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View Full Version : The Unsuccessful Borg Comeback-A star fails soundly


Legend of Borg
12-14-2007, 09:31 PM
Could someone give some solid reasons as to why Borg tried to make a comeback and late 80's and 90's and completely failed? It seems strange. He certainly possesed the skills. Was it mental fatique? Outdated racket technology? Out of shape body?

stormholloway
12-14-2007, 09:32 PM
You can't leave the game for 8 or so years and just come back. Nobody could do it.

JW10S
12-14-2007, 09:36 PM
Could someone give some solid reasons as to why Borg tried to make a comeback and late 80's and 90's and completely failed? It seems strange. He certainly possesed the skills. Was it mental fatique? Outdated racket technology? Out of shape body?None of the above. He simply had been away too long. No one in any sport could take that much time off and come back and compete at their former level.

Nickognito
12-14-2007, 09:38 PM
the former level, no.

higher than Borg, yes.

Mick
12-14-2007, 09:43 PM
You can't leave the game for 8 or so years and just come back. Nobody could do it.

Yep. After he lost the come back match in monte carlo, the reporter asked Borg what was lacking and Borg said he wasn't match tough enough. He said he needed to play more matches to get there.

stormholloway
12-14-2007, 11:42 PM
Connors left the game just for a couple if I recall. Borg left for like a decade.

urban
12-15-2007, 01:09 AM
Maybe he should have taken another adviser. He had a Harry Potter like guru with a big black hat in his camp, to bewitch his oponents. Maybe he bewitched Borg himself. In earnest: Borg came back after a big revolutionary step in tennis: The introduction of the new racket generation, resulting in a new power game. His topspin game wasn't effective anymore, even on clay, where people like Arrese could match him now easily from the baseline.

Hedges
12-15-2007, 04:22 AM
He was out there with wood a decade deep into the graphite age. After losing 2 & 3 in Monte Carlo, he relented and tried to transition his game to an oversized graphite racket. Anyone who has tried to go from a well-tuned wood game to graphite knows that it ain't easy. The lack of flex changes everything. Regarding his final match in the Kremlin Cup, an observer said:

""I saw him play his last match," Collins says. "He actually had a match point. And he had given up on the wooden thing. He was fit and he could run, but he couldn't do anything else. The players felt a little sorry for him. He just couldn't get back with it. He was just another player.""

Micce
12-15-2007, 07:14 AM
Could someone give some solid reasons as to why Borg tried to make a comeback and late 80's and 90's and completely failed?

Have a look at the following thread regarding this topic:

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=127908

In my opinion this quote, picked from that old thread, gives a very good answer to why Borg completely failed:

"Pros who hit with and played against Borg all commented that there was no 'stick' on his shots. He couldn't re-groove his strokes, or didn't think he had to. Borg's strokes and mentality were stilled geared towards a traditional wood based game where the whole goal was to 'out steady' the other guy and just keep the ball in play."

Moreover, Borg was 35 year old when he began his comeback tour, so naturally his speed, stamina and agility weren't the same as before. His technique was outdated and although he was fast and fit he was no longer faster and fitter than everyone else.

CyBorg
12-15-2007, 01:15 PM
double post

CyBorg
12-15-2007, 01:20 PM
http://video.tinypic.com/player.php?v=303ip2r

You can tell a lot from this clip. It's not perfect, but it is visible from the way Borg hits the ball - his approach is very dated. He is not forcing the issue the way a contemporary player would have. This is right around the time when Courier began to take clay tennis by storm and he hit hard and flat. His final opponent Agassi also hit flat, timing the ball precisely to get his opponent out of a rhythm. So we're talking flatter, deeper, more precise and with an emphasis on hitting the ball as early as possible.

Borg was doing none of this. You can see how rhythmically he's playing - approaching every rally as a marathon. With the new graphite you could hit winners from the baseline in a way that you couldn't before. Borg just wasn't accustomed to this and with a wooden racket he couldn't do it very often, period.

A very good example of the new and the old is from the Agassi-Wilander match that someone posted just recently (on Megaupload). It was the 1988 French semi. You could see how much trouble Wilander had with Agassi's strokes. Mats wasn't exactly from the wood era, but he nonetheless grew up with wood and then played with the early incarnations of the graphite - much less powerful graphite. You can tell by the way he plays that he doesn't try to hit winners with every rally - the approach is also old-school; grind, grind, grind. It worked against Agassi in part because Agassi was inexperienced and a choker at 18. Otherwise Andre had the ideal game to beat Wilander - he could time the ball in flight and hit it powerfully and to all angles. It would have worked if he had better stamina and better mental fortitude.

It doesn't come as a surprise that Wilander wasn't the same player in subsequent years and was pretty much out of consideration after a decent run at the 1990 Aussie. He was also way too old school and the improving racket technology changed tennis entirely. Because of this I see the late 80s-early 90s years as pivotal in terms of a major change in the way tennis was played. I think they were more pivotal than the early 80s actually. Another great example, of course, was Sampras/Wilander at the 1989 US Open where Sampras was making an error after every winner and still won, leaving Wilander flabbergated at how it could happen. He even remarked that there was no way that Sampras could continue winning with that style. Surely enough Wilander had not yet realized the impact that technology was having on the game and that the respective styles of Agassi and Sampras were actually ideal for the new rackets. Hence it is my opinion that the wood era actually lived on for much of the 80s with most of the better players at the time having grown up with wood rackets, their respective games reflecting that. The first real changes came with Becker, Agassi, Sampras...

Zimbo
12-15-2007, 03:14 PM
http://video.tinypic.com/player.php?v=303ip2r

You can tell a lot from this clip. It's not perfect, but it is visible from the way Borg hits the ball - his approach is very dated. He is not forcing the issue the way a contemporary player would have. This is right around the time when Courier began to take clay tennis by storm and he hit hard and flat. His final opponent Agassi also hit flat, timing the ball precisely to get his opponent out of a rhythm. So we're talking flatter, deeper, more precise and with an emphasis on hitting the ball as early as possible.

Borg was doing none of this. You can see how rhythmically he's playing - approaching every rally as a marathon. With the new graphite you could hit winners from the baseline in a way that you couldn't before. Borg just wasn't accustomed to this and with a wooden racket he couldn't do it very often, period.

A very good example of the new and the old is from the Agassi-Wilander match that someone posted just recently (on Megaupload). It was the 1988 French semi. You could see how much trouble Wilander had with Agassi's strokes. Mats wasn't exactly from the wood era, but he nonetheless grew up with wood and then played with the early incarnations of the graphite - much less powerful graphite. You can tell by the way he plays that he doesn't try to hit winners with every rally - the approach is also old-school; grind, grind, grind. It worked against Agassi in part because Agassi was inexperienced and a choker at 18. Otherwise Andre had the ideal game to beat Wilander - he could time the ball in flight and hit it powerfully and to all angles. It would have worked if he had better stamina and better mental fortitude.

It doesn't come as a surprise that Wilander wasn't the same player in subsequent years and was pretty much out of consideration after a decent run at the 1990 Aussie. He was also way too old school and the improving racket technology changed tennis entirely. Because of this I see the late 80s-early 90s years as pivotal in terms of a major change in the way tennis was played. I think they were more pivotal than the early 80s actually. Another great example, of course, was Sampras/Wilander at the 1989 US Open where Sampras was making an error after every winner and still won, leaving Wilander flabbergated at how it could happen. He even remarked that there was no way that Sampras could continue winning with that style. Surely enough Wilander had not yet realized the impact that technology was having on the game and that the respective styles of Agassi and Sampras were actually ideal for the new rackets. Hence it is my opinion that the wood era actually lived on for much of the 80s with most of the better players at the time having grown up with wood rackets, their respective games reflecting that. The first real changes came with Becker, Agassi, Sampras...

Great post Cyborg I totally agree. I always thought only two players from the wood era could hang with the likes Agassi's, Becker's, etc... They were Connors and Lendl.

Nickognito
12-15-2007, 03:56 PM
I always thought only two players from the wood era could hang with the likes Agassi's, Becker's, etc... They were Connors and Lendl.

:shock:

http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=dg87QEGsFFo

CyBorg
12-15-2007, 04:21 PM
Great post Cyborg I totally agree. I always thought only two players from the wood era could hang with the likes Agassi's, Becker's, etc... They were Connors and Lendl.

And only a handful of players from the modern era would hang in the wood era. Goes both ways. The point is that when you grow up playing a certain style of tennis with a certain kind of racket you just can't switch halfway.

Sorry if that ruins your opinion of me.;)

We're talking of the "time machine" argument here. Vitas Gerulaitis was a great player in his era. Now transport him at 25-years of age to 2007, hand him a graphite racket and face him off against a top-10 player I don't think he'll do well. His game is not suited for contemporary tennis, many of his skills are assets which are almost unnecessary today. His touch and feel having almost no effect against a baseliner who can hit monstrous passing shots with graphite.

Conversely, take a player currently active today - any player who is tall, powerful but inconsistent; maybe Safin - and he'll do absolutely nothing with a wooden racket playing a game where he must rely on touch and feel; where his serve is dulled, his return-of-serve is dulled, where he can't hit lines regularly and where he's forced to come in on certain surfaces. He won't do well.

But again, the "time machine" theory is a bit fruitless.

Mick
12-15-2007, 05:20 PM
It's tough to come back after a long break even for us amateurs: if you guys stop playing tennis today and then seven years later pick up a racquet to play with your tennis buddy who has been playing all along. I think he will murder you too.

Zimbo
12-15-2007, 05:25 PM
:shock:

http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=dg87QEGsFFo

Yeah, Mac was great but I always thought he would get over powered by guys. He would still do well but wouldn't be as dominate playing his brand of tennis. He even stated it a few times also.

By the way, Becker won that match.

Zimbo
12-15-2007, 05:25 PM
And only a handful of players from the modern era would hang in the wood era. Goes both ways. The point is that when you grow up playing a certain style of tennis with a certain kind of racket you just can't switch halfway.

Sorry if that ruins your opinion of me.;)

We're talking of the "time machine" argument here. Vitas Gerulaitis was a great player in his era. Now transport him at 25-years of age to 2007, hand him a graphite racket and face him off against a top-10 player I don't think he'll do well. His game is not suited for contemporary tennis, many of his skills are assets which are almost unnecessary today. His touch and feel having almost no effect against a baseliner who can hit monstrous passing shots with graphite.

Conversely, take a player currently active today - any player who is tall, powerful but inconsistent; maybe Safin - and he'll do absolutely nothing with a wooden racket playing a game where he must rely on touch and feel; where his serve is dulled, his return-of-serve is dulled, where he can't hit lines regularly and where he's forced to come in on certain surfaces. He won't do well.

But again, the "time machine" theory is a bit fruitless.

Sill agree with you.

CyBorg
12-15-2007, 06:27 PM
Sill agree with you.

Damn! :mrgreen:

laurie
12-16-2007, 05:38 AM
http://video.tinypic.com/player.php?v=303ip2r

You can tell a lot from this clip. It's not perfect, but it is visible from the way Borg hits the ball - his approach is very dated. He is not forcing the issue the way a contemporary player would have. This is right around the time when Courier began to take clay tennis by storm and he hit hard and flat. His final opponent Agassi also hit flat, timing the ball precisely to get his opponent out of a rhythm. So we're talking flatter, deeper, more precise and with an emphasis on hitting the ball as early as possible.

Borg was doing none of this. You can see how rhythmically he's playing - approaching every rally as a marathon. With the new graphite you could hit winners from the baseline in a way that you couldn't before. Borg just wasn't accustomed to this and with a wooden racket he couldn't do it very often, period.

A very good example of the new and the old is from the Agassi-Wilander match that someone posted just recently (on Megaupload). It was the 1988 French semi. You could see how much trouble Wilander had with Agassi's strokes. Mats wasn't exactly from the wood era, but he nonetheless grew up with wood and then played with the early incarnations of the graphite - much less powerful graphite. You can tell by the way he plays that he doesn't try to hit winners with every rally - the approach is also old-school; grind, grind, grind. It worked against Agassi in part because Agassi was inexperienced and a choker at 18. Otherwise Andre had the ideal game to beat Wilander - he could time the ball in flight and hit it powerfully and to all angles. It would have worked if he had better stamina and better mental fortitude.

It doesn't come as a surprise that Wilander wasn't the same player in subsequent years and was pretty much out of consideration after a decent run at the 1990 Aussie. He was also way too old school and the improving racket technology changed tennis entirely. Because of this I see the late 80s-early 90s years as pivotal in terms of a major change in the way tennis was played. I think they were more pivotal than the early 80s actually. Another great example, of course, was Sampras/Wilander at the 1989 US Open where Sampras was making an error after every winner and still won, leaving Wilander flabbergated at how it could happen. He even remarked that there was no way that Sampras could continue winning with that style. Surely enough Wilander had not yet realized the impact that technology was having on the game and that the respective styles of Agassi and Sampras were actually ideal for the new rackets. Hence it is my opinion that the wood era actually lived on for much of the 80s with most of the better players at the time having grown up with wood rackets, their respective games reflecting that. The first real changes came with Becker, Agassi, Sampras...

Excellent post.

The 1990 US Open semifinal between Sampras and McEnroe is a fanstastic match and a fantastic example. Sampras drove McEnroe potty for 2hrs and 30 minutes with his abaility to hit winners from anywhere, return winners at will and still hit lines on 1st and 2nd serves. And unlike 1989 against Wilander, Pete hardly made any unforced errors in this whole match playing this style of Tennis! So if someone could do those things and make fewer than 25 unforced errors in 2 hrs and 30 minutes then you really have no chance and as Wilander says, Sampras and Becker really changed the way Tennis is played along with Courier and Agassi.

Tennis old man
03-12-2008, 09:33 AM
The return was because economics reasons, and he's not Superman to get through a decade without play tennis...

ohlori
03-15-2008, 04:30 AM
The return was because economics reasons, and he's not Superman to get through a decade without play tennis...

But if Borg had grown up with graphite rackets with a larger headsize it would have been a lot easier for him to compete.

hoodjem
03-15-2008, 05:41 AM
Great post Cyborg I totally agree. I always thought only two players from the wood era could hang with the likes Agassi's, Becker's, etc... They were Connors and Lendl.
Mac also made the transition quite well, and is still playing at a very high level. Though I would agree that he has a wood-based game, still--S & V and touch..

AndrewD
03-15-2008, 06:06 AM
Mac also made the transition quite well

McEnroe made the transition but so did guys like Pat Cash, Yannick Noah, Miloslav Mecir (who never stopped using a wooden racquet), Guy Forget, Henri Leconte, Brad Gilbert, etc, etc. They made the transition to graphite (Cash, Noah, Mecir and Forget actually won their first pro events using a standard size wood racquet) and were more than capable of hanging in there with the likes of Agassi and Becker.

Cup8489
03-15-2008, 06:50 AM
Excellent post.

The 1990 US Open semifinal between Sampras and McEnroe is a fanstastic match and a fantastic example. Sampras drove McEnroe potty for 2hrs and 30 minutes with his abaility to hit winners from anywhere, return winners at will and still hit lines on 1st and 2nd serves. And unlike 1989 against Wilander, Pete hardly made any unforced errors in this whole match playing this style of Tennis! So if someone could do those things and make fewer than 25 unforced errors in 2 hrs and 30 minutes then you really have no chance and as Wilander says, Sampras and Becker really changed the way Tennis is played along with Courier and Agassi.

speaking of which...:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_w7setNqAA

CyBorg
03-15-2008, 08:15 AM
McEnroe made the transition but so did guys like Pat Cash, Yannick Noah, Miloslav Mecir (who never stopped using a wooden racquet), Guy Forget, Henri Leconte, Brad Gilbert, etc, etc. They made the transition to graphite (Cash, Noah, Mecir and Forget actually won their first pro events using a standard size wood racquet) and were more than capable of hanging in there with the likes of Agassi and Becker.

They made the transition, but they were mostly playing other contemporaries who also made the same transition. Once a new generation emerged which actually grew up with graphite then everything changed. We're talking Agassi and the likes.

chiru
03-15-2008, 09:12 AM
They made the transition, but they were mostly playing other contemporaries who also made the same transition. Once a new generation emerged which actually grew up with graphite then everything changed. We're talking Agassi and the likes.

Sampras/agassi and that gen grew up in their youth playing wood. i get what you mean, these guys all turned pro w/ graphite. i think teh current gen is the first gen that's never hit with a wood racket.

llgc8080
03-16-2008, 02:39 PM
that return don't say much about Bjorn. He's the GOAT!

CyBorg
03-19-2008, 08:50 PM
Sampras/agassi and that gen grew up in their youth playing wood. i get what you mean, these guys all turned pro w/ graphite. i think teh current gen is the first gen that's never hit with a wood racket.

Well, hold on. Yes, they used wood, but in their most important development years (mid-teens) they were already using graphite. Because of this they developed radically different games - games that were much more ideal for the equipment. Agassi's strokes were ideal for graphite, perfectly molded during a vital learning period. Most of the 80s stars, however, were woodie guys who learned to play with graphite somewhere half-way and you could see many of them still playing an old style that was already going out of fashion.

1970 seems to be a breakthrough birthdate. That would mean that the world of tennis switched to graphite when Agassi was in his early teens.

Zimbo
03-19-2008, 08:57 PM
Well, hold on. Yes, they used wood, but in their most important development years (mid-teens) they were already using graphite.

Unlike those who came before them - the guys who were born in the 60s.

Good point Cyborg.

Where would you place guys like Edberg and Becker? Guys like Noah, Leconte, Wilander, and Lendl I would place in the wood era and later learned to play with graphite.

CyBorg
03-20-2008, 09:22 AM
Good point Cyborg.

Where would you place guys like Edberg and Becker? Guys like Noah, Leconte, Wilander, and Lendl I would place in the wood era and later learned to play with graphite.

Edberg and Becker are exceptions somewhat I think and were both somewhere in between. Becker seemed like a perfect hybrid - a power player who could serve and volley aggressively, but also often stayed back and played from the baseline when he wanted to.

Becker seemed a bit stuck between a rock and a hard place. He tried all his life to win on clay and couldn't, I think largely because the baseline game changed so much and he stubbornly tried to beat guys at their own game, which means that he stayed back and I don't think he was consistent enough a baseliner to do this.

Edberg's style is what makes him exceptional. The switch from wood to graphite really changed the way guys started hitting the ball from the baseline, but this didn't seem to phase him at all, although Courier gave him quite a bit of trouble.

proracketeer
03-20-2008, 09:58 AM
Wasn't Borg using a standard-sized special made graphite at one point?

garcia_doomer
03-22-2008, 07:27 PM
But if Borg had grown up with graphite rackets with a larger headsize it would have been a lot easier for him to compete.

Totally agree:)

CyBorg
03-22-2008, 10:41 PM
Wasn't Borg using a standard-sized special made graphite at one point?

He switched to graphite during his comeback after struggling badly to begin with.

roundiesee
03-23-2008, 07:49 AM
Can anyone remember which racket (brand and model) Borg used when he played his last match?

string70
03-23-2008, 09:19 AM
He switched to graphite during his comeback after struggling badly to begin with.

His Borg Pro were reinforced with graphite to withstand the string tensions he used.

bluegrasser
03-23-2008, 09:24 AM
that return don't say much about Bjorn. He's the GOAT!

So what - he gave it a try & so be it, he has *11* Grand Slam wins to feel good about, also goes down as one of the all time greats.

CyBorg
03-23-2008, 10:54 AM
His Borg Pro were reinforced with graphite to withstand the string tensions he used.

Thanks for clarifying.

big ted
03-23-2008, 10:41 PM
i think his swings were so big and the ball was coming back too fast during his comeback, esp his followthru. if u watch his backhand now, he flicks it more and rarely lets go with the left hand like he used to so he can prepare for the next shot earlier. plus , i saw him during his comeback in boston and his balls looked like they were floating too much with too much topspin and not enough pace. during his comeback he didnt really have a strength, by the 90's u couldnt win matches just by not missing balls anymore and hitting forever