Why was Borg's comeback such a disaster?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sandy mayer, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    When he came back in 91-93 he was still very fit and fast, more so than most ATP pros so we can't say he was too old and finished physically.
    After 10 years out you could never expect him to get anywhere near the top ten, but you would have thought he could win a match. But he lost 13 matches and won none. Most of thetime he got beaten badly. I never saw any of these comeback matches but if anyone has, what went wrong?
     
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  2. BounceHitBounceHit

    BounceHitBounceHit Legend

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    I think he was back for all the wrong reasons, and was probably clinically depressed. Plus his insistence on using a wood frame didn't help his cause either. ;) CC
     
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  3. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Too much "rock-star" partying?
     
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  4. haerdalis

    haerdalis Hall of Fame

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    His technique was outdated, his racquet was outdated and even though he was fast and fit he was no longer faster and fitter than everyone else.
     
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  5. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    Borg had been to the top of the mountain and didn't have the drive to get back there. Also, tennis players have long memories and remembered what it was like to get crushed by him. They weren't about to take it easy on him while he was working out the kinks in his game.
     
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  6. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    Even though you dismissed that idea, i think he was too old. He was 35 when he made his come back and with his kind of game it's difficult to compete with the younger players. Jimmy Connors competed well at that age because he had a more aggressive game and he did not take ten years off from competitive tennis.
     
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  7. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    ^Yeah, that is the main reason, you can't take 10 years off in tennis(or any sport really) & just pick off where you left off.

    The reason Connors, Agasssi, Rosewall were able to play such a high level in their 30s is that they never left the game.

    Borg didn't just retire he wasn't playing at all for many years. The fact that he came back with a wood racquet showed that he wasn't really trying to stay sharp, even in retirement. Plus the fact that he came back only as a way to make money(he was bankrupt) not that he had a love for the game(ala Connors) probably was partly responsible for his poor results, since his heart wasn't really in it, it was a comeback for the wrong reasons.

    Also, by all accounts, including Becker & Goran, Borg at 36 in 1991 was still among the fastest, fittest guys on tour. But athleticism alone isn't enough to make you a great tennis player, you have to do it 24/7 year in year out to be competitive.
     
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  8. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    Pros who hit with and played against Borg all commented that there was no "stick" on his shots. He couldn't re-groove his strokes, or didn't think he had to. Borg's strokes and mentality were stilled geared towards a traditional wood based game where the whole goal was to "out steady" the other guy and just keep the ball in play.
     
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  9. Mick

    Mick Legend

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  10. Kirko

    Kirko Hall of Fame

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    cocaine & high life. he left pro tennis because he didn't want to really travel anymore & play only ten tournaments. I'm not putting him down because he was GREAT! bit drugs have taken a lot of good guys right into the gutter.
     
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  11. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    I would have liked to seen the whole match. I know he was blistered in it. Thanks for the 40 second blurp.
    He came back with a wierd coach also. His coach was some oddball that watched him playing through the big end of binoculars. He used a wooden racquet when guys were using graphite and composites. away from tennis isn't a good thing when you want to be in the bigs. he looked like he was in a time capsule and was awakened to play tennis again, same clothes and racquet. When you're burnt out your done. when he walked off the court after losing to McEnroe and never came back that sould have been the end for him. When he came back he was laughed at. Go out a winner not a washed up has been. I still liked seeing him play but he still is burnt out by hearing stories of him playing now. Shame actually.
     
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  12. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Mac played Borg in an exo like 6 years before that and said he wasn't the same player. I can't imagine the 5 years more of time off helped.

    You can't just go away and come back like that. Look at Ferrero. He only missed a year and when he came back, the game had passed him by. Now try taking TEN years off.

    I think we all know if Borg hadn't retired, he would have had many more slams to win, but you can't just decide to come back with your old Donnay woodie and expect to win in a new era.

    BTW, his technique was not outdated. You ever seen McEnroe play? He hits the ball like they did in the 1940s and still whips guys fresh off the tour.
     
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  13. Ted Ghost Shackley

    Ted Ghost Shackley New User

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    I was in Monte Carlo for Borg's comeback match. He looked very uncomfortable and had no pop on his serve and groundstrokes. His racquet hand was shacking during his warm-up serves.

    A ten year absence and his old racquet (painted black) was too much for the ex-champion to overcome. Ten years of partying didn't help. Imagine Federer taking ten years off and going to clubs all the time. He probably couldn't come back either.
     
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  14. classic tennis

    classic tennis Semi-Pro

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    Good point.....BTW the racquets were custom made by Gray's of Cambridge in the UK owing to a financial dispute with Donnay.
     
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  15. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    drugs? serious eh? why is he on drug? is that he was soooo good last time eh?...so that he would calm down...
     
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  16. alfa164164

    alfa164164 Professional

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    The best description I heard of the match went like this - "Borg looked like a player who was working overtime to contain the firepower of a player who had none".
    Obviously with Professor Hansai (sp?) in his corner, Borg didn't have the sense to surround himself with good counsel, not to mention the whole wood racket debacle. (Supposedly the ever faithful Lennart Bergelin was waiting in the wings, and was very hurt that Borg did not use him as his comeback coach.) Borg was incredibly stubborn, and that hurt him in his comeback.
    It was interesting to hear Wilander say in his interview with Chris Myers that he would have had 100% no chance of beating Borg at the French Open in 1982. Undoubtedly Borg did leave some Slams on the table.
    I remember Edberg commenting on how difficult it would be to return from a 6 MONTH layoff, so taking 6-10 years off is virtually impossible.
     
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  17. snapple

    snapple Rookie

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    Interesting comment, though I think Wilander is just being humble in deference to his idol and fellow Swede. I remember how Mats swept through Lendl, Clerc, Gerulitas, and Vilas to win the French that year. He was so unbelievably consistent it is hard for me to imagine anyone, including a rapidly burning out Borg, beating him. Granted Borg's probably the GOAT on clay but at that time in their respective careers, I believe Wilander just had too much convinction to his game and that the torch would have been passed sooner than later even if Borg continued playing.
     
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  18. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    No, in the interview, Wilander said that he practiced with Borg on clay the year he (Wilander) won the French. He said that he couldn't get a set off Borg unless he threw him one. The manner in which Wilander made the remark wasn't throwing a bone to his idol. Mainly because Borg wasn't Wilander's idol. In the interview, Wilander stated that his idol was none other than....Jimmy Connors. Yes, Wilander really wanted to be more like Connors than Borg. He said he even went so far as to emulate Connors' strokes, i.e. trying to hit flatter.

    You have to remember that the year before, Borg beat Lendl 6-1 in the 5th on clay. It wasn't like Borg was slipping any. And, Wilander's game, by his own admission, was one of keeping the ball in play. This was analagous to what Vilas tried to do with Borg. Borg could keep the ball in play better than anyone on the planet on clay, but Borg also developed another facet to his game, he could knock the cover off the ball too. This was something that Wilander just didn't have at the age of 16, same as Borg at 16.

    I agree that Borg probably left 2 - 3 Grand Slams on the table when he retired. I don't think it was out of the question for him to win another Wimbledon.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  19. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I don't think it was Mats being humble, its like if Fed skips Wimbledon this year & Murray wins it, then says he would have no chance had Fed played. The gap between Wilander & Borg was huge in '81/'82/'83. Borg would have been the 4 time defending champion had he played in '82! I don't see how an unseeded player who just played a defensive style could have troubled him.

    And Mats didn't win the French easily in '82, it was a battle the whole way(while Borg swept through most of his Frenches, completely destroying the same guys that gave Wilander so much trouble in '82)

    Here was Mats' route to the title in '82:

    R128 Cortes, Alejandro (COL) 6-4 6-3 6-4
    R64 Motta, Cassio (BRA) 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-2
    R32 Luna, Fernando (ESP) 6-3 6-1 6-0
    R16 Lendl, Ivan (USA) 4-6 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-2(Borg won in 5 over Lendl the year before, but it was a lopsided 5 setter, the sets Borg won were 61,62,61)
    Q Gerulaitis, Vitas (USA) 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4(Borg always destroyed Vitas on clay, no way could he ever get that many games off him)
    S Clerc, Jose-Luis (ARG) 7-5 6-2 1-6 7-5(Borg even beat Clerc easily in Monte Carlo in '83-with a wood racquet-while he trying to decide whether to comeback fulltime)
    W Vilas, Guillermo (ARG) 1-6 7-6 6-0 6-4(this match was close to 5 hours. Every time Borg played Vilas at the French-or pretty much anywhere-he destroyed him, so if Mats had so much trouble with Vilas in '82, how could have possibly beaten Borg? And the fact that Vilas even made the final that year showed that Borg probably would have had no trouble winning it that year, Vilas was on the decline in '81, I think Borg's retirement inspired him to that resurgence in '82. Probably the same with Connors winning Wimbledon in '82. Shows just how good Borg was, his contempories immediately saw a boost in their results when he left the tour)

    Also keep in mind, Wilander lost to Yannick Noah, arguably the weakest slam champion of the Open Era, in '83 as defending champion. Could you really imagine Borg losing to Noah at the French in his prime?

    Wilander is a great player. But like Rabbit said, he played a lot like Vilas, & Borg had no problem with that style. Plus Wilander never really dominated the tour, even on clay, so not sure if the comparison to Borg is really valid.

    Borg could have been a threat to win the French for a number of years had he not retired(and really the game didn't get that powerful when they first switched to graphite, I've seen those Wilander-Lendl matches on clay & Borg-Vilas were hitting harder with wood. Wilander & Lendl basically traded moonballs most of the time when they played each other on clay, while Borg was more aggressive. Had Borg stayed & used graphite, his topspin would have been even more dominant with graphite, since he was one of the few guys who could generate heavy topspin with wood, graphite would have helped his volleys as well. Borg had a lot of mishits with wood, graphite could have made him better, like it did Mac)

    But Borg really didn't care about the French, he cared about Wimbledon, & he (incorrectly) assumed Mac would dominate there after '81. After Connors won Wimbledon in '82, I'm sure Borg kicked himself for his sabbatical.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  20. need2paint

    need2paint Rookie

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    i think you guys are wrong about him using a woodie in his comeback. i remember that at the time people were attributing his comeback woes to using a graphite racquet and not being used to it. they said the racquet was too powerful and he couldn't keep the ball in the court.
     
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  21. iamke55

    iamke55 Professional

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    The game had passed him by. Despite what many Sampras fanboys think, the competition (of any sport, not just tennis) gets tougher every year and 10 years is way too much time off.
     
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  22. snapple

    snapple Rookie

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    Moose, you make a good case for the mighty Borg. A few points I do disagree with though (in no particular order).

    1) I've watched tapes of those old Borg/Vilas matches at the French and it honestly looks like their playing in slow motion. The balls their hitting look like their floating through the air like a good year blimp. There's NO WAY that those guys were hitting harder than the ball was being struck by Lendl/Wilander in the mid 80s.

    2) Regarding your claim that Borg would never have lost to Noah, I think Noah just happened to have caught lightning in a bottle and played such inspired tennis the likes of which he never demonstrated to Bjorn.

    3) By the end of 1981 Borg was already starting to burn out, and thus in IMO if he kept on playing the '82 clay circuit, I believe he would have found it extremely difficult to maintain his edge, and that a player of Wilander's style would have at the very least given him a huge test. After all, if Lendl took him to 5 sets the year earlier, by the next year a somewhat diminished Borg would have had to overcome a Wilander who would have presented a much bigger challenge than Lendl posed the year before. I remember that Lendl looked like he was about to pass out from exhaustion in that 5th set while Mats could have stayed on the court forever if necessary without giving it a second thought (something that I'm not sure Borg was still willing to do to the same extent as in his heyday).
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  23. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

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    Snapple, if you look at that Vilas-Borg match, observe how the ball "kicks" up after it bounces over the net, since they're playing on clay it would seem slow, but that Kick is testament to how hard they were hitting the ball
     
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  24. alfa164164

    alfa164164 Professional

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    snapple - if you listen to the Wilander interview, you can tell Mats had no belief that he could beat Borg AT that stage in their careers, as Rabbit said, Mats said in the interview "Borg occassionally threw me a bone", but you got the sense he was getting beaten pretty soundly otherwise

    need2paint - Borg did use a wood racket in the first match of his comeback, as previously mentioned it was custom made by Gray's (Grey's?) of England specifically for Borg (a very few have cropped up on auction sites over the years), I forgot how many unsuccessful attempts he tried with the wood, but later on he did switch to some graphite midsize frames, most notably the Head Classic Mid at some point, but to no avail
     
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  25. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Have you seen a Lendl-Wilander French Open match lately? The crowd was whistling & the commentators were laughing at how slowly they were hitting the ball in the '87 final, it was Andrea Jaegger like. Maybe you haven't seen a good quality feed(with good sound) of Vilas-Borg '78 final, I have one from a classic sports re-broadcast, & the pace is quite different from Lendl-Wilander. The sound of Borg hitting is unique, he is swinging very hard, much harder than I've ever seen Wilander swing(who really couldn't swing hard at all, he was more of a counterouncher than Borg ever was), & on par with Lendl. I saw Borg destroy Lendl in a Masters final in 1980, & Lendl was swinging as hard as ever(with a graphite racquet) & Borg had no trouble matching him shot for shot.

    Racquets make a difference, but in the 80s, only Becker was something completely different from the Borg era, everyone else was similar, in terms of overall strength/height level. There wasn't a big difference in racquet head speed between the 2 eras, but a big difference in the amount of mishits & consistency. That's what made the game change, guys could hit hard without the errors, but with wood if you hit hard your errors would be high.

    Borg was maybe the only guy who could swing hard & not make errors with wood. Considering his racquet tension, & overall strength/atheticism(let's be honest he is the best athlete ever in tennis) I don't think he would have had much trouble playing well with graphite in the mid 80s, certainly not on clay, it was still the same game, a grinding counterpunching game. Heck Mac played his best tennis ever with graphite in '84, and his strokes were not as modern(as in no topspin at all) as Borg's. And Borg served higher mph than Mac with wood racquets in 1981.

    Tanner was the biggest server in 1980, yet in a senior event in 1990, he hit a serve harder than anyone on tour(including Sampras, Ivanisevic) did that year.

    Borg was among the biggest servers with wood, had he stuck around, he would have been a server on par with Lendl(not Becker off course) in the mid 80s.

    But what about how Wilander fared against Clerc, Gerualaitis, & Vilas at the '82 French? Borg completely destroyed those guys for years, did they also improve so much in one year, that new King of Clay couldn't do what Borg did to them? Plus keep in mind, had Borg played in '82, he would have likely played Wilander early, not in the final. Not liking Mats's chances in that scenario, a young unknown countryman playing Borg in his backyard.

    Also, Borg was clearly #2 in '81, not much of a decline, reaching the finals in all 3 slams he played. And he did it playing a very limited schedule, I'm sure if he wanted to he would have been able to replicate those results in '82.
     
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  26. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I don't get the doubts about Borg. Mats Wilander won three slams in '88, yet Borg's strokes would have been outdated at that time? Yeah right. Borg was superior to Wilander.

    And it's not like the game evolves without the players. Borg would have been hitting much harder in the 80s as the game became more powerful. McEnroe still gives guys fresh off the tour a run for their money, and beats them occasionally I presume. Have you seen Mac's strokes? They're far less modern than Borg's. Borg's strokes are more modern than Connors' and Connors made the USO semis at 39 years old.

    Borg simply burnt out. He's not a totally sane person, and losing Wimbledon and the USO (for the fourth time in the final) probably just took him over the edge. He was never really in a position to have to fight back and regain a crown. He was always the man.
     
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  27. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    Moose and Rabbit I would agree with you guys IF Borg continued. But he might not have been the same player. Here are my points.

    1. By the time of the '82 French Borg was already burnt out. If he played he might not have won. He was done mentally. Look at it this way. If Wilander (who himself was burnt out after the '88 US open) did not play in the '89 French, after the Chang victory we could all being saying Chang only won because Mats did not play. Was Wilander a better clay courter. Yes. Would a prime '88 Wilander lose a five setter at the French to Chang. Hell no. Would a prime Wilander choke like Lendl did? Hell no. All this is moot, because a burnt/bored/mentally weak Wilander did play and lost in the quarters. Would a prime Borg have won the '82? Most likely. Would a burnt out Borg won? A Big maybe not.

    2. 1982 Monte Carlo: Noah beat Borg 6-1 6-2.
    That goes to show you anything can happened. You are right about Noah being one of the weakest 1 slam winner, but give Wilander some credit. He did make it back to the finals as a 18 year old defending champ and had to play in a very hostile, Davis Cup like, environment.

    3. Everyone knows practice is practice. Wilander was never a good practice player. Example: Mats never lost in tournamnet play against Connors, however Mats never beat Connors in practice or in exo matches. It just goes to show you the mental side of the game.

    Rabbit and Moose, you guys have way more insight then me because I was never (unlucky) able to see Borg play. However, to assume Borg would have just continue to dominate is a little too much. Yes, given that Borg was the King of Clay, if he was not burnt out he would probably have left a few more slams on the table. I totally agree with that, but the whole point was I think he wouldn't have been the same player. He was done mentally. So A mentally burnt Borg wining the '82 is questionable.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  28. Ripper

    Ripper Hall of Fame

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    On that video, someone posted the link to, I noticed that he 2-handed the backhand until the mid-point of the swing only and then finished the swing with 1 hand. Is that how the 2hbh was done in his days?
     
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  29. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    No, that's just how Borg hit his 2 hander. He grew up playing hockey & that was sort of the genesis of his stroke.

    I guess a major point, would be that Wilander was never a dominant player like Borg, even on clay. Yes he won 7 majors, but I don't think he was favored to win any of them(but he was favored against Noah in '83;)
    He always struggled to win his slams, lots of 4 & 5 setters throughout. When he won 3 out of 4 majors in '88, he wasn't considered way above the rest of the tour, like Borg & Federer were, just that he squeaked ahead of them briefly(how long was he #1? he never even got to #1 until after the 1988 US Open, pretty amazing it took that long considering he already had 2 majors by June. That shows he wasn't dominant) He never defended the French Open, even once, while Borg won 4 in a row. He wasn't basically destroying everyone on clay, like Borg was. Comparing Federer at Wimbledon or Nadal at the French right now would be a more fair comparison of Borg in '82, that's the kind of domination we are talking about, & if Federer & Nadal just retire tomorrow you can darn well imagine what we'll be saying about whoever wins the French or Wimbledon this year. Wilander was always a favorite at the French, not the "favorite" so I doubt we'd say that Chang's victory was tainted had Wilander not been there. Lendl was favored to win the French most of the 80s(didn't always happen though) When Gomez won it in 1990, he thanked Lendl for not playing since he lost so many times to Lendl at the French.
    About the burnout issue, if Borg played the French in '82 that would be a sign that he wasn't burned out, so...

    To me arguing that Borg wouldn't have won more slams post '81 if he was motivated is arguing that Seles wouldn't have won more slams post stabbing, both were at their peaks, there was no decline to speak of at all when they stopped. I mean look at Borg's lifetime slam record, it is an absurd winning %, how could it fall apart so suddenly had he continued playing? Would he suddenly have trouble beating Jose Higueras or something?

    Connors won Wimbledon in '82 & Wilander won the French. No way could either beat the Borg of '81 those years at those events. He retired for a variety of reasons, mainly that the tour wasn't willing to let him play without commiting to a certain number of events per year in advance(he already was on their s list for the limited amount of events he played in '80 & '81, so they made a rule to force him to play more. Too bad they didn't realize that tennis is better off with him than without, I can't imagine any top player of today getting treeated like that, Agassi was able to pull out out of so many events last year, that would not have been allowed in 1982.
     
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  30. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    I'm not arguing with you. I'm agreeing with you here. But the key is IF he was MOTIVATED and not Burnt out. Your commit saying if Borg showed up at the French in '82 would mean he wasn't burnt out, what's that about? Wilander continued to show up when he himself admitted he didn't bring his A game He went through the whole of '89 looking like a zombie going through the motions. If Borg was still motivated why did he lose to Noah on clay in '82? Using your logic, because he showed up at the Monta Carlo open he must have not been burnt out? If that is the case why did he lose? Is Noah the better player? Of course not. Did Noah play the best he ever played? I don't know I didn't see the match, but I doubt it. Could it be that the King of Clay just wasn't into it? That sounds more reasonable don't you think? Thus my argument about if Borg showed up to the '82 French unmotivated and burnt out would have been a diffierent Borg who dominated everyone else years before.

    I totally agree with you about Borg's domination. I didn't see for myself but his stats speaks for themselves. Borg was the man. Wilander on the other hand was never a dominate player. That said, when he was determined he competed with the best of them. I disagree with you about Wilander never being the favorite however. '87 French he was the favourite to win, '88 US open he was the favourite to win, along with the '83 French final. There was a pretty good reason why Wilander did not really dominate the French, and his name is Lendl. I can say the same thing backwards. You couldn't say Lendl dominated the French because a guy named Wilander. The funny thing is guys like Edberg, Becker, and Wilander never really dominated the sport like a Connors, Pete, Fed, or Borg did.

    Yes, I agree that Chang's victory wasn't tainted because prime Wilander wasn't playing well, but I don't think it's very fair to say Wilander's '83 victory was tainted also. If so, was Noah's '83 or Lendl's '84 FO victories tainted also because Borg left the game? I wouldn't say so. Wilander is one of the greats. He's not mention as GOAT like Borg is and rightfully so, but I don't think his victories should be tainted. Borg vs Connor (13-8) compared to Wilander vs Connors (7-0), Borg vs Mac (7-7) compared to Wilander vs Mac (6-7). I know different primes and ages etc....but you know what I mean.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
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  31. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    This is not true. Borg didn't retire until '83. He continued playing exos between 82-83 and some tourneys like Monte Carlo.

    He had absolutely no interest in playing Grand Slams.
     
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  32. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    He used wood in his Monte Carlo comeback in '91. He was using graphite by '93.
     
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  33. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Borg stopped practicing to the same extent as in his prime years. He liked practice and exhibitions, but gradually he lost interest in putting in all of the hours and getting up early in the morning.

    In his comeback in '91 and onwards Borg's practices were almost laughable by pro standards. He did it at a comfort level of the average amateur - he wasn't willing to put in 4-5 hours a day. Conversely Connors is a guy who worked his butt off into his 40s - more than ever.

    But Connors didn't have a life. Borg wanted one.
     
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  34. mentalcase

    mentalcase Semi-Pro

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    What do you mean by that?:confused:
     
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  35. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Huh? I guess your Borg pic qualifies you.. umm.

    Everyone knows he quit after '81 dude. Exos? Give us a break.
     
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  36. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I think the statement was pretty clear. I don't stutter in type. Did you think Borg was just a simple minded tennis machine as he was portrayed?

    You see what a player is really made of when they lose.. not when they win. The Tennis Channel docu shows a lot of this.

    I love Borg. He's probably my favorite player ever. That said.. he's a strange mind.
     
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  37. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Connors didn't have a life? Explain.
     
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  38. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Connors beat Borg every time in exhibitions in 82. Connors improved his serve in 82 and was more formidable opponent than the year before, when he nearly beat Borg at Wimbledon but lost 6-4 in the fith. I doubt very much a peak Connors would have lost to a burnt out Borg in 1982. I say Borg would have had a one in ten chance of winning Wimbledon in 82. He would have had to beat Mac and probably Connors too.
     
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  39. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I agree that Borg's mental state was probably the only thing that would have kept him from winning more Slams.

    Borg owned Connors. Borg destroyed Connors every time he played him at Wimbledon. Players like Victor Amaya and Roscoe Tanner gave Borg better matches at Wimbledon than Connors. Borg was 4 - 0 against Connors at Wimbledon. Their first and last meetings were 5 setters and the middle two were routines for Borg.

    Borg lived for the Grand Slams. He could have cared less about exhibitions. Borg knew where his history would be written and it was at Grand Slams.

    I think Wilander's statement stands on its own. He wasn't being generous to Borg and he wasn't being humble. He was stating fact. Borg on clay was an immovable object and an irresistable force. He was simply the best clay court player to ever step onto a court since tennis was played on clay.

    For those who think Borg was hitting the ball in slow motion, please watch his two US Open finals against McEnroe and come back. Borg hit a different kind of ball at the French. Lendl said it best when he said the difference between players of his era and today is like marathoners and sprinters. Today's players are more like sprinters while in his day you had to be ready to go the distance.

    In the 70s and early 80s, clay court tennis was slower than today. Two things attributed to that, one was the court. There was more clay on the court back then. Rafael Nadal complained at last year's RG that there was not enough top dressing on the court. Hence, it played more like a hardcourt since they were basically playing on the base. The second thing was the balls. Back in Borg's era, they played clay court tennis with pressureless balls. If you've ever played with these, you know they play like rocks and very very slow.
     
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  40. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    That's the problem (for Borg), Tennis was Connors' life but Borg wanted to get away from the sport. As with everything else in life, you will be more successful if you are passionate about the things that you do.
     
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  41. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I have to disagree with you on this. Tanner played Borg twice at Wimbledon and lost twice, once in straight sets and the other time in 5. Amaya played Borg only once at Wimbledon and lost 6-3 in the fifth. I don't think 1 match can be used as evidence for him being a more dangerous opponent than Connors.

    Connors is the only player to push Borg to 5 sets twice. Tanner did it once so I don't see how he was more trouble than Connors. In 77 and 81 Borg edged it 6-4 in the fifth against Connors and both matches could very well have gone the other way. Borg knew that Connors was always a serious threat, and his most dangerous opponent at Wimbledon other than McEnroe.
     
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  42. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    I believe Borg's comeback failed because he came back for the wrong reasons and his heart wasn't into it and he also came back thinking he could use wood and get away with it and when he was rudely dismissed he then decided that maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. The game had passed him by.
     
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  43. federerfanatic

    federerfanatic Banned

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    What is most interesting to wonder about 1982 though is it had seemed Borg had surpassed Connors for good, but had perhaps been usurped by McEnroe at the top for good. Yet Connors usurped McEnroe in 1982 beating him in the Wimbledon final, and winning the U.S Open(where McEnroe lost in the semis). So when you think of what exactly may have happened at Wimbledon and the U.S Open had Borg played that year, and where the balance of power at the very top of mens tennis would have resided, it really brings a big ?????? Don't you think? That is one of those years I wish there could be a crystal ball to find out what would have happened at those 2 particular events anyway had Borg played.

    I agree with you on the French Open though. Wilander would have had a slim hope of beating of beating Borg at the 1982 French Open.
     
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  44. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I don't think Connors' victories in 82 are in any way tarnished by Borg's absence. I really don't think Borg would have won Wimbledon or US in 82 and I think Connors would have turned their rivalry round.
     
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  45. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    I have to agree with those that say Borg have won the FO and possibly SW19 too in 1982 had Borg decided to play. Surely the Borg would have been the massive favourite at the FO, 4 time defending champion and a similar selection of competitors to previous years. Willander would have not troubled Borg on the red dirt of Rolland Garros. No one really troubled Borg at the French and Wilander's retrieving style was nothing new. Borg could out rally everyone if that’s the game he wanted to play against Wilander, but Borg could also be more aggressive if he wanted to; an aspect that Wilander's game lacked. I don't really see why people refer to Borg being taken to 5 sets by Lendl the previous year as any evidence for Borg struggling. Borg won the final set very comfortably 6-1. We must also remember that Borg has one of the best 5 set records of all time (I think it is 26-4). Borg also won 14 consecutive 5 setters (not consecutive matches, but consecutive 5 sets matches played), an open-era record. Taking Borg to 5 sets was still a long way from beating him.
     
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  46. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    This is very true.
     
    #46
  47. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    Borg's match against Mac in '81 at Wimbledon was closer than people give credit. Assuming Borg had recovered from his '81 losses, there's no reason he wouldn't be considered a potential champion.

    I see absolutely no evidence to support a potential turnaround for Connors in that rivalry other than Borg's mental state. Like someone else said, Borg owned Connors.
     
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  48. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Connors was the most determined competitor in the history of tennis. Yes Borg had won several matches in a row, but increasingly their matches were becoming closer. The tide was turning. And it's very very important to remember that Connors improved his serve in 82. With Connors improving and Borg declining, Borg was heading for the no.3 or even no.4 position.

    Sometimes rivalries abruptly change. Look at Lendl Mac, multiple consecutive wins for 1 player were followed by multiple consecutive wins for another.

    You can't simply say Borg owned Connors and that was going to heppen forever. Connors beat Borg in all exos in 82. He'd overtaken him. In Senior tennis Connors dominated Borg. It simply doesn't follow that because Borg beat Connors 8 times in a row he was going to do it forever.

    When Borg was always beating Connors it wasn't like Federer Hewitt, a foregone conclusion. In 79 Connors couldn't compete with Borg, but in 80-81 Connors was a very tough opponent for him with lots of close matches. That wasn't going to go on forever, especially with Connors' improved serve.
     
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  49. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    ^^ interesting debate...
    good point... even if it isn't easy to accept that "being burnt out" (mentally or physically) is part of the game.

    but "coming back to his 90's comeback", he had match point against volkov, #17 at that time... so he was not that far.
    if only there was some youtube clip of that match...
    but we still have the stats : 12 aces... the serve was still working, for instance ! ;)
    i wish he tried a bit more, he would probably have won some matches. but this weird coach was certainly not a good choice...
     
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  50. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    You made some good points, however, you cannot include exhibitions in the argument. Borg didn't care about exhibitions. They didn't count toward rankings. Borg was guaranteed his share of the money from them. However, when it counted, Borg won. His head to head with Connors was 13 - 8. He won the last 8 meetings. How can you justify a statement like "Connors was improving" when he was still getting routined by Borg when Borg was in decline?

    Yep, Connors went 5 sets with Borg at Wimbledon in 1981. Two months later, Borg routined him in straight sets on a hard court in the semis of the US Open. These are the same hardcourts that Connors loved and Borg hated.

    Prior to 1977, Connors record against Borg was 6 - 1.

    From 1977 on, Borg was 12 - 2 with Connors. One of those wins was the 1978 US Open final when Borg had hurt his hand during the tournament.

    Seems to me that Borg was the one who turned a corner.

    Also, Connors "improved" serve was a myth. Connors worked on his serve for a Wimbledon. He didn't win the title that year. If you go back and look at his last run at the US Open, and even years before that, he's back to spinning it in and getting good placement. Connors' service strength was in getting a guy to lean to one side and then hit one away from him. Connors never had a serving metamorphisis ala Borg. Borg's serve did actually become a real weapon starting in about 1977.

    Now I enjoyed watching Connors play as much as anyone, but saying that he was closing the gap on Borg is just not true. From the record, Borg had Connors under his thumb when it counted. Connors never said he'd follow any other player "to the ends of the earth". Borg dominated Connors until he retired.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2007
    #50

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