Björn Borg great at AKAI nov 1982

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

  1. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Actually I have the first set stats on my copy (your stats came from the ESPN feed, same one I have). But I didn't have the fourth set -- so thank you.

    And I wish more YouTubers would include stats in their clips.

    Very nice clips overall, too.

    So now I've got complete stats for the first four sets (the first 42 games). And look at Lendl's numbers: after 42 games he had 42 winners and 42 unforced errors.

    Becker was at 46 winners and 57 unforced errors. From those stats alone, Lendl looks like he's clearly playing a better match than Becker. However, they were tied in games (and after five sets Becker led in total points 164-162, per the New York Times). ESPN didn't provide the forced errors and I wouldn't be surprsised if Becker made up the difference in that category.
     
  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Becker's prime

    We've been talking about whether Sampras faced a great serve-and-volley player at Wimbledon. I think Becker qualifies and I don't think his prime was behind him (except possibly in their third meeting, in '97).

    After four sets in the '88 Masters final against Lendl, ESPN had credited Becker with 57 unforced errors.

    After four sets in the '96 TMC final against Sampras, ZDF had credited Becker with 37.

    (Lendl had 42, Sampras 38 ).

    Now, it's always possible that two sources judge unforced errors differently. Theoretically, ZDF could have been more conservative than ESPN. Furthermore, if Becker had fewer ue's in '96, part of the reason was probably that he faced longer rallies against a baseliner in '88, making ue's more likely.

    Nevertheless I think this is a very good piece of evidence that Becker had not left his prime when Sampras faced him.

    Becker himself said during his resurgence in '95-96 that when he was younger he was more apt to beat himself, whereas now he had to be beaten. And in those early years, it's true, he often did lose his head and make a lot of unforced errors.

    Sampras called Becker the best indoor player he ever faced, and that is not someone who is out of his prime. I think with Becker it might appear that his prime was behind him because he put in such poor performances in the first half of the 90s. But that was inconsistency and lack of hard work, not old age.

    In the '96 Masters final Becker was only 3 months older than Lendl had been in the '88 final.

    I'm not saying that Becker played his best tennis the 3 times he faced Sampras at Wimbledon. I don't think he did. But I have a hard time seeing a peak Becker beating a peak Sampras at Wimbledon. Maybe like Ivanisevic he could have had his chances; and unlike Goran he could have made something of them. But Sampras should get full credit for defeating a grasscourter like Becker so decisevely all three times, never losing serve.
     
  3. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    ^^ Politely disagree. Even though I agree with you that even peak Becker would be hard-pressed to beat Sampras at Wim., I would say that Sampras DID NOT face peak Becker at Wim.

    How do I say this ? Very simple. Watch Becker's matches against Edberg in the 1988 and 1989 Wim Finals, and Becker's matches against Sampras in 1993 and 1995 at Wim.

    What is the most glaring impression of Becker that you come away with ? His loss of footspeed. By 1993, Becker's speed was shot. When I saw his early matches recently, I was shocked to see a Becker who was so quick around the court. It was unbelievable.

    You can see Becker's 1988 YEC Final against Lendl that Borgforever posted earlier. Compared to 1993-1996, Becker from 1985-1989 was a gazelle. Also, Becker's service motion and rhythm went through changes in three phases.

    1985-1989, he had a quicker rocking movement and overall quicker service motion that Tiriac himself later said was his best serving phase in terms of effectiveness. Also, he tossed the ball slightly lower which made it a bit more reliable and more difficult to read.

    When Sampras faced off against Becker at Wim, Becker was still a world class player but his explosiveness was clearly absent.
     
  4. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks a bunch!
     
  5. Borgforever

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    I think shakes1975 hit the nail on the head regarding the differences between Becker late 80's and mid 90's. I also would like to add that I think Becker's reflex returning was sharper in the 80's.

    The finest sustained serving I've seen Becker produce was IMO Wimby 86. With this in mind I still think that Sampras win at the Masters in 96 was one of his finest wins that he should cherish. It wasn't easy that one. I wonder what would have happened if Sampras didn't serve 30 aces and won 90% of his first serves.

    I thought Becker was awfully flat in his perfomance at Wimby 95, not the great Becker at all. Still hard to beat though.
     
  6. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Carlo for submitting that exxo-list!

    But I don't agree with Carlo that the Wimby 90 F was that impressive. Becker said in his bio that he was abusing sleeping pills and alcohol during this time. According to himself he had taken so many sleeping pills before the final that he didn't really "wake up" until he was two sets down -- which actually corresponds with my memories of that battle.

    And I might add -- I wasn't really on the Edberg bandwagon at all. A great player with an awesome technique and wonderful attacking game but here in Sweden the discussions centred around his mental ability and his sulking attitude. Sampras had at least twice the mental strength that Edberg possessed IMO. Edberg's finest hour for me? Wimby 88. Fighting down Becker -- but Becker hadn't really reached his end of 88/89-level...
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  7. Borgforever

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    I also prefer Lendl and Becker before Edberg. I was rooting for Boris when he was playing Stefan. I got some serious flack from other Swedes about that but that's how I saw it.
     
  8. Borgforever

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    I also stand by CyBorg's critique of Carlo's views. I would add that Mac at Wimby 80 was at his peak and that the conditions was all in Mac's favor. The grass was really humid and had a remarkably low bounce making it so hard for Björn to create some rallies. The Wimby 81 F grass was much drier and the bounce clearly was in favor of Borg that day.

    Borg had a racquet that had the wrong string-tension in the first set at Wimby 80, but he wasn't playing bad -- Mac's attack was just too good...

    That's peak Mac right there -- not to exclude his fourth set play. When did Mac play better under such pressure? He saved seven Championship points with mostly out-of-this-world winners. And Mac's fifth set performance was also awesome -- how he saved all those breakpoints with great serving, some of them aces, when he had the knife on his throat. Everyone has blowout matches. But only peak-play can save you in such situations.

    I also respectfully disagree with Carlo that Mac of 84 would pulverize Borg of 78 (or 76). I have to agree with Mac that Connors was a little flat in that final -- a mere shadow of his semis win over Lendl and particularly his Wimby 82 F win over Mac. Connors was very uneven in 84 but did push Mac to a fine five-setter at the US Open SF later that year when Mac was just as awesome.

    I also would like to state that Connors doesn't get enough credit. He had some flaws mid-career (serving almost two second serves after 74 -- he corrected this in 82 -- and didn't change his game when he needed to) but he was still such a great player. Connors had six Wimby finals. Not a great grass-court player? I think he was one of the finest in fact. Beating a great playing Mac in Wimby 82 -- turning the match around when he was two points away from losing.

    And I have to add that Connors five-set record is nothing short of brilliant. Before the Wimby 81 SF they both had lost only 3-4 five-setters and won 23-25 in their careers. The only thing separating these titans was their h2h five-setters in Wimby 77 F and Wimby 81 SF and those matches was so brutal and roller-coaster-like that they should be studied by tennis-players over and over if one wants a clear idea of what mental strength is all about and what human beings are capable of doing. In my mind there wasn't any loser in those two five-setters.

    The Wimby SF 81 is probably the best match I've ever seen...
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  9. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    And as krosero wrote about Newk's view that Borg shouldn't stay so far back returning Mac's left-handed slice serve in the ad court -- when was Newk ever wrong? I'm happy he's still out there. And I echo his AO 75 win win over Connors -- pure brilliance. He proves that brains isn't overrated.

    Connors as I remember it did take Mac's serves when the ball was on it's way up after the bounce clearly returning Mac's serve more effectively so, as CyBorg says, Borg was strategically compromised in that department until AKAI 82 that is. But it seemed that is was Wilander who gave the idea to Borg in 82 to change the return position on Mac's wide-serve after Wilander had returned Mac's serve so effectively after their amazing 6 and half hour struggle in the Davis Cup earlier in 82.

    So you see Borg changing his returning tactic in the AKAI-match with great success virtually eliminating Mac's great advantage.
     
  10. Borgforever

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    And I would like to add that the great Borg did play a match against the great Sampras. It was reported that they played a best of three privately in 1992-93 (when Borg was not even a shadow of a shadow of a shadow of his old self) and that Sampras won 7-6,7-6.

    It was also reported that Borg beamed like he pulled off great victory afterwards. His most satisfying loss in his life and that he didn't believe he could be so happy about a loss...
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  11. jeffreyneave

    jeffreyneave Rookie

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    i agree hat the the wimbledon sf 1981 between connors and borg is one of the greatest matches ever. In 1981, i certainly regarded it as the best match i had ever seen; better than borg's 1980 final and 1977 sf. The match consisted of many stunning rallies, usually won with great shots.

    In this match connors played at his best , rather than the ordinary tennis he had produced in his other matches with borg at wimbledon. Connors was playing back at his 1974-76 peak. The only thing wrong with his game was his service,which was at its weakest. borg served about 17 aces and repeatedly pulled out geat serves in he 5th set to hold on until his serve. There were 2 love sets in this match and both sets show connors and borg playing incredible tennis in the sets they won to love.


    jeffrey
     
  12. Borgforever

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    Something about Bergelin and Borg's backhand. From what I heard Bergelin worked quite a bit with designing Björn's backhand -- so it became from 76 onwards what it was supposed to be: His secret camouflaged weapon.

    According to the plan Borg wasn't supposed to hit outright winners from that flank -- giving the opponent the idea to attack that flank -- and then whack a precision winner. It's the stroke that was the most hard to read for his opponent -- even outmatching his serve.

    His back-swing was exactly the same regardless if he hit it down the line, cross-court or a lob.

    Lennart was a very smart man -- he was the Harry Hopman of Swedish tennis. When he was young he was always quick to pick up useful details that could be incorporated in some way to refine his or some other guy's game.

    Lennart used to take pride in saying that he should get credit for Frenchman Yvon Petra's Wimby victory of 1946 -- the last champion there in long-pants. After the war it was naturally difficult to get your hands on a protein rich diet. But clever little Lennart had found a little, obscure restaurant somewhere in some corner in London where he brought his friend Petra, who ordered food like there's was no tomorrow. Petra had some tough challenges on his way to the final but he recouperated quickly because of this and pulled off a fine win.

    Lennart asked questions and listened intently to more seasoned pros and great players in what they did and how they solved certain problems. Borg has said many times that he probably would've become a very good player -- but not at all the success that he became -- if Lennart wasn't there. He really understood Björn and he was the only one who could push him to do stuff that he didn't want to do at all.

    Lennart had some flaws though -- saying things to the press, apart from funny language-mangling swenglish, that was not that important and misleading.

    After Borg's QF loss to Panatta in 76 Bergelin ran around telling reporters that it was the new heavy balls that Borg didn't feel comfortable with although Borg never mentioned them. It's true that Borg preferred to play big servers at least partially in daylight at the US Open but he didn't hate it -- but Bergelin was running around telling everybody that it was the lights that killed Borg. Of course it wasn't. In 79 it was clearly Tanner's game that killed him -- I mean Tanner whipped his serve with such aggressiveness that the net collapsed at one time. But Björn suffered more from crazy scheduling of his matches at the open more often than any other player. Everyone was surprised that the US Open suffered from such a chaotic playing schedule -- even though the Open had night-matches and more playing time than any other Slam at the time.

    One thing that Lennart did that wasn't very productive was his influence on Borg regarding the Swedish media. I will delve deeper into that soon...

    Other than Borg's backhand Bergelin was instrumental in designing Borg's serve and camouflaging it. Basically he moved Borg's feet so they where positioned as a T among other things. He also tried as much as he could to shield Borg from distractions. He never fought with Borg when he was obstinate before a match knowing that Björn needed calm.

    Lennart helped so many young players here in Sweden with his time and great suggestions. He used to pack a lot of junior-players and drive himself down to the French Riviera to practice playing international tennis and practice hard in a different environments.

    One time he brought a lot of tennis-hungry juniors with him to practice with Borg, an idea that was quite popular with the youngsters -- practicing with their idol. After a few days in Monte Carlo and after an especially draining practice session the bus that Lennart had hired for the party arrived and the exhausted juniors filed into the vehicle and all was set to drive back to the hotel -- when someone was missing -- Borg...

    Lennart ran back to the practice court seeing Björn practicing serve after serve. Lennart screamed: "Stop it right now! We're leaving now!"

    Björn:"No, Lennart! Just one more serve..."
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  13. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    What I wanted to say was that in the late 70s there was no great S&V players and that it helped Borg to win at Wimby. If he had had to face Sampras in those years I think that Sampras would have won more Wimby titles than Borg because in my opinion Sampras was better than the Swede on grass. I think that Sampras was ahead the best McEnroe (83-84) on grass who himself at his best was better in my mind than Borg (78-80) on that surface. Sampras had in my opinion the near perfect game on true grass. One of Borg's great strength from 1977 to 1980-1981 was that he almost always played at a very high level so whenever Sampras would have played "badly" he would have probably lost but at his best he would have had the last word.
    Perhaps I've been tough about Connors (but he was my favourite player at the time but as a person I hadn't great respect of his behaviour on the court). But I don't think so much. His game was insecure on grass mainly because of his forehand and his serve wasn't terrible. I think that the best Connors on grass was the one who played Borg in the semis in 81 and Mac in 82. Against Borg he played the first two sets superbly but when his game downed he lost the next two sets and above all he was broken in the decisive set because his serve wasn't a great weapon. Against Mac he played very well only at the end of the 4th set and in the decisive set but before he made many errors. For me those results gave good indications of his level on grass.
    On grass, Borg had a better serve than Connors's and his background strokes were surer. It explains why Borg was usually superior to Connors on that surface. When Connors wasn't at his best on grass, Borg beat him easily. One of Borg's great strength from 1977 to 1980-1981 is that he almost always played at the very high level while Connors had some ups but also many downs. On hard or indoor surfaces the best Connors could be very close to the best Borg because in particular his forehand had less failures (the rebound being higher than on grass, Connors had a more efficient forehand which sometimes could be almost as impressive as his backhand on those types of courts).
    In 82 he had slightly improved his serve (at the Queen's he "easily" beat Mac but at Wimbledon his serve had failures until the 4th set) but don't forget that McEnroe made many errors in that final. Borg's retirement had much affected McEnroe who played less well in 82 than in 81 and in (83) 84 Mc played at his highest level ever on grass (but also on hard (US final), indoor (Brussels tourney or Masters) and clay (Forest Hills, Nations Cup in Dusseldorf and even Roland)).
    So on grass the best Connors could rival Borg (but not beat him) and a "mean" Mac but he couldn't stop at all Mac in 84 (I agree that Jimbo was very probably tired after his great win over Lendl in the previous round but I don't think he would have won any set even though he had been in great shape). And if Connors wasn't at his best on grass he was easily defeated by Borg (78-79). Grass (and clay as soon as the late 70's) wasn't the best surface of Connors.

    About the Australian Open I'm not sure it was a true Slam event before 1995 but it was since that year when all the players came. Perhaps it was already a great event in 1993-1994 (one day I will check it in my old magazines) but I'm not so sure. I remember that even in 1988 when it moved to Flinders Park it was clearly below the other Slams and it took years before it became a true Slam (nevertheless always ranked at the 4th place even now).
     
  14. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hello, first thank you for Wilander's assessment.
    I can't guarantee that the TV commentator talked about the balls when Tanner faced Borg. I just remember that a commentator told during Roland 78 that the balls were quicker that year and that serve-and-volley players had then better results in that tournament and then talked about Stockton and Tanner's results (Tanner being the player against Borg who won the more games). But I don't remember at all when the TV commentator said that except that it was said during that tournament.
     
  15. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Hello,
    I think we never agree about Mac's level. In 84 Connors pushed Mac to 5 sets in the US semifinal but it was on hard, Connors's best surface where his forehand was surer. I still think that Mac was clearly better in 84 than in 80 and I maintain that he would have beaten Borg in straight sets but of course I can't prove it .
    About Connors I have been perhaps tough as CyBorg said but I compare him to McEnroe and Borg when both were at their very best. Sure he had reached 6 finals winning 2 so he was a great one on grass but at their very best Mac, Borg or Becker were superior. Sure Connors was probably better than a) Borg on grass until 1975 and since 1982 but in-between Borg was the best and b) McEnroe until 78-79 and in 82 (and perhaps in the late 80's) but in 80-81 and 83-84 (85 ?) Mac was better than Connors on grass.
     
  16. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    Yes I've quickly read Becker's book (but didn't buy it) where he said that he didn't sleep the night before which explains why he started so low that final, nevertheless I think that Edberg's game was pretty good in those first two sets. In 88 Becker was possibly over-confident and perhaps the fact that the match was played on two days because of rain didn't help Becker. I agree that Becker from the Masters 88 to the Davis Cup final in 89 (and Australia 91 and late 96) was the best ever.

    A question : what means IMO ?
     
  17. Borgforever

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    IMO = In My Opinion...
     
  18. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just picking at nits here, but you're thinking of Becker's stats. Sampras had only 15 aces and 80% success on first serve.
     
  19. Borgforever

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    Yes, you're totally right. And then Sampras victory even rises in my esteem to the highest level. Becker had some glitches in his game by this time but in this match I can see that he was a monster. And this makes, in my book, Sampras finest win. Impeccable Sampras -- worthy of his great talent.
     
  20. Borgforever

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    And krosero, regarding your fine work here on this site combined with your razor-sharp arguing -- you can nit-pick as much you as like as far as I am concerned, the more the better, the discourse is the important issue, I appreciate it...
     
  21. Borgforever

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    Regarding comments from several members here that Connors serve was weak -- I wouldn't use the word weak -- you're not so successful if your serve is "weak". Not as explosive as McEnroe, Borg (when it needed to be) and Becker, Laver, Sampras et al.

    Connors more than compensated this defiency with one of the best serve-returning in history. The only one who comes close to Connors returning was Borg IMO, who also had lightning reflexes.

    Borg studied Connors serve returning. Many people say that Borg didn't practice drills -- since his entire game was one long drill -- but in fact he did...

    Prior to the Wimbledon and the US Open he practiced serve-returning like mad. He said: "You need to be fast on grass, have a great serve and at least a very good, stable volley. That is a given. But -- the key to success (at Wimby) is the quality of your service returns."

    Look at how Borg handled Tanner's serve at Wimby, cobra-reflexes. Same as Connors. I would give the medal for finest serve return to Connors though. Since he figured out how to meet Mac's serve way earlier than Borg (and Wilander).

    So peak Becker, Sampras and Federer would've had to watch out for peak Connors and Borg at Wimby in a hypothetical GOAT play-off torney.

    And Connors could whip more winners than most from all over the place when he was on -- Fed like...
     
  22. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    And I echo the sentiment, for anyone who wants to check any numbers I'm putting up.
     
  23. Borgforever

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    And Borg never lost to Connors at Wimby -- Mac did...

    And I agree with Borg that Mac wasn't that great in 1981. He was clearly better in 80 IMO. Borg was mediocre when they met at Wimby and the Open in 81 and if memory serves Mac only met the No. 3 Connors once in 81 -- in the Wembley-final indoors (a surface clearly in Mac's favor especially considering Connors "weak" serve) and Connors won turning around 0-2 to 3-2 in fine match.

    And if Mac had faced Connors in the semis at Wimby 81 and the Open 81 instead of Frawley and Gerulaitis I think Jimbo would've made the final in both events...
     
  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I agree that Becker did not play his peak tennis those three times that he faced Sampras at Wimbledon. What I give credit to Sampras for is, not so much that he beat a subpar Becker, but that he beat a player of that caliber and grasscourt skill so decisively.

    Leaving that aside, I'm only arguing here that Becker was in his prime years when he faced Sampras (except possibly 1997). By prime years I don't necessarily mean his peak. Obviously 1992-94 were poor years for him. I think intelligent cases could be made that his absolute peak was in 1989, or 1995-96. I'm not arguing for either one -- only that Becker had not left his prime behind him when he faced Sampras.

    When a player has lost his enthusiasm for the game, is distracted by celebrity, is drinking and out of shape, has a poor mental attitude in many matches, and he's only in his mid-20s, logically his poor performances are due to all those other factors, not his age.

    At W in '93 he went five sets against Stich without losing his serve. As far as I know it's the only time he's done that. You can't do that if you're not in your prime years. Yes, in the next match he looks out of it and slow, and lost to Sampras in straights. But you see what he could do when his motivation was up against Stich, and at a relatively early moment in the tournament (qf's) when his conditioning was not a factor.

    You make a really good point about Becker's speed in his early years. No question, in those years he's bounding around the court really well, esp. when compared to those years when he was out of shape or unmotivated. But even then he could be very fast when his blood was up. There used to be a YouTube video of his long tiebreak against Ivanisevic in Germany, late 1992 at the ATP Championships; maybe you've seen it.

    Looking at the whole picture from 1985 to 1996, I think his fastest legs were probably in the 80s. But some of what he lost was perfectly normal for anyone to lose as he matures. Borgforever makes a nice point about how good his reflex returns were in the '80s. True, but in the early years he sometimes was impatient on the return and made an error. So he lost something but gained maturity, consistency, a head for tactics, etc.

    His consistency on the ground strokes was what improved with every passing year. In that '88 Masters final, his ground strokes are already much better than what they were in '85-86, yet after four sets he has a winner/error differential of -11. After four sets in the '96 final it was +29.

    Let me say again that this stat does not prove anything, and you can't just compare it without context. Becker made 20 less unforced errors in the '96 sample, but one big reason is that his rallies against Lendl had been longer.

    But without a doubt, those '96 numbers are hugely impressive -- none more so than his 32 aces.

    Finally about his serve, I have a YouTube video where McEnroe is showing how Becker's motion changed. His motion in '85 is more fluid; and more variable from serve to serve. By the '90s it looks practically the same on every point. I think I might agree with the commenter on the video who said that his motion was more dependable later. Perhaps it was a less dynamic serve, but that might be another case of losing something and gaining dependability.

    I'd like to hear what Tiriac said about it, though, if you can find his comments.
     
  25. Borgforever

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    Really fine post krosero. Great, subtle points you make. I do believe reflexes and foot-speed was integral for a peak Becker -- especially against such an explosive player as Sampras. But with greater maturity and considering his overall exceptional performance in the Masters-final 96 it's entirely possible that he made up for what was lacking...

    I follow your reasoning and you could be absolutely right...
     
  26. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    some comments from Becker at the '95 masters cup:

    also:

    Maybe the reason he seems faster in the 80s was that the pace of shot in the game was slower then(I would think he would have more time to get to Lendl's frequently used rally shot - the slice backhand, than to get to the bombs Agassi & Courier were hitting)

    Looking at Becker-Lendl in '88 & Sampras-Becker in '96, the pace of shot is clearly much higher in '96, on all shots, not just the serve. And Becker's mph on serve was higher in the 90s compared to his 80s serve, regardless of his 'longer' motion.
     
  27. CyBorg

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    I agree that he was better. Sampras may have been better than anyone else on grass, but that shouldn't bode in Agassi's favour, especially considering that Agassi only made the Wimbledon final twice. If he had been making finals against Pete year after year and losing then you would have had a point. But Agassi has an inconsistent resume on grass at best.
     
  28. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, he did this and I think doing this caused him to lose his edge. Edberg retired because Edberg was ready to retire. At one point, Carillo, Stolle, and Drysdale used to marvel at Becker's power. Carillo stated more than once, and I saw no flaw, that if/when Becker got 70% of his first serves in, he won the match. Becker's agressiveness and net play was what brought him to the top. His self-instilled notion that he could compete with the baseliners of the world, i.e. Agassi, knocked him off his game IMO.
     
  29. Moose Malloy

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    I probably should've posted the question that prompted that answer from Becker. He was asked why he was still among the elite players in 1995 (this interview was at the '95 Masters Cup, which he won) while Edberg was struggling(he was nowhere near the top 8 that year or the next)
    Whether his answer is right or wrong is another matter, but it is interesting that they were contemporaries but one fared much better as the game got more powerful. Becker was still a threat to win majors until the end, he must have done something right to adjust to a new era like that.

    BTW, Carillo's '70%' is a a bit unrealistic(for any great server really), Becker was never near that number in his prime. 60% was even on the high side for him.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  30. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Though there is a possibility of what you have suggested, that's not the only evidence of Becker's slower speed. Just by watching his early matches, you could see that he was quicker off the blocks, quicker in changing directions, more apt to throw himself around the net (by 1993-1994, he very rarely dived for the volleys) and he was much lighter on his feet.

    In fact, there is a whale of a difference between Becker from 1989 and from 1990. If you watch his matches against Agassi in the Davis Cup SF in 1989 Sep. and in the ATP Master's that Nov., and compare it to his match against Agassi in Indian Wells in 1990, you will be surprised. In the Indian Wells match, Becker looked really sluggish and lazy. He was an altogether different animal in 1988 and 1989.

    To illustrate my point, watch how Becker moves from 0:41 to 0:55 in this clip below from the 1989 Davis Cup match against Agassi (BTW, it's a great, very much underrated match). He lost the point, but that's beside my point. By even 1993, he was no longer that agile.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk_E4Af90hA

    I think Becker's ground game was much better in 1995 and 1996, but I think for a player like Becker who was predominantly a S/V'er, speed would be more useful.

    Also, it's somewhat deceiving when you look at the speed of shot on television, esp. between the 1980's matches and 1990's matches.

    In a sports magazine just before the 1995 Wimbledon Championships, various pundits were talking about the main threats to the crown, and Brad Gilbert talked about Becker and his serve. Gilbert mentioned that Becker doesn't serve as hard as he used to earlier. His exact quote was "I don't know. Maybe he has another title in him. He doesn't serve as hard anymore. He doesn't take advantage of that huge weapon".

    In another magazine interview around that time or probably a little later, Tiriac said Becker's serve motion was more effective earlier on because he used to have a lower ball toss, and his whole motion was faster. Opponents had a harder time reading his serve.

    Mac mentions something similar here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGJ-XHZkpek
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  31. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    The problem with Agassi is that he had ups and downs from the beginning of his career to 1998. He became consistent only in 1999 until 2003 and then slowly declined from 2004 to 2005 (in 2006 he was too injured). From 1999 to 2001 he lost only to Sampras and Rafter at Wimbledon who were great serve and volley players (though Rafter never won Wimby but the US Open twice (one year helped by Sampras's injury in 98)). In those three consecutive years Agassi played pretty well on grass.
     
  32. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    In this 80 final McEnroe was possibly at his peak when he had the knife on his throat but that doesn't imply that he was at his peak in the first points of his service games. If he had had his 84 level in that 80 final it is very likely that he wouldn't have such dangerous situations to save.
    About 84 I don't think that Mac would have pulverized the best Borg (78-80) but I think that Mac wouldn't have lost a set as for instance Connors did in the 1975 US semifinal against Borg : in that match Connors didn't thrashed Borg at all, he was just slightly ahead.
    Mac wasn't great at Wimby 82 but possibly less good than in 80-81 (I think that Mac's best matches in 82 were the Philadelphia final and the Davis Cup match against Noah). Connors in 82 (the whole year) was possibly better than in 81 because he had very slightly improved his serve (which was the case in the Queen's final, not in the first part of the Wimby final but at the end of the 4th set and in the 5th and also during the US Open).

    Sure Connors beat Mac and not Borg at Wimbledon but when Connors did (in the 82 edition (I don't count the 77 match) he was very likely at his best on grass (perhaps behind his 81 semifinal) with that serve not so bad in the 5th set. If Connors had served as well in his 5th sets against Borg in 81 (or 77) I'm not sure that the Swede would have won. In that 5th set of Wimby 82 when Connors won his first service game it was the first (and only) time I thought that Connors had a good opportunity to win a 5th set against such great players as Borg, McEnroe or Lendl in a very great event. Never before or after against those great players I would have bet on Connors's victory. In that set he served well or even very well (if I compare with his own standard) : he didn't serve as well in the 5th sets of the 80 US semifinal, 81 Wimby semifinal or the 84 US semifinal. Perhaps the explanation is that for the first time since almost 4 years he had in sight a great win and therefore he had perhaps a great willingness not to lost that very important opportunity : possibly he was aggressive and concentrated more than ever.
     
  33. Nadalbestever

    Nadalbestever Banned

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    McEnroe was better then Borg. Once McEnroe hit his peak Borg quit since he knew he couldnt win anymore.
     
  34. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    I don't agree. See all the other posts in this thread. Borg was still better on slow surfaces and Mac having ups and downs, Borg could have won sometimes on fast courts, see for instance the AKAI Sydney event in 1982 which originated this thread. Borg was just fed up with tennis and pressure at that time. McEnroe being just one cause of Borg's retirement amongst many.
     
  35. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Well, there you go. Being consistent is an important factor in a player's greatness.

    If you're talking about peak performance here then you're getting into something more subjective. Was Agassi's peak grass form as good as Borg's? I don't know. But it wasn't a peak that lasted long.
     
  36. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    My bad, I should have quoted it more accurately. Carillo used to say that

    "If Boris Becker would get 70% of his 1st serves in, he'd never lose."

    Back during that period, the 3 of them were bemoaning the fact that Becker had decided he could stay back and win. For whatever reason, Becker decided he could rally with anyone. For some reason, I tend to think this was before '95, but I could be wrong.

    Carillo was emphasizing her point by saying how important his serve was to his net game and that if he could get 70% in with his 1st serve and net game he'd never lose.
     
  37. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Oh, Boris became really slow, after he left Bob Brett and trained (?) with Thomas Smid. He always had heavy legs, but in the 85-89 period he compensated for it with good maneuvering and positional play. In the 90s it was often painful to watch. Many could hold Boris on his backhand and then hitting deep to his forehand. His backhand slice was a neutral but not biting shot (not unlike Federer's) and he couldn't get behind the ball, to return the wide forehand. The young Becker however was a lion, completely fearless. Underrated is his great backhand cross return on grass (the one department, in which he was better than Sampras), that made Lendl wince.
     
  38. Carlo Giovanni Colussi

    Carlo Giovanni Colussi Semi-Pro

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    I wouldn't say that Agassi's peak at Wimbledon was short compared to Borg's (6 years as opposed to Borg's 7 years from 1975 to 1981, with 1978-1980 being his very best years in my mind) but that it wasn't continuous : at Wimbledon Agassi played well in 1992 (victory), 1993 (only quarterfinal but in five sets against the future winner, Sampras), 1995 (semifinal lost to Becker), 1999 to 2001 (in 1991 Agassi reached the quarters too but was far from the best). In those years Agassi only lost to serve&volley players : Sampras twice, Rafter twice and Becker once (Sampras and Becker not being pure S&V players as Rafter).
     
  39. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    I'll return later tonight with some major updates and comments. Had a few busy days with emergency work -- watched Wimby 84 F and Wimby 76 F back-to-back to get the clearest impression possible who was the the best peak player on grass (and that includes Sampras -- who IMO wasn't better than Borg at Wimby at all).

    The Sampras-Becker Masters-thriller of 96 is in my screening schedule too -- to determine a more exact personal opinion regarding the differences between Becker's career-phases -- for my own personal pleasure of course...

    And I also had a discussion with Björn Hellberg about some interesting things. One of which I'll divulge right now: the 16-year-old Björn was mauled by the definitive GOAT-contender Pancho Gonzalez (who was only 28 years older than Borg) in December 1972 at a tournament in New York and the surface was indoor carpet. That's all I got regarding that detail for now. Maybe there's someone who can Sherlock this a step further -- I mean it must've been reported somewhere...

    A tourney attracting among others a 16-year-old swedish prodigy and a king of Pancho's stature cannot have been completely invisible...

    You see -- I also breathe tennis... As much as possible at least...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  40. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    And CyBorg -- was Agassi's peak grass form as good as Borg's? You don't know!? Did you have a few before you wrote that... It sounds like you had more than a few if you ask me -- but what do I know...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  41. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    I dont even know when one would classify Agassi's peak on grass. 1992, 1995, and 1999-2001 perhaps?
     
  42. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    OK...I can solve this one for you. As much as I love Borg and think he was GOAT behind Laver, the 1984 Wimbledon....no 1984 as a year.....no one compares with John McEnroe's performance. The 1984 Wimbledon final John McEnroe played against Jimmy Connors, and I have it on DVD, was probably the best single match I've ever seen anyone play. McEnroe's play is completely devoid of the normal 'artistry' one associates with his play. Why? Because he didn't need it. He was in position for every ball, he made every shot look simple. He was simply an irresistable force in that match. There hasn't been a performance since then, including those by Sampras & Federer, which I can compare to this match.

    I also have the Borg/Nastase final. It was the one match I hated Borg in too. I so wanted Nastase to win Wimbledon that year...well hell any year. Borg and Nastase both went into that final without the loss of a set. Nastase had been on his best behavior the whole tournament. Borg came in with a pulled stomach muscle which required a cortisone shot. Borg then served Nastase off the court! I remember at one point, Nastase began to run his stomach in mock after Borg had aced him.
     
  43. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    I don't see a solid sustained peak. Andre probably had his most consistent period on grass from 1999 to 2001.
     
  44. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Well I generally agree with with Rabbit's assessment (or statement) that Mac's 1984 (not Orwell's) may be the most dominating display of tennis ever. It has almost something supernatural about it.

    And I'm not saying this with complete certainty that Borg of 76 would defeat a Mac of 84...

    My initial reservation was regarding Carlo's view that Mac (84) would beat Borg (76) in three straight. I mean, no-one knows, Carlo could be right. But I do think there's too much context speaking to the contrary. Carlo impresses me with his usual arguing and when he's talking about 60's tennis or earlier I find his reasoning faultless. But when it comes to 70s tennis and later I do find his writing to be less persuasive and based on the subjective...
     
  45. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    But there's nothing to seriously suggest that Mac would straight set Borg in a hypothetical match-up.

    Borg in 1976 was, IMO, the finest steamroller Borg ever. As many of you now -- Borg didn't lose a set winning the title. The last time that has happened. Fed has never made that. As great as Sampras was he could never manage such a furnace performance. And of course Mac of 84 didn't do it -- God-like or not. And Borg was 20-years-old...

    And he didn't do against flat resistance. As high-points his destruction of Colin Dibley, Tanner and Nastase when they all played close to their best (probably their career best -- or as the saying goes: As good as Borg allowed them to play) is too impressive so disregard in a discussion like this. I discussed this with Björn Hellberg, who hasn't missed a day at Wimby since 1965. He said that Borg's performance might well be the strongest of anybody ever. And he's a Laver-man for GOAT...

    He pointed out that all Borg's matches was equally impressive that year in Wimby, saying that the Dibley-match was a real shocker considering Colin's great serving (and overall play). A straight execution.

    Coming into the semis against Tanner, who previously had executed Connors with dream-serving against his impressive returning, Borg didn't blink and broke Tanner's rythm with ease.

    And Nastase was great that year -- himself, as you point out, succeding in reaching the final without losing a set. I also love Nastase, but well... in tennis love really means nothing...

    Nastase started out way better than the flat Connors in the 84 final. I my view, Connors just fed his returns into Mac's awesome volley-range...

    Borg played great from the start in the 76 F with sizzling passes and returns and rifle serving but Nastase did what was considered impossible this year -- he broke Borg and went up 3-0 with chances of breaking Borg to 4-0 but Borg never let up and increased his quality level (which was always amazing to watch) and blasted Nastase winning the first. Nastase looked shocked in the second by the display of this young kid who weren't supposed to able to play like this. Out-volleying Nastase, out-serving him, out-returning him and he was playing great.

    That's what Borg was so great at: wresting the iniative away from you regardless of how you played. In the third Nastase regrouped and managed to produce -- under terrible pressure -- marvelous tennis and break Borg's whirlwind serve once again. The only time anyone broke Borg twice in the same match in Wimby that year. He broke Borg after he had had a match-point at 5-4. But this amazing play didn't matter. Borg, typically, raised his game and broke Nastase and took the title at love with stunning tennis. Dan Maskell said afterwards that it was a great final, even though he had hopes for Nastase, simply because of Borg's performance.

    So Borg, at his peak, met sharper opponents who themselves had amazing streaks and provided peak performances. That is the toughest test of all. To be able to keep your level and increase it against the toughest opposition available.

    To say that Mac of 84 would out-class Borg of 76 in three straight doesn't hold water. Since Borg was under a lot more pressure, outmaneuvering an opponent who himself was devastating that year without losing a set simply is more impressive than beating the 32-year-old tired Connors...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  46. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    And when one watches the beautiful 76-final it's worth noting that on that Saturday the 3rd of July it was the hottest day in Britain in the twentieth century -- close to 40 C, or perhaps even more. A sauna to play in but Borg was the Ice Man...
     
  47. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    And to say that Dibley, Tanner and Nastase wasn't great S&V in 1976 -- well it's a statement I've never heard before from a serious person in-the-know. Check out the 76 F back-to-back with the 84 F and you won't regret it...
     
  48. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Indeed Borg in 1976 played one of his best performances at the Big W, serving like crazy despite his stomach muscle injury, which Bergelin imo made a bit more dramatic, as it was. On the other hand, Dibley and Tanner were blistering servers but not much else. Dibley was never in the same league of Newcombe, Roche, Emerson and the other great Aussies. Tanner with his short toss was dangerous, but never had the nerves nor the brain of Ashe or Smith. Nastase, the favorite due to his Stockholm annihilation of Borg the year before, was nervous in this final, because it was his last chance to win the big thing. In my memory he looked very tight the whole match, and woke up, only when it was too late, at the end of the third set. But Borg didn't let im off the hook. Borg had an equally impressive win over Nasty the year later in the quarters.
     
  49. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Nastase became nervous. He wasn't nervous at the start at all. It was Borg's relentlessness that shook up his nerves. To dismiss Nasty as nervous in that final makes me wonder if you watched the match.

    And Tanner could do more than just serve. That he out-classed world no. 1 Connors in the QF in a more impressive fashion than Ashe in 75 also sinks your reasoning. And, according to Hellberg, who was there seeing the Dibley-match, said that Colin played at a very high level overall, not just great serves, and that it was shocking that Borg could 4, 4 and 4 him so easily. Hellberg said all experts were stunned by this. The consensus was that Dibley could go really far with that play so that Borg could smash him to pieces in the fashion that he did was dismissed as a freak occurence. Of course it wasn't...

    Shape up Urban! Do your research -- your better than this...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  50. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    Jack Kramer also underlined Borg's thrashing of the fine playing Dibley as difficult to grasp...
     

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