View Single Post
Old 07-11-2008, 10:15 AM   #6
Moose Malloy
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,833

25 of Borg’s winners were passing shots, apart from returns: 13 FH's and 12 BH's.
This article says that Borg had "32 clean passing shot winners." Wonder what their definition of 'clean' was.

When Tanner wasn't drilling aces past Borg—he hit 15—or scoring with service winners that the champion barely touched, he would storm the net, even on second serve, and volley away Borg 's setup returns. Tanner 's backhand, which he can now roll over the top as well as hit flat, kept him in many rallies and bothered Borg right up through the fifth set, but the Swede's counterpunching—he whiplashed 32 clean passing winners during the overcast, windy afternoon—ultimately took its toll.

Not exactly a pitty-pat server himself, Borg had been slugging his own toonder balls at Tanner , allowing him a mere four points against serve in the second set, six against in the fourth—only one break game in the entire match. And when he broke Tanner in the opening game of the fifth set, he had only to hold serve for victory and another terrific rendition of the fall-to-the-knees-in-prayer routine he seems to have reserved for the occasion.

But in the second game of that tense final set, Tanner came to the verge of a break three different times. Borg , spinning deliveries into his opponent's now-suspect backhand, rapped service winners to turn him away on each try.

In the eighth game, Tanner had two break points after a difficult touch volley. At 15-40 he had Borg trapped at the net, leaning to the crosscourt side, with a setup forehand down the line staring him in the face. Poised to tie the match, Tanner was too careful. He held, aimed and fired. Wide. "I played it too fine," he was to say later. "The match might have come down to that point...basically...probably."

Or the next one: another breaker that Tanner wasted at net or, rather, Borg snatched from the baseline by unleashing a double-fisted backhand down the line that came skimming over the tape, then bolted downward like some fuzzy, miniature Skylab gone berserk. "He dipped it on me," said Tanner . "The big topspin. I never saw the ball."

Borg held for 5-3 and ran out the match, but not before Tanner saved three match points from 40-0 with some ferocious, not to mention courageous, drives off both wings. Tanner had scared the champion into "being never so nervous in my whole life. I could hardly hold the racket. If he takes that game from 0-40, no way I win." In the finest performance of his career, Tanner had made Borg work his headband off for every glorious inch of his fourth glorious Wimbledon trophy, and had proven him, finally, thoroughly human.

Or had he? Before the final, the suspicion prevailed all over London , and wherever else one might try to lay an insane wager on Tanner , that he would have to get an early jump on Borg . Which he did. That Tanner would require hard, dry turf for his mortars to explode off of. Which he got. That Tanner would have to play out of his curly-haired skull to even stay on the court with Borg . Which he also did.

Still Borg won. "In the fourth and fifth sets I win all the big points, every single one," he said. "I don't know. In this tournament I am always winning those points. It is very strange."
Moose Malloy is offline   Reply With Quote