Archive for the ‘Bjorn Borg’ Category

We saw Roger Federer lifting the Wimbledon trophy for the fifth consecutive time, and thus the question remains can someone beat him on the grass surface.

After watching the Swiss master in Wimbledon, Tim Henman thought that one man alone could not get the better of Federer. “If you take Roddick’s serve,” Henman said, “and Agassi’s returns and my volleys and Hewitt’s speed and tenacity, then you’ve probably got a good chance against Federer. That’s a lot of people involved in beating one player.”

So, let us try and create an ultimate player, the one who could maybe stand a chance against Federer on Central Court.

Goran Ivanisevic’s first serve

The rest of Ivanisevic’s game may have been prone to falling apart depending on his mood, but he could always rely on his serve. Tall at 6’4” (three inches taller than Federer), and left-handed, the Croat could blast aces to a band playing. Unlike Andy Roddick, who just belts the ball for all he is worth, Ivanisevic could thump it, kick it, spin it and place it – and always it was devastating. When he won Wimbledon in 2001, he racked up a record of 212 aces over the course of the two weeks and when he was facing Tim Henman in that epic semi final spread over three rain-sodden days, he was as nervous as a kitten and yet still managed to serve his way into the final.

Pete Sampras’s second serve

Maybe not the most obvious of the American’s talents, but it was the one that brought him 14 grand slam titles, seven of them in SW19. He beat Jim Courier to win his first Wimbledon title in 1993 and Courier could not believe what he was facing. “I thought I played pretty well but it’s hard to beat a guy who plays two first serves on every point for the entire match,” the runner-up said. In that match, the average speed of his second serve was 110mph yet despite that, he only double faulted four times over four sets. The fans may not have noticed Sampras’s second serve, but his opponents dreaded it.

Andre Agassi’s return

Gifted with perfect vision and lightning reflexes, there was not a serve that Agassi could not read and defuse. He took the ball so early that he virtually picked it off his opponent’s strings and like a master of the martial arts, Agassi would take the force of the serve and turn that power back on the server. Backing up every break with a service game that was never flashy, never overdone but always as solid as a rock, he was a ferociously aggressive counter puncher.

Boris Becker’s intensity

Becker’s winning match face was a scary sight. With those pale blue eyes fixed on a point somewhere in the middle distance during the change overs, he was living in a place of his own making, a place where no one else was allowed to intrude. In his pomp, he would stride onto Centre Court as if he really believed he owned it and the opponent was simply not welcome. Players face Federer with that sinking feeling, hoping that they will not be humiliated by the Swiss, but against Becker, they were made to feel surplus to requirements.

Stefan Edberg’s movement

He was possibly the quietest and most unassuming of champions, but, as the old saying goes, the quiet ones are the worst. No one was ever sure quite how or when Edberg made his move to the net but he did it like greased lightning. In the blink of an eye he went from preparing to start his service action to hanging over the net like a preying mantis. Every part of his game was beautiful to watch and all of it depended on his ability to glide across the grass as if on castors.

John McEnroe’s volley

Maybe it is the effects of age or maybe it is just the old tapes of matches from a bygone era, but McEnroe seemed to move in slow motion at the net. Where others rush to snap their volleys away, Mac the Mouth appeared to have all the time in the world, holding the ball on his racket strings until his opponent had committed himself, leaving McEnroe to put the ball into the space left behind. He made it look so simple. Helped enormously by a left handed serve, his approach to tennis was the same as his approach to life – take it head on and attack.

Jimmy Connors’s fight

Connors was pathologically incapable of giving in, even when the cause seemed lost. In 1987, he came to Wimbledon with a leg injury and, aged 34, he was supposed to be in the twilight of his career. When he slumped to a 6-1, 6-1, 4-1 deficit against Mikael Pernfors in the fourth round, he should have been down and out. But with his pride wounded, Connors began to fight and, running away with 18 of the last 25 games, he cussed, hollered and roared to a five set win and was only beaten in the semi finals. He was not done as in 1991, aged 39, he scrapped his way to the US Open semi finals and only retired the following year.

Bjorn Borg’s ice-cold reserve

The man with a resting heart rate that was only marginally above unconscious, Borg could not be rattled on a tennis court. If they had dropped the bomb beside him during a match, he would have finished match point before looking up to see what all the fuss was about. His cold reserve was catching, too, and not even the volatile McEnroe would dare disturb the calm with an outburst when he was playing the Swede. Refraining from sex and shaving (an odd combo) during Wimbledon, he allowed nothing to disturb his focus on winning the title. The effort was exhausting, though, and he retired at the age of 26, mentally spent.

Now, the only thing that remains is to name this player.

(source: scotsman)


Read Full Post »

If Roger Federer wins his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title he will have equalled a record achieved only by one other man in the modern era. In the early decades of the oldest Grand Slam, William Renshaw won six titles on the trot and Lawrence Doherty claimed five, but since it became a truly international competition only Bjorn Borg has won five consecutive titles.

Now, when Roger Federer is so close in achieving his fifth consecutive title, one inevitable question appears: Who is better?
Presuming Federer does make it five in a row, would that make him merely the equal of Borg? Is there greater in-depth competition these days, and if so does that mean the Swiss player’s feat would be greater? Or would Borg still be recognised as the better player?

No definitive answer is possible.

Federer’s statistics are intimidating. When Wimbledon gets under way on Monday, he will be the world No1 for a record 178th consecutive week. He has won six of the previous eight Grand Slam tournaments, and ten of the last 16. His winning streak on grass stands at 48.

But Borg’s own records stand up to that, and in a couple of particulars at least they surpass it. He won 11 Grand Slams – one more than Federer’s current total – out of the 27 he entered. He won close to 90% of the matches he played at the four major tournaments. And, most impressively of all, he won six French Open titles – three of them in the same years as he became Wimbledon champion.

That, of course, contrasts with Federer’s inability to claim the main claycourt title on the calendar. This year, as was the case in 2006 as well, Rafael Nadal stood in his way. But, we have to bear in mind that Nadal is the best clay court player ever.

On paper at least, then, Borg could boast greater consistency. Asked last year to compare the two men, the veteran coach Nick Bollettieri highlighted that difference, but also suggested that in other respects Federer might have the edge.

Borg was indeed more stoical, at least in appearance and attitude. Federer’s love of the game is evident, and he is generally more good-humoured and light-hearted.

In the end, the choice is subjective. And in any case, we should accept that, even if Federer should lose in the final or an early-round upset this year, he could still come back to add to his four titles to date. Sampras, for instance, managed seven, but only in a run of three, then a missing year, then a run of four – and the American is still rightly hailed as one of the greatest grass-court players in tennis history.

Some facts about Borg and Federer:

Bjorn Borg:

Born: 6 June 1956, Stockholm, Sweden
Career prize money: £1,830,443
Career titles: 61
Grand Slam titles: 11


1973 Quarter-finals
1974 Third round
1975 Quarter-finals
1976 Champion
1977 Champion
1978 Champion
1979 Champion
1980 Champion
1981 Runner-up
French Open: Champion 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981.
US Open: Runner-up 1976, 1978 1980, 1981. Semi-finals 1975. Quarter-finals 1979.
Australian Open: Third-round 1974.

• Was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 at only 30 years of age.

• Wimbledon success came early to Borg, he won the Junior title at the age of 16.

• Holds the Davis Cup record singles winning streak at 33 consecutive victories.

• Won his 11th Grand Slam singles title in 1981 in Paris at the age of 25.

• Won more French Open singles titles (6) than any other male player in tennis history.

• His 41 consecutive match winning streak at Wimbledon remains an all-time record.

• Won at least one grand slam singles title for eight consecutive years (1974-1981). Only Pete Sampras has matched this (1993-2000).

• Calm court demeanour earned him the nickname of the “Ice Man” or “Ice-Borg”.

• Played in six consecutive Wimbledon singles finals, still a record since the abolition of the challenge round in 1922.

Roger Federer:

Born: 8 August 1981 in Basel, Switzerland
Career prize money: £15,632,305
Career titles: 48
Grand Slam titles: 10


2000 First round
2001 Quarter finals
2002 First round
2003 Champion
2004 Champion
2005 Champion
2006 Champion
French Open: Runner-up 2006, 2007
US Open: Champion 2004, 2005, 2006
Australian Open: Champion 2004, 2006, 2007

• On his Wimbledon debut, in 1999, Federer suffered first-round elimination at the hands of the Czech world No 59, Jiri Novak.

• In 2001, the Swiss struck his first significant blow at SW19 when he beat four-time champion Pete Sampras in the first round on his way to the last eight, where he lost to Tim Henman.

• The French Open is the only one of the four Grand Slam competitions which still eludes Federer.

• In 2006 Federer became the first and only man to have held three of the four grand slam titles (US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open) in two separate years.

• Federer has been ranked No 1 in the world since 2 February 2004, and holds the all-time record for most consecutive weeks as the top-ranked male player.

• Earlier this year, when Federer won his third Australian Open title, he became the only male player to have won three separate Grand Slam tournaments three times.

• He is also the only player to have won both the Wimbledon and US Open singles titles in three consecutive years (2004-2006).

(source: scotsman)

Read Full Post »

Andy Murray may leave the decision over his Wimbledon participation until the weekend before the tournament begins.
Murray pulled out of the French Open and this week’s Artois Championships at Queen’s Club after damaging his wrist in the Hamburg Masters last month.

Murray has been in practice in the last 10 days, but he actually needs to play agaist somebody to decide whether he is fit or not. This is what he said:

“I’m not going into a match at Wimbledon without having played two or three sets of a practice match as hard as I can. If I’m ready for Wimbledon then great but if not I’ll get ready for the American hard court stretch.”

He injured his wrist during his match against Filippo Volandri in the first round of the Hamburg Masters on 15 May.
Though Murray did not break any bones, his wrist was inflamed and he was forced to wear a cast.

Meanwhile, five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg believes the nation’s expectations should not be too high should Murray play, all because Murray was injured and it is hard to come back from an injury.
Borg, who won five Wimbledon titles in a row between 1976 and 1980, believes the young Scot has the potential to win a major title next year.
He added that he likes Andy’s game and that he does not have any weaknesses and he can play on all kinds of surfaces.

Borg also ruled out the chances of former British number one Tim Henman, who was knocked out of Queen’s on Tuesday by wild card Marin Cilic.

He said: “Tim has done a lot for British tennis. He’s seen his best years, let’s face it. I wish him the best of luck at Wimbledon but I don’t think we should have too high expectations on Tim at Wimbledon.”

(source: BBC

Read Full Post »