ATP Players

Bjorn Borg

Björn Rune Borg  (born June 6, 1956, in Stockholm, Sweden) is a former World No. 1 tennis player from Sweden regarded by some observers and tennis players as the greatest player in the sport's history. During a nine-year career, he won 41 percent of the Grand Slam singles tournaments he entered (11 of 27) and 89.8 percent of the Grand Slam singles matches he played. Both are male open era records. In addition, Borg's six French Open singles titles are an all-time record. He is the only player to have won both Wimbledon and the French Open in three consecutive years

Career overview

As a child growing up in Södertälje, a town near Stockholm, Borg became fascinated by a golden tennis racquet that his father had won as a prize at a table-tennis tournament. His father gave him the racquet, 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 against seasoned professional Onny Parun of New Zealand. Later that year, he won the Wimbledon junior singles title.

In 1973, Borg reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in his first attempt.

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, coming back from two sets down in the final to defeat Manuel Orantes 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. Barely 18 at the time, Borg was the youngest-ever male French Open champion (the record has since been lowered by Mats Wilander in 1982 and Michael Chang in 1989).

In early 1975, Borg played Rod Laver, then 36 years old, in a semifinal of the World Championship Tennis (WCT) finals in Dallas, Texas, which Borg won 7-6, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Borg lost to Arthur Ashe, another veteran of the tour, in the final.

Borg retained his French Open title in 1975, beating Guillermo Vilas in the final in straight sets. Borg then reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals, where he lost in four sets to Ashe, the eventual champion.

Borg also helped Sweden win its first ever Davis Cup title in 1975. 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 that still stands.

Borg swept through Wimbledon in 1976 without losing a set, defeating the much-favoured Ilie N?stase in the final. Borg became the youngest male Wimbledon champion of the modern era at 20 years and 1 month (a record broken by Boris Becker, who won Wimbledon aged 17 in 1985). Some speculate that Borg's surviving the first week of Wimbledon, when the courts were slick and fast, was the key to his success. This might have been due to the unusually hot conditions that summer. The courts played slower in the second week, which suited Borg's baseline game. Borg also reached the final of the 1976 U.S. Open, which was then being played on clay courts. Borg lost in four sets to world #1 Jimmy Connors.

Borg repeated his Wimbledon triumph in 1977, although this time he was pushed much harder. He won a close match over his good friend Vitas Gerulaitis in a semifinal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6. In the final, Borg was pushed to five sets for the third time in the tournament, this time by Connors. The win propelled Borg to the #1 ranking on the computer, albeit for just one week in August.

Borg was at the height of his career from 1978 through 1980, winning the French Open and Wimbledon all three years.

In 1978, Borg won straight-set finals over Vilas at the French Open and Connors at Wimbledon but was defeated in straight sets by Connors in the final of the U.S. Open, now held on hard courts in Flushing Meadow, New York. That autumn, Borg faced John McEnroe for the first time in a semifinal of the Stockholm Open (in the city of his birth) and was upset in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Borg did not drop a set at the 1978 French Open, a feat only he and Ilie Nastase have accomplished.

Borg lost to McEnroe again in four sets in the final of the 1979 WCT Finals but was now overtaking Connors for the top ranking. Borg established himself firmly in the top spot with his fourth French Open singles title and fourth straight Wimbledon singles title, defeating Connors in a straight-set semifinal at the latter tournament. At the French Open, Borg defeated big-serving Victor Pecci in a four-set final, and at Wimbledon, Borg took five sets to overcome an even bigger server, Roscoe Tanner. Borg was upset by Tanner at the U.S. Open, in a four-set quarterfinal played under the lights.

At the season-ending Masters tournament in January 1980, Borg survived a close semifinal against McEnroe 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 (7-3). He then beat Gerulaitis in straight sets, winning his first Masters and first title in New York. In June, he overcame Gerulaitis, again in straight sets, for his fifth French Open title. Again, he did not drop a set.

Borg won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon singles title in 1980 by defeating McEnroe in a five-set match often listed among the best Wimbledon finals ever played. In the fourth-set tie-break, McEnroe saved five match points and Borg six set points before McEnroe won the set. Borg then won 19 straight points on serve in the deciding set and prevailed after 3 hours, 53 minutes.

Borg lost to McEnroe in another five-set final, this one lasting 4 hours and 13 minutes, at the 1980 U.S. Open. He then defeated McEnroe in the final of the Stockholm Open, 6-3, 6-4, and faced him one more time that season, in the round-robin portion of the year-end Masters, played in January 1981. With 19,103 fans in attendance, Borg won a deciding third-set tie-break for the second year in a row, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6(3). Borg then defeated Ivan Lendl for his second Masters title, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Borg won what turned out to be his last Grand Slam title at the French Open in 1981, defeating Lendl in a five-set final. Borg's six French Open singles titles remains a record for a male player.

In reaching the Wimbledon final in 1981, Borg stretched his winning streak at the All England Club to a record 41 matches. In a semifinal, Borg was down to Connors by two sets to none before coming back to win the match 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. Borg's streak was brought to an end by McEnroe, who beat him in four sets.

Borg's last Grand Slam final was a four set loss to McEnroe at the 1981 U.S. Open.

By the end of 1981, Borg was on the verge of burn-out. In 1982, Borg played only one tournament, losing to Yannick Noah in the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo. Nevertheless, Borg's announcement in January 1983 that he was retiring from the game at the age of 26 was a shock to the tennis world.

Borg was ranked the World No. 1 in six different stretches between 1977 and 1981, totaling 109 weeks. Tennis commentators considered him as the best player from 1977 through 1980. During his career, he won a total of 77 (61 listed on the Association of Tennis Professionals website) top-level singles and four doubles titles.

Borg won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 1979.

Borg was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

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

In the early-1990s, Borg attempted a comeback on the men's professional tennis tour. This time around, however, he was completely unsuccessful. 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 low-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 delighted crowds by renewing his old rivalries with McEnroe, Connors, and Vilas.

In March 2006, Bonhams Auction House in London announced that it would auction Borg's Wimbledon trophies and two of his winning rackets on June 21, 2006.  Several players then called Borg wondering what he was thinking, but only McEnroe was able to make Borg reconsider. According to Dagens Nyheter – who had talked to Borg – McEnroe called from New York and asked, "What's up? Have you gone mad?" The conversation apparently persuaded Borg to buy out the trophies from Bonhams at an undisclosed amount.

In an TV advertisement first shown in August 2007, Borg and McEnroe parody their rivalry in an ad to promote UK supermarket Tesco's new "one in front" checkout opening policy.

On December 10, 2006, the British Broadcasting Corporation gave Borg a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Boris Becker.

Place among the all-time greats

Borg won the fourth most Grand Slam singles titles (11) of all time, behind Pete Sampras (14), Roy Emerson (12), and recently, Roger Federer (12). Among his other achievements are a record 89.8 Grand Slam match winning percentage (141-16) and a male open era record 41 winning percentage for Grand Slam tournaments played (11 of 27). The French-Wimbledon double he achieved three times consecutively was called by Wimbledon officials "the most difficult double in tennis" and "a feat considered impossible among today's players." No player has managed to achieve his double since – and indeed Andre Agassi is the only male player since Borg to win both the French Open and Wimbledon men's singles titles over the course of his career. Both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal came very close to winning the French Open-Wimbledon double by twice reaching the final of the French and Wimbledon (2006/2007), with the former winning wimbledon and the latter winning the French.

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. In 2003, Bud Collins chose Borg as one of his top-five male players of all time, and in 2006, Sergio Cruz, the Portuguese national champion who coached Jim Courier, explained why he believed Borg was the "undisputed best player ever."

Borg never won either the U.S. Open or the Australian Open, losing in the final at the U.S. Open four times. The only players to defeat Borg in a Grand Slam final were fellow World No. 1 tennis greats John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Borg chose to make the journey to the Australian Open only once, in 1974, where he lost in the third round. Borg has stated publicly that he would have attempted to complete the calendar year Grand Slam and played in the Australian Open had he succeeded in winning the first three Grand Slam tournaments of the year, which he never did. (During Borg's career, the Australian Open was the last Grand Slam tournament of each year.)

Playing style

Borg had one of the most unique playing styles in the open era. Borg played from the baseline, with powerful ground-strokes and a two-handed backhand (very rare at the time and unorthodox). He hit the ball hard and high from the back of the court and brought it down with considerable topspin, which made his ground-strokes very consistent. There had been other players, particularly Rod Laver and Arthur Ashe, who played with topspin on both the forehand and backhand. But Laver and Ashe only used topspin as a way to mix up their shots and pass their opponents at the net easily. Borg was one of the first top players to use heavy topspin on his shots consistently.

Complementing his consistent ground-strokes was his fitness. Both of these factors allowed Borg to be dominant at Roland Garros.

However, one of the feats that make Borg unique is his dominance on the grass courts of Wimbledon, where baseliners historically do not succeed. Experts attribute his dominance on grass to his consistency and an underrated serve.

Another trait usually associated with Borg is his grace under pressure. His calm court demeanor earned him the nickname of the "Ice Man" or "Ice-Borg". 

Borg's physical conditioning was legendary as he could outlast most of his opponents under the most grueling match conditions. He is the most famous athlete known to have bradycardia, with a heart rate at rest reported to be between 30 and 45 beats per minute.   

Borg is credited with helping to develop the style of play that has come to dominate the game today

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