Question for the older dudes... about Borg

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by 35ft6, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,339
    Funny thing is about Borg, even when he was a teenager, he seem to have some aura about him that the crowd believed he would somehow win when the odds seemed against him. At least I got that impression from the vibes of the crowd when he was a teen.

    He was losing a match at the US Open in 1976 in the third and final set (best of three in the early rounds) at 2-5 and yet many in the crowd were convinced he would win. Maybe it was just the part of the stadium I was in but a lot of people felt Borg's opponent was still going to lose even when he was ahead 5-2. And he did lose in a tiebreak. Incidentally it was against Jaime Fillol.
     
    #51
  2. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I'd agree with this BTURNER. Both Evert and Borg did think that their "bread and butter" Games, consistency with sudden power at the right spots, and fitness/movement/footwork (especially in the case of Borg) would win them 99% of the time, IF THEY WERE ON. Sometimes, with very offensive players, they would have to get out of this "comfort zone" and then start really mixing things up. Navratilova did that with Evert and McEnroe did this with Borg. As to Borg, I really wish he would have stuck around and capitalized on the new technology being ushered in. That would have been FASCINATING for tennis fans. More power and easier spin generation quite possibly in a less "taxing fashion" may have been "just what the Dr. ordered" for him as he approached years 26-30 on the Tour. Yet, I agree with your post almost completely, that's a good way to describe how Borg and Evert typically operated, especially on Clay, but often on Grass courts, and even Hard/Indoor courts too. Overall, this approach was grounded on tremendous discipline, talent, stellar work ethic, patience, and very high tennis IQ's, along with superb conditioning (stamina especially, but also quickness/speed). They each utilized all these elements to employ their baseline oriented Games.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
    #52
  3. pug

    pug Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Messages:
    672
    I have always entertained this thought also, what "could have been." I really think that Borg was capable of anything and the only thing that held him back was himself, IMO. If only, if only, ah well, fun to think about.
     
    #53
  4. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,508
    Location:
    OREGON
    ... this approach was grounded on tremendous discipline, talent, stellar work ethics, patience, and very high tennis IQ's, along with superb conditioning (stamina especially, but also quickness/speed). They each utilized all these elements to employ their baseline oriented Games.[/QUOTE]

    To take this comparison one step further. Borg was probably the fastest player/best athlete on the tour throughout most of his career. Evert was always in the top 4-6 fastest and a top tier athlete but never at the very top of these categories. Always a couple names ahead. She had that perfect footwork, flawless balance and stroke production but the trait that narrowed the gap virtually everywhere, was her uncanny almost psychic anticipation. Saves that half step in time to the pass which Borg made disappear with speed. Well that gets to to lots of Wimbledon finals just like Borg, but it does not win them, not when a King, Goolagong or Navratilova is hitting the volleys/ overheads! That + a less impressive first serve than Borg kept the pressure on her constantly on grass to produce too many winners from awkward situations.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
    #54
  5. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes exactly BTurner. Evert had great anticipation and footwork (much like Connors), but Borg had those things BUT also blazing speed/quickness. THAT is what allowed him to win 5 Wimbledons on VERY FAST grass, when there tons of great serve and volleyers. He was that great as an athlete, as well as a tennis player with great "pure tennis ability". Incidentally, I've read often that Wimbledon (especially on the old grass) really rewarded the best tennis "athletes" overall, the guys that were the quickest/fastest, and able to make those quick adjustments to bad bounces/skidding shots. Just look at Laver, Borg, and Sampras, and now Federer, they're all tremendous athletes, first and foremost.
     
    #55
  6. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Federer is like that, too. They both give off a sort of movie star hero vibe, and you always expect the star of the movie to come out on top no matter how daunting the odds.
     
    #56
  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,339
    People always tend to give people like that characteristics that are great. Sometimes it may be unfair to them because they expect so much.
     
    #57
  8. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    ^ Yeah. And when they can handle it graciously, it's really a beautiful thing. I wonder if sportsman realize just how important they are to so many people. How even the poorest person in the crappiest neighborhood might live and die on the successes and failures of a pampered mega-millionaire who travels in private jets and is fawned over by kings and presidents. Maybe it's for the best that most athletes are notoriously tunnel-visioned and unworldly, knowing just how much people care might paralyze them.

    Watching the documentary about Borg, it's kind of sad to know that he'll have drugs, marital, and business problems later on. But he's aged remarkably well, the dude's got miraculous genetics. And it's always nice to hear his thoughts on tennis, he seems so astute and humble, his opinion usually seems remarkably free of ego.

    Some of the girls talking about him in part 1 or 2, can't remember, are total hotties. Weird to think they're about my mom's age now.
     
    #58
  9. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    ^^Excellent 35ft6. He was a "global superstar", no doubt about it. Players today don't realize how much he helped "popularize the Sport", generating the first $1 million+ endorsement contracts with IMG. He along with Connors and McEnroe, Evert, and co. brought Tennis into unchartered territory. They were all VERY famous, here in the U.S. and internationally, yet none drew the attention that Borg did EVERYWHERE. It was crushing attention always, but he handled it well.

    Yes, his post-retirement was sad. He REALLY struggled without tennis for a while. What CONSUMED his life and kept him so focused was not there anymore, and neither was all the exacting discipline, the diet, workouts, lots of sleep, practicing for hours everyday, the coaching, endless tournaments, travel, media, and the screaming fans everywhere. Lennart Bergelin, his coach, was a father figure for him, and that was gone too. He was suddenly left to his own devices.

    He was a rock star, playing tennis at the highest levels, and without the "insulation" from the public that players have now. The tennis environments tend to be much more controlled now, with more security everywhere, even at hotels, etc. Borg was more "on his own" back then.

    Anyway, I think he really missed the Game and also couldn't deal well with all the new freedom he had, along with all the money at 25! When he retired in the early 80's, he was reportedly worth between $100-$200 million (a huge sum back then), owned an island, and he lived in Monte Carlo. He also was out of that "bubble" all of a sudden with unlimited freedom. He supposedly got a lot of money stolen from him by his business partners, but he also turned to a "party lifestyle" and made some bad decisions. He was naive and had known only Tennis. He divorced and remarried a couple of times, but he has really settled down now from the looks of it.

    Now, he has newfound happiness in his life. His "underwear" company is doing really well, and I believe that behind Calvin Klein, it's the second biggest clothing company in Sweden. He lives in a "castle" in Sweden, with a tennis court, and he plays very often (he's looks happily married, and is probably a multi-millionaire once again). He now plays on the Champions Tour, and he is very close to John McEnroe especially. His best friend, Vitas Gerulaitis died a strange death in his sleep (poisoning from a heating/AC Unit it was reported, but who knows?)

    See these links below about the "current" Bjorn Borg and hear what McEnroe says about him. Borg is deep down a REALLY nice guy and remarkably humble given his success, which is a big reason for my fondness and admiration for him. Growing up, I would tell myself on and off the Tennis Court, if someone as famous/successful as Borg stayed so "humble" and "modest", shouldn't you?

    J. McEnroe and Bjorn Borg are the best of friends now and really like brothers. Harry Hopman (legendary Australian Coach) called him a "complete Credit to the Game".

    [​IMG]

    http://www.bjornborg.com/en/

    see this video on him from his company website: http://www.bjornborg.com/en/Heritage/

    Also see this short clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw
    (Hear McEnroe talk about how well Borg treated him when he first came on the Tour, and how he "took him under his Wing" and how "if Bjorn Borg was behind me..the Hell with everyone else.")

    McEnroe actively tried to talk Borg into staying on the Tour when Borg decided to leave the Game during 1982 and Tennis and McEnroe especially really missed him. It's like how Federer and Nadal "understand each other" like no other people.

    I'm so glad that Bjorn now watches a lot of the majors in person, especially Wimbledon and the French Open. The Game still needs him around.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2010
    #59
  10. Changmaster

    Changmaster Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Messages:
    316
    He died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
     
    #60
  11. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Yes, he was found dead in his sleep, and they talked about the "pool heating unit" emitting carbon monoxide, so I'm not sure exactly how that happened there. Very strange and tragic. He was very good friends with Vitas. See Borg talking about his best friend.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXiRhlCnNgE

    Here's what happened to Vitas:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/24/n...th-attributed-to-short-pipe.html?pagewanted=1

    "A pool mechanic's failure to install an extra $1.44 worth of plastic exhaust pipe led to the death of Vitas Gerulaitis, the tennis player, as he inhaled carbon monoxide fumes from a new $8,000 pool heater last year, Suffolk County prosecutors said today."
     
    #61
  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,645
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    There's a great story that Mac told on the Charlie Rose Show, about the very young Mac playing against Borg (in 1979 in New Orleans, I think).

    Mac said that he was getting really frustrated and angry with his own play, and Borg paused and asked him to come to the net for a chat. At the net, Borg said something to the effect of "Calm down John, it's only tennis."

    Mac at that moment realized that Borg respected him (and maybe even liked him), and felt welcomed to the pro game by the world's best player who didn't have to be nice to the young upstart.

    He said it meant a great deal to him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2010
    #62
  13. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    ^ In his book, Sampras talks about Mac saying something to him when he was relatively new to the tour. But instead of feeling welcomed, it pissed him off.

    Thanks for your responses Borg Number One. Seems like tennis world was way more exciting back in those days.
     
    #63
  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,339
    I always enjoyed that story. It's nice to know that McEnroe and Borg are good buddies despite their great rivalry.

    I don't recall a time McEnroe acted up when he played Borg. I could be wrong.
     
    #64
  15. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    No. This is nonsense. It's just projection based on Federer's winning record. You certainly didn't get that feeling against Nadal, nor when Federer spent some years doing very little on the tour. EVERYONE jumps on the bandwagon once the winning starts. Fed, did some have SOME of this in the juniors (I coached against him once - by proxy), but all top players do.
     
    #65
  16. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    He has said he felt like the challenge of Borg made him focus, not waste energy.
     
    #66
  17. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    Exactly. But it's projection....hero worship in effect. Natural, but it's all in the minds of the observer. Of course, it can have an effect on the other players, as it has in Federer's case...and he has used it to full advantage, and won many matches where he actually played worse than the other guy...BUT it also comes with the expectations as you mention.

    People forget that these same fans, who see these magic qualities in him...in his game....well go back and see how many were raving about him BEFORE 2003 (even in spite of beating Sampras once - which wasn't that remarkable and quickly forgotten given Sampras' decline) . I spoke of him back in 2000-2002, but only because I saw him in the juniors.
     
    #67
  18. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Datacipher, that's FASCINATING that you coached against Federer. I recall reading about Federer a LOT before 2003 or so. He was spoken of as "the next big thing" and people were surprised that his results were not better very early on. Yet, he started really hitting his stride by 2003 of course. Before then, he was so UP and DOWN with his results. He definitely had a lot of talent though.

    What's so unusual about Borg was that he had that same remarkable talent of a "prodigy", turning Pro at about 15, winning a Davis Cup match by then, and then winning Junior Wimbledon at 16 I believe, then winning his first FO by 18, first Wimbledon at 20. Yet, what he also had was that "mindset" of being so wise beyond his years. Sort of a "man" already by the time he was about 17-18 when he started playing on the Centre Court at Wimbledon right from the beginning. As an aside, my "coach" (I'm now 41, but still workout/play a lot and take lessons/have workouts with him) is a former Swedish Pro (top 35 or so) that knows Borg quite well. He speaks so kindly of him and recounts how special Borg was as a youngster. What a phenom! I hope I can meet Borg ONE DAY. We'll see. If I do, I'm going to start a damn thread about it, that's for sure. That would be a dream for me. I tell him, please tell Borg just how much he meant to the Game and how much his fans revere him. He does do that, and Borg appreciates it very much he says.

    See Borg in 1974 (he was 18, the year he won his first FO):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7x6972WLQo (sorry it's in Swedish, but see him hit some and workout a bit.)

    Both Borg and Federer (so similar in MANY ways, the remarkable Swiss talent/maestro and the Swedish phenom/vulcan) were "temperamental" as youngsters, with Borg changing into such an "Ice Man" by the time he was 15-16 or so. Did you notice that the mental side was holding Federer back a bit until he hit his stride in 2003? He had the talent even at 18-20 or so, but seemed to lack the focus that Borg had right from the get go. Hence, you had Borg getting great results very early (more like Sampras). Yet, all 3, Borg, Federer, and Sampras were VERY SPECIAL from the beginning, and the experts clearly noticed that. It just took Federer a little longer than either Borg or Sampras to have Grand Slam wins, and I think part of the reason was that both Borg and Sampras "matured" on Court a bit earlier than Federer did. Did you notice that? For a few years, the experts were surprised that Federer's results were not matching his talent level.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2010
    #68
  19. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611

    Yes. Definitely. In fact, I had begun to think by 2003, that Federer would never live up to his talent. The buzz about him was largely gone by that point, and I thought he would become yet another very talented player who can survive on tour by ability alone, get huge wins occasionally, but never fulfill his potential. Another "leconte" if you will.

    Yes, the mental was the primary problem...I remember even calling him "flaky" by 03.

    It is nice to have seen Fed as a junior, but I only saw him once, I went out of my way to see him. There were people saying he could be the "next Sampras', and it was easy to see why the comparison was being made of course. When I coached "against" him, it was because I had junior playing him in a tournament, but I wasn't even there for that one.

    And yes, it does make the prodigies, who come through on the tour, so young, eg. Becker, Sampras, Borg etc. all the more remarkable. Though often, the greatest do! That's why by 03, I had begun to think, well, if hasn't pulled it together yet, it doesn't look great...
     
    #69
  20. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Very interesting Datcipher. Thank you for confirming that for me.
     
    #70
  21. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    First time I really noticed him was on a televised match against Chang I think at the US Open? I saw him practicing maybe a year or two later at the Grandstand Court of US Open during qualies with Xavier Malisse. He hit a really clean ball. Like even among the pros, the guys who impressed me that year was Federer and Pioline during practice. I think I might have saw Verdasco in the qualies that year. And his forehand was the single biggest shot I saw in the qualies (unless it was the same year I saw Karlovic, in which case his serve might be "bigger"... might). Anyway, when I first saw Federer, I didn't immediately think "he's going to dominate." Then again, he was just practicing and Xavier Malisse was being all emo, barely trying. Impressive but not as impressive as seeing Del Potro, Hewitt, and Verdasco playing matches in the qualies. You could tell they were all headed for the top 10. My doubles partner in college saw Hewitt in the qualies, too, was very skeptical, asked if I really believed a guy that small could be top 10. I responded "top 5" for sure. I always loved watching Bjorn Phau, too, but it was clear he would never be top 25.
    Feel like it's easier for guys who are mostly baseliners to do great as youngsters. To me, the Changs, Borgs, Hewitts, and Agassi's of the world make more sense, as improbable as they are, than a Becker. The thought of somebody winning Wimbledon playing all court tennis on fast grass at age 17 is just mind blowing.
     
    #71
  22. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    ^ Very interesting 35ft6 as to what you saw at the US Open, in the qualies.

    The one thing I'd differ with you slightly on is that Borg was actually playing a lot of "all court" tennis even at 18, and definitely by 20, when he was serve and volleying on almost every point to beat Nastase in his first Wimbledon final. Borg was more of an "all courter" than Chang, Hewitt, or Agassi, really. Yet, he obviously didn't rush the net as much as Becker. He had every shot in the book, very young.

    See this clip of his first Wimbledon final vs. Nastase (1976) and watch him S&V a ton on FAST grass, not the slower grass of today (Borg at 20, Nastase at 30, thanks to TW Poster Borgforever for the YT upload.). He takes his first of 5 straight after already having won 2 French Open titles, "proving" himself on grass by winning his first W without losing a single set:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU0SG-ZkUA4
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
    #72
  23. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Yeah, that's why I put "mostly" a baseliner. I knew that he came to the net a lot at Wimbledon, but he really wasn't an all court player like a Leconte, Noah, or Laver, right? I mean, from what I know, Connors was more of an all court player, he was really looking to come in on all surfaces, and I think of Wilander being a great all court player but I wouldn't even call Wilander an all court player. And Lendl served and volleyed almost every point on grass when he was really going after Wimbledon, but I would call him a baseliner as well. In the same way, Edberg got into plenty of baseline rallies, but I wouldn't call him a baseliner.

    Going off what I know, and I wasn't around to really get the full effect of the Borg impact, but his style, and Evert's style as described earlier, is something that can reach world class at an earlier age generally speaking.
     
    #73
  24. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    ^^Yes, you may be right, about that 35ft6. Perhaps being really GOOD at just a few "bread and butter" shots makes things simpler for a young player, thereby reducing the complexities required to win at the highest levels. Yet, I will say that some serve and volleyers, say guys like Curren, Goran, Stich, Isner, Karlovic, etc. basically had/have pretty "simple" games too, in that Borg's game could be more varied than all three of those guys for example, depending on his opponent/circumstances.

    I agree with you though, both Laver and Leconte were more all court players than almost anyone, including guys like McEnroe, Federer, and Borg. You NEVER knew how they would likely try and win points. With Evert, and to a lesser extent Borg, they more often than not fell back on their forehands and backhands to win big points.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
    #74
  25. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,508
    Location:
    OREGON
    to me these terms are about a player's comfort zone. It not about whether they can or do leave their comfort/ confidence zone its about that zone itself. a true all-courter feels nearly equally at ease in the forecourt or backcourt. Federer, Goolagong, there aren't a lot of them.
     
    #75
  26. Sidd Finch

    Sidd Finch Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Messages:
    152
    Location:
    Po
    Definitely (or "for sure" as Bjorn would say..:)), he showed an incredible ability to serve & volley to win those Wimbledons. I didn't see as many people criticize his style, due to his dominance and more varied arsenal, than others such as Vilas, Solomon, Dibbs, etc. Those other players were more boring to watch (although I was a huge Vilas fan....what a great running forehand he had!) than Borg. He was total "zen" tennis to me.
     
    #76
  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,611
    Um...if this story is true, it's rather odd. Anytime a player at age SEVENTEEN wins his 3rd atp tournament, beating solid pros in every round, and Agassi in the semi's, it's a safe bet that he has top 10 potential.

    Hewitt was not flying under anybody's radar.
     
    #77
  28. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    6,557
    Right, interesting point. Except for Stich. He's fresh on my mind because he's somebody Agassi and Sampras both talk about in their books. Sampras says he was the player he feared the most. Agassi said he could do anything and exhibited no patterns whatsoever. But still, good point. I'm just thinking, with Borg, Hewitt, Chang, or Nadal, some of their greatest strengths are almost euphemisms for youth, things like speed, legs for days, and short recovery times. It's not JUST that they're baseliners, but, also, people who physically and mentally dominated people with superior movement. Borg and Nadal have the added benefit of power.

    Still, you're right. It's not like huge serving guys like Roddick and Goran have these incredibly complex games.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2010
    #78
  29. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,595
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    ^^Exactly 35ft6. Sometimes guys that rely primarily on baseline games get "pigeon holed" a bit, and people act like it's not as "difficult" or "complicated" to play that way, relative to the "brilliant" play of some serve and volleyers, when in reality, many guys that used/use the serve and volley game almost exclusively, and who look to "take the net" during every rally really use power, hoping to knock off winners and/or force errors. Yet, they have few other options if that's not working. Certain players can mix it up if necessary, keeping opponents off balance. So, players like that are just as "brainless" and "one dimensional" as say someone that almost exclusively relies on forehands/backhands, endless rallying, and forcing errors primarily as a counter-puncher.

    If comparing say Nadal and Borg, they are great because they can win points in so many ways, although Borg was a much better server than Nadal, they were/are both surprisingly good at net (largely due to incredible athleticism/reflexes). Yet, as you know Borg could serve and volley to win a lot of points at Wimbledon, yet you don't see Nadal doing that.

    Federer is definitely an all court player, but he is not exactly a spectacular volleyer. Like Borg, his volleys are somewhat "serviceable". Nothing like say McEnroe, Rafter, or Edberg. He looks to put away the first volley, and not really control things with his net play. Often, after 1 volley or so, I sense he's in trouble, largely because the racquets/poly strings, and slower grass courts for example, really help passing shots and the return game.

    Borg would have LOVED those advantages in today's game, which have tipped the balance towards the kind of Game he most enjoyed. McEnroe, in my opinion, would have found it much more difficult to play his favorite style of Game in these modern conditions. It's just too easy to rifle back returns and passing shots with modern frames/poly strings. The extra topspin with Luxilon, for starters, makes volleying a very hazardous/high risk proposition unless you have the approach/put away volley all set up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
    #79

Share This Page