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Bjorn in the USA: Borg and Bad Luck

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Elite Sport is a numbers game. Grand Slam success its valued currency.

In this regard; Paris and London proved rewarding, whilst New York short-changed him.

In a near-faultless seven-year service from 1974 through 1981, Bjorn Borg became unquestionably the biggest draw in World Tennis. During his reign, the reserved yet charismatic Swede contested no fewer than sixteen Grand Slam Finals. The feat all the more remarkable, when factoring-in his limited participation at the Australian Open – a solitary appearance in 1974.

Borg’s Slam Final appearances yielded six victories from six in Paris; five from six in London, yet nought from four in New York City. When evaluating his US Open ‘shortfall’, commentators fixate over a trio of possible hindrances. Commonly citing; the late-evening playing schedule, the Hard-Court surfaces and a partisan home crowd. That argument may carry credence in relation to his losses in 1976 and 1978 to Jimmy Connors, but less so when analysing his consecutive reversals in 1980 and ’81 to native New Yorker John McEnroe.

Throughout his glittering career Borg enjoyed relative Court superiority over rivals such as Connors, whereas McEnroe emerged as a bona-fide threat to his No.1 status in the Sport. Their epic 1980 Wimbledon Final a lasting testimony.

Born in Stockholm in June 1956, Borg’s game was grounded in baseline control. His vast array of groundstrokes facilitated long and debilitating exchanges with opponents, which routinely turned in his favour, courtesy off a sublime backhand passing shot, and/or top-spin lob.

The Clay Courts of Paris were his natural playground. His speed and durability around the Court was renowned, coupled with a never-say-die attitude reflected in a staggering 89% winning ratio in five-set matches, of 24 – 3.

Adaptability proved key on the Grass Courts of Wimbledon; where his Serve & Volley capabilities caught many opponents unawares, leading to the accumulation of five consecutive Singles Titles.

It seems inconceivable that he played his last competitive match aged 26, his retirement caused by burnout.

For the present-day players engaged in US Open action this weekend, Bjorn Borg’s immeasurable contribution to Sport and Culture, should never go unnoticed.

 

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Born in 1963, Peter attended St Mary's Leith High School. Peter worked within the plumbing industry before studying a degree in journalism within the University of Stirling. Peter has been a lifelong sports fan and has volunteered within the Edinburgh Soccer School's programme on numerous occasions.

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