Misconceptions about the Borg/McEnroe/Connors rivalry

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sandy mayer, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    How do you justify putting Borg ahead of Connors in 1976 when Connors won more than twice as many titles, and the same number of major titles (in those days Wimbledon and the US Open were streets ahead of everywhere else. We can't talk of Dallas as being on a par)?

    The majority of the tennis world put Connors number one in 76. I'm not aware of anyone putting Mac number in 79.
     
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  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Except that nobody would count the Masters that way. You made the point yourself a couple of weeks ago, that the players qualified for the season-ending Masters in January. Therefore the Masters in January belongs to the season just ended: and that's what it was officially, the season-ending championship. It makes little sense to go back instead to the previous January -- especially because that leaves the 1977 season without any season-ending championship; and it leaves 1986 with two season-ending Masters.

    I think if we don't all agree that the Masters ended the tennis season (rather than beginning it), two problems are going to come up continually:

    1) when we debate who was #1 in any given season, we won't always know which Masters each of us is talking about

    2) it makes it very tempting, then, to go to the previous Masters, or the season-ending one, depending on which player you would like to support as #1 for a year; and that's just going to be chaotic
     
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Wimbledon has always been bigger than the US Open, that is accepted by everybody.US Open is, maybe, at the same level as Roland Garros.

    Plus Dallas was,as I said, the 4 th biggest event, bigger than Philadelphia, which Connors took.I know the H to H was favourable to Connors, and I think he was still a bit better than Borg.But the big titles determine the nº 1 ranking.As I said, Mac has a better chance to be nº 1 in 1979 than Connors in 1976.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I do agree.I didn´t intend to consider the 1978 Masters as part of 1979, as I posted, as you said, 2 weeks ago.And I don´t consider Mac nº 1 for 1979.I was trying to picture out that the reasons that so many people consider Connors results in 1976 as superior to Borg are just as poorly backed up as considering Mc Enroe nº 1 in 1979.If Connors win the 1976 debate, then Mc Enroe has the same right ( and IMO, more) to claim being nº 1 for 1979.
     
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  5. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I don't see the parallel between 1976 and 1979.
    In 1976 Connors won more than twice as many titles as Borg and the two rivals finished with 1 slam apiece. What for me wins 1976 for Connors is the fact Connors won so much more than Borg outside the slams, and also (less important but still a factor) Connors' dominant head to head.

    In 1979 McEnroe did not win more titles than Borg. Borg beat him in this area and also won 2 slams to McEnroe's 1.

    Connors' 76 was stronger than McEnroe's 79, and Borg's 79 was stronger than Borg's 76.
    Connors has a much stronger claim for number 1 in 76 than McEnroe in 79.

    I advise you to look at the wikipedia article on number on rankings. There you will see that most of the tennis world considered Connors number 1 in 1976 and did not consider McEnroe number 1 for 1979.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
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  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mc Enroe in 1979 far outclasses Connors in 1976.3 majors to 1.simple as that.
     
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  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    3 majors? They both won 1 major, the US Open. Connors won 12 events in 1976, compared to McEnroe's 11 in 1979, so it's close. However, in 1976, Connors was the number 1 player, whereas in 1979, it was clearly Borg, who had pulled well ahead of Connors during the year after it had been virtually equal in 1978.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mc Enroe won the masters, where he beat Connors..but even if that doesn´t count for 1979, as it was linked to 1978 tour, still mac won such a great title as WCT, where he trounced both Connors and Borg en route to the title...something nobody had done since A Ashe in 75...
     
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  9. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Most journalists and writers gave Connors the no.1 spot for 1976. The computer didn't lie that year. Connors' 12 tour titles and 1 US Open beats Borg's Wimbledon and 6 titles. Jimmy was the best week in, week out that year, Jimmy's win-loss percentage beats Borg's for the year. Connors had the 3-0 head to head record including wins on different surfaces. Jimmy no.1 in 1976.
    Borg number one in 1979 though! :)
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    It´s all debatable.First, I think 1976 Connors was a bit better player than 1976 Borg.But Borg won Wimbledon,Dallas and reached the USO final where Connors beat him in 4 tough sets ( what a great match¡¡¡ ) winning his only major of the year.

    In 1977,Borg was the best player but Vilas won 2 majors and reached the final of a third major, while Borg ( due to WTT ), ended up with one major, Wimbledon.

    In 1979, Borg won2 majors plus a third, the Masters.Mac won a major and a second big title (Dallas).Borg beat mac at the Masters in a clsoe 3 sets battle, while Mac beat Borg in the Dallas final, over 4 sets.Borg was nº 1 but mac, finishing at nº2, had a far better year than 1976 Connors, if we just talk about majors.
     
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  11. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Sure it's debateable, but Connors' year in 1976 beats Borg's imo. Borg won Dallas, but Jimmy wasn't there. In 1977, Connors won Dallas when Borg wasn't there, so Connors' Masters win is more worthy than the WCT that year, I think. I pick Jimmy's 12 titles, a better win-loss match record (I saw a 105-7 total given somewhere for Jimmy that year, if it's right), and his 3-0 head to head record over Bjorn as the superior year for 1976.
     
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  12. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In fact, Connors won two majors (WCT and Masters) in 77, to one for Borg.So, Connors possibly had a better record than Borg that year, but in 1976 it was Borg who had the better record...and, everybody will tell you Connors was the best of the two in 1976 and Borg in 1977...you know, tennis is very surprising and somewhat crazy...
     
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  13. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    You're calling the WCT and Masters majors, Kiki, and they were big titles, but not Grand Slam events and not quite comparable to Wimbledon and the US Open. My point is that Borg winning the WCT in 1976 does not give him the edge for 76, Jimmy's 12 titles, better win-loss match record and his 3-0 head to head record against Borg give Connors the edge for 76, in my opinion. It's all about opinions.
     
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  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Not by itself alone, but added to his Wimbledon title, that gives Borg the edge.As you said, opinions...
     
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  15. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Connors is number 1 for 1976, in my opinion.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Based on H2H, Connors wins (Philadelphia and US Open), but results wise at the most important events, give Borg the final edge.Borg won Dallas and Wimbledon and reached a third big final, at Forest Hills.Connors just won the US Open, but didn´t make any other major final.Phily was the biggest indoor event ( ever), but not in the league of WCT Finals or the Masters.
     
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  17. paolo2143

    paolo2143 Rookie

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    Over this period the head to head was McEnroe led Borg 7-6 and McEnroe led Connors 6-5. This is effectively the same. "

    Actually Borg was leading mcenroe 7-6 in actual ATP competitive matches between 79-81 :)
     
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  18. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Another misconception, IMO, is that Borg retired because he could no longer beat McEnroe. Hogwash!
     
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  19. kandamrgam

    kandamrgam Hall of Fame

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    Connors and McEnroe are separated by some 6.5 years of age difference. That's too much age difference to give us any meaningful info from h2h. Personally I like Borg-McEnroe the most. Comparable age, awesome matches, fierce rivals, contrasting styles. Even McEnroe-Lendl was very good. A distant third would be Connors-Borg.
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    a very interesting debate whatsoever.

    Fact is that the passion of those rivalries (involving the big four ) truly made it the cenit of this sport.
     
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  21. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    All 3 rivalries between these players were special.

    I do think that Borg and Mac at their best were simply better players than Connors was at his best, but of course Jimbo trounces them in the longevity stakes.

    Connors does having a losing record against them both in 'big matches', although he was still incredibly competitive and landed his fair shares of big wins against them both.

    Borg won 5 out of their 8 matches at Wimbledon and the US Open, and 2 out of their 3 matches at the Masters. Had they played each other at RG a couple of times, that record most likely would have favoured Borg even more.

    Mac won 6 out of their 9 matches at the majors (3 of Mac's wins came in 1984 but then 2 out of Jimbo's wins came in 1977 and 1978 before Mac's prime years), 2 out of their 3 matches at Dallas, and both of their matches at the Masters (although Jimbo retired injured in the first one and they were both RR matches). They traded victories over each other in Wembley and Philadelphia finals. Still it's mightily impressive that Connors did win 2 out of their last 3 official sanctioned matches.

    I'm possibly in the minority here, but if had been a pro player in the 70s and/or 80s, without hesitation I would rather have had Mac's career than either Connors's and Lendl's. He is the only one of those 3 players who can say that he simultaneously dominated both Wimbledon and the US Open. Plus he is one of the greatest Davis Cup players of all time, his 1984 season is more revered than any season that those other 2 ever had, and he was the guy who dethroned Borg at Wimbledon in 1981 (Connors had his own big chance in the semis that year and will have been jealous that it was Mac who did it). Plus Mac played in the 1980 Wimbledon final which is more famous that any individual match that those other 2 ever played in.
     
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  22. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    I agree that the Connors-Mac age difference is an issue w/r/t h2h (similar to the Connors-Lendl age difference, which is equivalent to Fed-Nishikori in terms of the age gap). That said, I think you can cull some meaningful data from approx. 1979-1983 for Connors/Mac, to the extent both guys were winning slams during that period. Great, dramatic encounters between the two at Wimbledon, the Open, Dallas, Philly, Wembley etc. during these years.

    And I think you underrate Connors-Borg, which was the heavyweight championship rivalry in tennis for at least 3, and arguably 4 years in the late 1970s (1976-79 by my count). Basically, in addition to level of play (which was often high between these two, their GS title fights in 1978 notwithstanding), you've gotta account for the stakes of the rivalry, including multiple Wimbledon and Open finals, plus finals at big ticket events like Philadelphia, the YEC, and the Pepsi Grand Slam during these years.

    From their US Pro Indoor final in 1976 through their raucous RR match at the YEC in 1979 (when the torch was truly passed to Borg-McEnroe as the preeminent rivalry), Connors-Borg was at the heart of a rapidly growing sport. Hell, I saw a rerun of "Magnum, PI" a few weeks back from early 1981 where Higgins tells Magnum that the two are staying on the grounds of the estate that weekend, so he can't use the tennis court.

    Just about all of their encounters were title fights during this era as well. Basically, the importance of this rivalry can't be understated.

    Anyway, Borg-Mac is probably my favorite as well from a tennis perspective - I just wish it lasted longer. Same with Lendl-Mac, which seems to've really only stood out above all other rivalries from part of 1984 through 1985 (it arguably shared the bill with Mac-Connors and Connors-Lendl from 1982-84, similar to the current "big 3/big 4" era since about 2011/12). Wish Mac hadn't taken his Hollywood detour in '86, would've loved to see how an engaged J.P. McEnroe would've handled the emergence of Becker at Wimbledon and Lendl everywhere else.
     
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  23. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Connors better than Borg in 1976

    Borg better than Connors in 1977 and thereafter.
     
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  24. eldanger25

    eldanger25 Professional

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    In the broadest strokes, yes - though Connors held fast in Fortress: New York City through the latter stages of '79.

    During the heart of their rivalry (1976-79) it's clear that the largest gap was Borg in 1979, followed by Connors in 1976, and then the two relatively closer years in 1977 and 1978 (with Borg better in both). They both had wonderful seasons in 1978, for instance - Connors may've arguably had a better second half of the year than Borg, who won only two titles after Wimbledon and lost both of their encounters at Flushing and Buenos Aires (though I understand Borg's thumb injury played a role, similar to SW19 '77 for Connors).

    In any event, Borg clearly had a better 1978, with Connors turning in a runner-up campaign that year (ten titles, a major, and a 90+ winning percentage) perhaps as strong as any in the Open Era (similar to Djokovic's 2013).
     
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  25. kandamrgam

    kandamrgam Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, you definitely know more than I do. Got to learn something. Connors-Borg must be as good as Borg-Mac I think now. Regarding Connors-Mac, while the rivalry itself might have flourished I wouldn't count much since Connors was past his prime years (which would be '74-'78 ) while Mac was peaking. It doesn't give us meaningful info. If Connors was still competitive with Mac that's to his credit. But best of Connors faced best of Mac? That's how I rate a rivalry.
     
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  26. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    100% spot on!
     
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  27. JAY1

    JAY1 Semi-Pro

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    I think all three players at their peak played at the same level, albeit with very different playing styles.
    What us mere mortals seem to forget is that these tennis gods are human beings. You think how certain things can effect us on a day to day basis, not too mention how traumatic events can drastically effect us for long periods of our life.
    Well this explains Connors being in the wilderness from 79 - 81, Borg retiring early and McEnroe virtually disappearing after his lofted heights of 1984.
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    If I had to define the rivalries, I´d say Connors/Borg was as dense as a heavyweight fight; Mc Enroe/Borg a total contrast in styles, strategies and personalities and Mac/Connors a total contrast of styles with very similar, very hot personalities.And with the later additon of Lendl, that defines what I call the middle Golden Era of the sport.
     
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