Friday, 18 September 2015


Many years before Rafa Nadal commenced a dominant run at the French open in Paris which netted him nine titles there was a fellow from Sweden who may just own the record for lack of games against in one particular year.
Bjorn Borg possessed a game that was nothing short of perfect for the clay courts of Europe yet he was brilliant enough to switch to the grass of Wimbledon and be successful with it. He is the only male player to have lifted both the trophies at the French Open and Wimbledon in three consecutive years, 1978 to 1980. 
Borg was known as the 'passing shot King', a reference to his ability to find a winner with remarkable accuracy and he was ridiculously patient. There is a well documented rally between Borg and Vilas in the 1978 French Open final that lasted 86 shots. The Swede was in no hurry to win.
Bjorn Borg owned a backhand that the sport of tennis will probably never see again due mainly to the uniqueness of it as it had a two handed strike but a one handed follow through. I believe that this motion was why Borg could create so much angle and topspin. The shot was in a word, brilliant.
Borg won the French Open as an 18 year old in 1974 against Orantes in five sets and picked up a grand total of 120,000 French Francs which if converted to Australian dollars was perhaps around $30,000. A nice pay day for an 18 year old in the early 70's but dwarfed by today's pay days for the pros.
In 1975 Borg was far more dominant and beat the World's second best clay court player Guillermo Vilas 2,3 and 4 in the final but there was no such thing as inflation back then. The Swede's pay day was exactly the same as the year before of 120,000 Francs courtesy of BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris ). 
Borg lost in the quarters to Panatta the following year and did not play in 1977 due to tennis politics and World Team Tennis contractual requirements. This whole farce was documented in Borg's biography which is a book I could recite almost to the word, I read it that often.
The Swede returned in 1978 and was obviously keen to make up for his absence because he may just own the all time record for games against in a Grand Slam tournament with his effort that year. Borg lost just 32 games for the entire tournament which culminated in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory in the final over Vilas.
To put that into perspective Borg's average match winning margin that year at the French Open was in fact less than what the score was in the final. That's how dominant Borg was on a surface that has always rewarded patience.

No comments:

Post a Comment