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hoodjem 09-29-2009 04:17 PM

Borg versus Sampras
 
I was wondering about Borg versus Sampras in terms of each player’s slam titles. Borg has 11 titles on two radically different surfaces: 5 on the fast grass at Wimbledon, and 6 on the slow red clay at the French Open.

Sampras has 14 slam titles: 7 at Wimbledon (fast surface), 5 at the US Open (fast surface), and 2 at the Australian Open (arguably fast surface?).

What if player X has 12 slam titles--all on fast surfaces, and players Y has 12 slam titles—equally divided on 6 fast and 6 slow surfaces.

Which is the tougher to accomplish? Is player X more narrow in his abilities? Is player Y more varied in his abilities?

Does player Y have the greater achievement?

Azzurri 09-30-2009 06:43 AM

interesting question Hood.

I can't make too much comment on Borg since I only saw him play briefly. However, what he did was amazing. The guy won the FO and W titles back to back for a # of years. Until Nadal and Fed it had not been done (one of the reasons why I believe the game to have inferior talent compared to Fed/Nadal). I just have this hang up on Borg not winning a USO. I don't know much about Borg, can anyone try to explain (give an opinion) why he never won a USO?? But for him to win on those two surfaces seems to be greater than winning on fast grass and hardcourt.

swedechris 09-30-2009 06:44 AM

Pete 4sure except at Roland Garros. At the French , Borg was KING.

charliefedererer 09-30-2009 07:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Azzurri (Post 3986750)
interesting question Hood.
I just have this hang up on Borg not winning a USO. I don't know much about Borg, can anyone try to explain (give an opinion) why he never won a USO?? But for him to win on those two surfaces seems to be greater than winning on fast grass and hardcourt.

Borg made four US Open finals, losing two to Conors and two to McEnroe.
The 1976 loss was on clay, as the US Open was on clay from 1975 to 1977. It seems one of these years should have been his on a slower surface.
But perhaps this biggest reason for not winning the US Open was that he was more physically drained than either he or anyone else would seem to acknowledge, even though he was always in fantastic shape. But three times he came to New York gunning for a Grand Slam after having won the FO and Wimbledon in '78,'79, and '80. (The AO was played in December, leading Borg, among others to boycott the tournament over the holiday period.)
But back then, you had to play every week as the prize money was no where near what it was today. (Borg had 62 singles and 4 doubles titles and yet had a total career winning of "only" $3,655,751 according to the International Hall of Fame. He actually played and won more, as "exhibition" tournaments were still prevalent in those days, plus his play on all those Davis Cup teams.) And the US summer season was mainly on clay - good for Borg as this was his best surface, but it had to take its toll playing week in and week out.
So I think the biggest reason that Borg never won the US Open was that he was a victim of his own success, going through the European clay court season and winning all those FO's, winning so many Wimbledon's and playing and winning so many summer tournaments.
One thing is for certain in New York. He never choked. There, or anywhere else.

charliefedererer 09-30-2009 07:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hoodjem (Post 3985311)
I was wondering about Borg versus Sampras in terms of each player’s slam titles. Borg has 11 titles on two radically different surfaces: 5 on the fast grass at Wimbledon, and 6 on the slow red clay at the French Open. Sampras has 14 slam titles: 7 at Wimbledon (fast surface), 5 at the US Open (fast surface), and 2 at the Australian Open (arguably fast surface?).

What if player X has 12 slam titles--all on fast surfaces, and players Y has 12 slam titles—equally divided on 6 fast and 6 slow surfaces.

Which is the tougher to accomplish? Is player X more narrow in his abilities? Is player Y more varied in his abilities?

Does player Y have the greater achievement?

I have to go with Sampras as having the greater achievement. He built his game for Wimbledon and hard courts and did not have to modify it for the times. During his career, the lucrative US summer season was back to hard court. The short European clay season was not a sufficient reason to change his game. Training for just a couple of weeks for the FO just was not going to cut it against the clay court specialists who played many more European and South American clay court tournaments.
Borg on the other hand got to play much of the summer season on clay as US tournaments switched to the surface, pehaps largely to lure the great Borg to their events. (I'm going with the premise that Har-Tru is clay, though clearly much faster than red clay.) Thus he had a much longer season to stay in top form after taking the FO. And as for his Wimbledon wins? What can I say. The guy had freakish hand-eye coordination and was head and shoulders above the other players as an athlete.
Thus I think the surface(s) the player grows up on and the on which he plays most of his season will alter his training, and hence his goals and achievments.

Borgforever 09-30-2009 08:37 AM

I agree with Azzurri here -- being myself of the opinion that Borg's game-winning-percentage dominance and supremely dominant versatility is one-hair's length more impressive than Pete's, although Sampras achievement leaves me awestruck and I do think Pete is a bit underrated on these boards.

As for seeing them go at each other during their peaks, let's say old 1970-1990s red clay RG, old grass Wimby, old HC cement USO and let's say AO during the 90s -- I do see them as about even. I see a lot of scenarios.

We've had a thread here earlier about this match-up specifically and I don't see any reason for me to change my already stated opinion on the subject.

Going for Fortress IMO was his unmatched clutch, his serve, his sickening consistency, his returns, passingshots, stunning clutch forays into the net and his athleticism, quicksilver speed and marathon stamina.

Going for Sampras IMO was his unmatched attacking clutch ability, arguably one of the greatest servers ever, clutch explosive groundies from both flanks with -- by many -- underrated consistency and his remarkably consistent and magically brilliant network -- on any kind of a difficult volley topped off by one of the most consistently merciless overheads of all time -- and last but not least -- a general clutch-skill that so astonishing it grew in stature as the matches grew bigger in prestige -- sign of a the master general.

I do see a greater possibility for Pete to narrowly dominate Björn on the faster surfaces (including indoors) than I do the reverse -- and that's saying a lot coming from me. This is including Borg's record-wise sharper clutch -- that's how much I respect the quality of Pete's supreme fierce attacking allround and S&V A-game.

Who knows..

The red clay would only end one way in devastating fashion though IMO -- with Pete maybe taking Björn to four twice in five years playing at his finest.

On the other hand -- excluding red clay -- I think that Pete has the strongest record of all on fast surfaces -- including Federer since Pete dominated stronger more difficult rivals IMO. 14 GS-majors for Pete only at Wimby, USO and AO and a huge amount of super-fat indoor-title triumphs...

It doesn't come up in Borg's interviews lately -- but Borg has nothing but praise for Pete and his game, being good friends with Pete and being very knowing of Sampras game...

I would give one finger to see these matches.

I do see a lot of scenarios between these war-horses. Splendid, unforgettable matches! Mushroom cloud battles...

Rabbit 09-30-2009 09:16 AM

I have to go to with Borg.

Borg won when the grass was faster and the clay was slower.

He won the French & Wimbledon back to back in 78, 79, and 80. He won the French in 1981 and made the finals of Wimbledon losing to McEnroe. This may be the single greatest achievement in Open tennis.

Many people believe that there were no clay court specialists in his day, but there were. There were just as many as clay was the dominant surface in Borg's day.

There were also many more grass court specialists.

Borg took a game built on clay and made it work on a foreign surface. He developed from a defensive player to the game's first power baseliner. He routinely hit winners from the baseline with a wood racquet. His serve went from a way to start the point into a real weapon.

Borg won 5 Wimbledons in a row, a feat not matched until Federer did it. Borg did it without tune up tournaments and a game not suited to grass.

Borg takes a knock for the U.S. Open, but during his years going, he was the most consistent performer there. Many people credit Lendl's 8 straight as a great achievement. Borg made the finals 4/6 years on two different surfaces at the Open. Sampras' U.S. Open record is much more impressive, but still Borg was great there as well.

Borgforever 09-30-2009 09:27 AM

Sorry but I have to go Rabbit-parrot again ^^^^^ Stunning post IMO!

li0scc0 09-30-2009 09:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hoodjem (Post 3985311)
I was wondering about Borg versus Sampras in terms of each player’s slam titles. Borg has 11 titles on two radically different surfaces: 5 on the fast grass at Wimbledon, and 6 on the slow red clay at the French Open. Sampras has 14 slam titles: 7 at Wimbledon (fast surface), 5 at the US Open (fast surface), and 2 at the Australian Open (arguably fast surface?).

What if player X has 12 slam titles--all on fast surfaces, and players Y has 12 slam titles—equally divided on 6 fast and 6 slow surfaces.

Which is the tougher to accomplish? Is player X more narrow in his abilities? Is player Y more varied in his abilities?

Does player Y have the greater achievement?


Borg's achievement was more difficult to accomplish. Not 'greater' necessarily, but more difficult given the fast/slow dichotomy.

At their prime, Sampras would win on Grass and Hard court, Borg on clay.

My $0.02, adjusted downward for inflation.

rod99 09-30-2009 09:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Azzurri (Post 3986750)
interesting question Hood.

I can't make too much comment on Borg since I only saw him play briefly. However, what he did was amazing. The guy won the FO and W titles back to back for a # of years. Until Nadal and Fed it had not been done (one of the reasons why I believe the game to have inferior talent compared to Fed/Nadal). I just have this hang up on Borg not winning a USO. I don't know much about Borg, can anyone try to explain (give an opinion) why he never won a USO?? But for him to win on those two surfaces seems to be greater than winning on fast grass and hardcourt.

borg said his most disappointing loss of his career was to connors in the 1976 us open final. a couple of reasons why he never won the us open:
- he hated playing at night. he felt he didn't see the ball as well as during the day. a big reason he lost to roscoe tanner in 1979 was b/c he felt he couldn't pick up tanner's serve.
- he didn't like the atmosphere/crowds of NYC. it was too much like a circus to him. he never felt comfortable in that environment (a lot like edberg for the majority of his career).
- once the US Open moved to hard courts in 1978, he was competing against mcenroe and connors, two of the greatest hard court players in history and they were playing in their home country.
- while the US Open was on green clay from 1975 - 1977, it didn't play exactly like the european red clay. it wasn't as slow which benefited connors' game.

stormholloway 09-30-2009 09:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by charliefedererer (Post 3986868)
Borg made four US Open finals, losing two to Conors and two to McEnroe.
The 1976 loss was on clay, as the US Open was on clay from 1975 to 1977. It seems one of these years should have been his on a slower surface.
But perhaps this biggest reason for not winning the US Open was that he was more physically drained than either he or anyone else would seem to acknowledge, even though he was always in fantastic shape. But three times he came to New York gunning for a Grand Slam after having won the FO and Wimbledon in '78,'79, and '80. (The AO was played in December, leading Borg, among others to boycott the tournament over the holiday period.)
But back then, you had to play every week as the prize money was no where near what it was today. (Borg had 62 singles and 4 doubles titles and yet had a total career winning of "only" $3,655,751 according to the International Hall of Fame. He actually played and won more, as "exhibition" tournaments were still prevalent in those days, plus his play on all those Davis Cup teams.) And the US summer season was mainly on clay - good for Borg as this was his best surface, but it had to take its toll playing week in and week out.
So I think the biggest reason that Borg never won the US Open was that he was a victim of his own success, going through the European clay court season and winning all those FO's, winning so many Wimbledon's and playing and winning so many summer tournaments.
One thing is for certain in New York. He never choked. There, or anywhere else.

Good post. It could be likened to Nadal's situation. I see no valid reason why he hasn't had success at the US Open. He typically seems burnt out by then, as he's typically very successful over the summer. Both Borg and Nadal have pretty grinding styles of play as well.

jrepac 09-30-2009 10:34 AM

borg at USO
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rod99 (Post 3987195)
borg said his most disappointing loss of his career was to connors in the 1976 us open final. a couple of reasons why he never won the us open:
- he hated playing at night. he felt he didn't see the ball as well as during the day. a big reason he lost to roscoe tanner in 1979 was b/c he felt he couldn't pick up tanner's serve.
- he didn't like the atmosphere/crowds of NYC. it was too much like a circus to him. he never felt comfortable in that environment (a lot like edberg for the majority of his career).
- once the US Open moved to hard courts in 1978, he was competing against mcenroe and connors, two of the greatest hard court players in history and they were playing in their home country.
- while the US Open was on green clay from 1975 - 1977, it didn't play exactly like the european red clay. it wasn't as slow which benefited connors' game.

Yes, these are the top reasons borg never won the USO...his best shot was during the green clay years of '75-'77, but Connors was also pretty good on the stuff as it was faster than the red dirt.....he beat Bjorn there in '75 SF and '76 Final. '76 was a doozy, from the bits I have seen. He had an injured thumb in '78 and a vengeful Connors to deal with (whom he had creamed at Wimby earlier that year), then on came McEnroe. Really, he was pretty unlucky, plain and simple. Similarly, much is made of Lendl's early GS losses, but hard to find shame in losing to players like Connors or Mac...

Borg v. Sampras? Achievement wise, I might tip to Borg...winning on fast and slow courts back to back (French & W) the way he did was pretty amazing. Raw talent, I would pick Pete.

T10s747 09-30-2009 11:26 AM

I saw the '76 Final on tv and was very much a Borg fan. Connors came out aggressive as h*ll and took every short ball on the rise and came in on approach shorts that continually hit the lines. It was like the Har Tru was made for his game.

pundekman 09-30-2009 09:55 PM

i think we should stop comparing eras... Just appreciate their greatness and achievements at their times.

However....if they should play, Sampras cleans Borg's clock on grass and hard courts. On clay, Borg wins 8 out of 10.

Grass_for_cows 09-30-2009 10:18 PM

Surely you must mean 8 out of every 10 games or even 10 points?

pundekman 10-01-2009 02:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grass_for_cows (Post 3988822)
Surely you must mean 8 out of every 10 games or even 10 points?

matches, i mean

borg number one 10-01-2009 04:54 PM

Comparison across surfaces:

Grass Courts: About Even.
Hard Courts: Edge to Sampras
Clay Courts: Big Edge to Borg.
Indoor Courts: About Even.

Overall, the slight edge goes to Borg in terms of a comparison across surfaces (head to head, while both playing their best). Basically, between Borg and Sampras, they are about even on the fast/faster surfaces, such as hard courts, grass courts, and indoor courts, but Borg would dominate him on the slowest surface around, at Roland Garros. Sampras would not dominate him in that fashion on any other surface, if you compare both as to peak performance. Therefore, I rate Borg ahead of Sampras overall.

In terms of achievement, Sampras has more GS titles total, and more total wins at Wimbledon 7 vs. 5, but Borg's French/Wimbledon domination is also extremely impressive, and right up there with Laver's 2 grand slams, and Federer's GS total as one of the toughest things to accomplish.

Such sustained dominance at the French open (6 titles) coupled with unbelievable results on the sport's biggest stage (5 wins, 6 finals in a row) will be tough for any player to ever replicate.

hoodjem 10-02-2009 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by li0scc0 (Post 3987169)
Borg's achievement was more difficult to accomplish. Not 'greater' necessarily, but more difficult given the fast/slow dichotomy.

Is an achievement that is more difficult thus a greater achievement, if all other things are equal?

For instance in my hypothetical situation, if the number of total number of slams won is the same, would a player who won half on clay and half on fast courts be better/greater than a player who won all on fast surfaces?

borg number one 10-02-2009 10:20 AM

My answer would be yes Hoodjem. If player x has 10 GS titles on just grass, I would say that such an achievement is not equal to player's y achievement of winning 5 GS titles on Grass vs. GS titles on Clay. The latter looks to be inherently more difficult in terms of sheer performance ability. Yet, the former evidences greater "longevity" or sustained dominance at say one tourney. I tend to give more weight to performance across surfaces and ability to compete on ANY surface. Now that's a truly complete, dangerous player for any opponent, anytime, anywhere, at any tournament.

Yes, Hoodjem, it all depends on what you define as "greater", that's a tough question to answer.

I keep going back to being a threat, during your career, ON ANY SURFACE you play on, no matter what.

Sampras' record at Wimbledon alone, it could reasonably be argued was just as difficult to replicate as Borg's record at the French plus Wimbledon.

Yet, I give Borg extra credit for being so successful at the French plus Wimbledon (Borg), rather than Wimbledon plus the US Open (Sampras), because the greater variability of the court surfaces.

hoodjem 10-03-2009 05:17 AM

Yes, I agree: the more difficult accomplishment is the greater accomplishment, IMO.

I think Fed could tie or surpass Sampras's Wimbledon record.


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