View Full Version : Borg predicts focused Nadal has six appeal

05-31-2007, 03:29 PM
Borg predicts focused Nadal has six appeal
By Mark Hodgkinson in Paris

They have much more in common than their long hair, their charisma and their ability to generate rock star-like hysteria. Bjorn Borg is the greatest clay-court player of all time. Rafael Nadal is the man who could possibly emulate or even surpass his Roland Garros feats. And in some style. "Rafa is like the new rock star of tennis," Borg said yesterday.

Borg predicts focused Nadal has six appeal
Bjorn Borg: 'He has the chance to equal my record and go past it'

Borg has a record six silver Coupe des Mousquetaires trophies, winning back-to-back in 1974 and 1975, and then adding four more from 1978-81. Nadal is attempting to become only the second man in the Open era, after Borg, to win three successive French Open titles and yesterday the Swede suggested that his own domination of Paris in the Seventies and Eighties compared with the Majorcan's recent hegemony on the terre battue.

"I see a lot of similarities between myself and Rafa on clay," Borg, now 50, said of the 20-year-old Nadal. "You can compare us both mentally and physically. It was so tough to beat me at Roland Garros, and it is so tough to beat Rafa now. My opponents knew when they went on court with me that they would have to be out there for a long time if they wanted to try to defeat me, and that's no different with Rafa now. If you look at the mental and physical parts of his game, Rafa is so strong, like I was in my time."

Perhaps Borg would have won a few more if he had not quit in his prime, at just 26, but he argued that Nadal plainly has the talent and the time to have a topspin swipe at his records.

"It would be very special for him to win three titles in a row, and equal my record, as the French Open is the toughest tournament in the world to win," he said. "He definitely has the chance to equal my record of six titles, and maybe even go past it. He is still so young, just 20, so he has many years ahead of him."

Throughout Borg's career, the Viking God in a headband provoked hormonal crushes from young female fans, and he suggested that Nadal is his true 'rock star' tennis player heir.

"There was a lot of excitement when I came on the tour," he said. "And with Rafa's long hair and the way he dresses, with his long pants and his sleeveless shirts, you could definitely say that he is like a rock star, and that is what tennis needs.

"He is a big personality on the court, a great character, but in other ways he is very different to me. He keeps getting himself pumped up on the court, and shows us all his emotions, even though he is obviously focused as well. I was different. I kept very cool. I was more similar to how Roger [Federer] is now."

Despite his warm words, however, Borg has predicted that the winner a week on Sunday will not be Nadal, but Federer, a Swiss he now calls his friend.

"I know that a lot of people think that Rafa is still the big favourite, but I disagree. I am going to pick Roger as the winner. I watched his first match of the tournament on television, and he looked really sharp, he was playing some fantastic tennis, and I think it would be great for the sport if Roger won this year and beat Rafa.

"Roger's win in Hamburg was huge as it showed that he can beat Rafa on clay, and he will now have such great confidence if he plays Rafa in the final."

Borg had one of the sport's great rivalries with John McEnroe, and he said that he has been pleased to see Federer and Nadal becoming the new serial thrillers.

"The rivalry between Roger and Rafa is what tennis needs," he said. "I had my rivalry with John, and we had a lot of great matches, and I have been enjoying theirs - everyone gets psyched up when Roger and Rafa are playing. It's like a big fight when they are on court.

"Roger and Rafa have different characters, and also Roger is more of an attacking player, while Rafa is more defensive, staying at the baseline and hitting with a lot of topspin, so there is a lot of variety. I know some people have been saying that maybe they are too friendly but that's just off the court. They have a lot of respect for each other. But on the court, you can sense the atmosphere, and they are totally focused on beating the other guy. They love to win and hate to lose.

"John and I always respected each other. I am still in touch with John a lot over the telephone, and when we see each other we don't really talk about tennis that much - we chat about our kids, about the other things going on in our lives. It's really nice, though, to have had that rivalry with John. I hope that Rafa and Roger meet in the final. I definitely wouldn't miss that. If Roger stays strong he can beat Rafa."

Borg is also convinced that greatness now beckons for Federer.

"A French Open win would definitely put him on the way to being the greatest player of all time," he said. "That would complete his set of grand slams, he would then have 11 majors, like me, and he would still be only 25.

"If Roger wins in Paris I believe that he will go on to do the grand slam this year. The French Open is the toughest one for him to win, but I am not sure who could stop him at Wimbledon and the US Open. It would be great for tennis if Roger does the grand slam, as it hasn't been done since Rod Laver in 1969, and I hope that he does it. That would be such a huge effort - and from such a nice person as well."

So Borg picks Roger to win the French.:)
But then again he keeps refering to him as his good friend and such a wonderful person,so it can be nothing more than a friendly encouragment.

05-31-2007, 04:35 PM
haha. Maybe Federer should make his good friend his new coach.

05-31-2007, 07:13 PM
Well Nadal is cruisin' right now. It will be interesting.