Laver against Borg. A discussion on their strokes and abilities.

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, May 29, 2009.

  1. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

    Jul 18, 2008
    Space/Time continuum alternative reality
    There was a bit of a discussion on the pros and cons of Laver and Borg in another thread. I thought it would be interesting to discuss and compare these two greats with very different styles and strokes.

    One is the great risk taker, Rod Laver and Borg is the great percentage player. One is a natural serve and volleyer while the other is a natural baseliner. Both are very adaptable.

    Please discuss and compare.
  2. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

    Oct 20, 2008
    Hey -- pc1 -- I'll share some thoughts here as well even if my time is short.

    We've crossed this match-up a few times before in threads here and there and it's a tough match-up call since Rod and Björn was such exemplary match-players in their heydey -- almost impossible to pin down.

    I have great respect for Roger, Rafa and Pete as match-players (especially the last two in pressure cooker situations) but the strongest winners I've ever seen are Pancho Gonzales (IMO virtually unstoppable), Rod and Björn.

    When I study anyone of these guys I become hesitant and biased for the player I am watching at the moment. When I watch Pancho I go "This must be the best -- nothing will drag him down." Same goes for the others...

    But the OP was about the last two.

    Okey -- let's make a reference to three great matches by Rod (possibly not his best but good examples nonetheless):

    Laver vs Ashe Wimby SF 1969
    Laver vs Newk Wimby F 1969
    Laver vs Roche USO F 1969

    All these marches will never cease to amaze me.

    Ashe starts out playing like ferocious, brutal killer taking a clear lead and the first set. Laver's no lapdog but he's beaten early on -- when he "wakes up" and to quote Maskell (after the fact that Laver turns it around spectacularly without Arthur becoming worse) "Only Laver could turn this around like that"...

    Then you have the following final Newk wins the second and advances firmly to 4-1 in the third -- Laver "wakes up" and accelerates, virtually smoking winners from everywhere. Quite remarkable and before you know it The Rocket held The Golden Trophy (for the 5th straight time).

    We can register a quite similar pattern in the USO 1969 (one of my faves) when Roche plays like a raging tiger keeping the lead and winning the first long set 9-7 and continues steaming when Rod (to my great surprise) serves with great whipping constistency and clipping his first volleys with such elan that Roche can't keep up. Tony is playing at a very high level but he can't touch The Rocket who just summits the tennis stratosphere here.

    Bud Collins: "No one can be as hungry as Laver"

    That's what is so tough to make a call against Björn and Rod because they both had this impressive trait -- untouchable in the clutch.

    I think their battles would be something extra.

    Only thing I would say that I think Rod has a good chance to take the steering wheel and I think he would succeed to deflate Björn several times but also leave room for Borg's amazing pressure play.

    When they met (late in Rod's career/early in Björn's career) it was close and fine matches. I think Borg's clutch-serving, returns, passingshots, speed and "hunger" would make roller-coasters of their match-ups if you combine with Laver's qualities.

    And as Hopman said that Rod never, ever gives up as well. Both frosty under pressure.

    Incomplete answer -- there's more to be said -- but for now...

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