Federer v Borg on clay

Lol a prime Djokovic in red hot form lost to an older Federer in RG 11. If you call that an accident, then Wim 19 is also an accident. Agree? :p Prime Federer around 05-06 meeting prime Djokovic 2011 version won't be a whipping. If at all its a whipping, it would be the other way around - Fed whipping Djoko. Just because Fed is good at serve doesn't mean he is a slouch in rallies and point construction. You should watch Fedal matches in RG and Rome in 06. Federer played well throughout the match in Rome but still lost in 5 sets. That loss is probably the most crushing loss for him than the RG that year.
completely agree, people should be bashing djokovick for his 2019 wimbledon performance! washed 40 year old man has 2 full fledged match points against djokovic, imagine 2006 fed blazing through djoko, 4 sets max, although I can see nadal posing a threat in prime,
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
We have a recency bias hence look at Federer, Djoko, Kuerten as options next to Nadal. Sometime in the next century, I hope someone talks about the big 3 and other greats in similar terms as you have done with Decugis and not forget the history.
Having said that Borg is a better player than Federer, Djokovic on clay. kuerten also but he may run him close. One should read Borg's book on his game. I have my suspicion that Toni read the book when Rafa was growing up and taught him what Borg had mentioned. Borg played deep behind the baseline, used top spin shots to keep the ball in place and exhibited power hitting and his ground game was par with the best. He would pass serve and volleyers even in Wimbledon.
His style was then considered unorthodox as he didn't go by the tennis playing manuals. Basically he invented his own game. His game is defense oriented and play long rallies and wait for the moment to strike. He even used wooden racquets of the 70s with small heads. With the string technology of the 70s, he generated immense top spin with his grip. Also he retired early. So no one really knows how many GS he would have won. Clay was his strong suite as his body can take the rigors of the clay game and had the patience.
If one has to put up the best clay players of the century, Nadal, Decugis and Borg will be the top 3. Federer, Guga and Djoko will be honorable mentions if at all they are mentioned. Wilander won 3 FO and is not even mentioned. So someone looking at all time clay players in the future may not give Fedovic the credit as clay players. Federer has outperformed his predecessors in Sampras, Becker and Edberg but to call him on par with Borg is a bridge too far I think. I don't think even Kuerten, Wilander can be compared to Borg. Borg can be called the father of the modern clay game
small point on borg's topspin--his grip wasn't all that extreme actually (no further than semi-western at most), it was mostly just his swing plane/overall stroke mechanics, he just 'swung for topspin' more than most players did.
 
small point on borg's topspin--his grip wasn't all that extreme actually (no further than semi-western at most), it was mostly just his swing plane/overall stroke mechanics, he just 'swung for topspin' more than most players did.
yes, he just picked up the ball with immense force and power to even it out
 

JustBob

Hall of Fame
As much as I liked Borg, unless he was born and trained in this era (and then we woudn't know what kind of player he'd become), he'd lose to Federer every time. This is the "fans think sports are static" all over again. Tennis evolves, a player from 25+years ago would always lose. But then you're gonna hear fans say stuff like, but but but, what if it's 70's Borg but with a modern racket/strings? Well then, he'd be an imaginary Borg, not 70's Borg.
 
Last edited:

shankofbeef

New User
Obviously we know the greatest ever on clay.
Question is who is 2nd. Borg Kuerten and Federer the other true greats on clay although i think Federer would beat Kuerten more often than not so ive excluded Guga.
But for Nadal federer would have 6 FOs no question so Federer v Borg. Discuss.
I think Lendl and Wilander merit inclusion as well.
 

BauerAlmeida

Hall of Fame
Borg won RG dropping fewer sets than NADAL himself. The question should be Borg vs Nadal, in any case. We obviously know Nadal is the greatest by far based on longevity, but peak vs peak would be interesting.

Federer could be compared with Djokovic on clay.

And Kuerten is ahead of Federer BTW. If a player past his best routines one at his best in the only time they met at the event, at best the latter could make it closer in hypotheticals, but taking it as a whole?
 

Beckerserve

Legend
Prime Djokovic would whip prime Federer on clay. The serve and return are not so important, but he's so much better at rallies, and grinding out points.

I know the RG match in '11, but that was just an accident!
Lol. An accident. Heard it all now.
 

BauerAlmeida

Hall of Fame
Another one of your typical Nadal hater comments. Comparing Kuerten with Nadal is an insult to objectivity. Now you are comparing the level of a player with 13 RG with another player that only won 3 RG. Nadal has 10 more RG titles than Kuerten. They are players from completely different calibre.

Kuerten has no chance to defeat Nadal at RG, provided that the Spaniard is playing well and fully fit.

Of course, Kuerten could still defeat 2009 Nadal (knee injury) and 2015 Nadal (worst year in his career).

No version of Kuerten can defeat 2006-2008, 2010-2013, or 2017-onwards Nadal at RG.
Nadal lost to players with 1 and 0 RG, so he most certainly can lose to one with 3 RG titles. For sure versions of Kuerten can beat 2005-2007 Nadal, 2011 and 2013 Nadal, and 2018-2019 Nadal. I give you that it would be very hard for him to beat 2008, 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2020 Nadal. But in 2020 he wasn't always that impressive before the final, so it could be doable.
 
D

Deleted member 748597

Guest
You tell em @Sport

Too many posters in here lack the objectivity and the knowledge of the game.
 

NoleIsBoat

Hall of Fame
Another one of your typical Nadal hater comments. Comparing Kuerten with Nadal is an insult to objectivity. Now you are comparing the level of a player with 13 RG with another player that only won 3 RG. Nadal has 10 more RG titles than Kuerten. They are players from completely different calibre.

Kuerten has no chance to defeat Nadal at RG, provided that the Spaniard is playing well and fully fit.

Of course, Kuerten could still defeat 2009 Nadal (knee injury) and 2015 Nadal (worst year in his career).

No version of Kuerten can defeat 2006-2008, 2010-2013, or 2017-onwards Nadal at RG.
2005 and 2014 are more vulnerable?
 

RoS

Rookie
If Nadal struggled with Thiem, who is a Baby Kuerten, how he would fare against the Real Kuerten ? (who is mentally stronger than Thiem and serve better, has a better backhand)

Kuerten would fancy his chances against 2005,2006,2009 and maybe 2011 Nadal. He wins absolutely against 2015 Nadal.

He don't take a set from 2008 Nadal, and 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017 Nadal would be almost a hellish challenge.

Against Older Nadal (2018-2021), he has a good chance as Older Nadal is slower and has less stamina. Kuerten could overpower Older Nadal but it will remain very difficult

Beating Nadal on PC remain the ultimate challenge in the story of tennis
 
Last edited:

RoS

Rookie
Nadal on grass is incomparable: Sampras and Federer on grass would be the closest!
There were a lot of posts on " Peak Federer vs Peak Sampras ".

The Wimbledon 4R 2001 between them showed a nice glimpse of what their rivalry would be. A few points would decide the match.
 

JaoSousa

Hall of Fame
Such an argument is easily refuted: Decugis won the Olympic Gold in singles from 1906. The Olympics 1906 were played in outdoor clay, and players from all nations could participate. Thus, Decugis proved to the world in 1906 that he was the best clay player of his time.
What about years other than 1906?
 

Beckerserve

Legend
Look at the circumstantial evidence, will you? Since '11, Djokovic is 9-2 against Federer in Slams. So accident is the correct word for it! I admit lucky might be the better word!
Brilliant. A declined post 30 year old federer being easier to beat is evidence djokovic is better.
Some and indeed many would argue that Federer wins over Djokovic FO2011 and W 2012 when well.past his best and Nadal AO 2017 is proof he is GOAT as the argument goes imagine how the rivalries would be if the same age.
Nadal at least was beating peak Federer even before his peak. Djokovic was not really close until Federer declined and 2011 was for most proof Federer was better. Still leading the slam count kinda confirms it.
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
Max Decugis is, behind Rafael Nadal, the most dominant force the sport has ever witnessed on clay. As everyone knows, Mr. Decugis won 8 Roland-Garros titles (the second most only behind Rafael Nadal). Decugis could not defend his 1914 title and Roland-Garros was suspended from 1915 to 1919 due to the World War I. Tennis analysts speculate that Decugis could have added 3 to 5 extra Roland-Garros titles during those years to make it 11-13 Roland-Garros.

Reports from the newspapers of his time express a profound disbelief on the nature of Decugis' seemengly superhuman domination. He was well known for having an exquisite ball touch, a superbly powerful backhand, and a precise forehand (particularly remarkable for its inherenly revolutionary top spin).

But, as it is well known, the human species has the unfortunate practice of forgetting history. Recency bias surrounds any domain, including tennis discussions. Many people automatically disregard Decugis' impressive achievements with the argument that "Roland-Garros only allowed the participation of French players during Decugis' years". Such an argument is easily refuted: Decugis won the Olympic Gold in singles from 1906. The Olympics 1906 were played in outdoor clay, and players from all nations could participate. Thus, Decugis proved to the world in 1906 that he was the best clay player of his time.



Nice. I'm fairly certain the tennis facility would not have been named Roland Garros at the time, so you're a little off. ;-)
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
if the question is fed v borg...it could get interesting. remember panatta was 6-10 v borg and beat him at RG as well. panatta's game was someone like roger's, aggressive, high-risk tennis. if you assume roger is panatta's equal i think you have an intriguing matchup here.

my personal opinion is roger's very best tennis beats anybody else's on any surface with the exception of nadal on clay--but with his head on straight he could make a match of it. second closest is novak on plexi, but remember roger straight-setted him in the 07 AO final (yes novak was young but i think roger's best still edges out a win against a later novak.)
 

BauerAlmeida

Hall of Fame
If Nadal struggled with Thiem, who is a Baby Kuerten, how he would fare against the Real Kuerten ? (who is mentally stronger than Thiem and serve better, has a better backhand)

Kuerten would fancy his chances against 2005,2006,2009 and maybe 2011 Nadal. He wins absolutely against 2015 Nadal.

He don't take a set from 2008 Nadal, and 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017 Nadal would be almost a hellish challenge.

Against Older Nadal (2018-2021), he has a good chance as Older Nadal is slower and has less stamina. Kuerten could overpower Older Nadal but it will remain very difficult

Beating Nadal on PC remain the ultimate challenge in the story of tennis
2007 Nadal wasn't as strong as the others years you mentioned. It was more similar to 2006. Federer had tons of chances in the final and could have easily taken it to 5 if it wasn't for a pathetic break point conversion.
 

Sunny014

Legend
If all the past champions were playing together in this era (born in 1986) then we would have seen this Clay Ranking.

Apex Predator : Rafael Nadal

Rank 1 : Gustavo Kuerten
Rank 2 : Robin Soderling
Rank 3 : Bjorn Borg (His 5'11 frame is why he is at 3rd, or else he would have been at 1 instead of Kuerten )
Rank 4 : Ivan Lendl
Rank 5 : Novak Djokovic
Rank 6 : Roger Federer
Rank 7 : Mats Wilander
 
Last edited:

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Borg was an absolute beast at RG. Let’s not forget that he still holds the record for the fewest games lost at any slam event. In 1978, he lost only 32 games at RG, despite playing 4 top-10 seeds. And Borg took those 4 top-10 seeds to the woodshed, which includes completely embarrassing defending-champ and #2 seed Guillermo Vilas 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

As much as I like Federer, I cannot put him in Borg’s league at RG; not even close.
 

Sunny014

Legend
Borg was an absolute beast at RG. Let’s not forget that he still holds the record for the fewest games lost at any slam event. In 1978, he lost only 32 games at RG, despite playing 4 top-10 seeds. And Borg took those 4 top-10 seeds to the woodshed, which includes completely embarrassing defending-champ and #2 seed Guillermo Vilas 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

As much as I like Federer, I cannot put him in Borg’s league at RG; not even close.
IMO, Borg needs 3 more inches in the modern era.

Put him at 188 cms and yes, a very legitimate threat to Nadal.
 

Enceladus

Legend
We have a recency bias hence look at Federer, Djoko, Kuerten as options next to Nadal. Sometime in the next century, I hope someone talks about the big 3 and other greats in similar terms as you have done with Decugis and not forget the history.
Having said that Borg is a better player than Federer, Djokovic on clay. kuerten also but he may run him close. One should read Borg's book on his game. I have my suspicion that Toni read the book when Rafa was growing up and taught him what Borg had mentioned. Borg played deep behind the baseline, used top spin shots to keep the ball in place and exhibited power hitting and his ground game was par with the best. He would pass serve and volleyers even in Wimbledon.
His style was then considered unorthodox as he didn't go by the tennis playing manuals. Basically he invented his own game. His game is defense oriented and play long rallies and wait for the moment to strike. He even used wooden racquets of the 70s with small heads. With the string technology of the 70s, he generated immense top spin with his grip. Also he retired early. So no one really knows how many GS he would have won. Clay was his strong suite as his body can take the rigors of the clay game and had the patience.
If one has to put up the best clay players of the century, Nadal, Decugis and Borg will be the top 3. Federer, Guga and Djoko will be honorable mentions if at all they are mentioned. Wilander won 3 FO and is not even mentioned. So someone looking at all time clay players in the future may not give Fedovic the credit as clay players. Federer has outperformed his predecessors in Sampras, Becker and Edberg but to call him on par with Borg is a bridge too far I think. I don't think even Kuerten, Wilander can be compared to Borg. Borg can be called the father of the modern clay game
I consider, that @Sport was trolling in its # 8 message, but you're obviously serious. o_O
The value of Decugis' titles is small, inferior!! Not only did he play before the Open era, in his time players who were not members of French tennis clubs could not participate in the tournament (which was then called the Championnat de France and before 1928 it took place in places other than Roland Garros). It is an insult to Borg to compare his success on RG with Decugis.
I add that Decugis did not get all his FO titles on clay. He achieved the first three triumphs on the sand.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Borg was an absolute beast at RG. Let’s not forget that he still holds the record for the fewest games lost at any slam event. In 1978, he lost only 32 games at RG, despite playing 4 top-10 seeds. And Borg took those 4 top-10 seeds to the woodshed, which includes completely embarrassing defending-champ and #2 seed Guillermo Vilas 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

As much as I like Federer, I cannot put him in Borg’s league at RG; not even close.
Yes his 1978 RG campaign was ridiculously good. And his achievement to crush Vilas in the RG final for the loss of only 5 games playing as a grinder, and then 4 weeks later crush Connors in the Wimbledon final for the loss of only 7 games serve-volleying on 100% of 1st serves and playing considerably more aggressively, was insane.

And his 1980 RG campaign is arguably still statistically the 2nd most dominant RG campaign in the open era. He dropped 38 games that year while Nadal dropped 35 in 2017, but Nadal's QF opponent retired after a couple of the games in the 2nd set, and so Borg won a marginally higher % of his games in 1980 than Nadal did in 2017 (very marginal). His coach Lennart Bergelin, famously hard to please and overly pessimistic on numerous occasions, described his form at RG in 1980 as 'clay court perfection'.

He only dropped a total of 5 sets at RG from 1978-1981, which was some going.
 
Last edited:

Forehanderer

Professional
I consider, that @Sport was trolling in its # 8 message, but you're obviously serious. o_O
The value of Decugis' titles is small, inferior!! Not only did he play before the Open era, in his time players who were not members of French tennis clubs could not participate in the tournament (which was then called the Championnat de France and before 1928 it took place in places other than Roland Garros). It is an insult to Borg to compare his success on RG with Decugis.
I add that Decugis did not get all his FO titles on clay. He achieved the first three triumphs on the sand.
Right I forgot that was the time where only french players were competing. In that case, I would put Borg as no.2 next to Nadal. Federer, Kuerten, Djokovic as good as they were cannot be compared to Borg as he is the one who started the modern clay game.
 

SonnyT

Hall of Fame
According to Fedfans, Federer was in decline since the age of 26. That's ridiculous! Then why was he in the top 3 virtually for the next 10-15 years!

He won 10 slams in 00's; and only 5 in 10's. But without Djokovic, he might've won 10 in 10's (3 Wimbledons and one each USO and AO) while facing much more formidable opponents (even without counting his nemesis Djokovic). When a player wins 10 in a decade, it's not a decline. He might not be at his peak, he was very close to it. But that happens to everyone: Djokovic was never as good as in '11, nor Nadal in '10.

So Federer was put in the shade by, literally, one man. Federer has never been better than Djokovic, except when Djokovic was a tennis baby, and in the fantasies of his fans. He looked better than the actual product. After 2007, when Federer was just 26, at any one time he either was dominated by Nadal, Djokovic or both. Sorry but there's no other way to read the actual record!

If he were such a great champion, why did he allow such continual domination since the age of 26?
 
Last edited:

NonP

Hall of Fame
You jokers have no clue what it means to play the "best" tennis on clay, or on anything really. It's amazing how many times this truism must be pointed out, but: you don't win RG by hitting the most winners or not letting the opponent play in the 1st place a la Pistol. Otherwise the highest "peak" even on dirt would be unreachable except by bots like Goran and Krajicek whose 1-2 punch can make 'em virtually untouchable for long stretches. In fact that's how Verkerk of all people stomped his way to the final at '03 RG, by playing arguably the best attacking tennis ever seen on terre battue (according to Moose) with a still record 124 aces for the tourney, but we know what happened at the last hurdle.

Now losing to Ferrero at RG is no shame, but barely making him sweat is not what you would or should expect from supposedly the best attacker on clay. Does that mean Verkerk's first and last hurrah is nothing to write home about, unlike Soderling's own celebrated runs where he at least dispatched Rafa and Fed in an impressive fashion? Not necessarily, because that alone doesn't prove that he didn't play some of the best attacking tennis ever at RG. But it does reinforce the key insight y'all fail to grasp: how high a peak one can reach matters less than how often he can reach it, which is especially true on clay that rewards consistency and patience more than anything else.

That's why Fed, Robin, Muzz, Stan and Thiem and to a lesser extent Novak - all the FO champs/finalists in the Nadal era who more or less play the same HC game on clay - never came close to equaling the statistical CC dominance of peak Lendl, Courier and Bruguera, let alone Borg and Rafa who boast by far the highest %s of GW at RG (or any other major, for that matter) in the OE. For the multi-champs admission to the 60% Club was almost automatic while the former posse sans Nole have barely made it if at all, and no doubt this has a lot to do with the difference in the two cohorts' margin for error.

Of course mere consistency ain't enough and you still need a minimal level of firepower - which is why the likes of Volandri, Fognini, Goffin and Schwartzman were never serious contenders to begin with despite their strong return game, and also why Coria, Ferrer and even Muster and Djoko for all their gaudy stats were prone to upsets or unable to threaten the favorite (guess who) at RG a la the '03 SF, '96 4R, '12 SF/'13 F and '11 SF because they lacked a fail-safe weapon on par with the Lendl/Courier/Bruguera/Kuerten/Borg/Nadal FH, the Guga BH (Muster's and Djoko's groundies, while rock solid, aren't quite as punishingly heavy, though Thomas probably generates more spin on average) or Wilander's genius IQ, chameleonic adaptability and seemingly bottomless shot tolerance. Put another way, have the multi-FOers play those matches instead and chances are they survive the assault or at least make Rafa work a whole lot more.

All of which is a long way of saying, to compare Bjorn frigging' Borg with Fed or any other one-timer is downright comical (yes I understand that was likely the OP's intention). So is touting Soderling as peaking higher than Fed, Novak, Muster or almost any other non-flukey one-FOer. That kind of "peak" is not what wins you RG, and Sod's and other pretenders' records in the finals should give you pause re: such nonsense.

One more thing:

Yes his 1978 RG campaign was ridiculously good. And his achievement to crush Vilas in the RG final for the loss of only 5 games playing as a grinder, and then 4 weeks later crush Connors in the Wimbledon final for the loss of only 7 games serve-volleying on 100% of 1st serves and playing considerably more aggressively, was insane.

And his 1980 RG campaign is arguably still statistically the 2nd most dominant RG campaign in the open era. He dropped 38 games that year while Nadal dropped 35 in 2017, but Nadal's QF opponent retired after a couple of the games in the 2nd set, and so Borg won a marginally higher % of his games in 1980 than Nadal did in 2017 (very marginal). His coach Lennart Bergelin, famously hard to please and overly pessimistic on numerous occasions, described his form at RG in 1980 as 'clay court perfection'.

He only dropped a total of 5 sets at RG from 1978-1981, which was some going.
Not "arguably," '80 Borg just edges out '17 Rafa by a hair: 76.83% (126/164) vs. 76.82% (116/151). I still think '08 was Rafa's very best, but yeah to see the lemmings putting anyone but him over Borg as the best dirtballer ever is absolutely hysterical.
 
According to Fedfans, Federer was in decline since the age of 26. That's ridiculous! Then why was he in the top 3 virtually for the next 10-15 years!

He won 10 slams in 00's; and only 5 in 10's. But without Djokovic, he might've won 10 in 10's (3 Wimbledons and one each USO and AO) while facing much more formidable opponents (even without counting his nemesis Djokovic). When a player wins 10 in a decade, it's not a decline. He might not be at his peak, he was very close to it. But that happens to everyone: Djokovic was never as good as in '11, nor Nadal in '10.

So Federer was put in the shade by, literally, one man. Federer has never been better than Djokovic, except when Djokovic was a tennis baby, and in the fantasies of his fans. He looked better than the actual product. After 2007, when Federer was just 26, at any one time he either was dominated by Nadal, Djokovic or both. Sorry but there's no other way to read the actual record!

If he were such a great champion, why did he allow such continual domination since the age of 26?
2019 wimbledon 40 year old man has match point against athlete, (not to diminish federers athletic ability but it has clearly dropped overtime) djokovic either played badly or federer put up a fight at 40, which one is it
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
Borg played in an era when every racquet and every set of strings was custom made to optimize attacking play, even to the extent that S&V was a perfectly viable strategy at the French. Despite this, he not only completely dominated the French, he was actually so much better at his baseline power-spin game than anybody else in the world that he also completely dominated even the fast courts at Wimbledon.

If Borg could have played with a Pure Aero and polys, he would have made a joke of the tour. Never mind if he had had the same "training regimen" Nadal employs during the run-up to clay season. Borg's illicit activities involved narcotics and the cast of Charlie's Angels instead.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Also in Borg's era, the calendar was a random mess, and certainly not conducive for players to peak at majors, which also weren't even the best paying tournaments around. He earned more money after winning the Pepsi Grand Slam at the start of the year ($150k), than all 16 players who reached the 4th round or better in the men's single draw at Wimbledon later year earned between them (just from singles not including any money earned in doubles).

In 1979 for example, he won the title at Monte-Carlo on clay in early April 1979. Then later that month he played in a pretty highly regarded outdoor hard court event in Las Vegas, beating Connors in the final. The following week he played in a very big tournament in Dallas, the WCT Finals on indoor carpet, losing to McEnroe in the final (McEnroe's breakout triumph), which finished a few weeks before RG got underway. The Italian Open was the week before RG. Imagine the complaints from players if the schedule was anything approaching that nowadays; numerous players were overly 'precious' about switching between indoor hard courts and indoor carpet in the mid 00s.

Plus of course he played in an era of 16 seeds at majors.
 

Sudacafan

Bionic Poster
I saw Borg playing on clay, and I saw Federer playing on clay, too; but as I haven't seen them playing each other on clay, I am not able to answer OP's question.
 
Top