Stats for 1981 USO final (McEnroe-Borg)
McEnroe d. Borg 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Unlike the 1980 USO final, this one wasn't decided by service percentage or even return errors. The big difference this time was in the winners. McEnroe's rate of winners was not especially high for him, but Borg's total was unusually low.
McEnroe won 122 points overall, Borg 104.
McEnroe served at 54%, making 61 of 114 first serves.
Borg served at 55%, making 62 of 112 first serves.
McEnroe’s service percentages by set:
So McEnroe actually served quite poorly in the fourth set. He missed 9 first serves in a row, including all five that he attempted at 3-1 in the fourth set when he got broken.
Borg’s service percentages by set:
(Per the New York Times, McEnroe served at 48% in the first set, Borg at 72%, and they've got Borg serving at 49% over the last three sets, making 40 of 81 first serves).
McEnroe won 46 of 61 points on first serve (75%) and 26 of 53 on second (49%).
Borg won 40 of 62 points on first serve (65%) and 23 of 50 on second (46%).
McEnroe converted 7 of 13 break points, Borg 4 of 11.
McEnroe put his first serve into play on 6 of 11 break points. He was broken once on first serve and 3 times on second serve.
Borg put his first serve into play on 5 of 13 break points. He was broken once on first serve and 6 times on second serve. He faced no break points in the first set.
McEnroe had 10 aces and 7 doubles.
Borg had 9 aces and 7 doubles.
Borg served an ace at 1-4 in the second, recorded at 121 mph, which Summerall thought was the fastest of the tournament, or at least the fastest that CBS had recorded.
McEnroe got 25 return errors from Borg (16 on first serve), of which I judged 3 as service winners.
Borg got 15 return errors from McEnroe (10 on first serve), of which I judged 2 as service winners.
McEnroe hit 41 clean winners apart from service: 10 FH, 6 BH, 12 FHV, 8 BHV, 5 OH.
Borg hit 22 clean winners apart from service: 4 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH.
Mac - 11, 8, 15, 7
Borg - 6, 6, 6, 4
McEnroe ended up with more groundstroke winners than Borg.
Both of them hit a lot fewer winners than they had two months earlier at Wimbledon. But Borg’s total winners were a fraction of his total from the 1980 final at Flushing Meadow.
John Newcombe noted in the booth how deep Borg's ground strokes were landing in the first set. I first saw this match last year (unlike their other Slam finals which I saw in the 80s and 90s), and my strongest impression of Borg's play overall -- excluding the first set -- was how short his ground strokes were landing.
I think that Borg was usually a slow starter and that his ground strokes tended to fall short early in matches. Here against McEnroe he evidently started sharp, but the announcers wondered afterwards if he couldn't sustain his play due to his (relative) lack of competitive play in '81.
McEnroe hit four volley winners to hold at 2-4 in the third set and then four winners from the baseline to break: 8 winners in 11 points. That could have been the most brilliant pair of games he ever played.
McEnroe had 3 service return winners, all FH’s off second serves; none were passes (he drove them into the corners right past Borg). But he had 11 passing shots: 4 FH’s (including two lobs) and 7 BH’s (including 1 lob).
Borg had 7 service return winners: two FH’s (one off first serve) and 5 BH’s (one off first serve). All were passes. He had 7 additional passing shots, including 5 BH’s. (He had no lob winners and rarely tried lobbing McEnroe.) Altogether he passed McEnroe 14 times.
So McEnroe had nearly as many passes as Borg; that would have been a first. With Borg getting passed often in the middle of the match, Trabert thought he looked uncertain about what to do to stop McEnroe's momentum, whether to come in or stay back.
Subtracting the winners and aces from the total points won:
McEnroe made 73 total errors. Of those I counted 15 return errors and 7 double-faults.
Borg made 71 total errors. Of those I counted 25 return errors and 7 double-faults.
So McEnroe is left making 51 errors (forced and unforced) in exchanges that had at least a successful return, that is, in rallies. Borg is left making 39 such errors.
At 4-2 in the fourth, per CBS, McEnroe had made 29 unforced errors (14 on the BH). Borg had made 28 (with 15 on the BH). Immediately after the last stat, when Borg hit a FH return winner, Newk said that Borg had made 3 “unforced errors” with his forehand in the first two sets, but 10 afterwards.
Per The Courier:
From the New York Times:
Found missing points
I've edited the opening post; the stats are now complete. I had been missing the first two-and-a-half games (due to football at CBS), but I found the opening of the match at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiq-qHvOQaw
(the first point was an ace, per CBS)
I also added unforced errors from a newspaper, The Courier.
Thanks Krosero for this info. The original article in this thread transported me straight back to 1981 in a flash and I recall my feeling after the match, which was that I'd never seen Borg play so badly near the end of a match. He seemed absolutely "not all there" and very distracted. I can only assume that the death threat did play a role, ON TOP of the fact that he had finally relinquished Wimbledon (not easy for him, that's for sure). Your statistics remind of something about that match.
I could not figure exactly what was wrong. Of course, I did not know as much about Borg in some respects as I do now. Your highlighting of the fact that ON PAPER, McEnroe did not play a particularly spectacular match, was my feeling was well.
It was just Borg's play that was so "alien" to me. He literally looked like he just wanted OUT of that stadium, no matter what. Now the 1980 final was different. He had that match in his hands in the 4th set, only to lose in a tight 5 setter! Anyway, thanks again for all your videos, statistics, and insights on this board.
I remember that match too. I remember thinking that that was not Borg, it was a ghost.
new york times article from 1981
great article. hope you don't mind me asking. did you have to pay for a reprint?
Yes, this match does feel very strange. During the 4th set, Borg looked to be more concerned about exiting than actually staying and fighting out a potentially long match. He seemed to be experiencing something bordering on anger, fear, and frustration.
You could see it in his shotmaking, which did make him look like something "alien" or like a "ghost" as Hoodgem mentioned. The death threat stuff is downright scary. In a big stadium like that, in that unique New York environment, with the added "shuffling" and slight chaos, versus say Wimbledon, it would be very distracting quite possibly. If I could ask him, I'd ask about the impact on him of that death threat at the US Open. Was that the "final straw" coupled with his fights with Tour Organizers as far as requiring 10 tournaments a year as a minimum in 1982 and for the foreseeable future?
Perhaps he just said, you know what, I've given enough of myself to this Game if that's how "they'll" treat me. I'm done and have decided to seize my life and take it from tennis. There is a burn out element to it and again, I reiterate, if he could have coupled a layoff with the ability to cut down on his tournament schedule to say 8 tourneys in 1982, 1983, as opposed to 10+, that was what he needed. Also, go in the lab with Donnay and get a pure graphite frame developed by say 1983 (try maybe 80 sq inches at least, just a thought??), as guys were making that switch, including McEnroe by 1983!
It's almost as if something dawned on Borg during the day before the match and then during the match, and he said, this death threat is just too much. I remember he went into the 1981 final, having beat Connors in STRAIGHT SETS, while McEnroe was coming into the final after a 5 setter with Gerulaitis. So, he was obviously in pretty good form after the SF. What suddenly changed? The death threat must have played a role here.
All in all, Borg needed a layoff after this match and a Tour Organizers that would allow him to possibly play less than 10 tournaments for 1982, without him HAVING TO QUALIFY for say the 1983 Grand Slams. UNIMAGINABLE!
This link has a bit more footage including the end. I can't help thinking that at about 9:20 in this video, he's thinking about leaving the Stadium with his health, given the threat.
Anyway, see these excerpts from Wikipedia:
Borg went on to lose to McEnroe at the 1981 US Open, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3, and the defeat effectively ended Borg's career. After that defeat, Borg walked off court and out of the stadium before the ceremonies and press conference had begun. It would turn out to be the Swede's last Grand Slam final. Although he felt in good condition physically, he recognized that the relentless drive to win and defy tour organizers had begun to fade.
In 1982, Borg played only one tournament, losing to Yannick Noah in the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo. Nevertheless, Borg's announcement in January 1983 that he was retiring from the game at the age of 26 was a shock to the tennis world. McEnroe tried unsuccessfully to persuade Borg to continue.
When i watched the match back then in 1981, i found the first two sets quite unimpressive. But the game, in which Mac broke back at 3-4 in the third, was something else. He hit a passing shot and one topspin lob winner, and after Borg won a point, did exactly the same double winner again, backhand pass and topspin lob. I took all the wind out of Borg. He gave in. Later Mac remarked in his book, that in the fourth Borg didn't even try to reach difficult balls, but let them go.
The 1981 US Open-final is one of the most disturbing, complex and disappointing tennis moments in history and absolutely puts a sour taste the glorious Borg-Mac-rivalry -- on the greatest, but briefest, of all rivalries in our sport.
I have it in three different versions. All harrowing. I watch it from time to time. To study. And still, some rallies between these giants are still shimmering with their special talents.
That Borg "gave in" after Mac's brilliant game-streak must be something of the most illogical statements ever made. I do understand how some people could forge that impression when seeing it and see some pattern to it.
But it's like saying the earth is flat -- just because it looks flat from where you stand.
Borg has the highest winning percentage by far in five-setters in history and is known as, arguably, the greatest fighter in tennis-history. For him to throw in the towel was extremely rare. It did happen about 5 times in ten years, never in any of the bigger tourneys though. That wasn't in the man's genes. He would fight to the death. Always. But now he was burnout though. Tired of so many things in the game. All the hassles. No vacation. No cushy, Lake Como-monthly retreat after Wimby like todays spoiled toddlers.
The man had run like a nuclear tank for ten years straight, being the most famous tennis-player on earth before or since -- before even the game could handle such phenomenons professionally.
Watching hockey was more entertaining than beating Mac for his 6th Wimby. He felt it -- and he knew it.
I will reveal some things here that "someone" told me, actually several people close to the kitchen -- not just from The Man:
* Borg was very aware of the SF death-threat. They said it was heavy security. Lennart gave Borg the "all clear"-updates signals in the change-overs to calm Björn all through the match with Jimbo. Many, many security people mingled all around. I am not at liberty to say how many -- but it was more than a 100 milling around all through.
* Borg was was in heavy "burnout" by this time -- BUT -- US Open was always, contrary to media-bs, one of his fave tourneys and it was his main goal both in 1980 and 1981. He was looking forward to it. So he felt more motivation than most other tourneys that year. Plus that he loved to rally with Jimmy. Their rallies usually were very flamboyant, creative and extracted and more often than not punctuated with sublime shot-making. That turned Björn on. Björn said he played about 80-85% of his best against Jimmy in the semis. Borg was confident coming into to the final. He even went and made a headline in a Swedish newspaper going "Look forward to the final -- it's going to be a great match! I promise..."
He saw Mac-Vitas and was very disappointed with Johnny's standard. He saw himself a clear class ahead of Mac -- if he played 85%. FYI Borg said he only played 95% his best in practice. I always play better when I practice he always said. Borg never did underestimate anybody and he knew mac loved to play him so he expected a dogfight.
* Bergelin signaled to Björn about the death-threat against Mac after the first set. Few security people was visible. This was disturbing. 20 000 people and no security but near the the court.
Reagan was gunned down about this time. Ten months earlier a certain guy named John Lennon was blown to smithereens by a crazed fan at the Dakota-building in New York and Björn had had severe run-ins with nutbags already. I have a great photo of Borg knocking out a nut-bag barging into his bedroom with an upper-cut. The examples are plentiful. Borg feared being the most famous man on earth. At Wimby after his Edmondson-match -- even though he was flanked by ten Bobbies -- he was mobbed and hundreds of people build pile on him. He was close to suffocating. Saved by the bell. After that it was either Court No. 1 or the centre at Wimby for Bear.
Borg snapped. Being already fragile in motivation combined with his two-year festering burnout "about the whole crap" Borg hardly even tried. After that. He called it the worst match of my career after a QF-stage, bar none. And that's saying something. In the 1978-final he could hardly hold his racquet with his bandaged thumb -- but even that was better than this.
Bergelin sigaled for more security. Borg wanted out. The anger and the humiliation -- in front of Mac, whom he regarded as a friend and to the paying public and to the giant stage created, I guess, an implosion of contradicting feelings.
Furious over the lack of security -- Borg ordered as many guards as possible to pave his way out as soon as the match was over. He was extremely down at the whole scene. The whole experience that day was the last drop -- it practically ended his last motivation. Being No. 1 in the late 70s and early 80s wasn't just a walk in the park. It's hard to understand. Pile on all that crap too and no serious vacation for 10 years straight with unimaginable pressure, no safety nets and everything on live TV. Staring into your eyes. Day after day. Year after year.
Now it's tough but nothing like back in the crazy 70s and 80s.
Borg tried though. But he didn't give sh*t. It was half-hearted. Had he played like he did against Jimbo it would been a VERY DIFFERENT MATCH. Borg said he wasn't at all impressed with Mac either at Wimby or US Open in 1981. He said "He played better in my view in 79, 80 and 82 and 84". Ivan (Lendl) looked at me in disbelief. He said to me that he wished I played like that against him some time. But nothing could make me care anymore. It was one volley after another and I wish all of them happened on court instead of off..."
As McEnroe talked to the crowd out on the stadium Borg went into a 1 minute shower. Dressed in ultra-speed and with his motivation gone and only left with ever mounting frustrations he made fire-wood of about ten racquets in a storm of splinters -- in front of Mariana, his parents and Lennart -- in the locker room, "promised to quit the business and start to really live a life far from the insane routine" and then went to the limo harassed with about 40 paparazzis that managed to chase him down and went on the next plane out.
It was all over very quick...
People tried to cajole him. It will pass. Soon tennis will be fun again. He wanted to believe them...
Borg had defeated Mac in January 1981 and beat him twice in Aussie-exxos in the late winter 1981, once I guess 6-0, 6-4 although Mac said he played great. He was stunned. Borg says to this day -- that when his mind was there those few times in 1981 he played the best of his life.
14 months later after the tragic 1981 USO-final they faced off in the prestigious AKAI-tourney, early November 1982. Borg hadn't played many matches in 1982. Mac was ranked No. 1 in the world at that time and had a streak of 33 matches matches in a row indoors or something. Borg played hardly anything. But it looked like this on fast indoor carpet in Sydney:
Lendl had an even longer indoor winning streak at the time blowouting even Mac indoors -- Borg pulverised Lendl 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 effectively ending Lendl's indoor streak ahtough it still stands I guess in the record books...
Thank you Borgforever for a lot of those behind the scenes, inside information! I've heard the "contours" of what you describe, but I had no idea about the "alerts" as far as death threats. It ALL makes so much sense to me. Thinking about this over the years and having many details filled in over time have caused me to somewhat understand Borg's departure from the Game, though I'll never fully understand why they didn't work with him to ensure that he would not have to start qualifying for Majors if he wanted to reduce his schedule of official events.
This has been one of "life's big mysteries" for me, trying to grasp his sudden exit from the Game.
It's great to have you back and posting on this board. I look forward to the Borg-Nastase footage you described in the other thread. Thank you in advance.
By the way, there's a local Tennis Pro/Club Owner (from Sweden, former top 30 or so, somewhere in there). He knows Bjorn Borg quite well to this day, as well as several of the former Swedish stars of course. He does talk to B. Borg periodically, which for me is like him saying, yeah, I talk to Albert Einstein once in a while!!
Hitting against him (taking lessons) is always so illuminating. I love to hear tidbits from him about Borg especially and his experiences at times near the top of the Game! I can always tell that I'm hitting with someone REALLY GOOD and it always "makes my day" when I visit him. He's a great guy and has helped engineer the opening of a great tennis club here in Houston.
Thanks for your post BNO. Interesting. Are you practicing with Henrik Holm by any chance?
My two Borg 1976-clips are lined up for Youtube-launch some time next week. I have spliced in the tennis-Einstein Jack Kramer's analysis as much as possible without ruining the rallies with too much McEnroe-motormouth chatter.
Incredible contrast to the 1981 USO-final when you watch the 1976 Wimby-final.
I am going to make some observations on my 4 USO 1969-clips later in the week (I am very busy right now) and comment on some really interesting details about the shots and technique performed by Laver and Roche in that wonderful match.
Going briefly back to the 1976-clips that I will post soon there's a couple of things that stand out:
* Borg goes for the baseline on all his shots ferociously and hits it so many times it's ridiculous. I have never seen Borg hit the baseline so many times -- easily at an amount in the high double-figures range. I have omitted all -- except one -- of Kramer's comments on this since it sounds like a broken record after a while: "Borg's groundstrokes are so very, very deep", "Borg's shots are much deeper than Nastase's", "He's not allowing Ilie to do anything driving him outside the court -- clipping the lines seemingly at will" et al.
* Borg's serve is insane. Borg said afterwards: "I skipped doubles since it created this stomach-muscle injury -- it strains my stomach too much. But I have to learn to hold back on serve. Not go all out all the time like I did today. The vibrations in the racquet when you whip away with everything you've got is no joke"...
EDIT: Sorry my friends -- double-post.
Great post Borgforever. That's very good information on the Nastase final. Yes, and to do that as a 20 year old, though he was a 2 time French Open Champion was stunning. Plus, not the loss of a set and he takes out Nastase, though Nastase was 30 by then (but still extremely good!). Borg mentions that coming into the Final, he had lost to Nastase a couple of times, so I guess the result was not a foregone conclusion. I'll wait patiently for your video. Thank you, yes, I understand being busy. Good luck to you.
By the way, it's Niclas Kroon who I take lessons from. He's a great guy, so funny and so good! Here is a link to his bio on the club's website:
He reached the 4th round of the French, got to about #45 in the world, and once one a tour title by beating Woodforde in a hard court tournament in Brisbane. He's doing quite well now with his club and business interests. I think he really likes Houston and has settled here.
Anyway, if you or anyone is in Houston in the future, check out that club as it is awesome. We're lucky to have him in Houston, Texas. You may know Mr. Ville Jansson as well. He is also very nice and very good. The both of them really headed up the opening of a new Tennis Club here and did an excellent job. Ville mentioned to me once that he was ranked about #20 in Sweden at one time (among pros), Yet, he was already about top 200 in the World. Sweden was so deep in those years soon after Borg's departure. It's interesting that Peter Lundgren (Federer's old coach) was known to be the "next Borg" in some ways, due to his appearance and game, from my understanding. Sweden is my favorite "tennis country" and it all started with my admiration for one of Tennis' first truly international superstars, Bjorn Borg.
Borg's Headband, just responding to your question, but perhaps BF knows more. That's interesting isn't it? Well, I've read his contract with Bancroft expired in 1979, so we know he used Donnays after that (even in the US).
Look at this webpage I found:
Borg used a Slazenger Challenge Number One from 1973, and then Donnays of course. From about 1976 until 1979 , he had a separate contract with the American company, Bancroft.
See this comment that may shed light on what you asked:
"Borg continued to use the Bancroft Borg in Australia. La AKAI Cup in November 1982 was played by him - and won, outperforming the then NO 2 and 3 McEnroe and Lendl, Connors was No. 1 back - with a completely black Bancroft.'s Versatility.."
Just on the quick: Yes, Borg had Bancroft in the US for some seasons, and Borg's racquet history is complex and not totally analyzed -- but according to several sources to me, as I've said before, the AKAI-stick is the newer, improved -- even more graphite enforced and slightly bigger hitting area Donnay-Borg-version for his "comeback" in early 1983...
Remember Borg had the Belgian-Donnay factory almost at his complete disposal. Would be strange for Bancroft to mould weapons for him at the same time as the Donnay-factory did...
Anyhoo... There might be a mystery here...
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