Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg
One of the fiercest rivalries of the late 1970’s was between Sweden’s Bjorn Borg and the American, Jimmy Connors. The two dominated the top of the newly formed ATP ranking table for most of the late seventies and swopped the top spot with boring regularity.
Borg Reigns Supreme
But that was the only thing boring about the inordinate competition between these two greats of the game. They met only twenty one times during their tenure in professional tennis and it was the steely nerved combatant from Scandinavia who claimed the Lion’s share of the titles with 13 wins.
What made their regular clashes such good viewing was their very different personalities, both on and off the court. Borg was the epitome of control on court and seldom, if ever, showed any emotions whatsoever, whereas Connors was far more volatile and was often involved in incidences with both fans and officials alike.
The Ice Borg & Jimbo
Borg well deserved the witty nickname, ‘Ice Borg’ and will go down in the annals of tennis history as one of the most accomplished tennis players of all time, particularly on the difficult surfaces of clay and grass. Right up until Rafael Nadal claimed both the French and Wimbledon in 2008, Borg remained the only man to have won both the grand slams in Paris and London in the same year….and he did it twice!
Connors on the other hand was a spirited, emotional campaigner and he never had the natural reserves of talent to draw on that his arch rival, Borg had at his disposal. Many critics believe that Connors’ most formidable weapon wasn’t a single stroke, but his indomitable spirit that led him to conquer some of the best tennis players in the world.
He was also an extremely wilful and independent character who often ruffled the feathers of the organising bodies of the pro game and he was aggressive, both verbally and in his stroke play!
Perhaps it is poetic justice that the two campaigners of the courts share their four grand slam finals; Borg defeated the American on the grass of the All England Club twice, whereas Connors claimed the kudos in New York on two occasions.