Federer vs Borg. From Gerard. Thanks.
Posted by tennisplanet on September 2, 2008
…. duck season is over, but I will stick my head out, so don’t shoot Andy…. thanks too for your worthy reply and valid points and keeping alive this topic of great interest to me …..
Without allowing my opinion to rule the roost here (or whatever is the equivalent for ducks) and responding with as much objectivity and a void of bias from me as possible, I will top up my earlier 5 cents worth and double your 200 yen, to what you said and proposed in your response and in the politest way possible dispel the conjecture you put forward as weighing in Federer’s favour and I do so with conviction and a sense of ease in the reply ….. I have seriously studied both of these wonderful players in serious depth and awe and when opinion is totally removed and believe me when I say this, much to my surprise and again without any bias what-so-ever, Borg wins in every department … so let me have the pleasure to reply to your ‘check marks’ you assigned and correct their allocation.
I, in no way was penalising Borg in my comments, regrettably and with ignorance might I say, others do when they compare the depth of talent in his day to that of Federer’s today, as a way of making an argument and bolstering one versus another my comment was to be a balanced one in redirection … for those same Federer supporters the same argument will, I am sure one day be leveled as a way to promote a future players credentials and they will say the same irrelevant point against Federer that the depth of talent (true or not) in say 30 years is greater than in Federer’s day.
We who marvel at Federer now (and I am definitely one) will pooh-pooh that notion as an being irrelevant point, the talent Federer has is a gift and one that very few people have been blessed with and this talent is regardless of era and technological advances. Such rare talent with all other factors being equal in that regard, I am sure Federer would hold his own in any era and Federer fans would agree, I know I will.
So, it is with Borg, his records weren’t achieved by happenstance as being some person who just happened to pick up a tennis racquet one day, see others having a hit at Wimbledon and ask for a game and with much chagrin to those he played against win a few matches. Regardless of opinion and certainly not fact being used to lessen the quality of his 41 opponents in succession that he beat in his unbeaten run at Wimbledon, which Federer tied this year, I dismiss and totally do not agree that his 4th round opponents or any other round were any less a quality to that which goes around to day in the Grand Slams. Jose Higueras (Federer’s most recent coach), Fred Stolle, John Newcombe, Tim Gullikson, Tony Roche and so on and many other former greats are coaching and passing on their wisdom to the Federer’s and Agassi’s etc in todays tennis, these same players were around and playing tennis in Borg’s day. The respect that these few players I have mentioned have rightly earned amongst todays players as being truly former great players and it seems to me to rightly dismiss any notion of any of them being poor opponents and to me it is such disrespect to them that they would be adjudged by opinion only as being weak 3rd and 4th rounders. Add, Ken Rosewell, Wojtek Fibak, Gerulaitis, Vilas, Tanner, Curran, Connors, Brian Gottfried and I could give you a list of many more and that is without mentioning, McEnroe and Llendl. So, check mark can not at all go to Federer, sorry. Era of talent was just as strong in Borg’s day as it is today and in no ways is it weaker than todays … only the technology and speed of game that has been an evolutionary component of the game has changed and there would be no doubt that if these were a part of the game back in Borg’s day or earlier you would have still seen the same champion players rise to the top because of their champion qualities. So …. era and technology play no part at all I am sorry to say in this topic to preposterously lessen a Borg to a Federer in talent.
Spitz vs Phelps …. skin suits versus speedo togs/trunks, buoyant faster water, sports science and nutrition are some of the many advances in technology not available to Spitz in his day, but no one, even Phelps would lessen his qualities because of the 30 year era difference and the technological advances that come over time, nor his opposition. Nicholas Vs Woods in golf … one modern day great chasing a champion of a different era, we don’t hear of anyone attempting to diminish the greatness of Jack Nicholas champion qualities and downgrade him, because of era and technology or opponents.
So, check mark clearly goes to Borg for his superior statistics and winning ability in any period of his career to any period of Federer’s including Federer’s best 4 years. Did you realise that Borg’s best 4 years is superior to Federer’s. People will downplay Borg here because he didn’t play the Australian Open, the facts are that in all the tournaments he did play he won more often than Federer at his best. Hard to accept I know but he did.
The real reason to give Borg the tick on top of that is more a case of his utter and complete dominance in his time made that made his opponents look weaker than they were, that is the truth here. Like Federer has up until this year done excluding his rivalry with Nadal and the early rivalry with Hewitt, Federer has dominated the tennis world and the Phillippoussis’, Rafter’s, Henman’s, Nalbandians, Rodick’s, and Safins to name a few have been made to look a weaker player. So too did Borg dominate that much in his era that people incorrectly assume his opponents were weaker, Wrong. It was purely a case of Borg’s incredible and incomparable dominance that is the fact here, like Federer’s 4 year dominance, but Borg did it for 9 years, so you can see 9 years (Borg) vs 4 years (Federer) of domination wins, hence check mark definitely goes to Borg without an ounce of hesitation or reservation.
You correctly gave the 2nd check mark to Borg and any tennis follower will agree that Borg has had a mental toughness second to none. The consideration that a point here or there could have championed the call that Federer produced the greatest comeback ever didn’t happen, Nadal won. A point here or there has never won a Grand Slam, the final point wins it and until that match, the greatest ever match at Wimbledon has been considered by tennis greats the 1980 final between Borg and McEnroe and whether the 2008 final between Nadal and Federer is to match that one, opinion will decide. I have the official video in my keeping of that match in 1980 and have watched it many times and it loses nothing in comparison to this years final. Borg’s steely and icy resolve is unparalleled.
The third component that you attempted to give to Federer is the easiest one to dismiss. Conjecture and opinion with the utmost respect to you was all that you used …. no one (including me nor you) can say for sure whether Borg would have or not dominated for another 2,3 or more years after 1981. Remember he still won 90% of his matches in 1981 and made 3 Grand Slam finals, winning 1 and losing in the finals in the other 2 … then he retired. In my opinion that does not announce a forthcoming losing streak.
Retirement does not diminish in anyway Borg’s career, how could it. How many times have we heard champions should bow out at the top and similarly some players don’t know when they are past their prime. We want to remember the champions as winners and hopefully the slump Federer is experiencing this year will improve and re-right itself and with dignity allow him to bow out as the true champion he is and in a time of his choosing as Sampras did, however if he chooses to continue playing and this years results reproduce themselves then he has shot himself in the foot in the champions stakes, Borg didn’t he retired at the top. Michael Jordon possibly the greatest sports person who has ever lived retired and came back and once again won MVP awards and made a minnow team (Milwaukee I think) a champion team and his final retirement was as illustrious as any period in his career. The number 26 was retired and the legend lives on …. so does his Nike Air brand. Federer is at the cross roads of his career and the changing of the guards I believe has happened, Nadal and others have his measure. Not one player had a better for and against with Borg, only McEnroe went close with a 7 all match-up between them. Federer cannot say the same he is 6 – 13 with Nadal and the fact many of those wins are on clay is not a reason to deny Nadal that he does have superiority over Federer and now with his win on grass at Wimbledon and more recently on hard courts, Federer is no longer the number 1 player and possibly will struggle to as you said yourself have the same dominance he once did. So maybe Federer should have retired at 26 as Borg did and go out as a winner, it will be sad to see this years results become common place, he deserves better. So, credit should go to Borg for retiring at the top and allowing us to remember his pedigree as the greatest of his time and perhaps ever .
Ponder I have … and the result 3 check marks to Borg …. hope your Sunday morning was fine …. thanks again Andy for your passion and knowledgeable opinion, I love this topic ….. most readers won’t … too verbose is their call and to them I apologise but I just let it flow … over to you … remember i did double your bet and believe I collected…. lol