalries. There was Borg and Connors, Borg and McEnroe and to a lesser extent, Borg and Lendl. On top of that, there was Connors and McEnroe who hated each other so much they didn't speak for two years! And then McEnroe and Lendl were pen pals either. On top of that, Connors and Lendl weren't taking long walks on the beach together.

No, the only problem with that era was picking your favorite rivalry. All the guys at the top hated each other and it showed. Well, none of them actually hate Borg, but Borg aside, the rest of them wouldn't walk across the room and pee on the others if they were on fire.

I in fact agree with that. The top players today are all too nice, even Roger is too nice for my liking and he is my favorite. From what I can tell Borg and McEnroe were friends but were still very competitive, none of them were friends with Lendl or Connors, I dont believe there were real friendships with Wilander or Becker when they came later either. Vilas was kind of friendly with McEnroe, but not so much Borg or Connors who he seemed to play more often especialy in big matches. Basicaly most of the players were out for blood, regardless the results.

Even the guys who are not good friends off the court go into a gushfest over one another, are careful to always be completely respectful of the other player, boring.
so you all want more blood on the tennis court, right ?! ;)
some hate, please !

but it's true that it's nice when you feel some electricity in the air between 2 players when they enter on the court... even on TV, we can enjoy it !

Nads "I'm good too!"
Blake "Yes, Rafa, you're a good player too. It's great to see someone who is OCD overcome it all to rise to the top of their profession."
eheh... :rolleyes:

Rabbit
04-16-2007, 10:27 AM
One other point about the OP's objections. I believe his surface argument is invalid. He says they didn't play on enough surfaces to make it a valid rivalry. Looking at their head to head, there is only one surface missing, clay. Other than clay, they played on every other surface. They played on grass, hard, and carpet. And, they were 7 - 7. I think that's enough to warrant a rivalry.

Borg may have been in decline in his own mind, but when McEnroe came along, Borg was at the top of the professional tennis world. If he entered the French Open, he won it. There's not a more grueling tennis tournament in the world. In 1980, he won the French and Wimbledon back to back. In 1981, he won the French and reached the finals of Wimbledon. For the record, here's how much decline Borg was:

1978 he reached the finals of 3/4 Grand Slams
1979 he reached the finals of 2/4 Grand Slams (night match vs Tanner at the Open)
1980 he reached the finals of 3/4 Grand Slams
1981 he reached the finals of 3/4 Grand Slams

Hell, I should have such a decline...

In the immortal words of Andy Roddick "You have to win a couple for it to be a rivalry..."

CEvertFan
04-16-2007, 11:36 AM
My only real problem with the rivalry was that it was too short.

kiki
08-20-2010, 03:18 PM
I think when we look at that era, there were so many great rivalries. There was Borg and Connors, Borg and McEnroe and to a lesser extent, Borg and Lendl. On top of that, there was Connors and McEnroe who hated each other so much they didn't speak for two years! And then McEnroe and Lendl were pen pals either. On top of that, Connors and Lendl weren't taking long walks on the beach together.

No, the only problem with that era was picking your favorite rivalry. All the guys at the top hated each other and it showed. Well, none of them actually hate Borg, but Borg aside, the rest of them wouldn't walk across the room and pee on the others if they were on fire.

Today's game is BORING by comparison:

Roddick "Yeah, Roger is such a nice guy on and off the court"
Federer "I really respect what Andy has done off the court. His serve is really much better than mine"
Nads "I'm good too!"
Blake "Yes, Rafa, you're a good player too. It's great to see someone who is OCD overcome it all to rise to the top of their profession."
Federer "I agree with James. Rafa is a nice kid and shows great promise. He really owns me on clay."
Roddick "Yes, but don't forget some of the newer guns like Querry and Kendrick. They'll be knocking on the door pretty soon and we'll all be struggling to win."
Federer "Yes, those new guys are really better at that age than we were."
Nads "I'm good too!"

And they all pat Rafa's head and give him an animal cracker.

I do not think that Federer and Nadal hate each other less than Borg and Connors or Lendl and Mc.They just belong to another era, a liquid and " be friendly with everyone" or be " politically correct".

This said, I think the reason the Bjorn-Ivan-Jimmy amd John rivalry was so unique is, besides their egos, their style of play and the fact that people could identify menthally or ideologically with them ( today all look and think the same).

Also, their combined level of play and different styles just put tennis at the level of the big sports.

kiki
08-20-2010, 03:22 PM
1979 WTC Finals, Dallas; 1979 Wimbledon... wow!

and Masters 1979 and 1980 ( where Borg argued against referee and Mc behaved perfectly¡¡¡) and US Open 80 and 81 and... well, exhibitions were big time then with guys like them and Jimbo,Nastase,Vilas,Gerulaitis and later, Lendl.

Say whatever you want about size, strenght or whatever, but we´ll never enjoy an era such exciting as that one in tennis.

SusanDK
08-21-2010, 12:50 AM
posting error - rewatched the video :)

Benhur
08-21-2010, 09:11 AM
Please don't misunderstand me there is no rivalry in the game today that matches up to the Borg McEnroe rivalry, however the rivalry was flawed for the reasons I discuss above. I am not disputing the number of matches they played and don't patronise me with talk of the AO I am well aware about the AO's position as a grand slam before 1988. Many people seem to view this rivalry as the defenitive tennis rivalry and it undoubtably captivated the fans at the time, however if you look at if more clinicaly you realise that they did not compete at their true peaks and that their rivalry never extended to one of the main surfaces which makes up between one third and one quarter of the tour every year. Why is this rivalry singled out over rivalries such as Borg vs. Connors (a true all surface rivalry, although the FO itself was not involved as Connors was banned), McEnroe vs. Lendl (they met at all the grand slams and played in finals at the FO and USO), Lendl vs. Willander (two uncharsmatic charcters, but none the less encounters at all the GS and five GS finals in all) Agassi vs. Sampras (met at all grand slams and 16 ATP finals in total)

It was a good rivalry, but from a pure tennis standpoint not the most impressive. It is singled out because of the enormous media status of both players at the time.

Aside from the other rivalries mentioned above, the Federer-Nadal rivalry between 2006 and January 2009 is probably unmatched from a pure tennis perspective. All the elements are there in abundance.

Both players held the top two positions in the ranking for the entire period.

You have a total of 16 finals in those 3 years: 9 on clay, 4 on hard, and 3 on grass. These finals include:

7 GS finals on all surfaces (3 clay, 3 grass, 1 hard)
It also includes 3 consecutive RG and 3 consecutive Wimbledon finals at the same time. The RG-Wimbledon doublet 3 years in a row is in itself an astonishing and unmatched achievement by the same pair of players. All that followed by one AO final.

There are, in addition, 6 MS finals, 2 Master Cup finals and the Dubai final, in that 3 year period.

I am unaware of any other rivalry in the open era that can match those numbers, or even come close to them over a 3 year period. Or any period for that matter.

BTURNER
08-31-2010, 08:03 PM
I would love to see some Mac - Borg har -tru ,matches, I think John would do better than you think. He spent a lot of time on the green clay in his youth and it just might have brought out some interesting flavor profiles to his touch game and creative mindset. The trick would be to have a series. Navratilova did nothing but get better from having to play Evert on clay so often. One wonders if the challenge of Borg might have done wonders for McEnroes clay game.

hoosierbr
08-31-2010, 10:37 PM
People can take apart the Borg/McEnroe and Agassi/Sampras rivalries all they want but the fact that we still talk about them, argue about them and dissect them proves just how important they really are.

Borg/McEnroe transcended tennis in their generation (late 70's - early 80's) just as Agassi/Sampras transcended mine (mid - late 90's). I'm 30 so although I'm only a year older than Roger Federer every tennis fan and player in our age group grew up with that rivalry as well as, at least for me, Becker/Edberg.

People 10 - 15 years younger than I are growing up with the Federer/Nadal rivalry. Thankfully tennis has given just about every generation in the last 40 years or so a great rivalry to savor.

SusanDK
08-31-2010, 11:48 PM
It was a good rivalry, but from a pure tennis standpoint not the most impressive. It is singled out because of the enormous media status of both players at the time.


I think the contrasting styles had something to do with it - both in terms of actual tennis, but also their polar opposite personalities. It was more fun to see an explosive McEnroe vs. a cool Borg, than to see, for example, McEnroe vs. Connors both acting like spoiled brats and mouthing off to one another. Also the style of play was so contrasting - McEnroe's S&V and unorthodox form and touch, which could be explosive just like his personality, vs. Borg's steady baseline game which again mirrored his personality in terms of cool, calm, steady under pressure. Brilliant stuff to watch.


. . . Lendl vs. Willander (two uncharsmatic charcters, but none the less encounters at all the GS and five GS finals in all)

I always thought Wilander was very charismatic, both on and off the court. He always had a bit of a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Seemed like a genuinely kind person and like he could be a lot of fun.

Limpinhitter
09-01-2010, 06:30 AM
The popularity of the rivalry was founded on one of the most dramatic matches in Wimbledon history in which an underdog nearly beat an entrenched champion, followed by a second great match between the same two, one year later in which the champion was finally dethroned.

borg number one
09-01-2010, 07:39 AM
The Borg-McEnroe rivalry was like Borg's career, a shooting star. The rivalry burned oh so brightly, but it was fleeting. More matches would have been splendid. They played but 14 total matches, all on grass (Wimbledon), hard (US Open, etc.), and indoor courts (Masters, NY MSG). They were both such HUGE Tennis stars, both at or near the height of their powers.

In 1981, Borg was the reigning FO champ, Masters champ, having reached the finals at both the USO (4th final), and the final at W (6th final in a row). That's not exactly a bad year. See him here at the '81 USO when he beat Connors in straight sets in the SF and at the '81 Masters. (Thanks to TW poster BorgForever). In 1981, Borg had better head to head results against both Lendl and Connors compared to McEnroe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR_aYm-PyfA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOUb8m6-lH0&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkuEu_axZIw&feature=related

He had plenty left in the tank when he chose to leave the Game, largely due to his dispute with the Tour. Borg wanted to play less than 10 official tourneys/year without having to qualify for majors. The Tour enforced a new rule instead, saying that Borg would have to qualify for W, etc. if he did not play at least 10 official tourneys going forward. So, he chose to leave.

http://www.realclearsports.com/blognetwork/atp_tennis_360/Bjorn-Borg-McEnroe-1980.jpg

http://blog.wickedthreadz.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/bjorn_borg_and_john_mcenroe_011.jpg

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/05/31/sports/31mcenroe.jpg

http://pierretristam.com/images2/i07a/0708-borg-mcenroe.jpg

kiki
10-28-2010, 02:51 PM
Bottom line is the rivalry heightened tennis' popularity. That's all a sport like Tennis could ask for. Imagine if we had one (short as it was) today.

True.It was a contrast of styles, personalities and even, charismatic features that just happened to happen at tennis´most exhilarating and top of popularity moment.

Never tennis was so widely followed as it was during that era, with fantastic characters with a fantastic style Mc,Jimbo,Bjorn,Ivan, even Vilas and Gerulaitis were really special.

However, early 70´s with Laver,Rosewall,Newcombe,Nastase,Ashe,Kodes and Smith, mid 80´s with Becker,Edberg, Wilander, lendl, and early 90´s, with Courier,Rafter,Agassi,Sampras,Ivanisevic and Bruguera were, not so much, but still pretty interesting.

In 2000´s, only Roger and Rafael, with some flashes from Safin,Hewitt,Kuerten and Djokovic.I miss the late 70´s early 80´s¡¡¡