bORG VS lENDL, THE RIVALRY WE MISSED

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by kiki, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    It didn´t develop although we got some signs after their Masters and, specially RG 1981 final, this last one of the best finals there.

    Lendl became the second youngest guy to beat Borg, since Borg never lost to a younger player other than Mac and Ivan.he did so beating him in 5 gruelling sets at Basle, back in 1980...and this was ONLY the second time, after that USO final that Borg lost a 5 sets final.Again, only Mac and Lendl could achieve it.

    In 79 Borg beat Lendl at the CO semis, and in 1980 Lendl defeated Borg also at the CO final, but Borg did retire after losing the first set, so...what could have happened?

    If Borg hadn´t been retired in 82, that year and next 83 might have been two of the greatest ever, with Borg,Connors,Lendl and Mac going at each other, as they did in 1980 and 1981...any opinions?
     
    #1
  2. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Lendl was 4 years younger than Borg, so Borg was 25 and Lendl was 21 in 1981. In 1982, you would have also had Wilander in the mix in terms of the rankings as well. Yet, I completely agree that having Borg, McEnroe, McEnroe, and Lendl playing more matches would have been just great. Connors took over the top spot in 1982, even if the rankings said that McEnroe was #1, since Connors won both the US Open and Wimbledon. Yet, Lendl did garner 10 titles in 1982 though. If Borg would have continued playing through 1982 and beyone, it would have been on a lighter schedule with a focus on the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French Open and the Masters. Recall that he was fighting to reduce his schedule for a while without having to qualify for the majors, but the FO and Wimbledon insisted that he would have to qualify if reduced his schedule to under 10 official tourneys for the year.

    If he had resolved his dispute with the Tour in 1982, he may have even switched to graphite by late 1982-1983, because he was already in talks with Donnay to have a graphite frame specially designed for him before he finally announced his retirement in 1983. He lobbied to take some time off and play a reduced schedule to combat his burnout. He wanted to rest and then gear up for the majors primarily after taking some time off, but Tour officials insisted on having him qualify at the majors if he did that, with a new Tour in place that mandated that if a player played less than 10 official tourneys, he would have to play the qualifying rounds. Borg refused to comply and he was gone. Years later, I actually think Borg regretted his decision to leave early, but it was too late. I wish things had turned out differently, but Borg has no regrets and he had a wonderful career. He played a lot tennis and contributed so much to the Tour through 1981. Frankly, if the Tour had been more flexible with Borg, we very well may have had Borg around for a few more years through about 1985 or so. The head to head shows it as 6-2 in favor of Borg, with Lendl's wins at Toronto ('80) and Basel on hard courts. Borg won their matches at the Masters (indoors), the French Open (clay), Stuggart (clay), Monte Carlo (clay), Davis Cup (clay), and '79 Toronto (hard). I would have loved to have seen Borg play with graphite frames from 1982-1985 or so, along with Lendl, McEnroe, Connors, and Wilander, among others. I heard Lendl saying in a interview that his win in 1980 at Basel over Bjorn Borg was the biggest of his career, since Borg was the top player in the world. That win was huge for him since Borg was such a big star.

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Players/Head-To-Head.aspx?pId=B058&oId=L018


    This is a clip from their final at the Masters Cup played in January 1981 ('80 YEC at Madison Square Garden).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyuiEzBb7hk

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #2
  3. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,685
    My god can you imagine Borg vs Wilander on red clay in 82 and 83!!!!!!! Bring a lunch and dinner!
     
    #3
  4. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Lol, maybe gavna. Yet, Wilander said that in practice during 1982 he couldn't take a set off of Borg. Anyway, that had to be some great practice before the French Open. Can you imagine? "Mats, who have you been working out with for the French Open? Oh, well, Bjorn Borg has been working out with me on clay."
     
    #4
  5. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3,685
    I saw in person quite a few Vilas v Borg on clay.........would LOVED to have seen a true match Mats v Bjorn in Monte Carlo or RG......wow. Yeah a peak Borg on clay early 80s would have killed Mats.......Mats was kinda Borg lite early.
     
    #5
  6. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Gavna, you are lucky to have watched Borg vs. Vilas on clay! I say Vilas play on clay at River Oaks during the 1980's and he was such a beast. My best friend talked to him after a practice session and Vilas was kind enough to give him an Ellesse shirt! I agree that Wilander vs. Borg would have been great to see also though.
     
    #6
  7. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,562
    Great clip, borg number one. I'd never seen it. Those rallies are so well played. Beautiful tennis. Thanks for that. And lol at those who believe that you could not play great baseline tennis with old small framed racquets. Ha!
     
    #7
  8. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    You're very welcome Benhur. Two of the all time great baseliners going at it before 18,000+ at MSG in the finals. Borg only lost seven games that match. Then, what would they be hitting like with poly and today's frames? Glad you liked it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #8
  9. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Talk about grinders! It wears me out to watch. Gosh, I wish I could play like that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
    #9
  10. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Wilander has said that when they would hit together, Borg would feel sorry for him and get generous, and gift him a few points.

    I think Wilander said Borg would "throw him a few bones."
     
    #10
  11. Mike Bulgakov

    Mike Bulgakov Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    623
    Location:
    The Future
    I was in Monte Carlo and watched his return match in 1991. It was really strange that he still wanted to play with wood, which gave him no chance. I talked with optimistic Swedes, who said he was beating Becker in practice sets, and all the top players at the event wanted to watch the match.

    Borg was so nervous that his racquet hand looked shaky for his warm-up serves. He had no chance with that wood racquet.
     
    #11
  12. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes, his return that many years after being on the tour full time was something he would later describe as "madness". He had financial problems back then and did not even practice the way he would have had to. He did go to graphite soon after Monte Carlo, but he was way past his prime by then and as I mentioned I think he went through a period where he regretted his earlier decision to leave the Tour. It was way too late by the early 1990's for him to comeback. It was almost as if he was trying to shed his former self. It was a tough time for him in his life.
     
    #12
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I´ll give Lendl´s the edge on hard and probably indoors but on natural surfaces Borg was superior to him.
     
    #13
  14. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    516
    Kiki, yes, Borg and Lendl didn't really get time to develop into a true rivalry with Bjorn's last year at the top level being 1981 just as Ivan is really starting to threaten in the big championships. Bjorn had the better of the matches they did play, of course, over a young Lendl, but Ivan was becoming dangerous to Borg too. A five set win for Lendl over Bjorn said something as did Ivan taking Borg to five sets in the French final. If Bjorn had come back at a good level in 82, 83 etc, we could have seen some great matches in the Slams and Masters.
     
    #14
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    That´s what I say.The Golden era of tennis has 4 columns: Borg,Lendl,Connors and Mc Enroe.Each in their style and personality were appealing and unique.
     
    #15
  16. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I agree Kiki. Lendl was still young in 1981, but he had already developed into an extremely good player. Those were among his best years, though he wasn't yet actually winning majors versus the gauntlet of Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. That's not an easy trio to face at the majors! If Borg would have continued playing, I still think he would have had the edge on Lendl on clay, grass, and indoors and that he would have matched Lendl on hard courts as well. Borg was so tough mentally and was actually getting very fit in 1982. Lendl was already using a graphite frame and if Borg would have actually gone back to the Tour full time with an understanding in place, he would have made the switch to graphite with Donnay most likely by 1983. So, he would have gotten a performance boost there in the years to follow. Here is Borg in 1982 versus McEnroe when he was still in the dispute with the Tour. He was only 26 in 1982. It would have been a great continued rivalry with the other greats of that era, including Ivan Lendl.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kger-33YtiY
     
    #16
  17. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    4,667
    Lendl pushed Borg to 5 sets in the 1981 final. Borg's peak was past him and he was on the decline while Lendl was the opposite, not having reached his peak and still improving. I'm guessing Lendl would have had the upper hand had Borg hung around for 3-4 more years.
     
    #17
  18. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Borg was definitely facing burn out spinovic but to say he would just simply decline from there on out is not at all certain. In fact, Borg was playing quite well while contemplating a return in 1982 and he was just 26, so he was actually in the prime years physically. He would have had at least a good three or four years. In addition, if you look at both McEnroe and Connors, recall that they switched to graphite by 1983-1984. Borg would have done the same thing. If he remained on the Tour, it would have been after a recharging of his batteries, with a reduced schedule in 1982. He was facing mental burnout, not physical burnout and at 26, he was actually stronger than he had ever been physically. You can see that in the video above from 1982 against McEnroe when he won that big money event. Borg, like McEnroe and Connors, would have made the switch to a more powerful graphite frame so that would have been very interesting. Lendl was already playing with graphite by 1980 (Adidas), whereas Connors (1984 from a T2000) and McEnroe (1983 from his Dunlop wood frame) waited a bit longer. They all reaping the benefits of graphite by 1984 as the Tour moved wholesale in that direction. If Borg would have played from 1983-1986 or so, he would have done the same, most likely with Donnay. As for Lendl, let's look at how he did versus another great baseliner from 1982-1984. Jimmy Connors was 30-32 during those years and definitely past his prime, while Lendl was on the upswing. Lendl went 8-5 versus Connors in those years. Versus McEnroe from 1982-1984, Lendl was 6-10 versus McEnroe. So, that's 14-15 versus those two players. I don't think he would have fared any better versus Borg had Borg played after a rest and with a graphite frame as well. Basically, those guys would have each won their fair share and lost their fair share as often happens when greats collide.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX4UMysPpWg (good excerpt from the movie "The French" from 1982 with footage from the 1981 French Open final)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Borg would have most likely played with something like this...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #18
  19. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    4,667
    Could be...I'm just guessing. Nothing is certain, but history and trends would support my assumption I believe. Borg was in decline when he quit...I have no reason to believe a racquet change would have suddenly given him a second peak. Historically, nobody wins 11 slams before they hit their peak, do they?

    I think the younger guy who hadn't reached his peak would have come out ahead over a 3-4 year stretch against the guy who was past his peak. I generally believe that to be true.

    The Connors argument might have some merit, but the McEnroe argument isn't as relevant because '83 and '84 may have very well been the peak of his career. Mac at his best was better than Lendl, so 6-10 seems reasonable. And, Lendl had a winning record against Connors. In fact, 8-5 vs. Borg sounds like a reasonable number. Borg might have got the better of him in the first year or year and a half, but the pendulum ultimately would have swung to Lendl and he'd have likely won more of the later meetings.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #19
  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Lendl was just one set away from his first major...and leaving Borg slamless in his last year.

    Even if fit, I can´t see him atop for more than one or one and a half year, then becoming a competitive player but not a nº 1 spot contender.Could he really face the pownding of a 1985 Lendl? the gruelling battles on clay with up and coming Wilander? the firepower of a young and hungry boris Becker on grass? I doubt it, and I wish I was wrong.A 1985 year with Borg and Connors still competitive, Lendl and Mac at their best, and up and doming new stars such as Becker,Edberg,Wilander and Cash, along Mecir,Kriek,Gomez,Curren,Noah,Leconte...that´d have been explosive and easily the best ever year.
     
    #20
  21. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I don't disagree that it could have played out that way. Certainly possible that Borg would have continued to stay out in front of Lendl until he was about 28 and then after that Lendl would have edged ahead given that Borg would have been 28-30. I'm thinking about 1982-1986 in particular, when Borg would have been 26-30. Borg was physically very fit at 26. He did not have any serious injuries and he was not suddenly becoming weaker. In fact, he was adding upper body strength in 1981-1982. 24-28 are really prime years physically in tennis and that would most likely been the case for Borg. I also agree that a racquet change would have not necessarily led to a second peak, but I just think he would have done his share of damage in terms of wins and also winning majors versus the top guys at the time, across all surfaces. Plus, Borg just had that x factor in big matches and if he had kept playing, I doubt if he would have suddenly lost the bulk of big matches between 26-30. His biggest hurdle was the mental burnout he was facing (not physical decline of any sort). That's why he wanted to take a break during 1982 and then return with a less intense schedule where he focused on the majors for the rest of his career. We missed out on seeing Borg from 26-30, playing the other guys at the top then, and also aided by graphite technology (just as all the guys at that time reaped some benefits from the new racquet technology, such as Lendl, Wilander, Connors, McEnroe, and later Becker). With Borg and Lendl in particular, it's just that Borg was not a great matchup for Lendl. Yes Lendl could pound the forehand, but Borg was more consistent and quicker than anyone else that Lendl faced. I think Borg may not have been as dominant as he was through 1980, but I do think he would have added more major titles and remained right at the top, in one of the top few spots. It would have been a fight at the top, just as it was during 2011-2012, with Djokovic, Federer, Murray, and Nadal, with no player "running the table". What we missed was an era that may have been unmatched in terms of star power, with as Kiki said, four all time greats going at it, with Wilander and Becker (85/86) in the mix too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
    #21
  22. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Even if he did not remain #1 I think he would have still added some majors between 26-30 (1982-1986) and still a huge factor. With that kind of star power at the top, no player would have just dominated everything. All those guys would have won some and also lost their fair share. We would have seen each player stronger on certain surfaces and weaker on others. Each would have been stronger at certain majors/surfaces and weaker on others. This would be true for any of them, whether it's McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Wilander, or later Becker. I think the same would have been true for Bjorn Borg because in the end he was a player that could do certain things out on a tennis court that none of the other guys could. Of all those guys, only Lendl could have seriously challenged him from the baseline and then as far as the net rushers such as McEnroe and Becker, we would have seen them face Borg with graphite by 1983-1986. Different dynamics than wood tennis. Borg's passing shots, returns, and ability to hit with a lot of pace from deep in the court, would have made taking the net against him very different than it was with wood frames. Too bad we couldn't see it all play out. Yet again, among all those guys, my money is on the "Ice Man".
     
    #22
  23. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    4,667
    Well...I certainly think Borg would have been a threat at Roland Garros for a few more years. But, I think its tough to "give" him a major anywhere else since he never won one on a hard court and had been surpassed on grass. But maybe he could have snuck another Wimby in, who knows?

    Also note, my guess is not a statement that I believe Lendl is/was better, but more about where they were at and heading in their careers. And it is certainly possible Borg could have still won Roland Garros while Lendl got the better of him elsewhere.
     
    #23
  24. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Here's the complete match:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIGHlkXfcnE

    In the last set (which Borg took 6-1),Borg is still bouncing and hardly breaking a sweat. Lendl looks to be completely out of gas and exhausted. In the last game when Borg is up 5-1, Lendl hardly moves and seems spent.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #24
  25. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes, of course during 1982-1986 it was all about Wimbledon, RG, and the US Open in terms of the majors. Borg won 11 majors by 25 and he was only playing 3 a year! Nadal has 11 now at 26 and he's been playing 4 a year. I think he could have tough at all three, including the US Open. I also wonder if he may have chosen to play a AO or two before finally hanging it up. By 1983, Wilander and Lendl were playing there and Wilander took the 1983-1984 titles. Outside of the majors, he was plenty tough indoors as well. I agree with you as to career arc though, by 1985-1986 Borg would have been 29-30 while Lendl was 24-25 so when that happens things do tend to get tougher for players. We've seen that play out time and time again. My conclusion though is that you would have had Borg win some, McEnroe win some, Connors win some, Wilander win some, Becker win some and Lendl win some. I really think that it would have been stellar stuff, but hey at least we got to see Borg until he was 25-26 on the Tour all out and for that we are better off. He contributed so much to the game from his teen years and then for another decade. McEnroe said in an interview that "I felt like I was making him better and that he was making me better..I just wish we could have done it more often". What would have been fascinating for me especially is that you would have had Borg from 26-30, still very fit physically, still trying to rack up some more majors, now playing with graphite, with more matches against McEnroe, Connors, and Lendl, but then also matches against the likes of Wilander and Becker. That would have been amazing and so fascinating. It was a time of a big shift in technology in terms of a macro effect and you would have had so many great players in the top 10. Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Wilander, and Becker..are you kidding me!
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #25
  26. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Thanks for the video Hoodjem. I think that Lendl realized that he had to push to get fitter. Borg was really struggling in 1981 with burnout issues and he definitely needed a break from the game no doubt about it, but with some time off, he still had plenty in the tank. Yet, the Tour would not work with him as to a "official" schedule. See this clip from Borg on his strengths. From most any other player, esepcially someone who has played the matches he has, this statement would seem unbelievable. Borg says in all seriousness.."you know I've never been tired in a tennis match". Take a minute and let that statement sink in!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPGh4p0dyIk
     
    #26
  27. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,833
    i think borg could have won a couple more french opens and maybe another wimbledon. it would have been interesting to see him transition to the more powerful graphite era ahead, i think the closest player in style to him was wilander. he seemed more like a human backboard/passing shot machine more than anything else. i think he may have had trouble handling the game by 1985-6 tho with the emergence of becker and a fitter more powerful lendl.
     
    #27
  28. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    If you watch that 1982 AKAI match, Borg looks very aggressive and handles Mac fairly easily:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kger-33YtiY

    If Borg had stayed in the game and made the transition to graphite, he would have been a major force until 1985-86 (when others caught up to him in terms of fitness).

    Here is Borg beating Mac in 1983:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCjAd6HerzM
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    #28
  29. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes, I completely agree Hoodjem. Well put. Let's look at Lendl and Becker in 1985-1986 when Borg would have been 29-30, playing with graphite. Of course Lendl was better on clay/hard courts and hitting his prime years physically by then. Meanwhile, Becker was a prodigy and especially at Wimbledon. Yet, he was not doing that great anywhere else at the majors. Lendl was doing especially well at both the US Open and the French Open, and he did make the Wimbledon final in 1986. During those two years, Becker won 2 of the 8 majors, while Lendl won 3 of 8. I wonder if Borg would have played some AO's by 1986 as well, since it was gaining in terms of attracting top players by 1984. He may have eventually played the AO too. In the 80's, McEnroe played the AO in '85 and '89. Connors never played the AO after losing the final in 1974 to Newcombe (he also played it in '73).

    Becker in 1985: FO- Lost 2nd round to Wilander; Wimbledon- Beat Curren in the final; US Open- Lost in the R16 to Joakim Nystrom (another very good Swede that made the top 10); AO-Lost first round.

    Becker in 1986: FO- Lost in the QF to Pernfors; Wimbledon- Beat Lendl in the final and defended his title; US Open - Lost in the SF to Mecir; AO- Lost in the R16 to Masur.

    Lendl in 1985: FO- Lost in the final to Wilander; Wimbledon-Lost in the R16 to Leconte; US Open- Beat McEnroe in the final; AO- Lost in the SF to Edberg.

    Lendl in 1986: FO- Beat Pernfors in the final; Wimbledon- Lost to Becker in the final; US Open- Beat Mecir in the final and defended his title; AO- Lost in the SF to Cash.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
    #29
  30. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    Messages:
    3,489
    Location:
    A bloke in Brighton, England.
    Borgs career lasted exactly 10yrs..715 singles matches (not inc doubles, exhibitions),

    Stockholm open..from November 1st 1971---Tokyo open..late October 1981.
     
    #30
  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Borg,Connors,Mac,Lendl,Wilander,Edberg and Becker
    All against all in 85
    Repeat it twice and let it sink in
    Then wake up and comeback to reality
    BTW you also had Noah,Cash,Gomez,Kriek,Leconte,Jarryd,Curren and Mecir peaking by then...it looks unpalatable to me
     
    #31
  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Imagine the duel between baseliners as Borg,Mecir,Lendl, Connors,Wilander,Gomez,Leconte and Jarryd vs Net rushers as Mac,Edberg,Becker,Cash,Noah,Kriek,Mayotte and Curren with graphite and dast court conditions of then
    Which style would have the best hth if we made two teams like those?
     
    #32
  33. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    4,667
    I could see a scenario where Borg, with all his experience and where he was at in his career, still having the upper hand on the biggest stage (at least until a noticeable physical decline) while the other guys had more success in the non-slam tournaments. I'm particularly thinking of Roland Garros. That is also not a stretch based on Lendl's initial struggle to get over that hump.

    What happens if it is an older Borg he has to beat in '84 to win the French? What would the mental effect of that be vs. playing Mac? Perhaps Lendl would have had less belief in himself in that situation, especially being 0-4 in slams up that point?

    Also, you can't predict the big brother effect? How would Wilander have fared against Borg...a guy from the same country who was an obvious inspiration for him? Look at Wawrinka and Federer. Obviously, Stan isn't Mats Wilander, but the mental game is a bigger hurdle for him against Fed than the physical. Would it have been the same for Wilander? Who knows?

    With the physical, we can generally know what to expect. Not arguing Borg's physical condition when he left the game, but he was getting close to the inevitable "loss of a step" based on the norm for players historically. But, there's no way to predict the mental aspect. Some guys have it, some don't, some take time to develop it, etc.

    It is a shame he got burned out and walked away. When we surmise on what would have happened, we have to assume that a Borg who remained was still highly motivated for this to be a real discussion. Would have been interesting to see him compete into his 30's a la Federer.

    That is the great thing about Fed...he is still motivated. The majority of players with his accomplishments would have walked away from the game, but he still loves the game and the competition. True fans of tennis should appreciate having him stick around and play such a high level of tennis well past his prime. Most guys lose motivation and quit soon after their peak is done.
     
    #33
  34. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    A Different Borg Rivalry--
    "Bjorn Borg vs. Roger Federer would be one of the great Wimbledon clashes ever, and on clay, it could be just as awesome.

    Assume that 1980 Borg gets to have a modern racket and strings. He would certainly be favored to defeat 2009 Federer.

    Borg's topspin is not as heavy as Nadal's, but he is more consistent with his depth, especially on the backhand side. With newer strings, he would kick it up nice and high to Federer's backhand to follow this part of the blueprint. He also would not feed Federer's forehand with short balls.

    Federer would probably take one set off Borg. At his best, he could hit through the court and look nearly infallible. The problem is that he cannot do that for three-of-five sets against top clay-court players. An aging Guga Kuerten humiliated Federer in straight sets in the 2004 French Open.

    Maybe Federer's slice and bigger serve could mix in enough guile with power, but Borg saw more variety of strategies and countered them effectively in his day.

    Solid Advantage to Borg"
    from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...est-french-open-champions-in-one-draw/page/13
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
    #34
  35. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Another Different Borg Rivalry--
    "Gustavo Kuerten vs. Bjorn Borg would be an epic showdown. Certainly, Borg was more consistent and greater overall, but Kuerten's mastery of clay included defeats of several clay-court specialists, with a deeper field than today's ATP clay draws.

    Which is better—Borg's double-backhand flip to generate topspin from small racket heads or Kuerten's lanky, graceful motion and superb control of his single backhand?

    Borg's concentration and fitness gives him a slight edge. His 1981 French Open victory over Ivan Lendl had his younger counterpart completely mopped in sweat and ready to collapse. Borg outlasted him. Could he do this to Kuerten as well?

    Slight edge to Borg"
    from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...est-french-open-champions-in-one-draw/page/15
     
    #35
  36. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,738
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    #36
  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Lets never forget that Lendl ended number four ranked in 81 and he was already a superb player
    He had beaten everybody round there but Connors
     
    #37
  38. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Absolutely. Being #4 behind the trio in front of him is a great accomplishment and Lendl would later come into his own sharpened by those battles he had with the three greats he had to face early on. Can you imagine how much he was influenced by all those tennis "lessons" he was getting on the biggest stages playing against this trio? Those are four players that are all in the top 10-15 players of all time in my opinion. All giants of the game. Now that is amazing. What takes it to another level is that behind those guys, players like Vilas, Gerulaitis, and Tanner were in the top 10-20 as well! Incredible "depth at the top" followed by incredible depth with another tier of formidable players. It was a very special time in tennis.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #38
  39. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I couldn' t agree more
    That second unit is great with YEC/SLAM winners and that is the trade mark of that era
    In 81 the top 8 had 4 US players 2 European and 2 Latins ( either Clerc or Pecci)
     
    #39
  40. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Jose Luis Clerc was another tough customer that gave the top players trouble. Players such as Panatta, Pecci, Clerc, Dibbs, Solomon, Dibbs, Orantes, Barazzutti, and Gerulaitis are players that you'd have to worry a lot about especially on clay (on top of Vilas and Lendl!). That is an example of the depth around 1980-1981 where you'd have the red clay and then have to get ready ton shift over to the fast courts at Wimbledon to prepare for another slew of "grass court specialists" such as Amaya, Amritraj, and Tanner, etc.! He went 4-2 versus McEnroe through 1981 for example and ended with a 5-5 career head to head versus him. He played some tough Davis Cup matches versus Mac when Argentina and the U.S. would square off. Vilas and Clerc on red clay..not fun at all. He had a match versus Connors where Connors retired in 1980, but he did end his career at 3-1 versus Connors. Versus Borg, Clerc went 0-4 with 3 meetings on clay. Against Lendl he went 7-8 overall with of 13 of those 15 matches on clay. Very smooth strokes, very consistent, creative, and also he would not back off easily no matter who he was playing!

    [​IMG]
     
    #40
  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Clerc was an elegant and powerful baseliner who did very well against Lendl and other top guys
    However he had trouble with injuries and did not last too much atop
    His best period is 1980 to 1982 with a great 1981
     
    #41
  42. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Messages:
    2,540
    Never heard of this Clerc guy before.

    He must have been a top-notch claycourter though, as I see he reached the FO semis twice, losing only to Lendl and Wilander.
     
    #42
  43. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Borgn1 Did you ever watch prime Pecci
    That of 79-81?
    I did and he was fantastic but unconsistent
    A true S&V. ..whose best turf was clay
    Almost as clasy as Panatta and almost as athletic as Noah, those three being the best s&v guys on clay ( and the 84 version of Mac)
    His 79 RG was exceptional and only peak Borg stopped him from the title after a classy four sets final
    Against anyone else he would have been the champion that yr
    Victor gained sweet revenge beating Borg on Borg' s homesoil at MC!!!!
    Borg only lost to Panatta and Pecci on red clay since he became a top player
    That being cause both were the only S&V players that played their best on clay
     
    #43
  44. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Messages:
    2,228
    He was tall, he had beautiful groundstrokes (1hbh), very complete player and he could hit really hard sometimes with his wood racquet.

    Here he is playing Lendl (Ivan already playing with his graphite racquet) in the 1981 Roland Garros SF. Clerc was one point away from the final.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkQkoUBJrA0
     
    #44
  45. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Jose Luis Clerc was really interesting to me, especially with his prowess on clay. I thought it was cool how he wore that handkerchief around his neck when he played (I even tried that with ice water..lol). To say that era was weak as a clay court era makes not sense to me. Kiki, it's true that injuries really cut his career short.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=m9gNe9hIhs8&NR=1 (interesting video from the '81 FO SF between Clerc and Lendl)



    See his ATP bio here:

    Kiki, I do think there's something to what you say in terms of trying to S&V against Borg on red clay, but man you would really have to thread the needle to pull it off. I mean what else were you going to try? Outrally Borg? good luck with that..you may as well serve great and keep rushing the net right? Nevertheless, you weren't going to beat Borg from the baseline, which is why Lendl I think may very well have had difficulty with Borg in 1982-1986. Notice that McEnroe seemed to have more trouble with Lendl in 1981-1982 than Connors did (and McEnroe lost all three meeting he had versus Lendl in 1981!). Pecci was playing great in 1979 and broke the top 10 in 1980 (when he was 25). He did play well in the FO final, but Borg was hitting passing shots left and right. As far as Panatta, he did beat Borg twice at the FO, but in 1973, Borg was only 17. The 1976 win was the shocker, but after that win, Borg never lost to him. Plus, though perhaps Borg was entering his "prime" in 1976, he was still only 20 and he would get significantly better and stronger by his early 20's through 25. He had some minor injuries in 1980-1981 and was definitely facing mental burnout as we've discussed, but I do not think he was then on a permanent downward slope by 25-26. I do think that he would have been pushing it by 28-30 as many players are, especially given the fact that he had played a heavy official and unofficial schedule (all those exos/unofficial matches that don't even register on the ATP site).

    Yannick Noah was another great serve and volleyer on clay and we saw it all come together for him during the 1983 French Open, especially when he was "zoning" versus Wilander. His son can play some basketball too!

    See this great video from Krosero of the Pecci-Borg 1979 FO final (in 3 parts):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSK7KeB4CbY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCyYtZO_R9M

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jGn0ZIZtaM
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
    #45
  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Story tells us that only a superb S&V cc specialist, which is a rara avis, has beaten the hell of prime Borg,Panatta in 76 beat already twice RG winner Borg at clays biggest event and un 4 sets and Pecci did so at 1981 Montecarli, which was Borg favourite event
    But big s&v not good on Cc like Tanner or Newcombe never did it Z
    Why? besides big serving on a zone day Pecci and Adriano were formidable touch players with great drop shot talent and very smooth groundies and mor

    than that they had perfect understanding of surface and the way it works
     
    #46
  47. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,639
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Very true Kiki, the touch part of the game was key for both of those guys, as well as serving, movement and volleying. They were both comfortable out on the clay in all aspects of the game. Yet, that strategy typically didn't work either versus Borg in that he had more success against them than the other way around, but those were some big wins for them. Borg did beat Pecci in the '81 SF in straight sets as well as in that '79 Final. Borg beat Adriano Panatta the last 5 times they played (4 times on clay). That Rome final in 1978 was a classic, when Borg threatened to walk off the court when coins were being thrown onto the court. He went on to take that match in 5 sets.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...zAdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4Z4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6710,5538334 ('79 article)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
    #47
  48. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Messages:
    2,228
    Victor Pecci also played very well against Borg in the 1981 RG SF.

    He lost 6-4 6-4 7-5 but actually he only lost the few and very important points at the end of each set (in fact he was leading 5-3 in the third set, then Borg won the last 4 games of the match).

    In the following clip it is very interesting what Pecci's team say (in the locker room) after the match, about the few important points that Pecci lost (trying to make inadequate drop-shots in very important moments against a player so fast like Borg), and also they talk about Borg's smooth movement, how fast Borg was and at the same time he looked almost like walking, without even making much noise. Also they talk about Borg's mentality, how he doesn't even think about a lost point, he just think in the following point, totally focused in the following point, point after point, during the whole match, whereas Pecci got mentally trapped thinking about those few very bad points he played in the important moments and when he was leading.

    Also in the locker room was Borg himself, and Lendl and Clerc waiting for their following SF.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV7hteazFYI
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
    #48
  49. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,889
    now that's funny. I forget how young most are around here (but I guess their limited experience doesn't prevent them from offering opinions on GOATs, Rosewall etc)
     
    #49
  50. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2012
    Messages:
    2,540
    The clue to my age is in my username. :)

    It's possible for a person of any age to make judgments about who the greatest of all time are. I assume you have made comments on Tilden's place in history but have never seen him play.
     
    #50

Share This Page