Borg on grass and clay

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dommod, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. dommod

    dommod Banned

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    If Bjorn Borg was a clay courter who won French Open many times, how come he also did well on grass? Isn't it opposite surface style?
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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  3. dommod

    dommod Banned

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    Interesting links. Thank you.
     
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  4. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    An interesting comparison is with Wilander, who had such a similar game. Like Borg he was a great clay-courter, and a 3-time winner at the French. Why then was he, unlike Borg, unable to win at Wimbledon or even to make a Wimbledon final?

    Anyone know?
     
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  5. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Because Bjorn Borg was better.
     
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  6. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    borg had a top 3 serve.
     
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  7. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Probably because when Borg won those wimbledon titles, everybody was playing with wood racquets. When Wilander came into the picture, people were playing with more modern racquets and unlike the racquets of today, those racquets helped the good volleyers more than the good baseliners/counterpunchers. If you look at the list below, you'll see that only the Connors and Agassi managed to win Wimbledon without having a strong net game (their net games were excellent but they were not as strong when compared to those of the other Wimbledon champions)


    Wimbledon champions
    1981 - John McEnroe
    1982 - Jimmy Connors
    1983 - John McEnroe
    1984 - John McEnroe
    1985 - Boris Becker
    1986 - Boris Becker
    1987 - Pat Cash
    1988 - Stefan Edberg
    1989 - Boris Becker
    1990 - Stefan Edberg
    1991 - Michael Stich
    1992 - Andre Agassi
    1993 - Pete Sampras
    1994 - Pete Sampras
    1995 - Pete Sampras
    1996 - Richard Krajicek
    1997 - Pete Sampras
    1998 - Pete Sampras
    1999 - Pete Sampras
    2000 - Pete Sampras
    2001 - Goran Ivanišević
     
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  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I usually just think of wood and graphite, with a single direction in racket development toward more powerful play for baseliners. You seem to be referring to a middle category when wood was out but the advances were in favor of serve-and-volleyers. I'm just asking because I don't know, but what racquet material are we talking about, and what years were serve-and-volleyers benefiting from it?
     
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  9. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    those racquets were larger and more powerful than the wood racquets, so they allowed the good volleyers to end the points quickly. The courts were faster, so they favored players with big serves and effective net games. Back in those days, there were not too many rallies. A guy would serve, come in and either win the point or get passed . I would say from 1984 to 2000.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2007
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  10. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Connors was a great volleyer actually, streets ahead of Agassi and Ivanisevic. Connors wasn't really a baseliner but a true all-court player. He actually serve volleyed alot at Wimbledon too. His volley never let him down, but his serve was his main weakness.
     
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  11. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Quite right. Borg's serve was a major weapon in his day, and Wilander's was average. Wilander would probably not have won Wimbledon if he'd been playing in the 70s and I think he'd have been incredibly vulnerable to Connors, McEnroe, Tanner and others. Borg beat Connors 4 times at Wimbledon, but without his big serve the result would have been the other way round.
     
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  12. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I agree about Borg's serve and the difference with Wilander's, but one thing I've never understood is how Wilander won two Australian Opens on grass, beating both McEnroe and Lendl in straight sets in 1983 when his game was still undeveloped. Those are some matches I'd like to see.
     
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  13. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    If this is true about racquets then why has serving and volleying died out so completely?

    Seems like the technology benefits the returner more. The server puts the toss in the same spot every time, so a larger racquet face shouldn't matter as much. The returner however, has to hit an unpredictable target.
     
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  14. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    You're right, the larger rackets really have favored the returner. I think the slower courts have also helped hasten the decline in S/V play.

    Borg's serve had some serious heat on it. I don't know that Wilander's serve was the reason he didn't win Wimbledon. Wilander made the quarters of Wimbledon in 87 and 88. In 87 he lost in straight sets to Pat Cash. Cash went on to win Wimbledon that year and in fact lost one set the entire tournament. So, Wilander didn't do too poorly considering.

    In 1988, Wilander made the quarters and lost to Mecir. On the way though he beat Slobodan "BoBo" Zivojinovic who was no slouch on grass. He possessed a very big serve and volley game and was a floater in the draw for sure.

    In Wilander's now infamous interview regarding Federer vs Nads on clay, he made a very telling remark. While all the attention was drawn to Wilander's remark about Federer playing with "no balls" he made the same remark about himself. Wilander is hard on himself and his Wimbledon record. He said he played with "no balls" against Cash.

    What he meant, and it should be taken to heart by any tennis player, is that if you're playing in less than your favorite situation (wrong surface), you need to get out of your comfort zone. You need to play outside of your normal game to give yourself a chance to win. Obviously, Wilander's normal game on grass was not going to beat a great grasscourter like Cash any more than Cash would beat Wilander on clay. Wilander recognized after the fact that he needed to step up.

    Wilander won the Aussie because he had the game to win it. Any time you beat McEnroe on grass any where, you've got game. Wilander had very good volleys as evidenced by his win at Wimbledon in the doubles, he and Joakim Nystrom beat a series of great doubles teams to win the title.

    R32 - Johan Kriek/John Lloyd in 4 sets
    R16 - Wotjek Fibak/Guy Forget in 4 sets
    QF - Ken Flach/Robert Seguso in 5 sets
    SF - Paul Annacone/Christo Van Rensburg in 4 sets
    F - Gary Donnely/Peter Fleming in 3 sets

    Wilander told me that his Wimbledon doubles title is the one he is most proud of. I think that's because grass was his least comfortable surface. If you look at the guys they beat, and followed doubles back then, you'll notice some damn good teams. Point being, Wilander had to be able to volley to win this title.

    He had grasscourt game and enough of it to win the Australian Open twice.

    Back on topic, while Wilander's serve wasn't as hard as Borg's, neither was Edberg's and he did pretty well at Wimbledon. It's not as much how big your serve is as how well you place it and most importantly back it up. Wilander didn't have his mind set to play out of his comfort zone to back up his serve. He apparently did at the Australian; maybe he was just more relaxed.
     
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  15. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Keep in mind the Australian Open grass was different than that of Wimbledon(like the diff between rebound ace & the US Open today)

    Plus the Australian still wasn't highly regarded by the players from '83-'85. After Edberg won the Australian in '85, his 1st major win, he was asked how important it was to his career, & he said, "off course its not as big as the other slams, but its still important." That should tell you a lot, its unfathomable that someone would say that after winning the AO today(& Edberg is a nice guy, not the type to ruffle feathers, & no one took offence at his comment, since he was just telling the truth)
    Also, I saw the '83 final between Wilander & Lendl, there were an inordinate amount of baseline rallies(esp considering Lendl & Wilander always S&Ved at Wimbledon) After the final, in the trophy presentation, Lendl said "I'm not sure I'll be back next year, maybe I can fit it in my schedule, but it was nice to play this year." Again this shows the stature of this event at the time, can you imagine players not able to fit a slam in their schedule? No wonder Wilander didn't feel much pressure there, it wasn't anywhere near as important as Wimbledon. McEnroe was actually offered apperance money to play the Australian some years, so I doubt he was 100% motivated when he played it. No one needed to motivate him for Wimbledon.

    I saw Mecir destroy Wilander in '88 at Wimbledon, all the "balls" in the world wouldn't have helped Mats that day. Too bad Mecir couldn't borrow some of Mats' balls on other days, he should have won some slams.

    Isn't that the guy who had the record for most consecutive matches lost before Spadea?
     
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  16. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    I remember that match. Mecir was on fire. Mats looked helpless. Do you remember or see the Edberg vs Mecir Semi's that same year? For the first 2 sets Mecir was destorying Edberg the same way he was destroying Mats until he cooled off and Edberg started getting hot himself. That match I always thought was the one that brought Edberg out of his mental shell. He fought back from 2 sets down and continued his great play against Becker in the final.

    Mats never did well at Wimbledon as Rabbit pointed out was because he "choked" and "had no balls." Mats also said he always had time to practice and have his mind set ready to play on grass in Australia but coming from the French clay to Wimbleton grass he never was able to properly prepare himself. That said, I always thought the rise of the power game was to much for Mats in at Wimbleton in the Mid to lates '80's Isn't it a little weird how he couldn't even make it to the Semi's given his volloying skills were better then Borg's or Agassi.
     
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  17. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    he had some tough draws, losing to Cash 3 times at Wimbledon. Cash often had a lower ranking than he should have because of injuries & would often run into a top seed early, unfortunately that top seed was Mats most of the time. And Mecir is no gimme either.

    I'm not sure Wilander volleyed better than Borg, Borg S&Ved almost all his 1st serves at W. But his serve was better than Mats so maybe he had easier volleys.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  18. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Mac said the grass helped Borg's weak volleys. Far as I'm concerned, 5 straight titles at Wimbledon says your volleys get by.
     
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  19. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    OK, here's the Gary Donnelly story as told to me by Wilander. His regular partner was Mike DePalmer, who was pretty good. Peter Fleming's regular partner was a guy named....ehh....McEnroe, yeah, that's it. Gary Donnelly and Peter Fleming teamed together in the 1986 Wimbledon. According to Wilander, both of these guys were really happy to have made the finals. The reason was clear. They had both gotten monkeys off their backs. Heretofore, everyone said the only reason they won anything was their partners. They made the finals on their own so to speak.

    Gary Donnelly played the Masters in dubs several years which meant he was one of the top teams that year. He never did well at the Masters, but making the final cut says that you're pretty good. If you look back at his partners, he had some pretty good ones including Pete Sampras. So, he must have been a more than adequate doubles players.

    Did he hold the record prior to Spadea? I think you're right, but then again singles is a different world.
     
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  20. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Not quite sure why serving and volleying died out completely but Sampras became the GOAT while playing with his PS 85, and his best competition was Andre Agassi, a superb returner and when the two would meet in finals, Sampras often appeared to have the advantage. If you look at the list of Wimbledon champions from 1981 to 2001, most of them had superb net games.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2007
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  21. Rosebud

    Rosebud New User

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    Regarding the importance of the AO during some years, it's telling how little it's mentioned in autobiographies by Borg, McEnroe, Nastase, etc. In Nasty's I don't remember reading about it, McEnroe's has it that prior to his first trip to the AO he used to feel that traveling all that way for a relatively 'minor major' was too much effort. And Borg didn't even regard it as a major; when cutting back his schedule in 1980 he said his main career goal remained to win as many majors as possible (and then went on to list only three (!): the French, Wimbledon and the US). During the Aussie Open he would rest and he wouldn't ever think about playing there until he managed to win the first three legs of the Grand Slam. He complains about the long schedule which back then streched to a thirteenth month with the Grand Prix Masters held in January.
    Your comparison between various types of hard courts now a days and the grass courts of former days makes perfect sense to me. Maybe there is even more variation possible on grass because of the effect the weather can have on natural surfaces (just as we see these days on clay). The most clear cut description of the differences in surfaces of the three grass court majors I saw in Gene Scott in his "Tennis, A Game of Motion". For accuracy's sake I'll quote him literally:
    Aussie grass is different from the lushness of Wimbledon or the brittleness of Forest Hills. It is low and as hard as a roadbed, producing lightningfast but flawless bounces. The Meeri Creek river irrigates the soil that produces Kooyong's green, the equal of turf anywhere. A sturdy combination of Kentucky blue, rye and creeping bent, the turf is almost indestructible, even to a determined toedragger. By April, the end of the tennis season, the courts are worn and soiled to a green-brown stubble that resembles a three-day beard. Nonetheless, the surface stays even and gives a true bounce, even after a succession of tournaments. The surface is as hard as cement, but there are still no ruts. At Forest Hills, because of a weak subsoil, the courts become sponge like after the first rain. There, a ball's first bounce is likely to be its last. But after a deluge at Kooyong, the rich river earth combines with the rain to form a pastelike mud. As the grounds dry, they can be rolled and manicured into the same resilient, even pitch as before. The pros continually complain about the uneven turf at the West Side. The grass there has subsoil problems that cause the pitch to become uneven after a heavy rain.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
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  22. Rosebud

    Rosebud New User

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    In his autobiography Mac mentions something that I found curious: he says that to fascilitate drainage, the courts at Kooyong, from baseline to net sloped uphill somewhat on each side, which in his view (apart from the hard ground) also helped baseliners like Villas defeat serve and volleyers. I'm trying to see how they would have benefited from that?
     
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  23. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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  24. dommod

    dommod Banned

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  25. fgbowen33

    fgbowen33 New User

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    return of serve

    Borg stood way back on the return. On grass he could return the serve at servers feet with a very low dipping heavy topspin shot making the server hit the first volley up. Then the server was dead.
     
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