Peak Nadal vs peak Borg on clay

Who wins?


  • Total voters
    83

NonP

Hall of Fame
The unquestioning certitude of know-nothings never fails to crack me up. It's not hard to guess how many of these geniuses have even watched Borg's complete matches on clay, and that's assuming they have the sufficient know-how to analyze his game when he's dismissed as a glorified Ferrer by these very paper tigers.

Having said that....

I always thought Nadal would need to have the same mindset he had against Novak in the fifth set of 2013 SF in order to beat a player like Borg. Borg moved faster and defended better than Novak on clay, and no way he would force him into fatigue/errors, he'll have to go for his shots like never before on the red dirt while facing a guy with the defense (on clay) that he's never experienced.
Borg also hit quite heavy so he had a high margin for error.
I honestly believe they would split their matches at RG.
I'd give a small edge to Rafa myself but yours strikes me as the best response by far. Very rare to see evenhanded posts like this, let alone here!
 
Lol, in all my time on this forum I've never seen another poster get continually as rattled as you do whenever that 2015 RG match gets mentioned. It still burns that Djokovic finally got a win over your boy there irrespective of his form, no? :giggle:
For some reason Djokovic fans hate it when one mentions Thiem destroying him in RG 2017 or Chung beating him in straight sets in AO.

That RG 2015 match is totally irrelevant for the discussion about peak Nadal vs peak Borg. This is like saying peak Safin would have beaten peak Djokovic in AO based on their 2005 match.
 
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WilPro

Rookie
I always thought Nadal would need to have the same mindset he had against Novak in the fifth set of 2013 SF in order to beat a player like Borg. Borg moved faster and defended better than Novak on clay, and no way he would force him into fatigue/errors, he'll have to go for his shots like never before on the red dirt while facing a guy with the defense (on clay) that he's never experienced.
Borg also hit quite heavy so he had a high margin for error.
I honestly believe they would split their matches at RG.
Borg had no clue about topspin. He couldn't last for more than 2 balls in a rally against Rafa. It would end 6-0 6-0 6-0 for Rafa.

120 years old Rafa would beat 27 years old Borg, any day.
 

Nole Slam

Professional
I always thought Nadal would need to have the same mindset he had against Novak in the fifth set of 2013 SF in order to beat a player like Borg. Borg moved faster and defended better than Novak on clay, and no way he would force him into fatigue/errors, he'll have to go for his shots like never before on the red dirt while facing a guy with the defense (on clay) that he's never experienced.
Borg also hit quite heavy so he had a high margin for error.
I honestly believe they would split their matches at RG.
Ae na pivo.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
The unquestioning certitude of know-nothings never fails to crack me up. It's not hard to guess how many of these geniuses have even watched Borg's complete matches on clay, and that's assuming they have the sufficient know-how to analyze his game when he's dismissed as a glorified Ferrer by these very paper tigers.

Having said that....



I'd give a small edge to Rafa myself but yours strikes me as the best response by far. Very rare to see evenhanded posts like this, let alone here!
Don't worry, I'm working with the mods to make comparing Borg with Ferrer a bannable offense.
 
For some reason Djokovic fans hate it when one mentions Thiem destroying him in RG 2017 or Chung beating him in straight sets in AO.

That RG 2015 match is totally irrelevant for the discussion about peak Nadal vs peak Borg. This is like saying peak Safin would have beaten peak Djokovic in AO based on their 2005 match.
Djokovic fans have gotten too big for their britches. They hated people calling Wawrinka a bad match up for Djokovic and cried endlessly about the 19-6 head to head. Not recognizing it makes Djokovic look far better to acknowledge Wawrinka is a bad match up.

One Djokovic fanatic launched into a verbal barrage at me for pointing out Nadal of 2005-2010 which Federer faced was better overall than 2011-2016 that Djokovic faced on clay. I even specifically pointed out though I definitely do not rank Federer above Djokovic on clay. This individual went into full assault mode, even deeming me a Nadal fanatic and later a Federer fanatic (contradicting himself, as you will be hard pressed to find anyone who is both of those) all for saying that. I had a thread deleted by mods about Nadal and Henin using PEDs, and both serving a silent ban yet on this persons planet I am a "Nadal fanatic". :-D :laughing:

I had wanted Djokovic to pass Federer's marks for a long while, but not sure if I still do. It is basically deciding which has the more annoying fans as I am not a huge fan of any of the Big 3, despite admiring them all massively. These days Federer's only ultra annoying fan is TMF, a massive change from the old days, while Djoker has a whole army of Selestial equivalents. It would be kind of nice now to see them get the humble pie of Djokovic getting none of the big marks, and them all split between Fedal.
 
Djokovic fans have gotten too big for their britches. They hated people calling Wawrinka a bad match up for Djokovic and cried endlessly about the 19-6 head to head. Not recognizing it makes Djokovic look far better to acknowledge Wawrinka is a bad match up.

One Djokovic fanatic launched into a verbal barrage at me for pointing out Nadal of 2005-2010 which Federer faced was better overall than 2011-2016 that Djokovic faced on clay. I even specifically pointed out though I definitely do not rank Federer above Djokovic on clay. This individual went into full assault mode, even deeming me a Nadal fanatic and later a Federer fanatic (contradicting himself, as you will be hard pressed to find anyone who is both of those) all for saying that. I had a thread deleted by mods about Nadal and Henin using PEDs, and both serving a silent ban yet on this persons planet I am a "Nadal fanatic". :-D :laughing:

I had wanted Djokovic to pass Federer's marks for a long while, but not sure if I still do. It is basically deciding which has the more annoying fans as I am not a huge fan of any of the Big 3, despite admiring them all massively. These days Federer's only ultra annoying fan is TMF, a massive change from the old days, while Djoker has a whole army of Selestial equivalents. It would be kind of nice now to see them get the humble pie of Djokovic getting none of the big marks, and them all split between Fedal.
What about me bro?
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Utterly pointless comparison as they are both products of their time.

Nadal would be useless on ‘70s courts with ‘70s equipment and be beaten by far lesser players than Borg.

Likewise for Borg in the current era.
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
Nadal 8-2. Borg is much smarter and has much more variety in his game. On clay though, none of those things would bother rafa. Rafa handles low balls very well and not going to transition effectively against nadal on clay. I dont see borg having any weapons that are bigger than nadals.

On grass and hard its much different
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
Watch the 2013 Final. Borg would do a little better than Ferrer I guess but the problem would be the same. Just wouldn’t have firepower to hurt Nadal.

I agree, and I already made the Ferrer comparison myself. That’s why I don’t think Borg could hurt Federer or Djokovic on clay either.

He was great in his time though, no question about this. But put Federer or Djokovic in his time (not both of them simultaneously) and they both would win 6 or more RG titles. And on the other hand put Borg in the Nadal clay era, and he wins nothing big. Both seems to be a given for me.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Depends how you're comparing them:
  1. Peak Borg as we knew him back then (equipment, conditioning, etc) vs Peak Nadal as we know him → Borg gets destroyed
  2. Peak Borg as we knew him back then vs Peak Nadal in Borg's era → Nadal has the edge in physicality (probably) but no way to know how he would've adjusted his game; so by default Borg wins
  3. Peak Borg in modern era vs Peak Nadal → Nadal might edge him given Nadal's leftyness + physicality but no way to know how Borg would've adjusted his game, so Nadal wins by default
The only thing we can do is compare peak for peak relative to the field:
  1. Both are pretty even in terms of best clay swing
  2. Both dominated their eras on the surface
  3. Nadal dominated clay despite playing a more professional tour
  4. Nadal had to play GOAT contenders on the surface, both of whom would've had ATG clay resumes but for Nadal's dominance
  5. Borg had a deeper field of specialists
All in all I'd give Nadal the edge. That lefty-righty mechanic paired with Nadal's co-GOAT forehand and GOAT athleticism is kinda difficult to argue against. Won't be easy if we were able to somehow even the playing field re era, equipment, etc but Nadal edges out Borg in terms of both records and in many of the attributes as a tennis player that made Borg so formidable back in the day.

Edit: I’d also add the observation that in any scenario where we “even the playing field”, we either make Borg better than he was, or make Nadal worse than he is. That comes to show that the field has gotten stronger absolutely since Borg’s time and so while I can’t say with any confidence how this particular matchup would’ve gone, Nadal’s outrageous record on clay despite the increased professionalism of the tour may be reason alone to give Nadal the edge here.
 
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I agree, and I already made the Ferrer comparison myself. That’s why I don’t think Borg could hurt Federer or Djokovic on clay either.

He was great in his time though, no question about this. But put Federer or Djokovic in his time (not both of them simultaneously) and they both would win 6 or more RG titles. And on the other hand put Borg in the Nadal clay era, and he wins nothing big. Both seems to be a given for me.
Borg was a truly dominant player in his day but just watching a few minutes of on of his old clay matches with wooden rackets highlights the enormous gap between his era and ours.
The modern game much more reliant on weaponry. Very few pure baseline grinders can succeed at highest level.
 
Depends how you're comparing them:
  1. Peak Borg as we knew him back then (equipment, conditioning, etc) vs Peak Nadal as we know him → Borg gets destroyed
  2. Peak Borg as we knew him back then vs Peak Nadal in Borg's era → Nadal has the edge in physicality (probably) but no way to know how he would've adjusted his game; so by default Borg wins
  3. Peak Borg in modern era vs Peak Nadal → Nadal might edge him given Nadal's leftyness + physicality but no way to know how Borg would've adjusted his game, so Nadal wins by default
The only thing we can do is compare peak for peak relative to the field:
  1. Both are pretty even in terms of best clay swing
  2. Both dominated their eras on the surface
  3. Nadal dominated clay despite playing a more professional tour
  4. Nadal had to play GOAT contenders on the surface, both of whom would've had ATG clay resumes but for Nadal's dominance
  5. Borg had a deeper field of specialists
All in all I'd give Nadal the edge. That lefty-righty mechanic paired with Nadal's co-GOAT forehand and GOAT athleticism is kinda difficult to argue against. Won't be easy if we were able to somehow even the playing field re era, equipment, etc but Nadal edges out Borg in terms of both records and in many of the attributes as a tennis player that made Borg so formidable back in the day.
Awesome post and I agree with almost everything, even if I am less charitable to Borg.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Awesome post and I agree with almost everything, even if I am less charitable to Borg.
Just curious but what leads you to be less charitable to Borg?

I’m assuming the main thing is the relatively less professional nature of the tour back then and the fact that Nadal’s record is still superior despite that.

It wouldn’t affect their matchup though.
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
Borg will be another Federer of clay vs Nadal. Top class, but will come in second everytime.
Who was the french open champ in 2009?

Its gotta hurt, could of have the 10+ streak, but maybe hurts more that Fed took his only FO that year.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Borg was a truly dominant player in his day but just watching a few minutes of on of his old clay matches with wooden rackets highlights the enormous gap between his era and ours.
The modern game much more reliant on weaponry. Very few pure baseline grinders can succeed at highest level.
Except Borg had offensive weapons (namely his serve and FH) as evidenced by his success on old-school slick grass and indoor carpet.

You still believe that a guy who wins five Wimbledons in a row is a grinder?
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I like how many people are giving Nadal the benefit of the doubt and not Borg.

Would Nadal hit with his ridiculous spin with wooden racquets? I doubt it.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
I like how many people are giving Nadal the benefit of the doubt and not Borg.

Would Nadal hit with his ridiculous spin with wooden racquets? I doubt it.
Well he wouldn't have had to hit with the same ridiculous spin, he'd just have to hit a heavier ball then the other dude using a wooden racquet.

Nadal's athleticism, footwork (quite underrated aspect of his), amazing shotmaking, that he's a lefty etc. would make him a clay phenom in any era, you can bank on that. It's his massive success off-clay and his incredibly longevity that I don't see him replicating in any era but this one, even though he's obviously too great of a player to be confined to just one surface no matter the conditions.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Well he wouldn't have had to hit with the same ridiculous spin, he'd just have to hit a heavier ball then the other dude using a wooden racquet.

Nadal's athleticism, footwork (quite underrated aspect of his), amazing shotmaking, that he's a lefty etc. would make him a clay phenom in any era, you can bank on that. It's his massive success off-clay and his incredibly longevity that I don't see him replicating in any era but this one, even though he's obviously too great of a player to be confined to just one surface no matter the conditions.
But people assume Borg wouldn't adapt if he came up in the modern era :rolleyes:
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
But people assume Borg wouldn't adapt if he came up in the modern era :rolleyes:
Well year, recency bias. It's why big 3 are put on a pedestal above all other greats before them. Rarely people stop for a moment and wonder what an amazing coincidence is that 3 absolute best players of all time just happen to play in a same era (more or less).

Really, while I do give Nadal the edge on clay (and voted for him in the poll) what Borg in dominating two surfaces that were polar opposites at the time was nothing short of amazing, probably one of the most impressive feats in tennis history. I mean Borg serve and volleyed in his one Wimbledon title run more than Djokodal did in their entire careers.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Well year, recency bias. It's why big 3 are put on a pedestal above all other greats before them. Rarely people stop for a moment and wonder what an amazing coincidence is that 3 absolute best players of all time just happen to play in a same era (more or less).

Really, while I do give Nadal the edge on clay (and voted for him in the poll) what Borg in dominating two surfaces that were polar opposites at the time was nothing short of amazing, probably one of the most impressive feats in tennis history. I mean Borg serve and volleyed in his one Wimbledon title run more than Djokodal did in their entire careers.
I don't think Nadal would have 12 RG titles with a player like Borg to compete against.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
I don't think Nadal would have 12 RG titles with a player like Borg to compete against.
Well no, obviously. However, it would really be an amazing occurrence for guys who are best CC players ever to coexist in the same era. We're talking about two guys who are historically the best talents for the surface. The closest it came to that actually I would argue is Fed and Novak on HC and even then, they're 6 years apart.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Well no, obviously. However, it would really be an amazing occurrence for guys who are best CC players ever to coexist in the same era. We're talking about two guys who are historically the best talents for the surface. The closest it came to that actually I would argue is Fed and Novak on HC and even then, they're 6 years apart.
Yeah, them being 6 years apart allowed each of them to have 11 HC slams.
 

Sabrina

Professional
Give them the same condition, technology, equipment and training method?

I see a 5 setters with 51/49 in favor of Nadal. The winner probably is the one with more luck on his side.

Borg of course does not have the insane longevity of Nadal on clay but in term of peak level he is definitely up there.
 

Feather

Legend
I will go with Rafa Nadal. I think he is the best clay court player in open era.. closely followed by Bjorn Borg
 

Hitman

Legend
Except Fed is an ATG whose best surface is HC/grass (yes, even taking losses to Nadal into account), not the case for Borg.

I have little doubt a 10+ slam winning talent who shares Nadal's surface preference would do much better than a guy who doesn't.
Oops there is a reality smackdown.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Oops there is a reality smackdown.
I mean, Fed lost his first 10 matches on clay and got straight-setted by Guga on his last legs at the FO at the time he was pulverizing the field on HC and grass. Novak had plenty of slip-ups at the French and lost in relatively routine fashion the first time he played a non-Nadal opponent in a FO final.

That people put them so often on the level Borg with the "if not for Nadal" argument is absurd, not to mention short-sighted as you could start doing the same for so many players throughout history. I can get saying that Fedovic are as good or better than Guga or Lendl (though I disagree) but Borg? Yeah, ridiculous.
 
I think a reason this poll is so lopsided is not only recency bias but that Nadal has so many more RG titles (12, but will probably wind up with like 15) than Borg (6) skews perspective. Which I understand, but when you think about it had Borg played the 77 French and continued playing after 81 he probably would have wound up with around 10-12 RG titles. He probably would have won in 77. He probably wins both 82 and 83. After 83 the wins would not come as easily, people like Lendl would start challenging him and age would start to be a factor but he probably wins 1 or 2 at some point in the 84-89 period. He still would not win as many as Nadal will wind up with for sure, but closer than the total is now.

I do see people who say Nadal never played someone like Borg on clay which is completely true (those who put Fed or Djokovic on the same level as Borg on clay are delusional), but lets remind everyone here that likewise the same is true for Borg. Borg has never played anyone anywhere close to Nadal on clay. Baby Lendl a mere one time (81 RG final) is not close, and don't make me laugh by comparing Vilas to Nadal on clay.
 
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Hitman

Legend
I mean, Fed lost his first 10 matches on clay and got straight-setted by Guga on his last legs at the FO at the time he was pulverizing the field on HC and grass. Novak had plenty of slip-ups at the French and lost in relatively routine fashion the first time he played a non-Nadal opponent in a FO final.

That people put them so often on the level Borg with the "if not for Nadal" argument is absurd, not to mention short-sighted as you could start doing the same for so many players throughout history. I can get saying that Fedovic are as good or better than Guga or Lendl (though I disagree) but Borg? Yeah, ridiculous.
It comes to not understanding the history of the sport, or sometimes allowing fanboying to blind rational thinking. Comparing Federer and Djokovic to Borg as cannon fodder to Nadal is borderline hilarious. One guy was designed to dominate clay, the other two were designed to dominate grass and hard respectively.
 
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