Amazing things I learned about BORG

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dirkgnuf, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

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    Reading a 1980 TIME article on BJORN, I learned that he possessed a resting heartrate of 38, strung his racquets at 80 lbs, had one of the highest leg strength record among sweedish athletes.
    I do have a qustion though.
    In the article, his technique is described as unorthadox since he hit with topspin. The article attirbuted this to the fact that he never really had formal training as a kid, so he imitated ping-pong players(his dad was one) and hit with whippy motions. His coach even got a specially balanced racquet that would encourage him to stop using so much wrist. What I'd like to know is whether his technique was already something that was around, or was it more something that he seems to have invented. Also, how accurate are the facts in the article?
    Link to the article is:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,924275,00.html
     
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  2. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    There's a lot of speculation about who invented the modern stroke, but if anyone did, it was Borg.

    With the racquets used back then, topspin shots allow for little margin for error and the weight of those racquets wasn't considered suitable for the wrist. Borg proved all of this wrong. Borg was the father of modern tennis. Lendl followed as perhaps the godson.
     
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  3. LttlElvis

    LttlElvis Professional

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    Yes, I believe the article is factual. I actually have that original Time magazine. I was a big Borg fan when I was 14.

    His technique was pretty unusual for that time. He used big loopy topspin strokes and hit with an open stance. Both those techniques were really frowned upon by instructors at the time. Everyone wanted to hit like him, but tennis instructors wouldn't teach that way.

    The article also had the typical cartoony Time graphics. One showing the effects of topspin versus traditional strokes. It showed how Borg could hit harder than most players, yet keep the ball in because of his spin. ( This is very well known now, but at the time I don't think anyone used heavy topsin to the extent of Borg. Maybe Vilas, but Borg was just on another level ).

    As far as conditioning, Borg had to be one of the most fit pros at the time. I think in a Superstars sprint competition he actually won it beating an Olympic hurdler.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2006
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Topspin was invented resp. really practiced in the 60s. Players like Laver, Santana, later Okker began to hit all the shots or the greatest part with topspin. On European clay they began to hit from an open stance. But Borg was the first to hit with an extreme western grip, and with extreme rotation . He came from ping-pong and ice-hockey.While the US top players like Evert or Connors played more a hard court adapted flat style (also with dh backhands), the Europeans and South Americans used extreme topspin on their favorite surface, clay. They had the advantage, that many events in the USA were played on clay-like surfaces. So topspin became the dominant style of the 70s, even adapted by US players like Solomon or Dibbs.
     
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  5. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

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    A few questions.
    I recall reading somewhere that Borg's grip was exterme eastern/mild western?
    Also, I'm assuming that Borg's technique was half self-learned/taught, but the former more so than the latter?
     
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  6. eunjam

    eunjam Rookie

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    i read/saw somewhere that he got his stroke from hitting hockey pucks.
     
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  7. Bjorn99

    Bjorn99 Professional

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    Cyborg was created to play tennis. No sane person buys that theory that he got started with a tennis racquet won at a ping pong tournament, do they?
     
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  8. LowProfile

    LowProfile Professional

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    I've often heard that Borg's unorthodox two-to-one handed backhand was modeled after his hockey slapshot.
     
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  9. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    While it's probably true, I've never seen any hockey player finish a slap shot with 1 hand on the stick, and I've been playing since the age of 6.
     
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  10. Take2

    Take2 New User

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    Borg hit his forehand with a semi-western grip...which, at the time, was considered extreme. The true extreme western grip came later along with poly strings and light-powerful rackets. The "moonballs" that Borg, Vilas and Wilander hit were actually very heavy balls.

    We all copied Borg's strokes back in the day, so open-stances and heavy topspin were at all the public courts and junior tournaments back in the late 70s.

    I do think Borg is the father of the modern topspin game. And, since someone mentioned Lendl, it's been said here before that he invented the inside-out forehand.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2006
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  11. Amone

    Amone Hall of Fame

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    Actually, while uncommon, it did happen, albiet not with the big-name players. Apparently, there were a number of semiwestern players as far back as Tilden's days in the 20s. Kumagae, for instance. Not many, but there were a very few.
     
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  12. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    Bjorn Borg was the first world class player to hit the modern forehand. Nobody of any consequence hit the ball with an open stance, table tennis loop forehand before him. The extreme topspin and unusual bouncing heavy ball was what separated Borg's forehand from Laver, Santana, European clay court specialists and pre-WWII western forehands such as Kumagae and Little Bill Johnston. Another thing, Borg was 15 when he first burst on the scene.

    Lendl didn't invent the inside out forehand. I saw matches where Borg ran into the backhand doubles alley and hit inside-out forehand winners. Forehand dominant players such as Frank Froehling used the inside-out forehand back in the 60s.

    BTW, I think that Andre Agassi is the inventor of the modern game as he was one of the first to exploit the advantages of carbon fiber racquets with his catch the ball on the rise, power groundstroke game. Hoad, McEnroe, Mecir and others did it too but not with the power of Agassi.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2006
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  13. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

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    I'm still amazed by his extremely low heart rate and amazing fitness, but I guess most of the players of today are in similar shape?
     
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  14. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Good points, especially about Hoad.
    Of course Borg brought topspin to the people and Lendl made superb fitness a pre-req for tennis, but let's not forget the violent topspins of Laver and Nastase and the majestic and illegible one-handed backhand topspin lobs and passes that oozed from the frame of the great Manolo Santana.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2006
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  15. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    From what I remember, topspin was just a natural evolution in tennis. Nastase, definetly a precursor to Borg, had everyone in awe because he could hit a backhand topspin lob on the dead run. Nastase also used a big topspin forehand to put his opponents in trouble. I think Nastase's idol was Pancho Gonzalez. I'm not sure if Gonzalez hit with top, but Nastase grew up on red clay and probably learned it there.

    Borg's slapshot backhand was more an invention of the press (see one Bud Collins) than anything else. The press went on to say that Agassi's forehand looked like a punch (his father was an Olympic boxer for Iran), Courier's backhand looked like a baseball player's batting swing (Courier wass a big Reds fan). Borg's backhand was unusual because prior to Borg, not many players had two-handed backhands. Borg, Connors, and Evert arrived on the scene at around the same time all sporting two-handers.

    Borg's fitness was legendary. The matches back then had longer rallies and lasted longer than today, especially on clay. Lendl has said in an interview that tennis then was more akin to a marathon while today it's closer to being like s sprint.
     
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  16. nickarnold2000

    nickarnold2000 Hall of Fame

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    Every tennis player's nightmare - strings breaking by themselves while you're sleeping!
     
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  17. Bjorn99

    Bjorn99 Professional

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    Evert apparently was very unlike her public image. Meow.
     
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  18. dpfrazier

    dpfrazier Rookie

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    Are these non sequiturs? Or are you two implying that Borg's very-tightly-strung racquet strings would break when he slept with Chris Evert? :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Ping pong anyone ??? :)

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  20. MLoutch

    MLoutch Rookie

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    Jim Courier a few weeks back was here in Houston for his senior tour event and was doing the rounds on local Tv and talk radio - on three different shows Courier was asked which past player he looked "up to". well Jim stated:cool: that Borg was his "tennis God" for achieving the grand 3 - Jim said that Borg in the 70's had slept with ALL 3 Charlie's Angels - Farrah, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith!!! He didn't get to elaborate if it was all at once or one at a time!
    Borg - the legend continues.
     
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  21. Eli_Ace

    Eli_Ace Rookie

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    They said he also tried to kill himself on sleeping pills...
     
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  22. emerckx53

    emerckx53 Semi-Pro

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    Extrememly low heart rates are not always a factor of fitness. Yes, in general terms more fitness means lower HR but much of it is natural. There are some absolute cardio monsters in professional cycling that have resting Hr's in the mid 40's and they could crush someone like borg in cardio fitness....resting and max HR's vary from person to person.....
     
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  23. emerckx53

    emerckx53 Semi-Pro

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    Mick,

    Your Borg stuff rocks......I was the biggest Borg fan on earth! I was self taught and learned by watching Borg play on TV....I had my bedroom walls plastered with Borg photos, I even tried to walk like him on the court, used both models of Donnays, even had like 6 Donnay Allwoods in my bag when I was a senior in high school! begged for Fila pin stripes from my parents, I even used the Bancroft Borg Auto woodie prior to the Donnay's...even strung them as tight as his, the right hand and thumb wrapped in tape... Bjorn was the dogs bollocks!....I was the Minnesota version of Borg! If you have any great photos I would be very grateful. love to have some desktop shots!

    madair@fastmail.fm
     
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  24. emerckx53

    emerckx53 Semi-Pro

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    Mick,

    See my post just above...
     
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  25. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Nice! I only have 3 Donnay rackets :)

    I got those pics from this website . Lots of cool Borg pics there, some I saw for the first time. Check it out :)

    http://bjornborgfanforever1.free.fr/cariboost1/
     
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  26. emerckx53

    emerckx53 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks..it was priceless..
     
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  27. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    No Problem :)

    I probably was not as big of a Borg fan as you were but i recall my tennis buddies used to call me Bjorn Borgno (porno) [​IMG]
     
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  28. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Did we settle on what kind of grips Borg used? And also, what about the grips used by Laver and Nastase to create their topspin as mentioned above?
     
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  29. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    #29
  30. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, and do not forget Zenzo Shimizu (and his contemporaries). Of course they would have lost to Borg by scores like 6-negative 3, 6-negative 2, 6-0.
     
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  31. PimpMyGame

    PimpMyGame Hall of Fame

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    The sign of a real sportsman - they don't make them like that too often nowadays. Very cool.
     
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  32. civic

    civic New User

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    I bet Borg was Lendl's main idol. In terms of fitness, Lendl definitely followed Borg's path, and it's probably why Lendl became so successful at the French Open.
     
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  33. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  34. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    As has been noted here, there were plenty of players who used western gripped/ heavy topspin forehands before Borg.

    Interestingly, Nick B. says that his teaching of the "killer forehand",which really was the stroke that has changed the game, came from Jimmy Arias.

    Who would have thought! I remember reading someplace that after seeing Arias as a 12 year old, Bollettieri changed his view of the stroke and started teaching the "arias" forehand which became the Bollettieri forehand that he in turn taught to all of his celebrated students.

    JND28
     
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  35. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Interesting. My bother was constantly being told by the High School tennis coach that he was going to hurt his wrist becuase he hit with an open stance and western grip off his back foot. Our coach was always trying to get him to hit with a closed stance and with more traditional grip and this was in 1988! of course our coach was in his 50's and from the old school
     
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  36. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Yeah, but who of note? Borg reached number one playing this new style.
     
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  37. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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  38. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Until the last few years, when I began revisiting Bjorn Borg's legacy, etc. , I did not realize that he had such great success playing for the Swedish Davis Cup Team. Check this out:

    "At the age of 14, Borg left school to devote all his time to tennis. It paid off, and at 15 he was selected for the Swedish Davis Cup team; by 16 he was Wimbledon Junior Champion."

    Now that is a "prodigy" as others on this website have mentioned.

    See his Davis Cup Record. He led Sweden to the Davis Cup win in 1975. His Davis Cup record was 37-3 from 1972-1980.

    From: http://www.daviscup.com/teams/player.asp?player=10002258
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
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  39. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I suppose there was a confluence of events that led to Borg's retirement, including some burnout due to his meteoric rise and then all that winning, but let's not forget this big reason. He most definitely did not just "run away from the game" because he was afraid of other players. That couldn't be farther from the truth in my opinion and greatly discounts this guy after he proved so much and raised the popularity of the game more than anyone before him and more than anyone ever since. He brought tennis to the "masses" and in the words of one British commentator he took tennis out of just the country club set and made it something interesting for the working person.

    "Borg chose not to follow the entire world-wide tour, insisting on a long vacation. This decision brought him into conflict with the men’s tennis council in 1982, and some believe this was part of his decision to retire early, aged only 27."


    See full text for the excerpt just above and for the excerpt from the post above:
    http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biography_story/284:93/1/Bjorn_Borg.htm
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
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  40. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    You guys have to watch this video, it includes Borg/McEnroe hitting just a few years ago, but I did not realize that at 19, McEnroe was so grateful that Borg was the first guy to "take him under his wing". That's an amazing quality and says a whole lot about Borg. Anyway, hear McEnroe talk about "the hell with everyone else".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw

    These guys are like brothers now...
     
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  41. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    Lets see...Bill Johnston reached number one in the world and won two US championships and a Wimbledon title. He's in the Hall of Fame. I think that qualifies as player of note.
     
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  42. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    From when 1928? He played like Borg? Borg spawned the generation of heavy topspin back court guys. Not Bill Johnston
     
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  43. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    Actually he was #1 I believe in 1919. My point in the first post was that Borg was not the first western gripped heavy topspin player. There were plenty before him. Some really good ones at that. The other point was that the modern forehand game can be attributed more to Nick Bolllettieri than it can be to Borg.

    My point by the is not meant in anyway to minimize the greatness of Borg. He was great and I can see why some might argue the best ever. But for people to say he was the first western gripped topspin player and to give him credit for the modern topspin game is simply not supported by the actual history of the game.

    JND28
     
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  44. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Borg is the forefather of the modern game period
     
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  45. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    I guess because you say so I have to believe it regardless of the actual facts.
    Thanks for your well thought out and supported perspective.

    JND28
     
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  46. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I say so? It's been common knowledge that Borg invented it and then Lendl added the power.
     
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  47. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    Gee, I must have missed that memo. If you say that it is generally accepted i guess I can put it in the category of a flat earth and using leaches for medical purposes.

    I base my POV on actually following the history of the game.

    Sorry

    JND28
     
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  48. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Guys, I tend to think that you can argue this point both ways actually. From reading about past greats, there were definitely several players that could hit massive amounts of topspin, to combat the original tendency for players to simply "cut" or "slice" the ball to death (esp. on grass, that makes sense).

    Yet, my view is that Borg tended to take it to the next level during the Open Era, which greatly influenced so many of the modern players, who of course, grew up watching Borg. So, he has had a huge impact on the modern game. There has been a slow evolution with the use of topspin over time. I don't mean to imply that Borg was the very first player to successfully use topspin (think Vilas during just Borg's time), but he did revolutionize the Open era with his use of it, thus impacting so may youngsters growing up. These players (like Lendl) grew up watching him and then, with modern frames, found the use of topspin to be such a perfect "fit". Thanks for the insights. The history of the game is fascinating though. In that thread started by Borgforever, which alludes to so much of the history of the game, I was struck by the fact that in this book, from perhaps the early 20th century (year?) one of the first sentences states that there is great debate over whether the "modern players" are better than the players of old. That's amazing, they were having the same debate back then that we are having now! Oh how the wheel spins. The history of this game is quite fascinating indeed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
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  49. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    points well taken..For the record It was not my intention to say that old school players were better than modern players - or visa versa. The players get to play against who they play against and I happen to believe that the best in whatever era in whatever sport would be able to compete with the modern versions. That aside, my main issue is the belief that tennis history prior to 1970 for some, 1980 for others, 1990, for a few and 2005 for the least informed did not exist. To say that no player of note hit with a western topspin forehand is the only evidence needed that the poster is clueless to the history of the game.

    I also maintain that during borgs era there were tons of heavy topspin players. Pecci, Pannata, Vilas, Nastase are just a few that come to mind. Lendl is only 4 years younger than Borg so I doubt that he was pinning for Borgs game to the extent mentioned here.

    Maybe its the lack of definition of the modern game that is at issue. Yes Lendl took fitness to a high level. Maybe even as high as Roy Emerson. He hit a big forehand maybe as big as Hoad. He may even been as quick as Segura but I doubt it.

    JND28
     
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  50. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Good point as far as Lendl, with just a 4 year difference he was too young, so his shots were already well established by Borg's time. I have another person especially in mind. Again, see this fascinating forehand comparison. It always blows me away. Federer, I think, must have watched Borg quite a bit, especially being Swiss. Check this out, and if you've already seen it, excuse my indulgence. In my opinion, Federer has a BEAUTIFUL topspin forehand, as does Nadal (which is more "violent" no doubt), but Borg's is even more impressive to see (IMO). Check out the positioning of 2 of the game's greats. You could use these in a tennis lesson, but man do you have to talent and racquet head speed. With this discussion, Think..accelerating through the strike zone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31IYa7VsZYg

    Now see some footage of a well past his prime Rocket Rod Laver giving Connors fits as well. I do detect some topspin for sure from Laver. What a historic match up! :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcRN...F839BA24&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=29
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
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