Björn Borg great at AKAI nov 1982

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Borgforever, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Dan Maskell said after that Borg vs. Gerulaitis 1977 Wimbledon semi final:

    "A fabulous match, a really fabulous match. I really believe it's one of the greatest, if not the greatest match, I've ever seen at Wimbledon. Unbelievable".
     
  2. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Imagine trying to beat Tanner when he's playing like that on the fast Centre Court, playing with a small wood frame, while Tanner has a metal PDP. Doesn't sound too fun to me. That match was very close and Borg had to come up with some splendid stuff to pull out the match.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLVnrUKL8yY ('79 Wimbledon Final, last games)
     
  3. WCT

    WCT Rookie

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    The racket came out of Borg's hand once that match. I have 2 other 78 Connors/Borg matches where he loses the racket once.

    I addressed this earlier in the thread.
    Do not misunderstand this as me saying the thumb did not bother Borg because I certainly think it did. I just think how it bothered him is sometimes mirepresented it.

    It wasn't Borg with mishits all over the place, Borg can't hit with any authority.
    Say it before and I'll say it again, nd I just charted the match a couple months back.

    Up until that point. I'm not including any matches afterward. Up until that match, it was consistently the hardest I had ever seen Borg hit against Connors.
    Thing is, he's also missing way more than he usually did.

    The match stats were done for this match by Krosero or Moose. Look a the winner difference between the 2 players in this match compared to their 1976 match.

    Borg ran Connors a lot this match. A lot more than he did him in any of the Pepsi matches where he pretty much let Connors make the errors. More than in the 76 US Open final.

    Newcombe comments on it middle of the second or arly thord set. Just how hard Borg is hitting the ball. Again, though, he is missing way more than normal.

    This is about the third time I've said this, I think. The first set is really good tennis. I'm not saying Borg is at his best, but it isn't until midway/later in the second that his game really tails off.

    Connors played great that day, and perhaps I'm a bit too defensive. Borg as the favorite I agree with, but not overwhelming just because he was healthy. There were other factors in Connors favor like the surface. But we'll never know. What we do know is that Connors never beat him, in regular tournament play, after this match. Whatever I might think about that 78 match, I can't deny that it is a pretty compelling argument for those who think a healthy Borg would have won that day.

    I also don't subscribe to the Connors in New York, with that crowd on his side, is as near unbeatable as some here think. Crowd was crazy for Connors in that 80 semi, that 81 semi, that 84 semi, that 85 semi. He didn't win any of those matches. At some point, you actually have to be able to beat the other guy.

    PC, I'm going to have to look at that 80 Wimbledon again. I remember it more favorably than you do(and I have seen it since 1980). Borg/Gerulaitis, total agreement. Tremendous level of play in that match.
     
  4. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Excellent overview of the '78 US Open final. You've watched it more closely than me very recently. This is what I recall about Borg losing his racquet, if I'm not mistaken. He is serving and the racquet flies out of his hand. When that happens, Summerall and Trabert comment about the injury he has sustained and they mention either the hand or thumb, saying that he has been receiving treatment. If he was going for more, perhaps he wanted to try and keep the points shorter, thus leading to many more unforced errors. I agree with you though, it's never a "gimme" when it comes to beating Connors at the US Open. Thanks.
     
  5. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    There was another theory on Borg's loss in those days: That his close friend, the F1 race-driver Ronnie Peterson had died in an accident the day before at Monza, and that Borg was shocked about this loss.
     
  6. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Interesting Urban, that adds some more context to that '78 final. Thanks for your insight into that. It says on a Ronnie Peterson website (he was a Swedish F1 driver, neighbor of Borg's in Monte Carlo) that Peterson died on Sept. 11, so that would have been right near the end of the tournament. That's tough to deal with for any player, but I suppose you have to try and block something like that out, which would not be easy. Then, you have the thumb problem. Of course, Bjorn Borg, being the player he was, did not make a big deal about either of these things after the final. He gave Connors all the credit and basically said well, Connors played too well.

    http://www.ronniepeterson.se/subc/eng/orframe.html
     
  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Connors won the US Open 5 times.

    McEnroe and Borg had to play some of their very best matches to beat Connors at the US Open, Orantes in 1975 and Vilas in 1977 too. In the 1985 semi against Lendl, Connors sprained his ankle in the morning on the day of that match and was noticeably limping during the match. Hardly surprising that Lendl won that in straight sets.
     
  8. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ronnie Peterson died from pulmonary embolism the day after breaking his legs during the 1978 Italian Grand Prix.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    WCT,

    I don't think Connors was unbeatable in New York. But as a person who view Connors numerous times in New York, at Forest Hills and Flushing Meadow at the US Open I understand the tough tasks that await his opponents when they play him. In Flushing especially Connors was very well loved by the New York crowd. I was near courtside for the 1983 US Open Final and I could see Lendl very closely. You could see he was disturbed by the noisy crowd which was against him. It's very tough to play against that and the very strong play of Jimmy Connors.

    The 1980 Wimbledon final to me was exciting but it had too many errors and frankly the first set was horribly played by Borg. The first set was very one sided in favor of McEnroe at 6-1 I believe. The second set wasn't any great shakes either in my mind. It's the tiebreak and the close final set that people remember.

    Borg was injured when he played the 1980 Wimbledon final. According to Bill Scanlon Borg had a torn stomach muscle. I am not certain if the stomach muscle was torn but Borg clearly wasn't at top level.

    The 1977 Wimbledon match against Gerulaitis to me was high quality for five sets.
     
  10. vllaznia

    vllaznia Semi-Pro

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    I have some questions why Borg did not participate regularly at the Australian open.

    When Laver won the calendar slam in 1962 and 1969 was it considered a great feat as it considered today at that time?

    If it was considered a great feat having a calendar slam at that time why Borg did not participate at the Australian open?
     
  11. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Borg said that he deliberately avoided the Australian Open because he felt there were too many tournaments and that it was held at a horrible time of the year. He also said he'd have only gone down there again if he had won the first 3 majors of a calendar year. That's why many Australians would cheer Borg on to win the US Open. In 1978, even Connors was promising to follow Borg to the ends of the earth to stop him completing the calendar year Grand Slam, so had Borg won the 1978 US Open, Connors and Borg would have gone down to the Australian Open.

    It was considered a big achievement, yes, especially in 1969 during the open era. There was a lot less media in sports in those days in general, so the hype was nowhere near the same as today.

    Politics, poor prize money, poor tournament facilities and the tournament being held at a horrible time of year. Between 1977-1985, the Australian Open was the last slam of the year, and Borg would have gone down there if he had won the first 3 slams of a calendar year. As Borg never managed to win the US Open, it never happened.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  12. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    -Connors played it twice I believe in '74 and '75, but not after that.
    -McEnroe only played it starting in 1983 (SF). He played it 4 more times after that, with '92 being his last visit.
    -Borg played it once in 1974, lost, and did not play it again.
    -The tourney had lost considerable prestige by the mid to late 1970's.
    -Sponsor problems? Not sure.
    -There were some complaints about the grass courts at the AO during the 1970's (not certain, this is very debatable)
    -If Borg would have won the US Open in 1978, 1980, or 1981, he would have played the AO to attempt to complete the CYGS. Furthermore, McEnroe/Connors would have likely followed him there.
    -SCheduling of the AO was a factor. I believe it was often scheduled around Christmas back then, so players didn't like that either. On top of all of this, the Grand Prix Masters and WCT YEC often were a primary focus of the top players at the end of the year, and were in effect major tourneys. The fields were very tough and the prize money/crowds were very big. TV coverage also followed those events, and not the AO.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpgAKQ3dQfg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jZmFMUGTTU

    At the Masters tourneys in NY held in Jan. of 1980 and 1981, Borg won both titles, going 5-0 against Lendl, McEnroe, and Connors. They were all focused on tourneys such as that one. The AO just was not on the radar screen of the very top players at that time. It was very different than today.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  13. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Borg played the Australian Open in 1974, losing in the Round of 16 to Phil Dent.

    Connors won the Australian Open on his debut in 1974, and was runner-up in 1975. He never played at the Australian Open again after 1975.

    McEnroe played there in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1992, his best result being a semi final in 1983.
     
  14. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  15. vllaznia

    vllaznia Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for the responses, i know probably it has been asked several time but i was just curios, still i think they should have played it after all it was/is a slam.
     
  16. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Thanks for that rundown of exact years that they played there Mustard. The AO is an interesting piece of the puzzle back then.
     
  17. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    You're welcome vllaznia. Thank you.
     
  18. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I remember that; I was looking forward to the match and there was some question if Connors was even going to play. But, he taped it up and went out there...just too tough a task to beat Lendl on an ankle that's not 100% . In '87 Lendl played stellar tennis to beat Mac and Jimmy back to back (quarters and semis)....Jimmy was playing very well that year. Aside from 1986, Connors always seemed to bring his A-game to the USO at Flushing.

    And Borg, just like Lendl at Wimbledon, was plain unlucky. Sometimes, you just need a few things to fall the right way...never did happen for Bjorn (or Ivan) and the competition was just too good.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  19. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I have immense respect for Connors. Great, tough player. Many have no idea how good that guy was! Smart too. Another tough one for him was when he had to retire from that Chang match at the French. Connors would do anything to physically win a match. He gave it all he had, all the time. Beating him in majors was no easy task.
     
  20. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Lendl was a better player than Connors during the 1987 US Open semi final. Connors was well past his prime by then at 35 years of age, whereas Lendl was 27 and the number 1 player in the world by that point. This is in contrast to 1985, as at that point Lendl still hadn't totally shed the "choker in slams" label until he won that years US Open with a fantastic and surprising win over McEnroe in the final. After Lendl beat Connors in the 1985 US Open semi final, Connors said afterwards that McEnroe would win the final because Lendl "never delivers in the big ones when it matters" and that Lendl's level of play would drop and that he would lose his fourth US Open final in a row. Most agreed with that assessment, but Lendl took a great career leap by winning that final against McEnroe whereas McEnroe was never really the same again.

    People mention the 1984 French Open final and how Lendl won his first major by coming back from 2 sets down against McEnroe in McEnroe's dominant 1984 year, but the 1985 US Open final was even more crucial to both players.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  21. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Yes, Lendl was favored in that FO final, whereas McEnroe was expected to defend his "home turf".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Cx9L7BXNdE
     
  22. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    McEnroe was heavily favoured in the 1984 French Open final too, as he was undefeated in 1984 at that stage. His last loss had been to Wilander in the 1983 Australian Open semi finals. McEnroe led 10-8 in his head-to-head with Lendl at that stage, having won 8 of the last 9, including 2 drubbings on clay in the finals of 1984 Forest Hills and the 1984 World Team Cup where McEnroe won 6-4, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-2 respectively.

    The 1984 French Open final was not the major turning point. McEnroe continued to dominate 1984 despite that French Open setback, and Lendl lost more slam finals at the 1984 US Open to McEnroe and the 1985 French Open to Wilander, which saw the "choker in slams" label making a resurgence towards Lendl. On the other hand, after Lendl's surprise win over McEnroe in the 1985 US Open final where he finally showed huge and unquestionable bottle on the big stage, Lendl's career went up and up while McEnroe lost his number 1 ranking and never regained it. Neither did McEnroe reach another slam final.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  23. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Mustard, McEnroe was very hot, agreed, but I for one was not expecting him to beat Lendl in that final. Not on red clay, best of five sets. So, when you say McEnroe was favored to win that FO, do you mean by the oddsmakers and writers/experts alike? Lendl was very good on red clay and best of five sets is completely different, obviously. Did you think McEnroe would take that final?
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  24. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    You expected Lendl to beat McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final? McEnroe was 42-0 in 1984 going into that French Open final with Lendl, and McEnroe had only lost 5 sets in those 42 matches. The 2 other matches they had had against other on clay in 1984 were one-sided in McEnroe's favour.
     
  25. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Yes, seriously Mustard, I remember that match well. I was practicing that morning (group drill) and watching the match when we had the chance. I hadn't followed every tournament going into the FO (the streak you cited), because I was busy, but I was thinking, Lendl on red clay vs. McEnroe best of five? I think Lendl is likely to win, even though McEnroe had been great that year so far, and this is before his great Wimbledon '84 showing. I was surprised when McEnroe was up two sets to love. I thought the match would go like sets 4-5, but McEnroe actually played great for 2 1/2 sets. Lendl showed a lot of grit there. For example, Lendl beat him there back in 1981 as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHDvVmK3Wjg (1981)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnjDlgXxyFM (1984)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  26. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I think the general feeling was that McEnroe would win comfortably, and it certainly sounds that way when I watch the match on DVD. He had been dominant for months, even in clay-court matches, barely losing any sets. Lendl had the reputation of being unable to win the big ones as he had an 0-4 record in slam finals. McEnroe said recently that he still has nightmares over this loss.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1122186/index.htm
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  27. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    No question that Lendl was Top Dog in 1987; what is much forgotten is that Connors, at the time, was the #1 US player...which was kind of scary for the future of US tennis! Mac was off in therapy, or rehab, I suppose.

    I don't know about the "choker" label at that point...I mean, the RG win in '84 was huge for his reputation. It changed my feelings about him, to some extent. But, I guess he had yet to prove himself at the USO; in '84, he couldn't touch Mac, even tho' Mac had played 4+hrs the night before in beating Connors. I thought for sure that Mac would be exhausted and Lendl would crush him...did not happen!

    In fact, I DID expect Mac to successfully defend in '85 and he just played a completely flat match. Lendl was VERY sharp that day. Even w/out the bum ankle, I did not think Connors would have beaten Lendl in the semis that year....Lendl was playing very well and Connors had not won a single event, despite reaching semis at RG and W. This was the beginning of his 4yr title drought.

    I actually thought Connors was sharper in '87, despite being older--but, Lendl was at the top of his game throughout the tournament. Having watched him decimate Mac, it was clear that Connors was a long-shot in the semis (on grass, I might've felt differently, but not here).
     
  28. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Rg '84

    Will never forget this one; I left to go to a picnic with Mac up 2 sets; was horrified to come back and he was in the midst of losing the 5th set...I was incredulous (well, I used a flurry of 4 letter words, to be more specific). Mac well should have nightmares about that one...he did lose some heart-breakers for sure, I'd put the 80 and 82 wimby finals on that list as well. But, the '84 RG final was nightmarish...even to watch.
     
  29. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Before the match started, did you think McEnroe would win?
     
  30. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I attribute that reversal of roles more to McEnroe's decline due to drug use than to ascension on the part of Lendl.
     
  31. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Even if that's true, Lendl was professional off the court while McEnroe wasn't.
     
  32. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    so, was the turning point more about McEnroe falling back or Lendl pushing ahead? In '84, Lendl's French win was a big deal...but, yes, it is true he then went on to lose in the W semis to Connors, the USO final to Mac and the '85 French to Wilander (who played a great match that day)....so, was he still a "choker" or not? I think it's a hard call, really. Mac really did start to slip after the '85 USO, this is true, and Connors was getting o-l-d, so Mats became the toughest competitor for Lendl. In my mind, this is why it's always hard for me to judge Lendl properly, as some of his key competitors "faded away" for one reason or another. I think at his best, Mats was a very strong competitor to Lendl, but his star rose and burned out very fast.
     
  33. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Yes, I did. As others noted, Mac was playing very, very well going into the FO. He had beaten Lendl twice in straight sets on clay prior to the FO and just trounced Connors in straights in the semis, after Connors was ahead in the first set. These were both guys who were considered markedly better than him on this surface, no question. So, you just knew he was at the very top of his game when he was beating these guys on clay, his least favorite, least effective surface. His S&V game was just firing on all cylinders, so you figured if he could keep it up, the FO title was his...and he did...for about 2.5 sets or so..:(
     
  34. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    and you would not be alone in that attribution......Mac did in fact "turn the tables" on Lendl after losing to him in most of their early matches, he began beating him badly...making it look easy..
     
  35. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    A bit of both. The game did become more power orientated during Lendl's best years and McEnroe's head went at a crucial time in tennis when the dynamics were changing. There was an early warning of what was to come when Curren blew McEnroe and Connors away during 1985 Wimbledon and Becker then beat Curren to win Wimbledon as a 17 year old.

    When McEnroe's head was fully back in tennis again, the tennis world had changed somewhat from what it had been when McEnroe was number 1.

    Whether he was or not, the most important thing is that the perception of it was there, and it stubbornly refused to go away until Lendl won the 1985 US Open.
     
  36. jerriy

    jerriy Hall of Fame

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    Lendl favored to win the 1984 final? I Don't think so.

    I think at that moment even at Roland Garros Mac was at least equally favored as his opponent, if not more. Remember that Mac was "Jesus" in 1983-84
     
  37. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    From reading articles from back then, it does look like most thought McEnroe would win. McEnroe is often viewed as the favorite. Yet, I saw that Lendl had beaten McEnroe badly in 1981 (QF) and that he had also reached one FO final already (81). Also, I recalled that Connors had taken the '82 US Open and Wimbledon titles over McEnroe. So, I personally wasn't one of those that was expecting McEnroe to win, but I was a teenager who played juniors. I was not watching McEnroe's runup to the FO in early 1983. I was just thinking Lendl vs. McEnroe on red clay, and let's see how McEnroe does in the majors after 1982. Here's a look back at that match. I thought McEnroe had a good chance, but I thought Lendl was likely to grab his first major.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...nd-mcenroe-vs-lendl-1984-the-big-bad-collapse
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Most experts at the time thought McEnroe was going to win which surprised me considering how strong Lendl was on red clay. You could also tell by the American television commentary that both Bud Collins and Dick Enberg thought McEnroe would win.

    I thought Lendl was going to win. What surprised me was how McEnroe controlled play so easily for the first two sets. A friend of mine talked to some French Tennis experts and they told him that they thought the first couple of sets played by McEnroe that day was the finest tennis on clay they had ever seen. I saw the match on television and have seen it a few times since and I'm not sure if I would go as high as the French experts but McEnroe did play extremely well in the first two sets.

    McEnroe's stamina seemed to go later in the match and his shots seemed to lack the penetration that they had earlier. Perhaps it wasn't the stamina but perhaps McEnroe let things like the television camera get to him.

    I really think if McEnroe won that match he would probably have won the Grand Slam that year.
     
  39. jerriy

    jerriy Hall of Fame

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    ^ That's what i was alluding to in my previous post. Mac's hype was huge at that moment. Lendl's on the other hand wasn't yet (despite his previous appearances in multiples of Slam finals and his track record on clay, Ivan was still regarded as a bit of a new kid on the block in 1984
     
  40. Mustard

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    As I said above, going into the 1984 French Open final, McEnroe was 42-0 in 1984 for the loss of just 5 sets in all. McEnroe had also beaten Lendl in straight sets in both of their first two clay-court matches of 1984, the second of those matches on red clay in Dusseldorf. With those kind of figures, he'd have to be the favourite to win the French Open final.
     
  41. WCT

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    I understand that, I've seen him play there as well. I'm not claiming it doesn't exist, I just think it's overblown sometimes. That you get Connors and another player in that almost gladiator like atmosphere, raucous crowd going crazy for Connors, and he's going to come out on top. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. For every Lendl you've got an Agassi or a Mcenroe or an 81 Borg. This didn't start until 79 or 80. The 74, 76 and 78 crowds were not heavily pro Connors.

    Noone here has to tell me about Jimmy Connors. He was my favorite player for a lot of years. I just think the atmosphere's effect on the other player might sometimes be a bit overblown. A few months back it was speculating Connors against Federer. Let Federer deal with Connors at the open and let's see how he would do in that enviroment etc. etc. aybe he wouldn't have won, but maybe he would have. All I'm saying is a bunch of players faced it and won. That doesn't mean I'm saying there is nothing to it. That was not an easy place to play Connors. I'm guessing that if someone like Borg had his choice that he would choose Wimbledon instead.

    Next time it's on I'll watch it. First set was all Mac, though. No doubt about that.

     
  42. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Good posts WCT. Connors at the US Open was something special, although I will say this, the crowds were pretty fair to Borg in New York. They loved him there too. He had a lot of American fans, so yes, Connors may have had a slight "crowd edge", but not by much really, in my opinion.

    The US Open atmosphere is different, no doubt, and I do think that overall you are right in that he preferred Wimbledon the most. He always emphasized winning at Wimbledon as most important to him. Yet, Borg was no stranger to loud crowds either, given all the situations he had faced over the years. Connors loved the US Open though. That was where he liked to dig in and take on all comers.

    I also agree with you about McEnroe. A 1984 final at the FO against Borg would have been special. Borg would have most likely been playing with a graphite frame too. Given that, I would still go with Borg in that scenario. You are right though, Borg was always there at the FO. Laver made that point in 1981, when he pointed out that basically, McEnroe had the recent edge over Borg on hard courts, but he mentioned that they were basically even on grass courts, and that Borg was clearly still the best clay courter in the world. Furthermore, Borg had won the Masters indoors in Jan. 81, beating McEnroe and Lendl in the process (he was 5-0 in Jan. 80 & Jan. 81 against Lendl, McEnroe and Connors), so he was arguably the best indoor player in 1981 as well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  43. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hello both gentlemen

    I had previously a problem about the dates and couldn’t understand why Borg could be shocked by Peterson’s death before his final match ? Peterson died on Monday, Sept. 11, 1978 as suggested by http://www.ronniepeterson.se/subc/eng/orframe.html while Connors and Borg had already played their final on Sunday, Sept. 10 the day before.
    But now I have the answer : Borg had probably been warned of Ronnie Peterson’s accident at the start of the race which occurred on Sept. 10.
    So Peterson died the next day : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Peterson.
     
  44. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    I think that the 2004 Miami-2005 Miami-2006 Dubai matches all on played on outdoor hard courts have been very important matches in Federer’s career because they set the template of the future Nadal-Federer matches. In those years (it isn’t the case anymore) the outdoor hard surface should have hugely favoured Federer’s game when at the time he was possibly at his peak while Nadal was just an apprentice especially on non-clay courts. However the Spaniard extremely threatened Federer to say the least : in 3 meetings he beat Federer twice and in the 3rd occasion Nadal was just two points short from winning once again.
    On one hand these 3 matches gave a pretty huge confidence to Nadal while they planted seeds of fear in Federer’s mind and 5 months after the Dubai meeting, Nadal, except in the first set, was almost Federer’s equal on (XXIst century “slow”) grass in the 2006 Wimby final. At the time Nadal shouldn’t have won any single set from Federer on grass given their technical abilities then.
    In fact Federer has always too much feared Nadal and except possibly in the 2006&2007 Masters held on fast surface,
    Federer has never played his best against Nadal though they met frequently.
    A confident Federer should have won against Nadal all the matches on non-clay surfaces until 2007 at the possible exception of the 2004 Miami meeting when Fed’ was ill.
    From the start Federer had a complex against Nadal.

    I perfectly know that Federer was sick and out of form (it was well publicized at the time, don’t be afraid)
    but coincidentally it happened when Nadal played, according to himself, his best match of the year 2004.
    And in the future it happened several times again : Nadal has played often his best tennis against Federer while the reverse occurred very rarely.
    Incidentally I regret that Federer didn’t meet Nadal at the 2010 Australian Open (some said that Federer played there as well as ever if not better).
    Perhaps we could have watched for once Federer at his best against Nadal however I am not sure because I am convinced that Fed’ usually overrates Nadal which put the trend of many of their past (and possibly future) encounters. The last example being the 2011 Roland Garros final : there Federer lost 7 successive games including 3 successive service games. Do you really think that the only reason for this big failure is Federer’s technical weakness on the left side ? I don’t. Federer is clearly mentally less strong than some think. Just look at Roger’s attitude to understand that in some critical moments he clearly shows his submission to his opponent : he clearly makes understand that he doesn’t believe in himself whereas Nadal always behaves like a matador when he faces Federer even when the latter leads 5-1 or 5-2 in a set. Nadal has won sets against Federer in such situations whereas Federer never has (perhaps in a close future, Nadal, against Djokovic, will behave as Federer does against the Spaniard).
     
  45. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Given your answer I understand that I should have been very more precise by comparing the Connors-Borg and Federer-Nadal rivalries. These rivalries were comparable because of the players’ difference of age and their respective rankings. Connors was almost 4 years older than Borg and Federer is almost 5 years older than Nadal which is comparable. At the start of each rivalries the former player (Connors, Federer) was the #1 playing at his peak and the latter (Borg, Nadal) was an ascending very promising player. This is what I meant as comparable rivalries.
    But before continuing my argument here I will answer to your 3 points.
    1 I don’t think that Rafa in 2007 was at his peak because in 2008 and 2010 he was clearly better.
    2 I agree with it. Yes Borg had a mental block while Rafa hadn’t
    but there is another difference also :
    On one hand Federer, though older, in his prime and endowed with a more complete game, wasn’t confident in the 2004-2007 years against Nadal, younger, not in his prime (especially a mean serve at the time) and with a less varied game. So it was easier for Nadal not to suffer from a mental block because Federer simply feared the Spaniard.
    On the other hand Connors with a huge self-confidence (not to say much arrogance and lack of respect) against everyone in 1974-75-76, without any exception, including Nastase and Orantes against whom he won several matches though both Mediterranean players had clearly showed to the world Connors’ technical weaknesses.
    So it explains in part why Borg had a mental block.
    The Swede then had to compete a rival clearly more confident
    than the Spaniard had.
    3 I also agree with the fact that Federer was more competitive than Connors when both faced respectively Borg at his peak and Rafa at his peak.
    But here too there is a difference in my opinion :
    Rafa even in 2010 was less complete than Borg at his peak, especially at the net where the Swede was truly more efficient than the Spaniard.
    So it is easier to Fed to rival Nadal than it was to Connors to threat Borg.
    However I completely agree that Federer has clearly a better stroke equipment than Connors, explaining in part why Federer is more competitive than Jimbo ever was.
    What I meant by comparing Connors-Borg and Federer-Nadal
    is that Connors “made the job” while Federer didn’t.
    As long as Connors was “potentially” better than Borg (until more or less 1976) the American won almost all his matches against the Swede
    Whereas Federer (“potentially” better than Nadal until 2007) didn’t and lost more often than he won.
    If Federer, in Rome 2006, had had Connors’ confidence in 1974, Roger would have won one of the two match points in the final.
    Connors was able to beat Borg on slow courts as har-tru clay (Indianapolis 74, USO 75, USO 76) which wasn’t of course as slow as European red clay but clearly slower than in particular the Miami or Dubai hard courts
    however even on those latter medium or medium-fast Federer couldn’t dominate Nadal (Rafa won, as said before, 2 out of 3 meetings and almost won the third one).
    This is why I think Federer didn’t fulfil the expectations in his meetings with Nadal until 2007.

    Other thing about Federer which I wasn’t aware until now :
    In http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2011-01-27/201101271296131542434.html it is claimed that
    Federer … has never come back from two-sets-to-love down against a top 20 opponent”.
    It is perhaps another indication of Federer’s mental “weakness”.
     
  46. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    As often in your replies to some of my posts you are condescending and wrong, Benhur.
    You are behaving as such since the beginning when I told you that 1977 doesn’t CLEARLY belong to Vilas as you claim
    My examples aren’t preposterous
    and I maintain that whenever anyone wanna slightly change his name into a so-called more noble patronymic it is snobbish.
    In other words I don’t see why “Gonzales” had to be changed because in principle it isn’t a pejorative name.
    Given that I read somewhere that Gonzalez was supposed to be more noble than Gonzales then I rightly thought it was snobbish to change this name because I don’t understand why Gonzales would be pejorative and so I don’t see the reason to change it into Gonzalez with a z.
    So on the substance I was and still am right and unlike what you say I’m not snobbish at all.
    However since your answer I have tried to find where I had previously read this supposed difference of nobleness between Gonzales and Gonzalez
    but without success
    so perhaps my memory was wrong and I have no competence at all in Spanish so I can’t claim if that difference is a reality or not.
    Nevertheless I found something else about Gonzales’s motivations :
    in a book called “Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez Tennis Champion” written by Doreen Gonzales who has no family connection with the tennis player.
    Pages 9-10 it reads like this :
    “… Manuel Gonzales (Richard’s father). In Mexico his name was spelled with a z at the end – Gonzalez. In the United States, though the spelling became Gonzales. Manuel Gonzales used the new spelling his entire life and passed down to each of his children. Richard, therefore grew up spelling his last name Gonzales. But around 1970, Richard returned to the Spanish version of his name as an expression of pride in his heritage”
    So apparently (but I’m not so sure) Richard Gonzales decided to recover his father’s name before the latter was “americanized”.
    I also discovered that Gonzales changed his name to Gonzalez at least in 1966 if not earlier
    (and not around 1970 as claimed by Doreen Gonzales)

    And about what Ali asked Patterson I don’t know and frankly I don’t mind because Ali wasn’t the best spirited human being on earth, far from that.
     
  47. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hello pc1,
    I didn’t mean that.
    In a Laver-Dibbs match at Wimby on their peak there were 99,9999999….% of chances that Laver was the winner
    whereas in a dream match between a healthy Borg and Connors at the USO 1978 I would have favoured Borg with, I don’t know, a percentage of about 65%. This means that in my opinion Connors would have, of course 35% of winning.
    In every case I think that Connors would have won at least one set and would have rivalled Borg in most of the other sets,
    while a top Dibbs would have been very probably crushed by a top Laver on grass.
    It is likely that Connors played truly better at the USO ’78 than in 1979 (or at Wimby ’78 ) when Borg used to beat Connors in straight sets. I also think that at the 1982 USO final Connors in the first two sets played better than in 1979, etc…
    Unfortunately Borg didn’t meet Connors in both USO finals.
    I claim that in the 1978 USO final or the 1982 USO final Connors was at his very best on outdoor hard courts, slighltly better than anytime between 1979 and 1981 in particular. I therefore think that this peak Connors could have won at least one set (or more ?) from a peak Borg.
    That a peak Borg would have been a clear favourite in that ’78 USO final I don’t contradict at all.
    What I do not believe is that Borg would have been a heavy favourite with a straight-set win.
    If I had had to bet money before these two USO finals with a Borg healthy (physically in 1978 and mentally in 1982 (not burnt-out))
    of course I would have put it on Borg because as I have always said I think that Borg at his very peak was superior to Connors at his very best. But I guess that if both would have been at their very best the match would have been a close fight and not an easy Borg win as for instance in Las Vegas 1979.

    I’m not convinced by your arguments.
    Federer is possibly the only “long era world #1 player” (5 years including 4 consecutive years, 2004-2007, 2009) in tennis history who was regularly dominated in head-to-head confrontations by his supposed rival (in those years except 2004 Nadal was always the only second to Federer) this is why I don’t subscribe with your examples.
    Ashe was perhaps the #1 only in 1975 and even this is debatable so his case isn’t comparable with Federer and besides Ashe’s game had much more weaknesses than Fed : Ashe’s forehand side, be it groundstroke or volley was weak, much weaker than Federer’s backhand (the Swiss’ weakest or “less strongest” side). In other words it is true that Ashe’s weaknesses were directly exposed to Laver’s strengths however Rocket was a much more complete player than Ashe even though Laver’s forehand volley was slightly vulnerable.
    Gerulaitis was a good player but never a #1 and even less a long reign #1 (in my book his best ranking was #3 in 1978 behind Björn and Jimmy but ahead young Mac).
    And Gerulaitis had a major weakness : a poor serve essentially because Vitas could make many double-faults. Yes he has beaten players such as McEnroe, Connors or Lendl but on occasions when these players were not at their very best.
    So again a case different from Fed’s.
    The Kramer-Kovacs example is also singular : if my memory is good Kovacs has always beaten Kramer when both were amateurs that is until 1941 included. In the professional circuit I have very few information. McCauley gave stats about both players in his 1951 section results but it isn’t clear at all if it was whole careers’ stats or professional circuit’s stats or year’s stats. The only professional results I know are those of the 1951-1952 Philadelphia’s Inquirer world indoor pro championships where Kramer beat Kovacs 3 times out of 3 meetings (once in 1951 and twice in the 1952 double round robin event). Kramer was possibly (debatable) #1 from 1948 to 1951 and apparently didn’t meet Kovacs during this era before 1951. So at best (given the few information available) Kovacs possibly (but without any certainty at all) dominated in H2H a #1 Kramer in 1951 and besides Kovacs wasn’t the true rival of Kramer (as was Nadal to Federer) in 1951 (Segura and Gonzales were).
    I can cite other examples such as yours : for instance Borg and Newcombe or Connors and Nastase.
    Newcombe has a positive head-to-head record against Borg however the Aussie has not regularly dominated Björn when the latter began his reign as #1 (from 1978 Newk met Borg only once and in that occasion Newk’s win was made very easy because the Swede retired in the second set due to injury).
    In 1976 Nastase led Connors something like 4-1 (+ 1 tie) but this is the only year when Nastase dominated a top Connors (in 1972-1973 Nastase usually beat Connors but the American wasn’t the world #1 whereas in 1974-75 and 1982 Connors never lost to Nasty).
    Etc …

    In conclusion of that first part I don’t think that you can find a #2 who has regularly dominated a #1 for at least two years in a row, other than the Federer-Nadal example.

    Other point : many (I would say “too many”) praise Federer’s so-called super complete game.
    However I have always suspected his backhand as crumbly.
    How many times I have heard or read that his backhand was magnificent (though everyone admits it isn’t worth his better forehand)
    however whenever a great player is able to put pressure on Fed’s left side the Swiss backhand breaks down sooner or later : not only Nadal proved it but also Nalbandian or Djokovic in the last Australian Open.
    Federer has a good backhand, not doubt about it, but not as great as some commentators often claim.
    In fact never his backhand is sure or deadly effective whenever he faces a great player when the latter plays well with confidence.
    If we consider both groundstrokes (forehand and backhand) in my opinion Laver, Borg or even Rosewall, all at their very peak, were better than Federer. When Laver was highly confident you couldn’t hope much from his “weak” forehand. Many used to attack young Borg’s backhand (as Newk did) but since 1978 (till 1981) Björn’s backhand was possibly as good (or very slightly less good) as his forehand and about Rosewall some think than in his best years, the early 60’s, Kenny’s forehand was much more reliable than in his ascending or declining years. And nowadays Nadal (and Djokovic but the Novak is not the subject here)is also better than Federer at the back of the court. You wrote
    and I would say why Federer doesn’t annoy Nadal as much on the other side ? Why Nadal can reply easier with his own backhand to Federer so-called legendary forehand than Federer can answer to Nadal’s forehand ? Possibly in the end because Nadal’s backhand is perhaps better than Federer’s though Nadal’s stroke length can be sometimes very short.

    To conclude with Federer
    his negative stats against his rival Nadal, caused in part by his “suspect” backhand
    slightly downgrade his record.
    This is why I think Federer is an enigma for me because I can’t easily rate him with the other very greats
    simply because the latter, when they were #1, dominated their nearest rival in head-to-head encounters which isn’t Federer’s case, possibly unique case in men’s tennis history.


    However do not be afraid I have also many problems to rate many other greats but for different reasons.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  48. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Yes Vines was more interested in golf that in tennis in these years (since about 1935) however this is perhaps because he was aware that he couldn’t improve in tennis while in golf, given that he was a pure beginner, he could of course make huge progress. And yes he was perhaps a little injured. It doesn’t change the fact that Budge’s game bothered Vines a lot, especially Don’s backhand. Budge, at the very beginning of his pro career, was already able to beat both top pros on indoor courts whereas he had previously played most of the time, if not entirely, on outdoor courts as an amateur.
    Before Budge, Perry and even Vines were led in their first pro matches series whereas Budge led from the very beginning both against Vines and Perry, then old seasoned pros and used to indoor play and touring from city to another city every night.
    Many new pro rookies have lost their first batch of matches while Budge not and he conquered the world pro crown from the very beginning contrary to the majority.

    Unfortunately I have not the full record of the 1939 Budge-Vines and Budge-Perry tours
    however I would trust Bowers’s claim (22-17 and 28-8 respectively in FORGOTTEN VICTORIES: History of the Pro Tennis Wars 1926-1945, Chapter X: Budge's Great Pro Year, 1939, http://www.tennisserver.com/lines/lines_05_11_22.html)
    more than your own stats.

    About the 1946 Riggs-Budge tour you have the complete record at http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=284782
    (slight correction Riggs led 12-1 but not 13-1) :
    I am not so surprised that Budge lost most of the first encounters of that tour.
    Budge, as many others including Riggs, hadn’t truly trained since 1942. Besides Budge had injured his shoulder in 1943.
    Given that Budge had lost his last 5 matches to Riggs (3 in the Marshall series during the summer 1945, then the final of the Word Pro Hard Courts in Dec. 1945 and finally the challenge match on Jan. 22, 1946)
    Budge wisely thought to get some intense training from his old coach, Tom Stow.

    About Budge and the war I have never claimed that Budge has completely dominated the game during the whole war as Budge himself mentioned in that Wimbledon video (I don’t remember where I read these stupid Budge’s comments). I have always said that in my opinion Budge was the best in 1940 and 1942, that the years 1943 and 1944 can almost not be rated because so many top players (including Budge) could play very little (or not at all). And about the left years, 1941 and 1945 I have always claimed that Budge wasn’t the best (in 1941 amateur Riggs was #1, possibly tied with pro Perry, and in 1945 Riggs without any doubt).
    However it doesn’t change the fact that WWII prevented Budge (and all the other greats of the time) from winning many tournaments due to the evident lack of competitions, especially in Budge’s case in 1940 and 1942 when he was the best.

    Finally about his percentage of won matches (.815) once again I repeat some matches are very much important than others and these stats shouldn’t be simple means but weighted means according to the importance of these matches. Rino Tommasi used these simple means without weighting them for many years to rank players : for instance in 1973 he placed Connors #2 just behind Nastase whereas Jimbo was at best #5 (and at worse #9) which, in my opinion, is not good. In later years, Tommasi changed a little his simple methodology and added bonus points.
    So even though Budge’s win-loss percentage wasn’t so good in 1938 he won what counted and lost what almost didn’t :
    yes he lost to Asboth in a team competition but this is almost nothing compared to the fact that he won Wimby.
    Yes McEnroe had a superb win-loss percentage in 1984 but however he lost Roland Garros, he “lost” the Australian given he was injured (I recall that his 21-day “Stockholm” suspension was over before the AO began so Mac could have entered in it) and he lost the Davis Cup so finally Mac’s record in 1984 is not as impressive as some claim. He wasn’t able to make a “Little Slam” (except if one considers that the Masters was then still more important than the Australian). Mac was defeated only 3 times but 2 defeats occurred in very great events and as I said before he also pulled out of the Australian.
    So I think that you favour too much win-loss percentages in your ratings and not enough majors wins.

    Afew years ago I rated Tilden and Gonzales more or less equal, and a little step above Rosewall and Laver both more or less equal too. But now I have no clear opinion, I can’t easily compare these four players. Perhaps in the future I have will have a clearer idea.
     
  49. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Carlo,

    Very well written posts. I will discuss it with you in further detail later. I don't have the time now.
     
  50. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    I have to disagree strongly with this. Rafa in the 2007 Wimbledon final was better than probably just about any match in wimbledon in either 2010 or 2011. The only match on grass in which he was better was wimbledon 2008 final IMO. He wasn't that impressive before the finals in 2007, but he just raised his level in the finals .....

    fair enough, but then the case might have been a bit different if connors to face borg so many times on red clay early on .....


    well in outdoor HC matches, yes, but he did win 4/4 matches on grass and indoor HC ..... overall H2h was 5-2 outside clay, which isn't that bad by any means IMO

    rome 2006 was surely one of the turning points in their rivalry.

    Coming down from 2 sets down to love against a top 20 opponent is not that frequent an occurence. Anyways since 2003 , these are the 4 times that federer came down from 2 sets down to love:

    2010 Alejandro Falla (Wimbledon) - almost lost in the first round at wimbledon. A loss here would've been embarrassing.

    2009 Tommy Haas (French Open) - 4R match. A loss here would've probably

    2009 Tomas Berdych (Australian Open) - was in 4R

    2005 Rafael Nadal (Miami) - this was the one outdoor match vs rafa he won.

    The first 2 matches in particular were hugely significant IMO .

    In the falla match, nothing was clicking for him. His footwork was all over the place , wasn't hitting with confidence at all. But he somehow hung on and won.

    The haas match, his forehand was misfiring totally for the first half, but on breakpoint at 4 all in the 3rd set, he hit an inside-out FH that just clipped the line. The courage and ability to do that on such an important point IMO showed his mental strength.

    There have been times when it has been lacking ( rafa rome 2006, rafa FO 2007, rafa AO 2009, delpo USO 2009, djoker USo 2010 and 2011 etc .... ) , but there are many occasions where he's come through on the basis of his mental strength .
     

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