Bjorn Borg is the GOAT

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by forehand_dude, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Kiki, that's a good overview of Borg at the WCT and Masters events. The US Open was on hard courts from 1978-1981 (so he played in 4 hard court majors, and lost in the finals three times). He did win some hard court events though. Of course, the Tour was weighted more towards indoor tourneys back then compared to these days (more hard court tourneys instead now). With the WCT and the Masters, I think you have to look at it year by year. The 1980 and 1981 Masters Cup tourneys were bigger than the WCT events those years, in terms of importance to the top players. It was a YEC for one thing, but by then it had really grown in prestige. In earlier years though, I think the WCT Finals was a bigger event. Both McEnroe and Borg have more impressive overall records when one considers that they won WCT/Masters events while not playing in the AO. It was just a different Tour at that time. The biggest indoor matches they played against each other, I would say, were those matches at Madison Square Garden. The 1979 WCT match was also a big match, but the Masters Cup, with big prize money, big crowds, and TV coverage in 1980-1981 was just behind W, the US Open,and the FO. Ranking points would be another consideration when comparing the WCT and the Masters year by year. There's a thread in which posters discussed which tournament was in effect the "4th biggest" tournament of the year, on a yearly basis from about 1975-early 1980's. It's a good way to view the tournament results during a period when the AO was not considered truly a "major" tournament. That old indoor circuit produced some spectacular tennis. It's hard to get much better than Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Gerulaitis, and Vilas facing off indoors at NY's MSG. I remember reading about that tourney back then and they often talked about how electric the matches could be.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  2. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I´d say WCT was the bigger of the 2 indoor super events till 1977, when the Masters moved to MSG and found a stable and exhilarating venue.Look at the early to middle 70´s WCT F fields: Laver,Newcombe,Rosewall;Ashe,Smith,Okker,Lutz,Drisdale,Riessen were always playing the finals.Unfortunately, Connors didn´t enter this event ( neither did he pay much attention to the Masters) until 77, winning the Dallas showcase in a prety good final against Stockton.He also beat Borg in that 1877 year at the Masters, so he won the 2 biggest indoor events, and the first guy to do so (Nastase never won a WCT title, neither did Rosewall or Newombe win the Masters).

    In 1979,80 and 81, the Masters would be well above WCT...however, 1979 WCT Finals (Mc Enroe vs Borg) and 1980 (Connors vs Mc Enroe) were great, too.It is hard to tell.Both events were different in their format and tradition.In any case, I prefer to look at them as season ending Superchampionships: WCT was the end of the indoor season ( that started with the Philadelphia event, a great one) and the Masters would be the end of the whole year.
     
  3. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I was watching the 1979 Wimbledon final between Borg and Tanner the other day. An amazing match which Tanner was very unfortunate to lose, and one of the Australian commentators said that if Borg won, he would surely be recognised as the greatest player of all time. Laver didn't seem to be in the equation anything like he seems to be these days.

    Of course, there's the fact that Borg was just 23 at that stage, about to win his 8th major, and potentially had many, many years at the peak of the game. Many people were saying the same about Federer long before he got near Sampras' 14 majors.
     
  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Borg accomplished so much by 1979. I have seen the Wimbledon final of 1978 and they were calling him perhaps the best ever in 1978 also. I don't think they just counted majors as the only reason for being the best ever but they took into account dominance and other factors. Borg had all of that and more.
     
  5. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    Not just that, but the fact he did it with out the AO, the channel slams, etc.
     
  6. netlets

    netlets Rookie

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    Yes. He would have won at least 4 Australian Opens without question before he had retired at 26. The people that discredit this have flawed reasoning. No one went to Australia in December then. It was really a three Grand Slam year, so comparing them to players whose careers were 4 GS a year is just wrong. Borg won 5 Wimbledons in a row and the AO was on grass at the time. I don't know how Rosewall or Emerson could be considered in Borg's league either. Emerson won most of his Slams when Laver and the other best players of his time were not allowed to play the Slams because they turned pro.
     
  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    We can say the same for Laver's 1962 Grand Slam, won without professionals like Rosewall and Gonzales playing. As for the Australian Open, it was always officially a major, but numerous political issues dominated for a decade or so which meant that few non-Australians showed up. However, you can't knock those who did show up and win the title, like Tanner and Gerulaitis in 1977, and Vilas in 1978 and 1979. Borg made no secret of the fact from 1978 onwards that he would have gone to the Australian Open had he won the first 3 majors of the calendar year, but he never managed to win the US Open title. Connors also promised to follow Borg "to the ends of the Earth" after the 1978 Wimbledon final in order to stop Borg winning the calendar year Grand Slam.
     
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He woyuld possibly win a couple of AO.But , more important than that " if" is the Masters or WCT finals position as the 4 th slam; Borg won 3 of those titles.So, we had a 4 surfaces slam: Clay,Grass,Hard and Indoor plus 4 tier 2 events, also played in 4 surfaces: Rome,Phily,Johannesburg and AO.That is the reality between 1970-1983
     
  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.It would have been a terrific end of the season seeing Connors,Mac and the rest trying to avoid Borg´s GS conquer.I think there was less pressure in the 1960´s, because the press wasn´t pushing so much for the GS.

    In any case, Laver made clear , in 1969, that he wanted it, so he really put himself under enormous pressure....
     
  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I remember that match, too.Tanner´s goal for the season was Wimbledon and his motivation and training was impressive...I remember, in his book, Borg said that, after Roscoe had saved those 3 mp, he couldn´t hardly keep the grip on the racket, he was really extremely nervous...somehow, I think that his 1977 final vs Connors ( where he was the underdog) or 1980 final against Mc Enroe were mentally easier for him than the 1979 final against Tanner.
     
  11. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It was a brilliant match and I doubt any loser of a major final has played better than what Tanner did in that match. He outplayed Borg when it mattered in the first set, defying expectations with a superb lob on set point. He got fed a breadstick in the second set, but responded superbly to take firm control in the third set and Borg was well and truly on the ropes. Borg managed to win a close fourth set and get the break in the very first game of the fifth set. From that point until the end of the match, Tanner was right on Borg's back threatening to break serve and having some break points, whilst easily holding his own service games, but Tanner never managed to break back in that fifth set, so Borg won, a nervous Borg.

    Tanner also changed a Wimbledon tradition that year (1979). Up until then, the tradition at Wimbledon was that the first ball of the final would be in the air by 2:00pm sharp, but that year was the first year that NBC screened the Wimbledon final live in the USA as part of Breakfast at Wimbledon and they couldn't get on air until 2:00pm and needed some time, but the All England Club refused to change. As a result, NBC asked Tanner to delay the start of the final by feigning illness and going into a toilet cubicle. Tanner bluffed his way into staying there until 1:58pm, so there was no way that the first point would be started by 2:00pm. After this, NBC had enough leverage to get the All England Club to change the tradition so that 2:00pm was the time that the players came out onto the court instead of the time when the first point started.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  12. niff

    niff Legend

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    Love that quote.
     
  13. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    It is a good quote from Connors, typifying his never say die attitude and competitiveness. Borg said of Connors at Wimbledon, "they loved to watch him play..because Jimmy was always fighting..every point was like a match point for Jimmy".."To beat Jimmy you always had to play your best tennis".

    Connors was a guy who was getting the better of the younger Borg pretty consistently until about 1977. Yet Borg matured and got stronger and more confident by 21-22 years of age. In the '76 US Open final he was 20. By 22-25, beating him was a very different proposition, no matter the surface.

    See: http://mitchalbom.com/d/journalism/103/connors-goes-out-hard-after-big-grab-glory

    Jimmy Connors lost that epic five setter to Borg at Wimbledon as Borg took Wimbledon #2, after which Connors made that statement. In later years, referring to that '77 W win, Borg said that he had proved that he was a "good grass court player and that he had beaten Jimmy in the final" in his typical understated fashion.

    Yet, look at 1978-1981 though, after that close Wimbledon win by Borg in 1977. Besides the 1978 US Open final, Borg got the better of Connors at Wimbledon consistently and also at the US Open (ex. straight set win in 1981 in the SF). So, look at 1978-1981, Borg was 12-2 in official matches versus Connors.
    See: http://en.origin.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Bo/B/Bjorn-Borg.aspx?t=pa&y=0&m=s&e=0#

    So, the quote is a good one, but it certainly didn't have the desired overall effect, if Connors was trying to send a message to Borg. It must have fired up Bjorn actually longer term. Borg had a lot of respect for Connors, but Borg was not easily intimidated by anyone he played against. Bud Collins didn't refer to him as the Angelic Assassin for nothing. H

    Having said that, look at Connors in 1982 and beyond and also look at Connors in 1974 especially. He exhibited some tremendous tennis. In 1982, with Borg contemplating retirement, fighting with Tour Organizers, not agreeing to qualify for majors if he reduced his official schedule for a while, Jimmy Connors took over #1 from McEnroe in 1982 and got the better of Lendl too from 1982-1984 especially (overall). So, his longevity and competitiveness are to be admired. If you look at say a 15 year period of tennis (long view), Connors is right up there with anyone. Yet, Borg certainly had the overall advantage in their rivalry from 1978-1981, the time that immediately followed that famous quote from him. Connors was not a big threat on red clay for Borg by then, and Borg won indoor, grass court, and hard court matches versus Connors. His match at the 1978 Wimbledon final was one of Borg's best performances. Connors got exactly 7 games total.


    He played like this against Connors by 1979 on rubico: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY (Thanks for video Krosero).


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    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    " To beat Jimmy is the most satisfactory win you can have, because you know he has tried so hard".Bjorn Borg in his book ( 1979)
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1979 Tanner had wins over Connors,JMac and Borg and he probably put together his most consistent year.Not just playing the Wimbly finals and Flushing meadows semis, but winning important events like Washington Indoors or Palm Springs.

    He was a dangerous guy that could beat the top seeded players in a tournament and then got beaten by a journeyman.In 79 he put it all together.
     
  16. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    The Borg-Connors rivalry was still even in 1978. Connors beat Borg in the final of the January 1978 Masters, the first one held at Madison Square Garden, and got revenge for the 1978 Wimbledon thrashing by thrashing Borg in the 1978 US Open final. You can easily make a case for Connors being the best player of 1978, just as you can for Borg.

    1979, however, was a different story and not a good year for Connors. Firstly, Borg clearly pulled well ahead as the best player in the world, and secondly, Connors had a serious threat for the best American player in McEnroe, who had won both the January 1979 Masters and the 1979 US Open.

    It was in 1978 when Borg was on for the calendar year Grand Slam and had just beaten Connors 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the Wimbledon final that Connors made that statement about following Borg to the ends of the earth, as Connors' pride had taken a battering in that 1978 Wimbledon final. Why would Connors say that in 1977 when Borg only won Wimbledon out of the majors that year? It makes no sense.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  17. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Why after the '77 W final? See the source there as to the date of the quote from the Mitch Albom article (after the '77 W final that Borg won in 5 sets over JC). He did have 2 wins over Borg in 1978, but Borg beat him twice as well, including the W final. Borg won the FO too that year in spectacular fashion (added to the lopsided W final). So you have Borg with the FO and W, and Connors with the Jan. 78 Masters title and the US Open. I would give Borg the overall edge in 1978, but Connors definitely had a very good year as well. So, that's just 1978. Then from 1979-1981 you had about 10 straight official wins by Borg, including big wins at the US Open and Wimbledon. It was a great rivalry, with ebbs and flows. Their full rivalry gets less attention than the Borg-McEnroe rivalry partly because McEnroe is such a great promoter of the Sport and his rivalry with Borg, etc.

    http://en.origin.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Bo/B/Bjorn-Borg.aspx?t=pa&y=1978&m=s&e=0#
    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Co/J/Jimmy-Connors.aspx?t=pa&y=1978&m=s&e=0#
     
  18. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Makes no sense at all:

    1. Connors played 1977 Wimbledon with a broken left thumb and against doctor's orders, and still got the final and pushed Borg to 5 sets.

    2. The only major Borg won in 1977 was at Wimbledon, so why would he have gone to Australia that year?

    3. The second half of 1977 was utterly dominated by Guillermo Vilas, getting 72 wins in 73 matches.

    4. In 1978, Borg had the most dominant major win of any men's singles player ever when he won the French Open, losing just 32 games in 7 matches. At 1978 Wimbledon, apart from a big first round scare by Amaya, Borg utterly dominated the tournament.

    5. Borg was then on for the calendar year Grand Slam and the Australian Open was now officially recognised as the last major of the calendar year. Borg indicated his readiness to go down to Australia if he wins the US Open. Connors then made that ends of the earth quote, after being battered by Borg in that 1978 Wimbledon final.

    http://blogs.tennis.com/tennisworld/2011/12/coinnors-nadal.html
     
  19. nikdom

    nikdom Hall of Fame

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    Can the mods please move this thread to the former pro player section. Thanks.
     
  20. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I agree this thread could easily be in the FPP section, but we're covering a lot of topics in it that are relevant to current discussions as well. How about all Sampras and Agassi threads too, if we want to be that technical about it?
     
  21. nikdom

    nikdom Hall of Fame

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    Sure. They are all retired pros the last I checked. The mods do a good job of moving inane threads to the 'odds & ends' section, so this should be enforced too. Otherwise there is no point of having a separate Former Pro player section.

    It isn't fair to the folks who are not interested in discussing past champions to have to see these threads stay at the top in the general pro player section.
     
  22. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    About Borg's retirement. A lot of myths persist about it, especially the one that says that McEnroe drove Borg out of the game. Even Bud Collins was putting forward the myth many years back of Borg losing the 1981 US Open final to McEnroe and then walking out of the tennis after leaving Flushing Meadows in a car. The reality is far more complex. Far from retiring after the 1981 US Open, Borg won his next tournament in Geneva on clay. 1982 was dominated by disputes with the authorities, so Borg only played Monte Carlo and exhibitions. It wasn't until January 1983, during the Masters tournament, that it came to light that Borg wouldn't be returning to the tour full-time. Of course, Borg changed his mind in 1991, but it was far too late by then.
     
  23. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Yes, I agree with you Mustard. Nikdom, I hear you, I can understand your sentiment there. No big deal either way. I really enjoy reading and posting in both sections of this site.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  24. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Have you seen Borg's match with Arrese at 1991 Monte Carlo? It was a real anachronism.
     
  25. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I really think that Borg was very troubled around then. He, in my opinion, was missing the Game by then in a way that perhaps he hadn't anticipated in 1982-1983, when he was young and "retiring" with a net worth of somewhere between 100-200 million dollars (1983 US dollars!). He lived in Monte Carlo and even had his own island. He called his comeback in 1991 "crazy" later..everything about it..wood frames? He hadn't even been practicing seriously for YEARS before then. In many ways, I think he was trying to show his vulnerability and how he was in fact very human and not this tennis machine and just a sports icon. See him here at the FO in 1982, won by Wilander. He had won FO #6 in 1981.

    [​IMG]
     
  26. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    And the weirdest thing of all about that comeback was that instead of Lennart Bergelin, his new coach was an 80 year old Welsh karate expert by the name of Ron Thatcher.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  27. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes, and ask Mats if he would have beaten Bjorn at the 1982 French Open, and he says "no chance" as he couldn't even win a set off him in practice.
     
  28. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    That tells me right there that something was definitely very off at that time. Lennart Bergelin was like a second father to Bjorn Borg. He started coaching him when he was about 15 or so (1971). Borg won the Orange Bowl and Junior Wimbledon soon thereafter. His great coach has since passed away.

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    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Curiously, they played 7 matches ( 3 unofficial) in 1979, and Borg lost a total of 3 sets (Frankfurt exo, Masters rr,Montreal WCT exo) . Borg won without losing a set at the Las Vegas and Tokyo GP finals ( 2 of the most important events of the year), Wimbledon sf and Boca Raton Pepsi GS cup.

    But they played no match in 1980 ( where Connors seemed to recover from his lousy 1979 ,winning the WCT title) and just 3 in 1981 ( Bog won all of them, but 2 of those 3 matches were extremely close)

    Seems that , when Connors and Borg meet often ( 1979, 1981), Connors and Mac weren´t, and the other way back, when Connors and Mac played often ( 1980,82), Borg and Connors didn´t.
     
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    in 79 Mac was already ahead of Connors, in fact, he took 2 of the 5 big events of the year (Dallas and Flushing), while Borg won the other 3 (Wimbledon,Paris,Masters).

    In fact, Mac had beaten Borg in the NO final and the WCT final, a thing that Connors was unable to do ( lost all his matches against Borg)
     
  31. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    In 1980, Connors lost to Borg at the WCT-Maryland event 6-1,6-3 (indoors). At the 1980 Masters Cup (YEC) event, played in Jan. 1981, he lost a close three setter to Borg. So, as far as calendar year 1980, you have that 1 Connors Borg meeting, with two wins by Borg if you look at the Jan. 81 Masters event as the 1980 YEC. What a trio of great players, reminding me a bit of Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer now, of course with some differences. Connors was the oldest of the three. Here, you have Federer as the oldest of the three. Nadal represented a big challenge for Federer. For Connors, it was first Borg and then later McEnroe. Now, you have Djokovic that has reached the top ranking. Will he hang on? How long? That's sort of like what McEnroe did in 1981, when he took over #1 from Borg. Yet, look at 1981 more closely. McEnroe did win the W and US Open encounters against Borg, but Borg was no slouch that year. he took out McEnroe at the Masters event indoors on McEnroe's home turf (MSG) and of course he won FO #6, whereas McEnroe was nowhere near Borg on red clay. I remember Laver talking about how though McEnroe was a tough matchup for Borg on fast surfaces by 1981 (though their H2H stood at 7-7 on all fast surfaces), Borg still had a big advantage on clay. Then came 1982, and Connors pulled ahead of McEnroe at both W and the US Open. Currently, what will happen with Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer? Can Djokovic hold on to the top spot, and hold off the "older guard" (though Nadal only about a year older than Djokovic). Should be fascinating to watch.
     
  32. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Connors was a vastly improved player in 1982, and I wonder how he would have fared had Borg still been there. Connors hadn't beaten Borg since the 1978 US Open final.
     
  33. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    True, Connors was better in 1982 (not sure I would say vastly, but of course tennis rivalries can shift even with slight improvement by one player). Borg basically had become a bad matchup for Connors. He couldn't hurt Borg easily off the ground, and then with Borg's improved serve, Borg got so many more free points. Connors could win points at net, but not like McEnroe, and we all know how Borg was a stellar passer, off both wings. I was very happy to see Connors do well after seeing him sort of fade back to #3 with Borg and McEnroe. I always admired his play (his ballstriking ability and footwork, vision, hard work, etc.). I remember being at a junior tournament and watching that classic five set win he had over McEnroe in the '82 W final. That win especially must have been so satisfying, given that he hadn't won there since 1974 (8 years earlier). He backed it up at the US Open. Connors played better in 1982, no question, but McEnroe did not look the same that year. Not nearly as much "fire in the belly" and I'm sure that he was grappling with being somewhat more satisfied, given that he had now won W for example and of course his friend and big rival Borg was not there, though he was trying to talk Borg into staying on Tour despite Borg's disputes with Tour officials (all while the WCT and ATP was beginning to split and later only the ATP would survive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  34. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    McEnroe was getting repeatedly battered by Lendl in 1982. It was certainly a factor in damaging his confidence.
     
  35. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Very true. Look at 1980-1981 too. Lendl had the edge there versus him, though Connors and Borg were winning most of the time versus Lendl. In 1981, Borg prevailed almost always versus Connors, and most of the time versus Lendl, with McEnroe he was basically even H2H, but McEnroe won at W and the US Open, while Borg did take the Jan. 81 Masters and the FO.
     
  36. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    So 1982 was bad for McEnroe in the sense that Borg was gone from the tour and McEnroe missed their rivalry, Connors was now a better player with an improved serve, while Lendl continued to batter McEnroe every time they played and was someone who was clearly very different in how he approached the game, very scientific. Don Budge helped McEnroe in 1983 to get over his inferiority complex with Lendl, and the rivalry suddenly turned on its head.

    McEnroe dumping the wooden racquets in early 1983 was another plus for him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  37. kOaMaster

    kOaMaster Hall of Fame

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    Thank you for the interesting opening post on page one @ borg number one

    I can see your conclusion of Borg being your "GOAT" candidate. I'm too young to remember any of the stories myself but when I read older books, articles or watch documentaries it is highly visible: never (?) before in the history of tennis, one man had such an impact on the popularity and perhaps also on the level of the sport. He truly was THE champion that time and considering also effect and popularity you could some up with him being "the greatest".

    There is a but of course. First of all - Borg quit tennis relatively early. This may be good for his ego and himself as a man in history but it does not replaces any titles he "could have won". Fact is, he didn't. Other players have injuries or whatsoever and can't or don't play. That's how it goes. If you're not there, someone else will win in sports.

    Second point is, that in my opinion it became generally harder in all kind of sports to be "outstanding", above others. I think almost every sport became a lot more competitive, it is not just a hobby but considered as a profession.
    and when acknowledging that borg brought tennis to a new level you always have to admit that professional tennis was in the very beginning when he came up so he may have had it a easier dominating a "new" sport he brought in.

    combined, this is why I personally would rank borg's achievement and skills in tennis below laver or federer.


    now get on with your discussion, I don't want to interrupt :)
     
  38. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Even assuming that your logic is correct, surely it applies even more to Laver than Borg considering that the open era had barely started when Laver won the calendar year Grand Slam in 1969?
     
  39. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Agreed Mustard. Plus, McEnroe really took a liking to that MAX 200G, whereas previously he was facing off Lendl the way Borg did (with a wood frame). Meanwhile Lendl was wielding a Adidas graphite frame. Connors remained with the T2000 until in 198 he went to the Pro Staff. McEnroe and Connors recognized by 1983 or so that they had to make the shift to graphite. 1983 was when most all of the players were beginning to use graphite/fiberglass frames. I only wish that we could have Borg on the scene as well, playing with graphite frames too. Imagine Borg, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe, and Wilander all with graphite frames. It would have been something to behold. In later years, Borg played with a red Donnay graphite frame (looked very similar to this one use dby Agassi), but of course by then, he was but a shadow of his former self, many years removed from serious tennis.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] (notice the similarities?)
     
  40. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Thanks KOaMaster. I'm glad that you took something away from my take on Bjorn Borg. Suffice it to say that Borg changed my life for the better (from about 8-9 years of age). He personified greatness combined with a basic modesty that I've always really admired in life in general (along with my father by the way). Even as a junior player, I would tell myself, look at how the GREAT Bjorn Borg carries himself and how he talks about his success and other rivals. Why in the heck are other junior players so different than him when they have achieved nothing compared to him?

    It's a complicated discussion, but my conclusion is that I don't agree with the premise that all sports are progressing all the time and that players in the most recent era are necessarily better than they were before. Two points. (1) I look at depth at the top (esp. top 10-20 players) as opposed to say depth from 1-1000. Even with Laver, look at the guys he was facing off against on an almost weekly basis. It was a smaller club back then, yes, but think of iron sharpening iron. The best players simply thrive and get better when they keep pushing each other and also the greats just don't tend to lose in the early rounds, it's the later rounds that are crucial (QF-F). Look at Borg's competition. It was outstanding. (2) More numbers don't automatically translate into necessarily more great players. Case in point is Spain. Where are the waves of young players in the top 50-100 that are say in their early 20's? There are tons of more total juniors playing there these days, so why are there not a bunch of great players that have come up after the wave created by Moya, Ferrerro, Nadal, Ferrer, etc.? Are the best NBA players today better than Michael Jordan? No. Of course, you have to look at each sport separately and really bore down into the history and many dynamics. With tennis, you have so much change, both in equipment, but also even with more "global reach" you have declines in traditional tennis powerhouses like the U.S., Australia, and Great Britain (Sweden is a more recent example). So, yes, you have more players playing in places like Asia and Europe in total, but there are offsets to consider as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I found that remark somewhat odd too. A few things come to mind about that time period (the late 70s).

    1) Wimbledon may have been regarded as more important, relative to the other Slams, than it is today. Of course it has top prestige today, but back then it was still called the unofficial world championship -- a title which by tradition it had held for a long time. For example in '77 when Borg won Wimbledon, Sports Illustrated referred to his winning "the world championship."

    So the streak that Borg was putting together at Wimbledon was already taking on mythical proportions. The longest previous streak since the Challenge Round was abolished was 3 in a row by Fred Perry. Borg was doing something that had not been done in 40 years, going back to Perry, and when he got 4 in a row with the win over Tanner it became the longest streak since 1906. When records that old get toppled, it takes on mythical proportions.

    2) Laver's "lost" career in 1963-67 was not as well understood in 1979 as it is now. Of course people knew that he kept on winning in those years, but the picture of what he did was unclear. A lot of it was forgotten, or just plain unknown. (And what was known was definitely under-appreciated!)The historical research that uncovered all of his titles and laid it out in a clear picture is much more recent. In '79 what the pros had done before the Open Era was still looked upon as the dark ages of tennis.

    3) And I think there was just some hyperbole in the moment. That announcer may just have felt the excitement of an unheard-of record about to be made, and jumped the gun about what its importance was going to be in the GOAT debate.

    Not saying that explains the remark fully, but those things come to mind.
     
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    He could have won 4, but no way is it without question. In '77 Connors could have pushed him to the limit (as he did in the Wimbledon final) or beaten him. In '78, yes, Borg would have had a great chance. In '79, '80 and '81 he would have faced strong challenges from McEnroe -- with Connors still in the mix.
     
  43. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Krosero, I agree that Wimbledon may have been a bit more prestigious back then than it is today, relatively speaking. I think it's still quite comfortably the "biggest tournament" of the year, though the other majors aren't too far behind perhaps. Borg equaling Perry's 3 in a row was big and then when he won four in a row, that was huge. I recall that after the epic '81 final, the commentator said something like..Bjorn Borg now has an "absolutely unique place in the history of the Game" (referring to his five titles in a row). Also, he said that he was "King of the world of tennis without a doubt..."an absolutely monumental place in the Game". Around 1980-1981, when discussions about the "greatest" player were going on, I recall that Borg, Laver, and perhaps Tilden also were discussed. I believe that in a World Tennis article, Budge said something about Tilden being able to take Borg's shots simply take them on the fly (volley them). Though I disagreed, it was interesting to think about. On the AO question, no doubt, Connors and McEnroe would be his primary rivals of course, just like they were at Wimbledon and the US Open, but not at the FO.
     
  44. nikdom

    nikdom Hall of Fame

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    Borg's ugly game and clay court achievements were upended by Nadal's ugly game. If Borg wasn't even the greatest clay court player, how can he be GOAT?
     
  45. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Nikdom, as to Borg and Nadal, there's also indoors, Wimbledon and hard courts, plus influence on the Game in many respects. So, it's not just clay dominance. Borg and Nadal are basically both way up there in the history of clay courters, of course. In addition, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus, I don't find Nadal's game to be ugly either. I generally find many styles of tennis to be quite pleasing to the eye, whether it's S&V, all court, or primarily baseline play.

    This is some beautiful tennis play.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyuiEzBb7hk
    (Borg vs. Lendl indoors in Jan. 1981 at the Masters YEC)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY
    (Borg vs. Connors on rubico in '79, Pepsi Grand Slam, 4 man invitational, only for players that had won a major, big money event played in FLA back then)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jGn0ZIZtaM
    (Borg vs. Pecci, 1979 FO final)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ugw-pjROUQ
    (Borg vs. Nastase, 1976 W final)

    Thanks for the videos Borgforever and Krosero.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  46. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I have no problem with your subjective statement regarding ugliness, but to presume that being the GOAT means you must be the GOAT on clay is silly.
     
  47. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes. Those comments were made by Dan Maskell after the 1980 Wimbledon final, Borg's fifth Wimbledon title in a row. Maskell had said it was one of the most dramatic matches that he had ever seen, and considering that he had been involved in the tennis world for about 6 decades by that point (since he was a kid), that is saying something. He carried on commentating until the end of 1991 Wimbledon, when he was 83 years old.
     
  48. nikdom

    nikdom Hall of Fame

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    Sorry. Still pissed that this in the general pro player section. I don't know enough about Borg to do anything but troll. Please carry on; I won't interject.
     
  49. monfed

    monfed Guest

    How is Borg the GOAT when he isn't even GOAT on his favourite surface(ala clay)?
     
  50. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Nikdom, no worries. It's just tennis talk. For me, Borg, Laver, Tilden, Sampras, Agassi, Federer, Nadal, Tomic..it's all interesting. When you know about all the history of the Game, it really makes even today's AO matches more interesting to watch and appreciate, but that's my opinion. My first coach played on the Tour along guys like Kramer, so even during my first lesson in the late 1970's I was immediately immersed in tennis history. He wouldn't even let me play with an oversized Prince when those first came out. I still talk to him to this day about Laver, Murray, Nadal, Borg, Federer, Donnay frames, etc...
     

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