How would Borg have fared in this slow era?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by mcenroefan, May 21, 2012.

  1. mcenroefan

    mcenroefan Hall of Fame

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    Basically, everything is slow now except the USO and the WTF....Borg would have had a hey day!

    This is one reason that I think Borg is better than Nadal: he excelled on his best surfaces (slow surfaces) and was very, very good on the fast grass of Wimby. Conversely, I think if Nadal had played under Borg's conditions, he would have won the FO and maybe 1-2 other slams but that's it. When it comes to skill across all surfaces, Nadal seems more like a Vilas than a Borg.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  2. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Nadal has nothing on Borg, on any surface (perhaps hard courts). I agree with your assessment that Nadal is more like Vilas than Borg.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  3. Leto

    Leto Semi-Pro

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    I think Rafa would dominate Borg on clay on a regular basis. No disrespect to Borg, but Rafa is just too good on the dirt.

    On other surfaces, and factoring in their speed variances over time, it's a murkier subject.
     
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  4. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Rafa is the best clay court player right now, for sure. I don't think he would "dominate" Borg, however. Of course, this is all moot. But fun to think about nonetheless!
     
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  5. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    Borg had the talent of Federer and the mental and physicality of Nadal. He was a superior player.
     
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  6. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Indeed.

    +10RealKingofClayIsASwede.
     
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  7. Leto

    Leto Semi-Pro

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    The key advantages I see Nadal having over Borg on clay, are his incredible RPM's and his being a lefty (like Borg's nemesis, JMac was).

    Even if I mentally update Borg's groundies to more modern equipment, it's too much of a stretch to say he could match the level of Rafa's brutal top-spin FH's.

    On the other hand, if Rafa had to play with wooden rackets, he'd probably be toast....but for a variety of reasons that I won't get into here, it is my preference to compare players of different eras, based on the most modern form of the game.
     
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  8. Leto

    Leto Semi-Pro

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    I won't question the level of talent Borg had vs. Federer.

    Both guys were talented, but in a lot of different ways, so you can't just boil down into some simple of equation Borg = Fed + Nadal :rolleyes:

    But anyway, my point was regarding Borg vs. Rafa ON CLAY.

    I still give the edge to Borg over Rafa, when ALL surfaces are considered.
     
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  9. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    A sensible approach, updating the game to modern equipment, rather than backdate modern players. Borg never had a problem with lefties (McEnroe was a problem, but not because he was lefty, but because Borg was starting to feel the burn of being at the top for so long by the time they started their rivalry).

    The topspin forehand of course is troubling, but if you are updating Borg's equipment to modern racquets, you have no way of knowing that he couldn't match, or at least come close, to the RPMs produced by Rafa. Remember that Borg hit full Western with a 15 oz racquet, 72 square inch head, strung at 80 pounds with gut, and still managed to have incredibly heavy spin. Give '78 Borg a modern racquet on clay and he would be terrifying.

    No matter what, I think it would be an interesting match, and I seriously doubt that either player would "dominate". Borg was quicker around the court, Rafa has the forehand advantage, Borg the backhand. Serve negligible between them (neither is all that strong). Borg would have the crowd (always did). Would be a classic, I'm sure.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  10. mcenroefan

    mcenroefan Hall of Fame

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    I agree...not sure if I think he is quite as talented as Fed but he was very talented.

    Borg also might actually equal or surpass Nadal in stamina which has always been Nadal's greatest weapon in my opinion. If Nadal saw a guy on the other side of the net who could go eight hours with him, it might affect Nadal's confidence.

    The general point though is that Borg was incredible...to be unbeatable on slow and also excel on fast surfaces (nigh unbeatable on fast, low bouncing grass) is quite unbelievable. One thing for sure, Mac probably could not have beaten Borg at Wimby on today's speed grass. Playing today, Borg might have run off another couple of Wimby's and a few more FO's.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  11. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Probably would have snagged a US Open as well, and maybe an Oz given his fitness and how slow the courts are.
     
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  12. mcenroefan

    mcenroefan Hall of Fame

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    I don't think he even took the AO that seriously. In today's slow surface game, which has just turned into a chase for the most Slams and #1 ranking, and private jets to get you to tourneys (thus reducing some of the burnout factor), he could probably have racked up 20 or more by age 27-28.

    This also is why I am sonewhat skeptical of slam count as the best baramoter of "greatness." I think it's a combination of things including #1 ranking, slams won, depth of field, excellence across multiple surfaces (speed, etc), etc.

    It seems pretty clear that the greatest allcourt players include Laver, Borg, and Fed in chronological order. By the way, I don't believe in GOATS but I certainly would never rank someone who wasn't dominant across more than one surface type as even being in the running for such an imaginary title.

    Sampras and Nadal are a bit interesting b/c I think they both benefitted and have been lucky in a way to have the predominant court speed of their era suit their strengths. What if Sampras had played today...on today';s grass? What if Nadal had played in Sampras' era on the grass of that era. I think both would have suffered but the all-court players mentioned above were great great across all surface speeds. I really don't think Sampras or Nadal are in category of Borg, Laver and Fed in all-court dominance.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  13. Leto

    Leto Semi-Pro

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    The distance between Rafa's heavy topspin vs the rest of the field seems so much more pronounced, than Borg vs his field of the day. That is why I can't just assume Borg would have Rafa's FH by simply giving him the modern equipment.

    And even if I give Borg an edge in quickness (though I'm not fully convinced about that yet), Rafa is still quick enough for his own defensive purposes that I don't see it as being a deciding factor.

    Rafa is used to having fans in the stadium root against him, so also not a factor.

    This takes me to one last argument that I didn't want to get into earlier, but at some point, the pure stats have to be considered. Rafa's winning % on clay shows a consistency that not even Borg can match. When comparing eras, stats have to be considered as they help to give a sense of dominance vs their peers at the time. But I also recognize that stats are not the ONLY thing that matters.
     
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  14. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    Totally agree. I think he only played it once, early in his career (73 or 74). If he had, I have no doubt he would have easily racked up a huge number.
     
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  15. cork_screw

    cork_screw Hall of Fame

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    So many dummies. Ok, WTF is considered a very very slow court, you think it's fast??? That is one big reason Fed dominates Nadal on that surface when they play the year end championships. It also doesn't bounce too high. The other thing, why does your brain not factor in other things besides court speed? Borg tried to play competitively when he came out of retirement at age 25, but he actually couldn't adapt to everyone else who started using graphite and modern equipment. The era he dominated was natural gut and woodies. Players nowadays play with much more pace and more spin. Since the advent of polys and copolys the spin has really changed the spin in that of consistancy, and top spin, but also in terms of you can't just rush the net anymore and S/V like borg and so many other tennis greats of that time were doing on a constant basis. The game changed and it isn't just the court speed. How do you not know any of this and start a stupid thread basing your idea on one thing???

     
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  16. Loose Cannon

    Loose Cannon Rookie

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    Rafa, in all likely hood would blow a DEFENSIVE MINDED borg off the Court. His Groundies are simply too heavy. Poor Borg would be reduced to moon balls and running side to side.
     
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  17. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    IMO, a peak Borg with a modern frame would be the best player in the World right now. Federer is past his peak, and IMO, peak Borg was a better all around player and athlete than Nadal or Djokovic.

    Borg would thrive with a modern frame. He hit heavy enough topspin with a 65 si wood frame and gut strings strung at 80lbs. Imagine Borg with a PDR strung with ALU at about 60 lbs. The prospect is fascinating to say the least.
     
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  18. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hahaha! With the same equipment, Borg would out hit and out run Nadal. Never mind that he had a much better serve.
     
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  19. gavna

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    Nadal playing with a 1977 - 78 Donnay or Adidas frame would be Thierry Tulasne
     
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  20. 90's Clay

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    Oh I'm sure he would easily dominate with the other three guys.. No question about it. He would take many a slam from Roger, DJoker, and Nadal
     
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  21. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Ummm. I think not. It was called that by some at the time (including himself) but, by today's reckoning it was barely semi-Western - more like an extreme Eastern.

    That aside, I know these guys are legends and all but for the same reason Borg was able to be competitive on faster grass - they hit the ball a lot slower than nowdays - he would not be competitive, even with a modern racquet.

    If he grew up with a modern racquet then that would likely be a different story. He was a mad talent, one in a million. As he played though, it's romantic, wishful thinking to think he (or McEnroe for that matter) would achieve much against today's players.

    Lendl called it right a couple of years ago - the tops guys now are, on average, simply quicker, bigger, stronger. They have the benefit of a huge body of knowledge from the moderns era of tennis which Borg etc didn't have, plus they grew up with the modern racquets. You only need to watch a couple of rallys from the Rome final and then switch to a Borg era video to see the Borg video is practically on 2/3 speed comparatively.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  22. 1970CRBase

    1970CRBase Guest

    perhaps they are bigger, stronger, possess greater top speed now on average, in order to cope with the also increased power in the game because of the powerful technology. Back in the seventies and sixties wood era, mega raw power and brawn may have been far less useful and relevant to the demands of the day than finesse and versatility. The same build which could be very useful in barreling ones way through a mass of players in American football could be at a distinct disadvantage if playing, for example, badminton against a good badminton player.
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I disagree! Borg was the prototype for the modern game. He was a huge hitter with a ton of topspin with a wood racquet and gut string. He would thrive under modern conditions with modern equipment notwithstanding Lendl's self depricating comments. The fact that Borg was able to succeed on old Wimbledon grass after winning the FO was a tribute to his preparation. He practiced at Wimbledon for the weeks between the tournaments in order to adjust.

    Anyway, here are a few videos that depict Borg's power with a wood racquet against graphite and metal. Looking at this, you can imagine what a beast he would be with a modern frame.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyuiEzBb7hk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDFd4q3CycU

    Some of the returns from the 18 year old Borg in that second video are as big as anything you'll see today.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  24. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I agree mcenroefan. I talk to tennis players about this all the time. Borg was unlike 99.99% of those in his era and even unlike most modern pros in many, many ways. The guy was quite simply a freak of nature and many of the things that made him seem so unusual back then would have suited him quite well in today's era. Then, of course you have his ability to play the way he did, even with the old equipment. He revolutionized tennis back then. His physical prowess would serve him very well in today's era, among other strengths he had. The change in equipment would be fascinating, including racquets, strings, and even the tennis shoes!
     
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  25. 1970CRBase

    1970CRBase Guest

    I'm also of the same view, as I said elsewhere, Borg could master opposite elements, he would have no problem today in today's not really slow, nor really fast, sort of slowish game.

    But put today's players back then, use old bats and strings, how would they fare?
     
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  26. sonicare

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    Nadal and djokovic would be in a lot of ****. Federer would be just fine. Try brushing up the ball with a 70 inch SQ racket. LMAO
     
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  27. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I think these articles are excellent when considering the change in equipment.

    Read about the science how the width of a tennis racquet makes a huge difference. Understanding this only makes Borg's ability to hit with a lot of topspin with the frames he used even more amazing.

    http://www.racquetsportsindustry.com/articles/2006/01/the_inch_that_changed_tennis_f.html

    It's also good to recall what Djokovic said when he tried out a wood frame back in 2007.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2007-06-20-raquet-tech_N.htm

    We also have the "luxilon effect" to consider.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1899876,00.html

    For those that think these things don't really matter, please show me the pros out there playing with a 85 sq. inch pro staff strung with VS gut. The reason that pros no longer play with such equipment is that it does makes a real difference, especially at the top levels where the margins are so thin.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  28. BeHappy

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    Borg actually used a pretty big racquet, 72 inches. As big as Lendl's and only 13 inches smaller than the racquet Federer used until 2004 or so. It was also at least partially graphite to some extent.
     
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  29. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The racquet Borg used in the second video I posted is an all wood, 65 si, Slazenger. I think his Donnay racquet might have had one ply of graphite. Not enough to make any appreciable difference, IMO. Wilson did the same thing with it's "oversized" Jack Kramer frames. But, if his Donnay racquets were, in fact, 72 si, which I hadn't heard before, that would make at least some difference.
     
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  30. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hoad, Laver, Okker, Nastase and Borg did it quite successfully with 65 si racquets.
     
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  31. 1970CRBase

    1970CRBase Guest

    never heard of Borg's wood racquet containing graphite. you'd better ask joe_sch
     
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  32. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think it might have had an outer ply of black graphite. More aesthetic than functional.
     
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  33. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Limpinhitter, my first tennis coach was just outstanding. He made me play first with a Wilson Jack Kramer Autograph and he taught me how to play the game the right way. He would not stand for outbursts on court for example. He was a Donnay rep and he know a lot about those Donnay frames. He knew Mr. Donnay, the founder. He said that the Bancroft Borg that Borg played with in the U.S. was basically the exact same frame as the Donnay Allwood, but with a different exterior. He talked about the extreme quality of those Donnay wood frames. I've heard, but not in any way confirmed, that Borg played with a Donnay Allwood PJ even in 1980. The Donnay Borg Pro he played with look like this. What would he have swung like and played like if he had a modern frame and strings?

    http://www.80s-tennis.com/pages/borg-anecdote-jose.html (excellent article on Borg's frames. They were already heavy, but then he had to add on an extra ply of wood to support 80 lbs. tension)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    http://www.reportajes-jmserrano.com/bjorn_borg/4.jpg

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  34. Pioneer

    Pioneer Professional

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    Borg would be target practice. Don't get me wrong, Borg is amazing because of what he did for the sport but sports have changed drastically over the last 30 years. It's a different game.
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Borg´s sevre was a weapon, Nadal´s is a joke.Borg faced much tougher opposition.

    We should give both the same equipment and, then, Borg´s physical and technichal talent prevails.
     
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  36. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hey BN1, is the racquet Borg uses in this 1974 USO match not a Slazenger? If not, it's a dead knock-off of the Slazenger that was very popular in England and Australia in the 60's-70's.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDFd4q3CycU
     
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  37. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Never seen Borg play, have you?
     
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  38. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    While Nadal is debateable I think you are definitely wrong on Sampras. Sampras was excellent on all surfaces apart from clay. On slow hard courts he could be dominant. His 2 Australian Open titles were some of the most dominant performances at the time, and he probably would have won more without some bad luck (eg- his coaches death before the 95 event, some untimely injuries, withdrawing in 99). Sampras would done just fine on slower grass, slower hard courts, etc...Even on clay he could beat everybody, and beat every great clay courter he played atleast once, but never had the consistency needed.
     
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  39. Pebbles10

    Pebbles10 New User

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    If Borg would have competed in the FO 1982 he wouldnt had a chance against Wilander.
     
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  40. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Not according to wilander

    According to wilander, borg was thrashing him in practice earlier in 1982
     
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  41. BeHappy

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    It definitely added stiffness to the racquet, and it being 72 inches and partially graphite probably explains how he was suddenly hitting harder than Lendl in 1981 in that video that's always posted. 72 inches isn't that small at all.
     
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  42. nadal_GOAT_king

    nadal_GOAT_king Rookie

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    Nadal would whoop his ass
     
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  43. timnz

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    Myths and Reality

    People discount Borg because of a couple of things:

    1/ The Myth that athletes are getting better and better over time.

    We all assume this - but upon closer analysis it just isn't held up by the facts. If you look at the 100m sprint and compare Usain Bolt (the current world record holder) with Jesse Owens in the 1930's, once you adjust for the fact that Owens was running on the much slower cinder tracks - then the record has only improved by 3.75% in 65 years! So that's explosive sprinting movements. What about Endurance? Well the Mile record hasn't been improved on since 1999 (FYI: the women's record hasn't improved since 1996). That's 13 years! If you compare Jim Ryan's mile record of the 1960's with the 1999 record - it has improved by only 3.5% in that time.

    Hence, that dispenses with the Myth that the current athletes are superior.

    2/ Observing Borg hitting the ball - seems so much slower than now

    That is because you are comparing apples with Oranges. The games has changed largely because of the rackets. Modern rackets have hugely improved the power in the shots. But that technological improvement says nothing about the particular player concerned. It doesn't mean they are better - just that their equipment is improved. This is clear when you imagine Nadal playing with the old wooden rackets against Borg. We know that his game would be hampered considerably.

    So in Summary: Athletes not improved (at least not in any significant way), their rackets improved but that doesn't translate to the player being improved.

    Last point I would like to make is as follows. How could someone hit the ball past Borg? He was the best athlete tennis has ever seen. Faster than any current player and had Lungs that could go all day long. If Borg has been raised in this era - then his game would be different, but he had the same coordination, tennis smarts and athletic ability to flourish.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
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  44. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Borg: To beat Nadal you have to play like Nadal

    http://www.thetennisspace.com/opinion/borg-to-beat-nadal-you-have-to-play-like-nadal/


    Bjorn Borg discusses Rafael Nadal, the only other man in the modern era to have won six French Open titles.

    Borg on how he would try to beat Nadal. “Tennis is very different now to when I was playing it, as the guys hit the ball so much harder now than they used to, but I think the best way to play Nadal is to play Nadal’s usual game, which to keep getting the balls back into play and to keep on making your opponent play one more shot.”

    Borg on Nadal’s superstitions. “Yes, he likes to rearrange his water bottles and to clean the baseline with his shoe, but it’s normal for players to have superstitions. I had my superstitions in Paris, but I didn’t have any on the match court. Superstitions are okay, unless you have 100 of them, and they stop you from playing matches.”

    Borg on his admiration for Nadal. “Playing Nadal at the French Open is incredibly tiring, as you know he is not going to give you very much at all. You’re probably going to have to win most of the points yourself, and you’re going to have to do that for five sets. He’s just a great champion, but he’s also humble, and that’s great to see.”
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
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  45. nadal_GOAT_king

    nadal_GOAT_king Rookie

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    Not even Borg could
     
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  46. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    yeah. personally, i think Nadal would win if they were to play each other but uncle Toni says Borg was better.
    ______________
    IS RAFA THE BEST CLAYCOURT PLAYER IN HISTORY?

    -. I saw Borg play and I think he's better than Rafa. Their results are similar, although Rafael might obtain even greater achievements on clay. But I have the feeling Borg was better. However, Rafael is still playing and we'll have to wait to see what titles they both obtain within the other. -- Toni Nadal

    http://www.rafaholics.com/2011/11/toni-nadal-interview-via-tennisextra.html
     
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  47. obsessedtennisfandisorder

    obsessedtennisfandisorder Professional

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    why keep bringing past greats forward?

    OK ...

    here we go again..some posters on here almost as bad as TMF.

    I can't take these threads seriously until..after every argument...we need to give old technology to todays players and see how they would fare against borg.

    from a debate/philisophical perspective it's pathetic, it's hearing only one side /POV in a important issue.

    here's my take on how todays greats would do against borg.. assuming HC......for a start the wooden racquets would screw up their games...lots of UE's handing game upon game to borg...once they regressed to a more passive game would mean their balls would now start landing short for borg to attack with his federer like forehand...he would come to net behind it
    also, to reduce their(todays players) UE's it would become a game of fitness and todays players would struggle to match borg except djoko.

    We need to hear about how today's players would deal with old tech..
    otherwise I could flood this forum with threads like>
    IE: How would nadal do in the 80's etc
     
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  48. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I think, like Lendl's comments on this topic, this is a concession that the game has come a long way since Borg's era.

    I honestly think even if the racquets had been the same - but assuming they didn't have the coaching/training hindsight we have now - the level of tennis would still be notably lower from those guys.

    I've watched tons of Borg videos and in fact grew up watching his last couple of years, as well as Lendl right through his entire prime, and there is no way in my mind that those guys were playing equivalent tennis to today regardless of their innate talents or athleticism. Time just changed and tennis improved. Changing the racquet would improve some aspects for sure but not enough to bridge the gap entirely. It's still seems a no-no, sacrilege even, to some people to ever have it suggested that those guys played at a lower level than the current era but I think they simply did. The matches I've seen seem to show pretty clearly the pace of shots were miles, miles lower. The surfaces were, on average, so much faster than we can imagine nowdays that it seems unfathomable that most of the rallys at Wimbledon would see both players inside the baseline most of the time unless they were hitting it slower > as the footage shows.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
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  49. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I disagree on that point. The more multifaceted you get with regards to skills required to be competitive the more athletics events have improved over time. The 100m sprint is right down the one-trick-pony end of the skills spectrum with regards to skills - which is why it's regarded as one of the pinnacle events to succeed at (there is almost no margin for error or way to make up any shortcomings or screw-ups), but also why the scope for improvement is so small. The decathlon as a better example related to tennis and an event which has had significant improvements over the years (if the same scoring system is kept consistent). The guys now would wipe the floor with guys from the 80s.

    Tennis is an incredibly multi-faceted sport requiring a variety of skills, learned movements, strength and endurance. The avenues for potential improvement are significant - but some have been focussed on more than others. For example, movement and speed amongst the top 10 has, on average, improved significantly in the last 20 years. And, it's done so in players with the weapons to win regularly. Often, as the 90s shows, most of the truly great movers were otherwise under-gunned. Sampras and Agassi almost exclusively managed to nudge into the category such that it made their other strengths even more potent.

    Squash is another sport in a similar boat. The very top players from the early 90s wouldn't even be top 50 today, perhaps not even top 100 - and racquet technology has hardly changed at all in that time for them (strings don't matter in squash like they do in tennis since spin is barely relevant most of the time). But it's not shotmaking that has changed - it's court positioning and movement. Consistence and speed compared to the 80s improved such that the scoring system even had to be changed (for men only initially) to shorten matches.

    No-one would doubt that given the same upbringing in a modern era Borg and Lendl would have realised their tennis potential differently - both were mega talented players - but as they did play, even with a racquet change (and time to adapt), I just don't see them being competitive today.
     
    #49
  50. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
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    Borg was a complete aberration in terms of fitness. His fitness would fit in quite nicely right now, in the present era. Lets look at movement, hitting ability (all strokes), and defense demands for him in the modern era. He was quick enough and fast enough to cover the court like a blanket in the modern era. He was also fit enough to sustain extremely long rallies. Check out two things in these clips. See Borg's flat out speed/quickness here in the first video and then see an example of his stamina, at 4-0 in the 5th set at the 81 FO final. Then as to hitting ability, anyone that transitioned from wood frames to modern frames has experienced all the differences. So you'd have Borg in his prime, given the added huge boost from modern frames compared to what he played with, from the Donnay Allwood to the Borg Pro (also modern strings for Borg!). Even something like shoes would make a big difference. Let's see Nadal running in those classic Diadoras for example! Then, lastly you have defense. He would be facing increased firepower in the modern era, in terms of power and spin especially. Yet, Borg was the MASTER at defending all manner of shots and power. Modern frames, when defending, also allow for much more margin of error, on the return of serve for example. It's like catching a baseball with a much better glove, when you compare the ability to defend and counter punch with modern equipment versus old equipment. He loved feeding off power as well. He was an exquisite counterpuncher and one of the most consistent, skilled players of all time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTMx--E0OhY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL__OcegrbY (Thanks Krosero for the Video)

    Also, per poster JD,

     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
    #50

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