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Bjφrn Borg

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Bjφrn Rune Borg(born June 6, 1956, in Stockholm, Sweden) is a former World No. 1 tennis player. During his relatively brief eight-year career, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles – five at Wimbledon and a record six at the French Open – leading some to consider him the greatest male tennis player of all time.

 

Career Overview

As a child growing up in Sφdertδlje, a town near Stockholm, Borg became fascinated by a tennis racket which his father had won as a prize at a ping pong tournament. His father gave him the racket, beginning one of the brightest careers in tennis history.

In 1972, at the age of 15, Borg became one of the youngest players ever to represent his country in the Davis Cup, and won his debut singles rubber in five sets over seasoned pro Onny Parun of New Zealand. Later that year, he won the Wimbledon junior singles title.

In 1974, aged 17 years and 11 months, Borg won his first top-level singles title at the Italian Open. Two weeks later, he won his first Grand Slam title at the French Open. In the final, he came back from two sets down to defeat Manuel Orantes in five sets 2–6, 6–7, 6–0, 6–1, 6–1. At the time, Borg was the youngest-ever male French Open champion (though the record has since been lowered by Mats Wilander in 1982, and Michael Chang in 1989).

Borg quickly gained a reputation for his strong base-line game, with powerful ground-strokes and a punishing doubled-fisted backhand. His great endurance and calm court demeanor earned him the nickname of the "Ice Man". He hit the ball hard and high from the back of the court and brought it down with excessive top-spin, making it very difficult for opponents to attack him. In many ways, Borg developed the style of play which has come to dominate the game in the decades that followed.

Borg retained his French Open crown in 1975, when he beat Guillermo Vilas in straight sets in the final.

Bjorn Borg in 1981

Source.

Bjorn Borg in 1981

1975 also saw Borg help Sweden to win its first ever Davis Cup title. He won two singles and one doubles rubber in the final as Sweden beat Czechoslovakia 3–2. With his two singles wins in the final, Borg had put together a run of 19 consecutive wins in Davis Cup singles rubbers going back to 1973. That was already a record at the time. But Borg never lost another Davis Cup singles rubber, and by the end of his career he had stretched that winning streak to 33 - a Davis Cup record which still stands.

With two French Open wins and a Davis Cup under his belt, Borg set his sights on winning Wimbledon. Borg did not make much of an impact at Wimbledon prior to 1976, and many people doubted whether his strong base-line game could be adapted to be successful on Wimbledon's fast-playing grass courts. But after two weeks of solid practice in serve-and-volley tactics, Borg swept through Wimbledon in 1976 without losing a set, defeating the much-favoured Ilie Năstase in straight sets in the final. Borg became the youngest male Wimbledon champion of the modern era at 20 years and 1 month (a record later broken by Boris Becker who won Wimbledon aged 17 in 1985). Borg also reached the final of the 1976 US Open, where he lost to Jimmy Connors. Some speculate that Borg surviving the first week of Wimbledon, when the courts were slick and fast, was the key to his success. The courts played slower in the in the second week which suited Borgs baseline game.

Bjφrn Borg
Country Sweden
Residence Stockholm, Sweden
Date of birth 6 June 1956 (1956-06-06)
Place of birth Sφdertδlje
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 72 kg (160 lb)
Turned pro 1973 (international debut in 1971)
Retired April 4, 1983[1] (unsuccessful comeback from 1991 to 1993)
Plays Right-handed; two-handed backhand
Career prize money US$3,655,751
Singles
Career record: 597–127 (82.46%)
Career titles: 100 (including 63 listed by the ATP)
Highest ranking: 1 (23 August 1977)
Grand Slam results
Australian Open 3R (1974)
French Open W (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981)
Wimbledon W (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)
US Open F (1976, 1978, 1980, 1981)
Major tournaments
Tour Finals W (1979, 1980)
Doubles
Career record: 86–81 (51.2%)
Career titles: 4
Highest ranking: 890 (22 March 1993)
Infobox last updated on: 24 March 2007.

Borg repeated his Wimbledon triumph in 1977, although this time he was pushed much harder. He won a thrilling five-set victory over Vitas Gerulaitis in the semi-finals 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 [1]. And in the final he was also pushed to five sets by Connors.

The end of the 1970s and the start of the 1980s saw Borg at the height of his powers. He won both the French Open and Wimbledon for three years running in 1978, 1979 and 1980. He also won the season-ending Masters title in 1979 and 1980. And Borg was also runner-up at the US Open in 1978 (lost to Connors) and 1980 (lost to McEnroe).

Borg's fifth consecutive Wimbledon title was won in an all-time great final in 1980 against the new up-and-coming star of men's tennis John McEnroe. In a 34-point fourth-set tie-breaker, Borg saved six sets-points and McEnroe saved five match-points before McEnroe finally won the tie-break 18-16. In the end, Borg's renowned mental toughness prevailed in the decisive fifth set, which he won 8-6.

Borg won what turned out to be his final Grand Slam title at the French Open in 1981. In the final, he beat another of tennis' up-and-coming stars, Ivan Lendl, in five sets. Borg's six French Open titles remains a record for a male player.

In making the final at Wimbledon in 1981, Borg stretched his winning streak at the All England Club to a record 41 matches. But it finally came to an end in the 1981 final, where McEnroe beat him in four sets.

Borg's last Grand Slam final was a four-set defeat to McEnroe at the 1981 US Open. The US Open was undoubtedly Borg's "bogey tournament". He reached the final four times but never won. (Borg chose to make the journey to the Australian Open only once, in 1974, where he lost in the third round.) The U.S. open final is always played at night, to catch the prime-time sports viewing TV audience and Borg reputedly found himself hampered by playing under electric lights. He tried unsuccessfully to lobby U.S. representatives to shift the tournament to the afternoon.

The spark seemed to have burned out of Borg's game by the end of 1981, and he was on the brink of burn-out. But Borg's announcement in 1982 that he was retiring from the game at the age of just 26 was a shock to the tennis world.

After retiring, Borg suffered a drug overdose, was rumoured to have attempted suicide and had a turbulent relationship with his then-wife, the Italian singer Loredana Bertθ. He later bounced back as the owner of the Bjφrn Borg fashion label, whose most noted advertising campaigns asked Swedes (from the pages of a leading national newspaper) to "F... for the Future".

In the early-1990s (possibly pushed by financial difficulties with his fashion label, which was not doing very well at the time), Borg attempted a comeback on the men's professional tennis tour. However this time around he was not at all successful. Playing with his old wooden rackets in an attempt to regain his once-indomitable touch, he lost his first comeback match in 1991 to Jordi Arrese at the Monte Carlo Open. A series of first-round losses to lowly-ranked players followed over the next two years. The closest he came to winning a match was in 1993 in Moscow, when he pushed Alexander Volkov to three sets and lost a final-set tie-breaker 9–7. After that match, he retired from the tour for good and confined himself to playing on the senior tour, with modern rackets, where he has delighted crowds by renewing his old rivalries with McEnroe and Connors.

Borg was ranked the World No. 1 in six different stretches between 1977 and 1981, totalling 109 weeks. During his career, he won a total of 57 top-level singles and 4 doubles titles. Borg was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1987.

Borg is one of only three individuals to have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award twice. (He won it in 1979 and 1984).

Place among the all-time greats

With 11 titles, Borg ranks fourth in the list of male tennis players who have won the most Grand Slam singles titles behind Pete Sampras (14), Roger Federer (14), and Roy Emerson (12). The French Open-Wimbledon double he achieved three times consecutively was called by Wimbledon officials "the most difficult double in tennis"[15] and "a feat considered impossible among today's players."[16] Only Rafael Nadal has managed to achieve this double since, and Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer are the only male players since Borg to have won the French Open and Wimbledon men's singles titles over their career.

In his 1979 autobiography, Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, had already included Borg in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time. And in 2003, Bud Collins chose Borg as one of his top-five male players of all time.[17]

In 2008, ESPN.com asked tennis analysts, writers, and former players to build the perfect open era player. Borg was the only player mentioned in four categories—defense, footwork, intangibles, and mental toughness—with his mental game and footwork singled-out as the best in open era history.[18]

Borg never won the US Open or the Australian Open, losing in the final at the US Open four times. The only players to defeat Borg in a Grand Slam final were fellow World No. 1 tennis players John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg chose to play the Australian Open only once, in 1974, where he lost in the third round. Chris Evert, a contemporary of Borg, has pointed out that skipping Grand Slam tournaments was not unusual then, before counting Grand Slam titles became the norm.[19] (During Borg's career, the Australian Open was the last Grand Slam tournament of each year.)

Grand Slam finals

Wins (11)

Year    Championship           Opponent in Final        Score in Final
1974    French Open            Manuel Orantes           2–6, 6–7, 6–0, 6–1, 6–1
1975    French Open            Guillermo Vilas          6–2, 6–3, 6–4
1976    Wimbledon              Ilie Năstase             6–4, 6–2, 9–7
1977    Wimbledon              Jimmy Connors            3–6, 6–2, 6–1, 5–7, 6–4
1978    French Open            Guillermo Vilas          6–1, 6–1, 6–3
1978    Wimbledon              Jimmy Connors            6–2, 6–2, 6–3
1979    French Open            Victor Pecci             6–3, 6–1, 6–7, 6–4
1979    Wimbledon              Roscoe Tanner            6–7, 6–1, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4
1980    French Open            Vitas Gerulaitis         6–4, 6–1, 6–2
1980    Wimbledon              John McEnroe             1–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–7, 8–6
1981    French Open            Ivan Lendl               6–1, 4–6, 6–2, 3–6, 6–1

Runner-ups (5)

Year    Championship           Opponent in Final        Score in Final
1976    US Open                Jimmy Connors            6–4, 3–6, 7–6, 6–4
1978    US Open                Jimmy Connors            6–4, 6–2, 6–2
1980    US Open                John McEnroe             7–6, 6–1, 6–7, 5–7, 6–4
1981    Wimbledon              John McEnroe             4–6, 7–6, 7–6, 6–4
1981    US Open                John McEnroe             4–6, 6–2, 6–4, 6–3

Singles titles (61)

  • 1974
    • Adelaide, Bastad, Boston, London WCT, French Open, Rome, Sao Paulo WCT
  • 1975
    • Barcelona, Bologna WCT, Boston, Richmond-WCT, French Open
  • 1976
    • Boston, Dallas WCT, Dusseldorf, Sao Paulo WCT, Toronto Indoor WCT, Wimbledon
  • 1977
    • Barcelona, Basel, Cologne, Denver, Madrid, Memphis, Monte Carlo WCT, Nice, Pepsi Grand Slam, Wembley, Wimbledon
  • 1978
    • Bastad, Birmingham WCT, Las Vegas, Milan WCT, Pepsi Grand Slam, French Open, Rome, Tokyo Indoor, Wimbledon
  • 1979
    • Bastad, Las Vegas, Masters, Monte Carlo, Montreal / Toronto, Palermo, Pepsi Grand Slam, Richmond WCT, French Open, Rotterdam, Tokyo Indoor, Wimbledon
  • 1980
    • Las Vegas, Masters, Monte Carlo, Nice, Pepsi Grand Slam, French Open, Stockholm, Wimbledon
  • 1981
    • Geneva, French Open, Stuttgart Outdoor

Records and Trivia

Grand Slam Records

  • Won more Grand Slam titles in the Open Era (11) and more Wimbledons (5) than any player until Pete Sampras. This despite competing in the Australian Open only once, at the age of 17.
  • Won more French Championships (6) than any other male player in tennis history.
  • Won 4 consecutive French championships, an alltime record. His streak of 28 consecutive matches was broken, not by defeat, but by his subsequent absence and retirement.
  • Won more consecutive Wimbledons (5) than any man in the modern era. Only Willie Renshaw won more consecutive titles there (1881–86)— and in Renshaw's day, the defending champion played only one match, the Challenge Round. After the adoption of the present-day rules, Fred Perry established a record of three consecutive Wimbledons in 1932-34, until Borg equalled it in 1978. Borg's streak of 41 consecutive match wins at Wimbledon remains an alltime record. Sampras has come closest to this record with four consecutive Wimbledons in 1997-2000 (and 31 consecutive match wins).
  • Played in 6 consecutive Wimbledon finals, still a record since the abolition of the Challenge Round in 1922.
  • Played in 4 consecutive French finals, an Open-Era record.
  • Played in 16 Grand Slam finals, a record for the Open Era (and second in tennis history only to 17 by Rod Laver) until Ivan Lendl played in 19 (and Sampras in 18).
  • Won at least one Grand Slam title for 8 consecutive years (1974–1981), an alltime record. Only Sampras has matched this (1993–2000).
  • Defeated more players (9) in Grand Slam finals than any male player in history. Sampras was able also to tie this mark.
  • Won 11 Grand Slam titles out of 27 tournaments played, giving him a record 41% winning percentage for the Open Era.
  • In Grand Slam tournaments, his match record is 141–16, giving him an 89.8% winning percentage, better than any male player ever. The only other male players in the Open Era with winning percentages over 80% are Jimmy Connors (81.9%) and Ivan Lendl (81.8%).
  • His 11 Grand Slam titles put him fourth on the all-time list, tied with Laver, and behind Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12).

Youngest to win

  • In 1972 he became the youngest-ever winner of a Davis Cup match, at age 15.
  • In 1974, one month before his 18th birthday, he became the youngest winner of the Italian Open up to that time.
  • In 1974, only days after his 18th birthday, he became the youngest man ever to hold a Grand Slam title. He retained that distinction until another Swede, Mats Wilander, took the French Open in 1982.
  • At 18, he was the youngest winner of the U.S. Professional Championships until Aaron Krickstein won in 1983.
  • In 1976 at age 20, Borg became the youngest winner of the Open Era at Wimbledon until Boris Becker became the youngest Grand Slam winner of all time by taking Wimbledon in 1985.
  • Won his 11th Grand Slam in 1981 at age 25, the youngest to that number of titles. By comparison, Sampras won his 11th at almost 27, Emerson at 30, Laver at 31.

Match competition

  • Compiled 576-124 singles record, winning more than 82% of the matches he played. By comparison, Sampras had a 77% winning percentage at retirement.
  • Won 14 consecutive five-set matches before losing to John McEnroe at the 1980 U.S. Open, a record for the Open Era (and possibly for tennis history).
  • In career five-set matches he is 24-4, his winning percentage of .857 unrivalled in the Open Era, with Aaron Krickstein in second place at .757 (or 28-9). Five of his wins were in Grand Slam finals -- a mark that surpassed Bill Tilden (who won four) and has remained unequalled.
  • In 1980 he won the longest-ever Wimbledon final up to that time, 3 hours and 53 minutes (the record stood until 1982). That year he also lost the longest-ever U.S. Championships final up to that time, 4 hours and 13 minutes (a mark broken in 1988).
  • Won the longest tiebreak of the Open Era, 20-18 in the third set of his first round match at the 1973 Wimbledon -- a mark that has been tied twice (by Federer and Goran Ivanišević) but not broken.
  • Won 19 consecutive points on serve in the fifth set -- a feat perhaps unequalled at any time -- on two occasions, his 1980 Wimbledon final against John McEnroe and his 1980 U.S. Open quarterfinal against Roscoe Tanner.

Career winning streaks

  • On the list of Open Era winning streaks, Borg is both first (49 tour matches won in 1978) and fifth (40 in 1979–80). The only other men with winning streaks of 40+ matches are Guillermo Vilas (46), Ivan Lendl (44), and McEnroe (42).
  • Holds the record for most consecutive wins on grass, with 41 victories (all at Wimbledon), Roger Federer had a 36 match winning streak (2003–2005) Borg won all his matches at Wimbledon, Roger played lesser grass tournaments to get these wins.
  • Holds the Davis Cup record singles winning streak at 33 consecutive victories -- a string broken only by retirement.
  • Holds second place for most consecutive wins on clay, with 44 victories in 1977-79. Only Vilas holds more with 57.

Miscellaneous

  • Captured 62 titles over his brief career, tying him with Vilas for fifth on the all time list of players with most career titles behind Connors (109), Lendl (94), McEnroe (77), and Sampras (64).
  • Retired with $3.6 million in career prize money, a record at the time.
  • Was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 at only 30 years of age.
  • Finally, in 1999 Borg was elected the best Swedish sportsman ever by a jury in his home country. His tennis rivals included a pair of world #1's: Wilander (who won 7 Grand Slam titles) and Stefan Edberg (who won 6).

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