Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by forehand_dude, Jan 2, 2012.
I've said this before, but Borg is the god of tennis. I don't think anybody would question that. Sorry, Federer, Sampras, and Nadal fans, but I think the highest he (or anyone else) can get is to be Bjorn's second in command.
BTW I'm not dissing those players.
In my opinion, a tier system works much better overall, compared to trying to single out any one player as the greatest ever. I think that you have arguably 4-5 guys in this very top tier. I've long held the view that Laver, Borg, Sampras, and Federer are in the top tier, but a very strong argument can also be made for Pancho Gonzalez to be up there. You can make arguments both for and against any of them, so you'll have difference in opinion. I do think Rafael Nadal will also eventually end up in that "top tier" of greatest players.
What does one value the most in terms of criterion? How is one's own personal experience with tennis a factor in that person's subjectivity? This is necessarily both a subjective and objective exercise, no matter how you slice and dissect it from every vantage point. Anytime you have different eras, different conditions, different equipment, different surfaces, different competition, and so forth, you can never have truly direct comparisons, so you are necessarily left with subjective assessments to consider. For example, Borg played with a very heavy frame 16 ounces plus with weighting (double ply wood due to high tension), 80+ pounds tension, and no modern strings. Think of Borg playing with modern frames and poly strings, and even new shoes, given his game and the playing surfaces of today which have all arguably tilted the balance in favor of baseliners away from serve and volleyers/net rushers. I think he would be so tough to handle.
Consider the following in the case of Bjorn Borg:
-Bjorn Borg was dangerous on any surface. He could also serve and volley quite adeptly when required. At 20, in 1976, he served and volleyed very frequently to take that title without losing a set. I don't know of another player in the Open Era that has won Wimbledon without the loss of a set. He won titles on hard courts, clay courts, grass courts, and indoor courts. If one thinks he was predominantly a "clay courter", they'd be overlooking his ~23 or so indoor titles, 5 straight titles on the fast grass of Wimbledon and his 41 match win streak there, and also ~6 or so hard court titles. His worst H2H record with a rival that I know of is 7-7 versus McEnroe (and that was only on hard courts, grass, and indoors, with no clay court matches). The only two players he lost to in the finals of majors were Connors and McEnroe. He played against very tough competition, with guys like Ashe, Connors, Nastase at or near the top early in his career, and later, players such as Vilas, Gerulaitis, Connors, McEnroe, and Lendl as foes at the majors. This was during times when there was much more variety in surfaces and court speeds. He won the 1978 French Open having lost 32 games (the lowest total for a major won I believe, at least in the Open Era).
- When the "Iceman" was playing at the top, the 4th biggest tournament of the year was either the WCT finals (esp. in the 70's) or the Masters (as it was in Jan. 80 and Jan. 81). He won the last two Masters that he played on indoor carpet in New York, going 5-0 vs. Lendl, Connors, and McEnroe. He won 6 FO titles. He reached 6 straight W finals, and won 5 in a row. The big hole in his resume was the US Open, but dig deeper there. He played in exactly 4 hard court majors during his career (the US Open). He reached the final on 3 of 4 of those occasions.
-Bjorn Rune Borg has the best winning percentage of any player in the Open Era at the "majors" (nearly 90%). Before one dismisses that, due to his early departure from tennis, note that neither Federer or Nadal could match that % through the age of 25 (nearly 26). He is also at the very top of all players in overall winning percentage at nearly 82%.
-He has been SO influential as a tennis player, impacting all pro players that followed. Bob Kain, his former agent and former IMG CEO, once said that "all players today should thank Bjorn for their big paychecks", because he "really took tennis endorsements to the next level". He was the first player to gain million dollar endorsements.
-He played at the top for a long time. He also won at least 1 major for 8 straight years. Look at his total match totals, even though he stopped playing full time at a relatively young age. Plus, back then, the top players like Connors and Borg played heavy "unofficial" schedules, playing at big money exos, that were often quite competitive and important for players. That was on top of a heavy playing schedule, without all the insulation provided to the players of today (from media, fans, etc.). Borg was a rock star like no other in tennis, so he would regularly be mobbed at hotels and basically wherever he went. He had to rely heavily on his coach Lennart Bergelin to help him with that. Borg was the first player to have a full time coach that traveled exclusively with him everywhere and to all tournaments. Now, that is standard practice.
-Consider the fights that he and Connors had with Tour Officials through the years. In 1982, officials at both Wimbledon and the French Open decided to force Borg to play in the qualifying rounds if he decided to reduce his official playing schedule during that year. There had been a recent split between the WCT and the ATP at that time and the Tour was in disarray after enjoying a dizzying climb up in terms of popularity and commercial success after the Open Era. The rise in the profile of tennis in that it came out of the country clubs and out into public parks did not happen overnight. That happened largely on the backs of players like Connors, Evert, Ashe, Borg, McEnroe, Navratilova, and Laver/Rosewall/Gonzalez, etc. before them. So how did Tour officials reward Borg for his very significant role in the raised profile of tennis? Remember he was playing Davis Cup by 16, he won Junior Wimbledon, etc. Borg wanted to drop down his official schedule, take time off, and really only focus on the majors during 1982 at least, but he met much resistance. That played a huge role in his decision to leave and experience life outside tennis. Later, I think he regretted making that decision, though I think he had every right to basically say "later" to the Tour, but in hindsight, I think he realized that perhaps he should have stuck around and basically played just enough to qualify directly into the main draws of majors, but hindsight of course can be 20/20.
I don't think any other player has influenced modern tennis as much as Borg did. Not Sampras, not Agassi, not Lendl, not Connors, and not even the great Rod Laver. His athleticism, sportsmanship/modesty, style of play, and ability to gain international attention playing tennis, all played a part in his becoming an all time great tennis player. Borg was truly a tennis revolutionary, that really didn't let how others viewed him change the opinion he had of himself (per Bob Kain). He didn't need constant praise and adulation from fans and others to remind him that he was a great tennis player. He KNEW he was great and no one could tell him different.
How many players used a two handed backhand and a great deal of topspin off both wings during his time? Who learned to somehow dominate even at Wimbledon playing a great deal of baseline tennis? Borg had great reliance on baseline play at Wimbledon, but he also had the ability to win lots of point at the net and with big serving. He proved all the naysayers wrong who said confidently that his "style of play" would never triumph at Wimbledon.In the 1970's-early 1980's, who was hitting a FH like this with a wood frame, where the reduced width provides for significantly less margin of error given Borg's swing path?
As to any all time great tennis player, you can point to deficiencies or weaknesses, but one really needs to look at the full picture. In my book, Borg is "Number One", largely due to his tremendous impact on the modern game. If Bjorn Borg never played tennis, I firmly believe that tennis would look and feel quite differently than it does today.
Great post Borg Number One.
Thanks PC1, especially for all your contributions here through the years! I got some tidbits in there from your many great posts, such as the info on the # of games he lost at the '78 FO. So many of our discussions, along with Hoodjem, Krosero, LH, Kiki, Timnz, Rabbit, Urban, (and many others too, including Borgforever from a couple of years ago) have deepened my understanding of Borg and many of these other great tennis players. It's such a great sport with incredible history. I'm reminded everytime that I read and post on TT of just how many "giants" there have been through the years.
Very good post, Borg number one . Thanks for all the info. Very good points. I very much agree with you.
I remember reading an interview with him where he said that was part of the reason why he retired...
Thank you very much Crisstti. I appreciate it.
Very good point, those are a lot of great players, however per amount of time played Borg did the best especially when you consider the AO's.
There are some hilarious posts in this forum.
These two gentlemen would like to have a word with mr. Borg.
This post is has too much WIN.
That is a good point, when you talk about guys that changed how the game was played seriously impacts the game like that.
terrific post.Even if I don´t necessarily agree on him being the GOAT in tennis terms ( but one of the top 4 in my first tier), he certainly is the GOAT in the sport and sponsor terms, which is probably even more important.He changed tennis forever, but mainly because he was the head of an extraordinary generation of players like himself,Connors.JMac,Vilas,Nastase,Newcombe and Ashe,Gerulaitis and finally Lendl that, after the first revolution carried on by Pancho,Lew,Ken and Rod, definitely changed things in tennis as a sport a media and a business.
Thanks for that comment.I also learned a lot posting back and forwards some of those posters you have mentioned.Borg will, undoubtably be always remembered as a giant that trascended his sport and his time, like Jordan,Palmer,Ali,Pelé,Merckxy and a few others that are simbols of an era
No, Chuck Norris is GOAT
Borg is the GOAT simply because he was the best during tennis best era. Great post on him by the way.
I like that idea of " the best during the best era".At least, he and Laver deserve the title of the GOBEAT (Greatest of the best era all time)
Thanks very much Jackson Vile, Textbook Strokes, and Kiki for your kind words.
(For those that have not seen some of these, check these out)
(On the Borg-McEnroe dynamic..but I often think Borg-Connors gets overlooked too much..McEnroe had special ties to Bjorn Borg though..check out how their friendship got started at the end of this clip.."to have the best guy in the world sort of take you under his wing and then maybe I could shut some other people up, meant a lot....I always wished we could have done it more often...it's like if Bjorn Borg was behind me, it's like the hell with everyone else)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPGh4p0dyIk&feature=relmfu (Borg on his strengths)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbvmPjYA5CA (the Aura of Borg per McEnroe)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huaeDCsM9fU (Bjorn Borg "Heritage")
I'll add another one for fun..he was the Greatest Wimbledon Celebrator Of All Time "GWCOAT"..guys literally started thinking they had to follow in his footsteps with some signature moves on Centre Court...(Agassi even went with the long hair and Donnay too!)
Lots, lots of memories.
Laver,Gonzales,Rosewall created the pro tennis game, Borg,Connors,Mac,Nastase,Newcombe, Vilas and a few others made it a world favourite,
Lendl,Becker,Edberg,Agassi and Sampras consolidated it.
From 1970 to 1990 it was the golden era and Borg, possibly, the guy I´d pick to synthezise it...
Very well put Kiki and right in the middle of 1970 and 1990, was 1980. In 1980, Borg and McEnroe (with Connors right there) pushed tennis to some dizzying heights. Connors was tough even in the early 1990's, which indicates what he must have been like 10+ years earlier, plus there was Gerulaitis, Lendl, Vilas, Tanner, Gottfried, Mayer, Dibbs, Solomon, Pecci...
LOL , good one
That´s what I was thinking, Borg Nº1, great post from you again.1980 could be the central year.Even if 1970´s or 1990´s top players didn´t compete, still I´d pick 1980 as the most important year of the golden era, which is , in other words, the most important year ever for tennis
Borg,Connors,Mac,Lendl,Vilas,Gerulaitis,Tanner,Pecci,Dibbs,Solomon,Mayer,Kriek,Clerc,Teacher,Noah,Gottfried,Fibak and still competitive Orantes,Panatta,Stockton,Amritraj,Scanlon,Sadri,Barazuti,Higueras,Alexander,Dent,Taroczy,Smid,Mottram or Curren...WOWWW¡
and Evert,Cawley,Austin,Mandlikova,Navratilova,Wade,King,Jaeger,Shriver,Ruzici,Jausovec,Turnbull,Stevens,Barker,Fromholtz,Reid,Jordan,Hanika,Bunge,Marsikova and Casals...again WOWWWW¡
Wow is right Kiki. I couldn't have said it any better. All the great players all cropped up together, on both the men's side and women's side was truly special..the "golden era" of tennis.
..and if you atteneded a Pro Tour event, you´d still pick up some rgeat tennis from laver,Rosewall,Roche,Nastase,Kodes or Newcombe...who lead the pro circuit in the early 70´s .Of course, we´d miss them as we´d miss Court,prime King,Graf,Seles,Agassi,Becker,Wilander,Cash,Courier,Sampras or Edberg but, generally talking, the deepth of top talent in 1980 remains, IMHO, unmatched, and will probably keep that way for many many years.You had diversitiy of styles and great talents form every style of play
... and, now that we talk about that fabulous 1980, don´t forget Johan Kriek, WCT and USO semifinalist and a year before winning his first Australian Open.He was far better than Teacher or Sadri, f.i....and a very underrated player, while, those who have seen him on his good days, will always consider him to be a great talent and a joy to watch.
Oh yeah..Kriek was dangerous..I remember him being up on Borg at the US Open, until Borg put that to rest. Tough customer..remember those Kriek-McEnroe matches a few years later?
Yep¡¡ very very torrid.Kriek beat Mac on the ocassion, but it had a very bad effect on Mac.Later on, I heard both were really going along well, but they were also very torrid personalities, right?
Now, a nice contrats was Borg and Nastase...but they were really good friends, and Nastase took Borg a bit under his wing.Borg was a very likeable punky, nobody - not even Connors- had tough feelings against him.
Umm, shouldn't this be in the former pro players section?
Stay and you will learn much more in a couple of our posts than in 500 threads ran by young kids...
You mean like:
-Martina never won a CYGS
-Schiavone is FAT
-Mecir won a slam
-Federer won his last slam in 09
NO THANKS !
True Kiki. On the question you had about Kriek and McEnroe, I agree as well. Torrid personalities, for sure. Nastase-Borg in the '76 W Final, there was one point that I recall watching where Borg shot this stare right at Nastase after a point that sort of told him, look I may be young and nice, but today you can call me the Angelic Assassin, know what I mean.
After the last shot was hit, Nastase's reaction to Borg winning that first title is just classic. Borg would later say something like: "hey..it's like, I just won Wimbledon...my dream.you know ever since you are a child, practicing, you have this dream and that dream came through for me.. I just won Wimbledon...I was so happy..yeah it took me about a week."
Nastase on Borg in that '76 W final (when Borg had just turned 20): "you know it's like hitting against a wall, the ball keeps coming back, but the ball keeps coming back better and better..I think Bjorn played too good that day and the proof was that he won 4 more after that."
Not necessarily, if Borg is staging a comeback...
Nasty was nasty on court but a well spirited and loved by all peers off court.He was the king of the party.I remember, after he lost his last chance to win the title that mean the most to him, how he shook Borg´s head in a very calid motion.This is the first and only time I remember of somebody doing that after losing the last chance to win the title that you desperately want to win.Speaks volume of the big heart of Nastase...and the sympathy Borg arose around him.Even a guy like JMac, adored him...
Borg Nº1, one of the nice things that resume that era ( 1970´s and early 80´s) was the buddy relationship those terrific fighters had outside the courts.I remember Laver and Emmo or Newc and Rochey killing themselves on the court, then congratulating the winner and both getting drunk together.Even guys like Ashe,Gimeno,Riessen,Okker followed them.
Then, Nastase,Vitas,Mac and Borg were great night lovers, going out together.Panatta was another funny guy, he was very close to Nasty and Vilas.Vilas, being a bull on court was really funny outside.I have met them in discos after bleeding exos and that was the real atmosphere.
Gerulaitis was beaten by close friend Borg 18 times in a row...any bad feelings? not at all.Vitas,Panatta and Nasty were even close to Connors, who was a pretty funny guy outside the court.The swedes like Wilander,Edberg,Nystrom,Jarryd were close, they were not as extrovert as the former, still did a lot of partying together.JMac was pretty close with all of them, and joined them often.The only guy that stood apart was, for a while, Connors and, of course, Lendl.I know of some stories and, believe me, that was part of the concept " golden era"
We talk about the GOLDEN ERA.Something you can learn about in internet or following closely Nadalagassi, Borg Nº1,PC1,Hoojdem,LH,Urban,Timinz,Krossero, BTurner (for ladies), Susan DK, or myself...of course, you won´t be interested in the msot interesting era ever, without which Federer would probably now would work in a swiss bank, Nadal would be a pro fisherman in his island and Djokovic would be in the serbian army
I will use this gem in my signature, it's perfect!
Absolutely, 100% correct Kiki. Those guys worked hard together and partyed hard together too, living life to the fullest in many respects. I don't think any of them would change any of that.
(Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in New York, supporting a Vitas Gerulaitis youth tennis cause)
True.Other times.Other spirit.Other music.Other values.That´s it.I wouldn´t change that, it just sticks inside.
Cool photo, anymore?
as much as i like borg i concur with the sentiment that a player who cant win the us open even once cant be considered THE greatest of all time.
Big Ted, you're certainly entitled that opinion, I just don't happen to share it. You know I just hit today with a former Swedish pro (took a lesson) and we were discussing Borg. He inspired my tennis pro and many other Swedes that did quite well soon after him. That says a lot about his impact on the Game. He told me in essence that Borg does not even want the guy to put up a big picture of him at the club I take lessons at. He just doesn't care about how he is "ranked" or regarded among other all time greats. Anyway, see my earlier large post if you haven't. If Federer had not won the '09 FO, would many (not all) STILL consider him the "greatest"? Have a good one.
do any of you even actually play tennis?
Several things to consider:
1. Though Borg did not play AO many times, its not roger's fault. Plus Even if you take out Roger's 4 AO titles, he still had more than Borg's.
2. Borg's titles came only at RG and Wimb. Even if he didnt play in AO, he shudve atleast won 1 US title to even consider him as GOAT contender.
3. Borg's failure to win even one US title is the biggest reason that he is not GOAT. He lost in all four finals. Fed just does not lose that much(though he does struggle against the clay GOAT). Borg played the US open many times and shudve won it atleast once.
4. Borg lost to Connors and McEnroe at the US. Fed usually finds a way to beat opponents and does not lose to anyone consistently, especially in Slams. The only reason why Fed loses to Rafa at RG is becuz of surface. That wasnt an issue in Borg's failure at the US open. The surface was grass, the same at Wimb. So, he never lost becuz he didnt like the US open surface.
5. Yes, Borg started winning earlier than Fed, but remember that every player peaks at different times. Fed just peaked late.
6. It was Borg's fault that he retired at such an early age. Fed never faced a problem of Burnout, which shows his true love for the game.
So all in all, Fed is GOAT.
Although we have to give it to Borg for starting a new type of tennis which relied very much on one's physical shape. That type of tennis is played today. Kudos to Borg.
PS. My praise for Fed is not biased. I a not a Fed fan. I am a HUGE Nadal fan. I used to hate Fed, but now, as a player I respect him emmensely. (I still love it when Fed loses, LOL)
Several things to consider:
1. Who were the prime rivals of Federer, and how did he do against them?
2. How many majors has he played and won versus Borg?
3. Look at Borg's winning percentage even through 25-26, versus Federer and Nadal then and now (and even including his later playing years after he left the Tour). He has the best overall winning %. He also has the best percentage at the majors. There was no "slow" hard court major then, plus Wimbledon was faster in a time when the dynamics, arguably actually favored serve and volleyers. It's much more difficult to pull off given today's conditions. What would Borg have hit like with Luxilon in a Donnay graphite frame, that's about 85-90 sq. inches, with modern shoes?
4. Does one understand what was happening on the Tour and how Borg was asked to qualify for Wimbledon? Asking Borg to qualify in 1982, are you kidding me Tour officials?
5. Look at Borg's ability to win the Masters YEC (4th biggest tourney of 1980-1981, not the AO, which was not even a top 10 tourney). Great indoor player (unlike even Nadal). He went 5-0 to win both of those tournaments against Lendl, Connors, McEnroe. He did face burnout, as do all players, even Federer. He wanted to take a break and then focus on majors, too much of him to ask after his match totals (see match totals, which do not include a very heavy "unofficial schedule, with big money matches, with Connors and company)
6. Borg is not only one of the greatest clay courters ever, but he dominated Wimbledon and holds the record of a 41 match win streak.
7. His only losses in the finals of majors, were to McEnroe and Connors.
8. Borg completely changed the Game. Watch the video clips in my earlier post for examples.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL__OcegrbY (thanks Krosero)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyuiEzBb7hk (thanks Borgforever)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKQVdZNsyuQ (watch him go offscreen here on this get)
He's the greatest mover ever. He is considered the best conditioned player ever.
10. See him in 1982 at the AKAI event, where he took out Lendl and McEnroe. He was at this time, training and considering staying on the Tour.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kger-33YtiY (Borg vs. McEnroe)
11. He played in 4 hard court majors total.
12. How has Federer done against his main rival? Borg only played McEnroe on hard courts, grass courts, and indoors..never clay (7-7, his worst H2H). McEnroe went to #2 in 1982 behind Connors). Borg has the record at 32 games lost at a major ('78 FO). He won Wimbledon without lost a set and won his first final in straight sets. See Borg at 20 in his first W final.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bPsEi3UxWo (serving and volleying with a Donnay, no poly on very fast courts)
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