Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by forehand_dude, Jan 2, 2012.
Great post Steve123.
Tennis is not the same sport now than 11 years ago, it was not the same sport 11 years ago than 30 years ago, it was not the same sport 30 years ago than 50 years ago....
Playing conditions are changing continuously (slowing down surfaces, slower balls, homogeneization of surfaces, different racquet technology, different string technology, different ranking systems, tie-break versus no-tie-break era, 8 seeds, then 16 seeds, then 32 seeds, different importance of certain tournaments depending on the era, ....)
It is quite absurd to pretend there is some kind of "greatest tennis player of all times" as if tennis would have stayed always exactly the same sport played under exactly the same conditions.
The most you can more or less objectively say is that there have been several players that stood out in their respective eras: Gonzalez, Rosewall, Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer (and many others like Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Agassi, Nadal...who stood out almost as much).
Note: And I start with Gonzalez era because it was more or less the first one I lived. Previous eras were before I was born, so I don't know them very much except for what I have read (incredible players as well like Tilden, Budge, Kramer.....).
I do agree completely, and Borg was superlative at that.
I agree with Borg nº 1, see how many slams had Fed to play, without wanting to diminiss him, and see how many Laver.And see the competition, of course...
The tennis history is so rich in champions that marked an era and left a deep hound...they all relate to their eras, so the goat argument, 1 st, 2nd, 3rd tier and so forth will never end and it is a merry all round...there is simply no answer.
What certainly I perfer is to rate tennis eras, rather than champions that are in the history of this game.1930´s was a great era, so was 1950´s, and 1970 to 1985 which many consider the best era ever.But in the 1990´s and 2000´s we also had a good cast of players so, again, make your choice and live with it.
If you just talk about open era, that´s right.But it is so subjective...as much as I admire Connors, and enjoyed him a lot, he is certainly no greater than Laver,Tilden,Gonzales or Budge, among others.
personally i think its easier to get away with not winning a FO or AO and possibly be considered the greatest of all time as oppossed to not winning a USO or W, but this is only my opinion
And we have a winner(the bolded part). Well said!
fed_rulz, No, I've got Laver, Borg, Sampras, and Federer in the first tier, but I am starting to think that Gonzalez should be there too. He did pretty well against a younger Laver and his body of work is just amazing. If you look at longevity especially, you have to tip your hat to players such as Gonzalez, Rosewall, and Jimmy Connors.
Federer just recently equaled Borg in terms of "official" ATP titles won at what 63 or something. Borg's ability to win five Wimbledons and 6 French Opens, and win those titles back to back three years (he didn't play it in 1977) puts him squarely in the first tier (with just that accomplishment). Several years ago that feat was rated as tops on a list of accomplishments, even ahead of Laver's two CYGS's (perhaps by Tennis magazine).
Kiki and PC1, thank you, of course both of you know about Laver and Borg just as well as I do. Thanks for the great feedback.
Pjonesy, thanks very much. I really appreciate your kind words. Great post there.
To Steve132, very good post overall, but yes, Federer's record is certainly "on the table". It has to be, everything on the court is "on the table". There's so much to consider in these debates as we are really trying to differentiate between truly GREAT players that come along say once every 10-20 years or so. It cannot be easy. Of course how a player does against a primary rival has to also be considered.
(Why did Agassi and Federer copy Borg at Wimbledon with "the fall" on Centre Court??)
Put it this way, any of these guys should be honored to be in such select company. To think that just any one player has a claim on being the "greatest" at the expense of all others, with no doubt about it, is really quite amazing. That goes for any one player.
If somebody won 8 consecutive Year Grand Slams then they may possibly have a bulletproof case, lol.
Bold text - And also against Rosewall, very favourable.
Absolutely, good point Nathaniel_Near. Pancho Gonzalez gets overlooked too often, especially given that he was at his best in the 1950's.
I alsways thought that Borg was a bit menthally tougher than Laver,Sampras and Federer.Laver was ultrabold, self confidence in 2 legs, same could be said of Sampras.But Borg, if you think closely at it, had a major menthal weakness ( not tecnichal), which is called the US Open.
So,all counts down, even if he had more stamina than Laver and Federer and quite more than Pete, I wouldn´t say he was menthally stronger than Laver, for instance.I would love to know what really happened inside Bjorn´s mind when he was playing the USO final.if you watch his 1976 Connors match or 1980 Mac match, Connors and Mac had menthally the ascent that day over Borg.Something didn´t work too well for him at the US Open.I really never understood the reason.
That overconfidence he exulted at Paris and London, was never there at New York ( I don´t mean, of course, the MSG Masters).I´d really like to have your feed back on that, since you are a deep connaiseur of Borg, BNº1
Gonzales vs Borg, both at their peaks would be a really fantastic match.And I´d like to pitt 2 of the greatest S&V ever, Gonzales and Sampras on an indoor fast court match.as good as Sampras was, I´d suspect Gonzales was more complete and a superior strategist, too
Kiki, send me an email if you would. My email has my phone one there, so you're welcome to call me as well. There are lots of factors, we can go through it year by year for him. I have some definite thoughts on that topic that you may appreciate. That's a interesting topic indeed.
As to the US Open, look at 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981 a bit closer. In 1976, Connors just played great against a younger Borg, but of course, that's rubico, not slow red clay (and you saw how Borg fared against Connors after 1978). 1977-injury/retired versus Stockton. 1978-hand blister, pain injections just prior to the final, could barely hold the frame. 1979-lost a tough battle to hard serving Tanner under the old US Open lights (after that big battle at Wimbledon). 1980-A epic battle, he was up a break in the fifth, but McEnroe prevailed, a iffy call in that fifth on McEnroe's serve may have turned the tide, but McEnroe pulled off a great win for him. 1981-recall what happened after Borg beat Connors in straight sets after that SF. There was extra security placed around the court during the final, but Bergelin was letting Borg know that it was not that great. Anyway, a bit of bad luck, but I agree that Borg could have and should have won at least one of those titles, given that he made the final 4 years (1 on rubico and 3 times on hard courts). Yet, to think it was due to either his lack of skill or some sort of complex about it, is much too simplistic. The answer is more nuanced and layered. Recall the heavy playing schedule those days, with Borg playing "official" and "unoffical" tourneys all around the world, helping to promote the Sport. Well, that took a toll, especially by the last major of the year. I think that partly explains 1977 and 1978 (when Borg was facing injury that led to the '77 retirement and then his bad injury going into the '78 final).
Borg and Gonzalez would be fantastic, no doubt about it. A great serve and volleyer, versus Borg. I wonder how the fiery Gonzalez would react with the contrast Borg presented, for one thing. By the way, I just spoke to a former tennis pro that I take lessons from. He's a Swede and knows Borg. His answer to all this, is that Borg doesn't care about many of the mistaken assumptions people make about him. That's Borg for you. The quote I have from a Tom Callahan says a lot about him.
I´ll mail you.
Coming to topic, I still think that Connors and Mac were menthally tougher than him in the USO finals of 1976 and 1980.For 1978, maybe his finger problem lessened Borg´s chances and, in 1981, I think he was feeling he couldn´t beat Mac again in a big match, so he really never gave his best, he played very well the first set, like at 1981 Wimbly, and lost the next three.Mac had the edge on Borg, definitely.
In any case, he had the tools to win on clay and hard courts.2 weeks before the start of the 1979 US Open, he beat Lendl and Mc Enroe in the semis and finals of the Canadian Open, played on the very same decoturf surface of Flushing Meadows.I really find very hard to understand why that overconfidence flew away when he played the US Open, and I can´t find a reason.Look, in 1976 he had serious stomac problems and yet trounced Nastase at Wimbledon, so the 1978 defeat at Connors hands at Flushing cannot be related to a bit of a finger problem.
Thanks. Borg was facing burnout in 1981, as he has discussed, which takes us back to what he wanted to do in 1982.
As to that 1981 W final, he said:
"That was one of those matches that I felt I should have won. I felt that I was the better player.".. (pretty funny given his record at W).
I do think the need for security during the 1981 final gave him some pause. That was troubling for him.
After 1981, when McEnroe took over #1, Borg wanted to basically recharge and push forward, due to the mental burnout (keep in mind his body of work from 1973-1981, with his official and unofficial schedule and that he wanted to focus on majors especially). Connors reclaimed #1 in 1982, surely happy about Borg's departure. McEnroe was trying to convince Borg to stay, despite the Tour disputes.
As to the '78 final vs. Connors, Borg took pain injections that made his whole hand numb in essence, that's what I have read and heard (difficult to have feel and hold the racquet properly). Yet, Borg did not default and made no real mention of it after the match. He said that Jimmy played great, that's about it. It made it difficult for him to play the way he wanted to though. I know that the racket flew out of his hands on a serve early on. That did happen at times when his hands would get sweaty (leather grip, sawdust used). See this example that's pretty funny from 1980, but on that day something was seriously wrong with it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK45lDHc8yw (Borg is not a bad athlete is he?)
I remember on one serve early on. Then either Pat S. or Tony T. commented that perhaps that hand was bothering him much more than he was letting on. Each injury of course is a bit different for a player and pro players are always somewhat injured, but some are just more significant than others.
remember that great MSG night, in jan 1981, when Borg was penalised by the umpire and almost defaulted while JMac, at the other side of the net, was playing the nice guy? I loved that momentum.Borg was right but surprised everyone with this unknowm atittude of his, while I am almost completely sure that JMac wouldn´t have given away a point for Lendl or Connors, but he did it for Borg.
Yes sir, sure do. That was classic. Borg was not happy. This is Borg's version of "bad sportsmanship" and see McEnroe displaying some great sportsmanship. I think the call at the baseline was really bad. Watch McEnroe just after the call looking at the linesman. Keep in mind this is all happening at NY's MSG, in McEnroe's backyard.
This incident made headlines back then as folks had not seen Borg ever react this way. Borg did have a bad temper when he was much younger, like Federer I suppose. I really think that by watching Laver, Borg decided to make a change. Borg tells the story of how his parents forced him to not play for about 6 months due to his behavior (when he was about 12). He half-jokingly says that "I never opened my mouth again".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVwPAOpFweY (Borg and McEnroe going at it before about 19K folks, at the 4th biggest tourney of the year, the 1980 YEC, played in Jan. 1981). Thanks to Krosero for the excellent video, as usual.
Look at my quote on Couvercelle´s book in "Borg vs Vilas " thread, Born nº1.
As for that MSG match, I always think, and Mac has said so million times, that John really admired Bjorn, looked up at him as a sort of big brother.As much competitive JMac was, he certainly was a pretty honest pale.
It is not the forum but I remember perfectly an episode of JMac´s outburts and why he used his outburst to enlighten him and filling up his adrenaline...
Early 80´s: Mc Enroe and Noah play an indoor exhibition match.John wins the first set easily 6-2, and, leads in the second set before, in typical Mc´s way, getting distracted, unmotivated and feeling miserable.He spends one full set chasing up 2-3 young ladies sitting in the front row...loses 6-7 the second set and Noah takes a 2-0 lead in the final set.
Time for outburst ( after all, that´s is why many people came and paid to see Mac do that, isn´t it? ).The outburts and subsequent scandal lasts more than 5 clock minutes, possibly 10 minutes ( it is an exo and no umpire would disqualify one of the biggest stars, isn´t it? ).
The result of this Mac´s provoked, bizarre show? He wins 6 consecutive games, playing with Noah as a 5 years old kid plays with his toys, showing his unique talent and playmaking abilities...and people who had booed him and insulted him, gives him a 5 minutes standing ovation.I was sitting right there and I was laughing off my ass for almost one hour...I was probably the only guy out of 10000 people watching this match that exactly knew when and why that would happen...and what would be the final result.
Sorry for that long post but, it is one more of the thousands of examples of the Golden Era ( Can anybody even imagining that happening today???)
The big reason for how McEnroe views Borg is this. Borg was the first player on Tour to accept McEnroe and let him into this "small circle".
Good quote.Borg,Nasty,Mac,Panatta,Vitas,Vilas (before he and Borg turned their friendship into almost hate)....terrific ALL DISCO´S STARS, no doubt.
Borg was also good friends with Ashe and Manuel orantes and not friends but had tremendous amount of respect for Rod Laver ( and who didn´t love the rocket???) and John Newcombe, a born natural winner and one of the nicest and classiest fellas ever to pick up a tennis racket.
and " I have......women most can´t imagine existing"
Nice video Joel. Three Kings at Wimbledon. My FAVORITE tournament. I have a LOT of admiration for Federer. Great player, no doubt.
I think roughly a 100 of those 8000 views have been from me over the last few years.
Lol, good for you. There's NO tournament like Wimbledon, just my opinion, but that is the tournament all the players find to be the biggest.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31IYa7VsZYg (the Borg and Federer FH's)
Who is that guy raising up that big trophy?
It's Laver, who raises 11 times, Sampras 14, Federer 16(as of now)
True, but you have 1962-1969 with Laver, just for starters, and you have the AO differences as to Borg, McEnroe and Connors. Plus, you have everything besides just the majors with Sampras and Federer, the rival question, impact on the Game. You also have winning percentage at the majors (Borg is ahead of Nadal and Federer when they were at 25-26). Federer has played in 50 Majors and he has won 16 so far (16/50). He could win more I think. Borg played in 27 majors and won 11 of them (11/27). He also made finals of five more majors (finals or won 16/27).
Yep, but there is a huge factor that you don't take into account and that (in my mind) disqualifies Borg from tier 1: a GOAT contender should be a player who toughs it up when things are not going his way and try and keep winning even when he doesn't have the advantage anymore. Which is what Federer is doing and what Borg didn't do. This is the second huge blot on his resume as far as I'm concerned (that and the fact that he never won the US Open): when the going got tough and McEnroe beat him three times in a row in 1981, he just quit. Maybe it was really a burnout as he always said, or maybe he couldn't face the fact that he would now be second-best to JMac after dominating the tennis world for so long. Quitting when things get tougher isn't worthy of a GOAT contender in my book...
That's fine, if that's the way you want to look at it. The Tour insistence on him qualifying for majors was the big reason for him leaving. For Federer, it could be his record against a prime rival, including at the majors. For Sampras, it could be his clay prowess. For Laver, you can argue that the majors he played on were not surface diverse. For Federer and Borg, you can look at diversity of court speed. There are reasons to try and discount any of these players. Both Borg and McEnroe have both stated that your take on things is flat out wrong. Yet, if you want to believe that, go for it. As I've stated, any all time great has some major strengths and also weaknesses in terms of a claim on greatness. In 1980-1981, look at the 4 big tourneys: the Masters, the FO, Wimbledon and the US Open. Here is how Borg and McEnroe did at them during Borg's last 2 years:
Borg: Masters (Won twice, played Jan. 80 and Jan. 81), FO (won twice), W (won 1, lost in 1 final), US Open (lost in two finals). 8 tourneys, 5 titles, lost 3 finals.
McEnroe: Masters (lost 1 final, lost 1 SF), FO (no finals, lost 1 SF), Wimbledon (won 1 title, lost 1 final). US Open (won 2 titles). 8 tourneys, 3 titles, lost 2 finals.
Had Federer left the game early many fans would say the same for his quitting. When he lost the 2008 FO final that was his 4th straight loss to Nadal at the FO, and then unable to defend his Wimbledon, it was a huge blow. He could have call it a career and that would leave him with 12 slams. No fan is going to reward Fed for winning more slam since he retire early. They will say his day of winning slam was over and Nadal has taken over the tour(like Lendl did in the mid 80s). But Fed prove otherwise and deserve to be ahead of Borg.
False premise. If you assume that Borg just "quit" because he lost in the '81 W and US Open finals, then that comparison could be made. Federer was not facing the circumstances that Borg faced with the Tour in 1982. They were insisting on Borg qualifying at the FO and W. Would Federer have said, yeah sure, no problem? Borg also faced so much attention from fans and media worldwide, without the insulation available today. Look at his yearly travel schedule for example, factoring in official and unofficial tourneys (he and Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Gerulaitis, etc. played big money exos worldwide). He helped transform the Game and took it out of the country clubs and made it popular worldwide, all the way from Asia, to Europe, the US, and South America. He got the first million dollar endorsements for example. He was the first to travel everywhere with a private coach (with the protective great coach Lennart Bergelin, who put him through grueling workouts constantly and helped take him to the top). Federer hadn't played as many matches as Borg had (look at the official match totals for Borg and Federer, keeping in mind that Borg was 26 in 1982, and then tack on Borg's unofficial match schedule on top of that). Listen to Federer talk about how the guys in the past had heavy playing schedules. He would agree with me on that topic. I think it's great that Federer is still playing though and also competing for majors. It's good for tennis and his rivalry with Nadal and Djokovic will be great to continue watching. I'm glad he's still playing. I also hope that Nadal continues with a great career and plays against Djokovic, Murray and perhaps Federer at more majors. I think that Nadal will ultimately make the first tier of greats as well.
Some really valid points here. It is amazing when we look at the impact different players have had on the game these days.
On another note; you read and hear people criticize Nadal's reverse forehand yet we see all the pros adding that to their arsenal especially Federer and on a much more regular basis.
Excellent post! Borg's ability to perform under pressure, when he was behind at the French or Wimbledon, was incredible. Especially considering his style of play. It was guaranteed that he would have to dig and grind his way back into matches with patience. His serve certainly was a formidable weapon that won points, but certainly not to the level of a Sampras or Becker.
As far as his emotional and/or mental weakness in certain situations, only Borg knows what was going on. Obviously, McEnroe brought a style that was effective against Borg on fast surfaces. It seemed like Borg felt the pressure of another rival on the rise that might surpass him in a way that Connors never could. He pressed against McEnroe and it showed. I don't know if he was just worn out and sick of being the hunted or if he saw changes in the game (and new players) that he thought would be more difficult to contend with in the future. Regardless of what might have been, Borg's career is certainly one of the contenders for the mythical GOAT.
As a side note, Borg was not my favorite player growing up. However, he is the #1 player that I would want to see play in person. Followed by Sampras, Federer, Rafter, Rios, Agassi and Nadal.
Very nice pjonesy! The top players in 1982-1984 were John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and Mats Wilander. Connors took over #1 in 1982. Borg was doing better against Connors and Lendl in 1981, compared to McEnroe. Graphite frames started really cropping into the pro ranks by 1983-1984. McEnroe and Connors played with them and I'm sure Borg would have transitioned to say a Donnay graphite frame had he continued, with say VS gut and a fairway grip. Keep in mind that he would have hit harder from the baseline and his serve would have likely seen benefits with graphite frames. Here is Borg in 1982, at a tourney where he beat McEnroe and Lendl. He was still contemplating a return at that time.
In 1981, he was beating Lendl, who was using a graphite frame. He was using a Donnay Borg Pro (tiny by today's standards at ~70 sq in. ). Strung at 80 lbs, very heavy, leather grip. Imagine Borg here playing with modern frames and modern strings, equipment, shoes, etc.
Or, he could have played the AO a second time and torn his knees apart in the first round, and we wouldn't even know who he was.
LOL! I guess that sums it up!
Well, yes, that could have happened Drakulie. He could have been injured, or he could have won some AO titles, or he could have lost there from 1976-1981 in particular. Yet, it wasn't considered even top 10 in terms of importance back then. If he had played it (back then it was held during Dec/Christmas at times), Connors, and McEnroe would likely have followed. The courts were quite bad too. Different tournament back then. Instead, players focused on the Masters in say 1980-1981. Borg won both of those titles on a fast indoor court in NY, going 5-0 versus Lendl, Connors, and McEnroe. That was the 4th biggest tourney on the calendar, and that was a tourney that the players really wanted to go after (played in Jan.), unlike the AO back then. We can look at Borg's record at W though. He has a more impressive Wimbledon record than McEnroe, Connors, Wilander, or Lendl for example (some top players in his era, and post 1981).
Masters Cup video of Borg versus McEnroe, Connors, and Lendl. The Masters at that time was played indoors, at NY's MSG, with the top 8 players. The Masters was the YEC and it was played in Jan., while the Dec. AO was missed by top players for many valid reasons, including money, fans, TV coverage, competition, court conditions, etc.
As an indicator of Borg's durability, see his match totals and titles here.
http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Bo/B/Bjorn-Borg.aspx?t=tf (64 official titles)
(This includes exhibitions and unofficial tourneys that were pivotal in spreading the sport's appeal around the world, with fellow pros like Connors, Lendl and McEnroe. Borg played these unoffical matches (often for big money and in front of big crowds) during the year on top of his schedule of "official" tourneys. He played at them and was competing against top flight rivals, like Vilas (clay esp.), Connors (hard/indoors/grass/rubico), McEnroe (hard/grass/indoors), and Lendl (indoors/hard/clay).
If you look at Borg's unofficial schedule as well as his official schedule, you get an idea of how much he played in 1973-1981. Just the official totals only tell part of the story. Tennis pros today are not playing that many unofficial matches on top of official matches, although some are played. That is a difference. Borg was a durable player in terms of fitness and avoiding injuries. He trained extremely hard too. He could play through minor injuries and he did so often. He played the 1980 Wimbledon tournament with a torn stomach muscle.
While Bjorn Borg was bringing a lot of attention to Tennis across the world, he was also a rock star that had to deal with unparalleled fan and media scrutiny. He was traveling constantly around the globe, without as much insulation in many respects as players receive today. Federer and Nadal get a lot of fan attention, but it's not like what Borg experienced.
Also, take a look at TV viewership data at the time of 1980 W final. You'll see that tennis reached heights that it has never returned to again, especially in countries like the US (extremely influential in tennis worldwide), Great Britain, Australia, etc. (the traditional tennis powers).
Good post, I agree on everything...but we will agree to disagree on your favourite´s and mine´s list of players to watch....
Excellent post.But, to me, Masters and WCT Dallas Finals were on the same level, and certainly, not below the AO of those years ( saved by the winning names of Tanner,Vilas and Gerulaitis that, somehow, jeopardized the lack of most of top players in the Melbourne courts)...
Lovely statues, really like it very match but, don´t you think Laver should be repeated since he won the GS twice? but, then , of course, he´d be alone, right?
True...go on, Borg Nº 1 ¡¡¡¡
I like that comment on 1980-81 Borg´s Masters record against top players.
1979-1980: Borg beat world´s nº 2 (Connors) nº 3 (Mc Enroe, who de facto was nº2 while Connors´d be nº 3) Gerulaitis ( nº4) and Roscoe Tanner ( nº 5)...in 4 days in a row
1980-81: Borg beat Mc Enroe ( nº2) Clerc (nº5 of that year) Connors (Nº3) and Lendl (Nº4), in 4 conseutive days.He lost to Mayer in an untrascendental match, which was seen as tanking ( something, Borg did a few times in the Masters and that is probably the only black hole in his career) don´t you agree?
In contrast, his WCT record is worse:
1974: Lost to Newcombe in the Finals
1975: Lost to Ashe in the Finals
1976: Beat Vilas in the Finals
1979: Lost to Mc Enroe in the finals
All 4 matches went to 4 sets.Borg didn´t take part in the 1977,1978,1980 and 1981 WCT Finals.
...besides winning the Masters twice, he also got beaten in 2 other finals: Nastase in 1975 ( in Borg´s home soil) and Connors in 1977 ( at Jimmy´s home soil).He reached the 1974 sf where he got beaten by Vilas, in what is one of the few important victories Guillermo achieved against Bjorn.
Borg didn´t attend the 1976 and 1978 Masters.Orantes won the 1976 ( against Fibak in 5 exciting sets) and Mc Enroe beat Ashe in a memorable final in 1978.That being the first great win for JMac
Borg nº 1, I think Borg played as well indoors as he playe clay or grass.Possibly a bit lower on hard, altough he was able to win ( other than USO) the most prestigious hard court events like Toronto (over Lendl and Mc Enroe) and Las vegas.In 1979 he won LV over Mayer and Connors, and in 1980 he killed Solomon and Vitas Gerulatis in the same event.
Separate names with a comma.