Friday, 18 September 2015


Tennis prize money was beginning to increase in 1978 as Borg picked up exactly 200,000 French Francs that year for the title, an increase of 80,000 from his '74 and '75 triumphs. 
In 1979 Borg won again, this time over Pecci in four sets in the final but he didn't have it all his own way that year losing several sets along the way. Borg earned 208,000 Francs that year.
In 1980 the Swede's form in Paris mirrored his efforts from '78 as he lost just 38 games for the entire tournament which included a straight sets 4, 1 and 2 win over his best mate Vitas Gerulaitis in the final. Borg pocketed 220,000 French Francs for that win, around $35,000 Australian dollars.
Borg's last victory in Paris came the following year against Lendl in the final where the Czech tested him but Borg closed out the match 6-1 in the fifth set. Prize money again was on the improve that year as 271,000 French Francs went the Swede's way.
Borg lost just 39 games up until that deciding match but was pushed all the way by a man who went on to claim three French Open titles himself after Borg retired.
So for a total of six French Open titles Borg won just a tick over one million French Francs and when broken down into Australian currency was just over a quarter of a million dollars. 
The amount however that he picked up playing around the World in matches that did not own any ranking points was outrageous to say the least. From memory he once picked up around US $600,000 for a week of exhibition matches. Considering it was in the mid to late 70's that was a ridiculous amount of money but it typifies why the pros played those types of matches back then on a regular basis. 
The man from Sweden was a marketer's dream yet if you look at his official prize money earnings they resemble that of an 'average' pro of today ranked around the 50 mark who can make that amount within two years or even less.
Playing exhibitions with Federer, McEnroe and the likes up until just a few years ago would have no doubt netted him way more than what he took home for each of his six French Open titles. Longevity in tennis has it's rewards.
It is interesting to note that in Borg's final year of success in Paris there was a 16 year old kid also from Sweden who won the junior French Open boys championship. Mats Wilander took out the title in 1981 perhaps inspired by his hitting sessions with Borg during that year in which he become the World's best junior.
Quite remarkably Wilander won the Mens title in Paris the following year, a feat which I am certain will never be repeated but again it was perhaps inspired by Borg's no show in 1982. Out of respect for the sudden retirement of Borg it may just have given Mats the incentive to keep the title in Swedish hands.
Before Rafa there was Borg and I was fortunate enough to see him at his best when I was a kid and it left a lasting impression on me.
Borg may have been a type of robot from the baseline that we see so regularly today yet he did it with a flair that I have perhaps only seen once since and that was from a fellow by the name of Andre Agassi.
BB and AA, must be something to do with the initials and the long flowing locks....

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