1980 – 1981, Wimbledon

 Wimbledon, London
June 23, 1980; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $300,000; Surface – Grass

Wimbledon ’80 is one of the most memorable tennis events of all time due to the legendary final in which the four-time defending champion Bjorn Borg met his toughest challenger – John McEnroe. The best players of the world at the time, created magnificent show, featured by the longest tie-break in major finals, and one of the longest ever. The ice-cold Borg choked a bit in the 4th set in unusual style, but regained the composure in the decider and celebrated the triumph more emotionally than any other title in his amazing career.
All scorelines
  The compilation prepared based on articles written for the New York Times.
First round

The top-seeded Bjorn Borg, seeking a fifth consecutive men’s title, spent more time sitting out a 2-hour-38-minute rain delay than he did on center court in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 decision over Ismail El Shafei of Egypt. It was Borg’s 29th straight Wimbledon triumph, two shy of Rod Laver‘s record of 31, and the only interesting aspects of Borg’s performance were his serve-and-volley tactics and a mis-hit service return that shattered one of his wooden racquets. Normally content to roam the baseline, the 24-year-old Swede attacked to counter a soft, slow grass court. ”If you stay back,” he reasoned afterward, ”it is difficult to make the passing shot because the ball is so low.” The second-seeded John McEnroe anticipated a shootout with hard-serving Butch Walts on the No. 1 court. However, the 6-foot-4-inch Californian seemed almost as mellow as McEnroe’s temper and went quietly, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Returning to the center court after having missed this championship last year because of an injury, the flamboyant 33-year-old Romanian Ilie Nastase again proved that Wimbledon is his playground, even if he fails to fulfill his dream of winning one men’s singles crown. In a rematch with John Feaver of Britain after their stormy five-set Davis Cup match last week, Nastase repeated his victory, this time with surprising ease, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The scores were routine, but Nastase showed wonderful finesse and touch, and he added a vintage performance at the expense of the electronic eye. On one occasion, during a court changeover, tennis’s clown prince stood in front of the machine and dramatically dropped a ball, as if to see if the eye was properly lined up. He talked to the machine, lay down and stared into it and even walked over and shook his body in its direction. Afterward, more relaxed than he is likely to be with a second-round struggle against the winner of the Sandy Mayer-Dick Stockton match, Nastase said the machine had muffed several calls. Nastase’s antics were a welcome respite from the dark clouds and rain that allowed only 22 of the 64 men’s matches to be completed at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The women will begin play tomorrow.
One of the unfinished first-round matches involves 13th-seeded Wotjek Fibak of Poland and Mark Edmondson of Australia. Darkness suspended play after Fibak had rallied from three match points. Edmondson is a chunky, 25-year-old former Australian open champion who led Borg, two sets to none, in the second round here three years ago before faltering; he seems to lack a finishing touch. He led 5:1 today, let two match points escape serving at 5:4, 40/15 in the fourth set and then needlessly swatted a backhand service return into the net at 6:5 in the tiebreaker before he double-faulted and lost the set. The match was suspended by darkness at two-all in the fifth set. Today, Fibak almost let victory escape, nervously faulting first serves and volleying inconsistently to lose serve at 5:4 and 6:5 before holding on. The final scores was 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6), 10-8. Playing conditions seemed to shift the flow of the center-court match between Vijay Amritraj of India and 16th-seeded Jose-Luis Clerc of Argentina. Last year, the 6-foot-3-inch Amritraj led Borg by two sets to one and 3:2, 40/0, in their second-round match before Borg pulled it out in five sets. Today, Clerc, whose game often seems patterned after Borg’s, found himself trailing by two sets to love and 2:5 in the third set, overwhelmed by Amritraj’s serve and volley skills. The shot-making by both players was easily the most interesting of the tournament, particularly with the 26-year-old Amritraj attacking and Clerc in pursuit of the topspin passing shot from the baseline. But Clerc, who clearly is more at home around the baseline, seemed to gather fresh momentum from the dark clouds and faltering light. He struggled to win the match 1-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4. Few pros could muster any pleasantries over the foul weather. John Lloyd, who seldom has an unfavorable word for anyone, lost to his British rival, Buster Mottram, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, on a slippery field court that he said played more like clay than grass. ”I felt terrible,” Lloyd said afterward. ”It’s the worst. I was asleep out there.”

Second round

For drama, however, nothing rivaled John McEnroe‘s two-day, four-hour, five-set match against an obscure Australian, Terry Rocavert, on a choppy field court more suited to playing soccer than to serving and volleying. Despite his United States Open and Grand Prix Masters singles titles, the second-seeded McEnroe seems destined to hard labor at Wimbledon, and he would have been beaten today if the 24-year-old Rocavert had actually believed he had a chance. McEnroe escaped, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6(3), 6-3, even when Rocavert led, two sets to one, and had two serves in a 2-1 lead in the fourth set tiebreaker. There are dozens of Terry Rocaverts on the tour – pleasant, self-effacing young men who possess size, athletic skills and all of the basic strokes but who, for one reason or another, never quite make it. In Rocavert’s case, as he later explained, today, it was a lack of confidence. ”Never at any stage did I say I was going to win today,” he admitted. Rocavert’s concentration was not helped by his 11:45 A.M. arrival for the noon match. ‘‘I rang for an official car, to be at my flat at 10,” he explained, ”but they got the wrong address. At 10:45, I took a taxi, but the driver got lost.” Rocavert played well enough to win, serving smoothly and deeply in the Australian grass tradition and volleying into the corners. It was not until McEnroe took the fourth set tiebreaker, 7/3, and held service at 15 with an ace for 3:2 in the fifth set that Stacy Margolin, McEnroe’s girlfriend, could say, ”I think this is it.” The pressure clearly proved to be too much for Rocavert, who is ranked only 112th on the player computer and intends to give up tennis after this year because ” you have to be a certain type of person to fit into all of this. You are put up on a stand and people look at you. That’s what I have trouble with.” Serving before an overflow gallery around court No. 3, two cross-court returns backed Rocavert to 0/30. He double faulted to 0/40, saved two break points with winners but then committed a game-ending double fault. ”Do I like hard matches?” said the 21-year-old McEnroe, who served poorly in the first four sets but lost only 6 points in five service games of the final set. ”I’ll tell you at the end of the -borg-wb80tournament. That was almost the end.” Wimbledon has not been McEnroe’s cup of tea. He has done well here only once, in 1977 as a qualifier, reaching the semifinals when it was least expected. He lost to Erik Van Dillen in the first round of 1978 and bowed to Tim Gullikson in the round of 16 last year. By contrast, the top-seeded Bjorn Borg won his 30th consecutive Wimbledon singles match today and ended, for the moment, the Shlomo Glickstein saga. The scores were 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, and the 24-year-old Swede now needs only one more victory to equal Rod Laver’s string of tournament triumphs. Although not at Borg’s level, the 22-year-old Glickstein, who became Israel’s tennis ambassador with a surprising five-set victory over Raul Ramirez on Wednesday, was competitive. He showed a delicate drop-volley at the outset that gave Borg enough problems for other rivals to consider it as a tactical alternative on grass. Ilie Nastase outlasted Dick Stockton, 4-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, in a rain suspended match from last night that was resumed today in the fourth set, with the 33-year-old Romanian leading, 5:1. However, Nastase’s second-round heroics (he will next face seventh-seeded Peter Fleming) were overshadowed by other events that have kept him on the front pages of the city’s tabloids all week and are affecting his concentration, according to Mitch Oprea, a close friend. It was not a good day on the home front, however. Besides Miss Barker, Buster Mottram, the British No. 1, player, was beaten by Nick Saviano, a 24-year-old American who is only number 102 on the player computer but may be first in hours spent on each match on Wimbledon lawns. Three years ago, Saviano and Fred McNair played a first-round match that took five sets, four hours and 77 games to decide, with McNair winning (6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 8-9, 16-14 saving a triple match point on return!). Saviano went almost that long today before defeating Mottram, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 4-6, 13-11.

Third round

Phil Dent‘s 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Victor Pecci was a reversal of their second-round match here last year, which Pecci took in straight sets (6-4, 7-6, 6-3). But grass courts have been Dent’s cup of tea since his Australian childhood, and he said confidently, ”I usually do well here.” Even Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors tasted the loss of tiebreakers before surviving the first week of the fortnight, although the second-seeded John McEnroe was an impressive 6-0, 7-6, 6-1 winner over Tom Okker. ”Court 2 is an equalizer,” the defending champion Borg said of the atmosphere and different court conditions that seem to inhibit those stars who thrive on the showcase courts. ”I don’t think I would have lost a set on court 1 or the center.” He found surprising resistance from Rod Frawley, a 27-year-old Australian, before winning, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-1, 7-5, and equaling Rod Laver’s 31-match string of triumphs here. The third-seeded Connors was blitzed in an opening tiebreaker by Heinz Gunthardt of Switzerland before settling in to win, 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.  ”I was sort of bewildered to get the ball in play,” Connors said, after Gunthardt had opened the tiebreaker with a winning drop volley and an ace. The flurry of activity put nine American men and nine American women, with two qualifiers, Onny Parun of New Zealand and Kevin Curren of South Africa, in the last 16. Ilie Nastase’s stormy holiday ended in a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 loss to seventh-seeded Peter Fleming, and Nick Saviano clearly established himself as Wimbledon’s marathon man.
One day after he had endured four hours and 69 games to outlast Buster Mottram, the 24-year-old Saviano fought through 62 games and stopped the ninth-seeded Pat DuPre, 7-6, 1-6, 4-6, 7-5, 11-9. Saviano is ranked only 102nd in the player computer ranking and will probably not win Wimbledon. He may not even survive his next match against Roscoe Tanner, but he is a symbol of what the game can produce to those who sincerely struggle. Besides DuPre, the other seeded men to fall were Victor Pecci of Paraguay, No. 8; Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia, 10; Stan Smith, 15, and Jose-Luis Clerc of Argentina, 16. However, a case could have been made ahead of time for each of their conquerors, particularly when computer numbers often overshadow other realities in the seeding. Phil Dent‘s 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Pecci was a reversal of their second-round match here last year, which Pecci took in straight sets. But grass courts have been Dent’s cup of tea since his Australian childhood, and he said confidently, ”I usually do well here.” Pity poor Lendl. Seeded here for the first time, the promising 20-year-old drew one of the hardest servers, Colin Dibley, on an afternoon when the Australian’s thunder was the dominant weapon on a choppy No. 2 court that yielded bad bounces and catered to big hitters. Lendl had 3 set points that could have sent the match into a fifth set. Then, down match point at 9:10 in the tiebreaker, he broke a string on his first serve. He changed racquets, but served a match ending double fault and lost, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(9). Lendl is not yet the new Borg. Brian Gottfried, 28, had five years on the older Smith in their 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 match. The 33-year-old Parun’s 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision over Clerc again proved that an older, more experienced grass player (Parun reached the quarterfinals in 1971) could handle a younger pro whose background was primarily on clay. Parun, back on the circuit after a fourth neck operation, also showed his patience in the third set when the match was delayed 15 minutes to repair a broken net strap. Clerc is ranked 19th, Parun 150th; so much for computers.

Fourth round

Bjorn Borg can do no wrong at Wimbledon. Not even damp, dreary weather could keep the 24-year-old Swede from achieving another tournament milestone today, this one at the expense of his boyhood idol, Rod Laver. The top-seeded Borg beat Balazs Taroczy of Hungary, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2, for his 32d consecutive Wimbledon singles victory, breaking Laver’s record of 31. “When I started to play tennis at 9 years old, Laver was my idol,” Borg recalled, after having fulfilled one of his championship goals in the two-week tournament. ”To beat this kind of record, especially with Laver involved, when you look at his overall record with two Grand Slams, that’s why it means so much to me.” Wojtek Fibak‘s 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 8-6 triumph over the fourth-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis may have been another stroke of good fortune for Borg, who is in pursuit of a fifth successive title. Given a reprieve by rain and darkness at 3-6, 3:5 last night, the 13th-seeded Fibak rebounded aggressively for a berth in tomorrow’s quarterfinals against unseeded Brian Gottfried. Gerulaitis served 12 double faults and allowed the 13th-seeded Fibak to shift the momentum of their match. At times, the pro from Kings Point, L.I., seemed as uncomfortable on the center court as the officials who huddled under the mauve and green blankets in the royal box to escape the chill and wind gusts. By contrast, Fibak was delighted with a second chance. And just as he had fought back from 3 match points to win a darkness-delayed first-round match against Mark Edmondson, he reversed his five-set loss to Gerulaitis in the French quarterfinals a month ago  (Gerulaitis won 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; he had also won their other 5-setter in Dallas ’77) and reached the last eight here for the first time. The match was filled with subtle overtones. To begin with, the two were not on speaking terms over remarks they declined to discuss, even though they shook hands afterward. In addition to the late starting time, the match was halted by rain for 55 minutes, with Gerulaitis about to serve at 5:6 in the fifth set, after he had saved a match point at 4:5, 30/40. Gerulaitis held to 6-all, but then lost 2 break points when Fibak survived from 15/40. With the wind gusting so strongly that he had to pause on his serves, Gerulaitis lost the three-hour struggle on the fourth match point, as Fibak hammered a forehand return of a second serve down the line that the American volleyed off the wood. No one seemed happy with the continually poor weather. ”The only problem is everyone hanging around, which is worse,” said Borg, who seemed assured of at least one rest day if he could survive against Mayer. ”There is nothing you can do. I was lucky to finish my match today. Just to hang around, it’s the worst.” Jimmy Connors has a more difficult problem. The third-seeded left-hander beat Hank Pfister, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6, in a fourth-round match that took three days to complete because of scheduling complications and the foul weather.
In the men’s competition, fifth-seeded Roscoe Tanner ended Nick Saviano‘s unseeded fling, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The ease with which Brian Gottfried disposed of Phil Dent, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, suggested that perhaps Gottfried would play better if he were unseeded and unpressured every year. The 28-year-old American is the only one among the men who has not lost a set. Gene Mayer had a long battle with Colin Dibley, recovering from 1-2 in sets to win by 3-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. The second-seeded John McEnroe and his doubles partner, Peter Fleming, also seemed close enough to assure a meeting in the last eight. McEnroe led Kevin Curren of South Africa, two-sets-to-love, 3-all, while the seventh seeded Fleming, in his strongest run in any of the major championships, was 3 points from victory against Onny Parun of New Zealand at 4:1 in the fourth-set tiebreaker. McEnroe won 7-5, 7-6(4), 7-6(4); Fleming 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(8), 7-6(4).


Three years ago, Brian Gottfried was as high as No. 3 in the world rankings, below only Borg and Jimmy Connors. However, he changed racquets, lost a few close finals and confidence in his serve and volley. His wife, Windy, knew when he would lose a match by the way he walked on court.
Unseeded and only 28th in the ranking before the tournament, the pleasant, self-effacing Floridian added Wojtek Fibak of Poland to his list of victims today, a list that included Phil Dent, Stan Smith and Chris Lewis. The scores were 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-2, commendable in view of Fibak’s five-set upset of Vitas Gerulaitis yesterday. ”I’ve been watching a lot of three-set matches,” Mrs. Gottfried said afterward, ”and it’s been a real treat.” If the 28-year-old Gottfried volleys as crisply and as confidently against Borg as he did while destroying Fibak, 7 points to 2, in the second-set tiebreaker, the top-seeded Swede may finally have a serious test in what has otherwise been a perfect draw for him. Sixth-seeded Gene Mayer, the first seeded player Bjorn Borg faced, had one chance today, serving at 5:4, 40/30 in the first set. Then Borg delivered one of his million-dollar shots, a cross-court backhand winner off a flat first serve. From there, Borg broke and went on to win comfortably, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5, despite a fall in the first game of the second set that prompted a double fault. Wherever he goes, Jimmy Connors carries with him the values of the hard-working small town in the Midwest where he was born and raised. ”My tradition is East St. Louis, Ill.,” said the left-hander, who is playing catch-up tennis at his ninth Wimbledon in both the seedings and the scheduling. After having beaten Roscoe Tanner, despite an awful 1st set, 1-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, in today’s quarterfinal, the third-seeded Connors next faces John McEnroe tomorrow for a place in Saturday’s final against Bjorn Borg. With McEnroe not scheduled today and Borg off tomorrow, only Connors faces the prospect of a championship match without a day of rest because his matches were delayed during the soggy first eight days of the tournament. ”It’s not my fault and it’s not their fault,” Connors said. ”It’s the rain’s fault. I just happened to be on the short end of the stick. I’m fit enough to play five sets today, five sets tomorrow and five sets the next day. It’s my job to be in good shape. I’m not going to make a fuss.” Connors reckons that the 2 hours 37 minutes he spent today against Tanner’s 140-mile-an-hour left-handed serve was perfect practice for the second-seeded McEnroe. Starting in the 4th set, Connors said, his return of service was firm on both sides and as effective as it has been this fortnight. ”I didn’t miss any unless it boomed right by me,” he said. Connors predicted some appropriate fireworks when he and McEnroe square off in their semifinal match. Both fiery Americans, however, have behaved rather mildly here and have been cheered heartily by the staid English crowd that usually disapproves of them. The second-seeded John McEnroe eliminated his doubles partner, Peter Fleming, No. 7, with surprising ease, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, and will benefit from a day of rest.


The first semifinal was played followed by the Connors’ quarterfinal. Bjorn Borg notched 34th consecutive Wimbledon singles victory, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 decision over Brian Gottfried. Gottfried gave Borg enough of a workout to prove that he has regained serve-and-volley consistency and become competitive again, after a frustrating two-year dry spell that did not end until this spring. Borg prevailed because he mustered enough big serves, teasingly dipping passing shots and surprisingly effective first volleys to escape 0/30, 15/30 and 30/40 deficits at various stages of the first and third sets. There was never any doubt of Borg’s superiority. Each time the unseeded, 28-year-old American threw up some resistance, as when he stubbornly saved 5 set points with Borg serving at 5:2 in the third set, the Swede asserted himself, using serve and volley, if only to give Connors and McEnroe another look, impress the traditionalists, or perhaps challenge himself like a painter seeking fresh stylistic frontiers. ”Everyone says that he can’t volley because his ground strokes are so good,” Gottfried later said. ”He has learned how to volley. It is not textbook, but who cares. It is such hard work playing against him. So many balls come back. It’s like taking too many body punches. You are tired by the end.” John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors staged their own Independence Day fireworks on the center court at the Wimbledon tennis championships today, with McEnroe winning in four sets for a berth against the top-seeded Bjorn Borg in the men’s singles final tomorrow. The scores were 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Three years ago, Connors, then top-seeded, beat a youthful, unseeded McEnroe in the semifinals here, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The reversal today, by almost the same number of games, was an indication of McEnroe’s progress from a promising 18-year-old junior to a second-seeded professional ready to challenge Borg’s four-year lock on this fortnight event. Another element that has changed over the years is the relationship between Connors and McEnroe. Three years ago, the left-hander from Douglaston, Queens, spoke in awe of his first meeting against Connors, saying he would be grateful to win a set, which he did. Today, the two high-strung Americans created enough fuss during their match to bring a ”public warning” from the umpire (against McEnroe), an appearance by Fred Hoyles, the referee (on McEnroe’s request), and several obscene gestures and caustic exchanges between the players. Yankee Doodle Dandies they were not. At one point in the 3-hour-5-minute match, after Connors had become annoyed with McEnroe for disputing a service call, the 27-year-old left-hander shook his finger and told McEnroe, ”Keep your mouth shut out here.” The comment only set off McEnroe, who shot back his own verbal volleys and then later said, ‘It’s an unwritten law: players don’t talk to each other on the court.’ The match today was their 15th. Connors leads in the series, 10-5, and McEnroe admitted: ”I guess we’re not great friends on the court. We don’t go out for dinner too often.” Their rivalry does produce interesting, and often entertaining, moments, even if the match today lacked some of the technical brilliance of previous encounters. Connors did not serve well and thus was more effective in trying to break McEnroe’s high kicking serve -which produced 13 aces – then he was in holding his own.


Bjorn Borg posted a five-set victory over John McEnroe today that not only gave the Swede his fifth consecutive Wimbledon singles title but also gave tennis followers something to cherish long after both players have left the sport. Like well-conditioned fighters, they traded shots for 3 hours 53 minutes on the center court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The top-seeded Borg won, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(16), 8-6, only after the determined second-seeded McEnroe had saved 7 match points in the fourth set, including 5 in a dramatic 34-point tiebreaker that will stand by itself as a patch of excellence in the game’s history. “Electrifying,” said Fred Stolle, a former Australian great, of the tiebreaker that the 21-year-old McEnroe finally won, 18 points to 16, to deadlock the match, after Borg had earlier lost 2 match points on serve at 5:4, 40/15. If this marathon was not the greatest major championship final ever played – and tennis historians treasure the past with reverence – it ranked as one of the most exciting. Lance Tingay of The London Daily Telegraph, who was watching his 43rd final here, put it at the top of his Wimbledon list. ”For sure, it is the best match I have ever played at Wimbledon,” said the 24-year-old Borg, who now has won a record 35 singles matches in a row here, including five-set finals from Jimmy Connors in 1977 and Roscoe Tanner last year. Connors and Tanner, like McEnroe, are left-handers. This one was more a struggle of indomitable wills that would not buckle, even under the normally strenuous circumstances of a championship final. Heightening the drama were the contrasting playing styles and personalities of the participants – Borg, the stolid, silent man of movement, and McEnroe, the brash, aggressive serve-and-volleyer, dubbed by one Fleet Street tabloid as ”Mr. Volcano” for his outbursts during yesterday’s stormy four-set triumph over Connors in the semifinals. McEnroe spoke only with his racquet and spirit today, flooring Borg with his kicking serve and deep first volleys for almost two sets and then defying the Swede’s attempt to close out the match in the fourth set. That Borg lost the fourth set and then played one of the best sets of his career, losing only three points in seven service games, reaffirmed the notion that he must be ranked alongside Rod Laver and Bill Tilden among the sport’s greatest champions. ”He’s gone through every kind of testing,” Roger Taylor, a British player during Laver’s reign, said of Borg. ”If you were going to find any chinks, this would have been it today.” Borg found the winning weapons in his serve and two-handed backhand. Both spoke with authority at different stages. Until he broke McEnroe for the first time in the 12th game of the second set, the Swede had never even held a 30/15 lead. At 3-all in the second set, 14 of McEnroe’s first 41 points on serve, or one in three, were won by aces, service winners or errant returns. However, Borg made the one brilliant shot that shifted the tempo. It was a backhand service-return winner down the line that gave him a double set point in the 12th game. Throughout the rain-delayed fortnight, even in winning his first six matches comfortably, Born had been frustrated on his two-handed backhand because of soft grass courts that yielded low bounces.  ”In the semifinal against Brian,” Borg said of his four-set victory over the unseeded Brian Gottfried, ”I started to play the shot well.” Borg and McEnroe served well enough, getting in more than 60 percent of their first balls, to minimize the chance of breaks. Borg broke for a 2:0 lead in the 3rd set by running around a second serve and hammering a cross-court forehand. He held for 5:2 after a 20-point game (7 deuces) in which McEnroe had five break points. An off-speed cross-court backhand, which McEnroe volleyed into the net, and another backhand cross-court service return gave Borg another break for 5:4 in the 4th set. The match seemed over, but Borg proved that he, like others, was still only human. Sensing the second leg of the Grand Slam (he won the French open for the fifth time last month without dropping a set) in his grasp, the Swede succumbed to nerves. The pace suddenly went off his flat first serve, he volleyed tentatively and McEnroe climbed back from double match point to 5-all with a backhand cross-court service return winner. The tie-breaker took 22 minutes (!), only five less than the entire first set. It was fiercely contested, with both lunging, stretching and sometimes sprawling onto the scarred turf for shots. Borg had his third match point, with McEnroe serving at 5:6. Although playing in his first Wimbledon final, the left-hander from Douglaston, Queens saved himself with a forehand volley that died on the grass, after Born had made a thunderous forehand return of his second serve. McEnroe finally got his first set point at 8:7. This time Borg drove a forehand return of serve down the line. McEnroe dived in vain, tumbling to the ground. Match points and set points were played on almost every succeeding point, in a blur of brilliance. That they had already struggled for three hours was of little consequence: they hammered first serves, attacked, scrambled, sometimes missing the lines by inches, other times splattering chalk. McEnroe took the advantage in the tiebreaker, 17:16*, when Borg, apparently still thinking about the lost match points in the 10th game, drove a forehand return wide by inches. The American then deadlocked the match on his seventh set point, when Borg, attacking off serve, netted a forehand volley. Under such strain, a less-composed player might have let the match slip away. More than any other single factor, however, concentration is the key that unlocks Borg’s treasures. The fifth set showed his genius. Although losing the first two points, Borg continued to tell himself, ”Don’t get up, don’t get tight.” He did not lose another point on serve until the 10th game, an incredible string of 19 points in a row. Meanwhile, McEnroe had to battle to hold serve from 0/40 in the second game and again from 0/40 to reach 4-all. The strain of yesterday’s match with Connors and the following doubles match that he and Peter Fleming admittedly gave away to avoid further physical strain on McEnroe apparently was taking its toll. The end came swiftly. From 15-all, Borg again ran around McEnroe’s second serve and drove a forehand return down the line, inches inside. McEnroe anticipated Borg’s flicking backhand cross-court at 15/30, but hurriedly netted a forehand volley. The match wound up, perhaps almost fittingly, with the two throwing their favorite punches. McEnroe, attacking off a second serve, punched a forehand volley into the corner. Borg countered with the backhand cross-court winner. Borg collected $50,000 and made his score 82 victories in his last 84 singles matches since last year’s Wimbledon final. His only losses have been to Tanner at the United States Open, which McEnroe won last September, and to Guillermo Vilas in the recent Nations Cup. His goal, he says, is to leave the sport as No. 1 of all time. He already has achieved that distinction at Wimbledon. The records show that H. Laure Doherty won five titles between 1902 and 1906 and William Renshaw took six from 1881 to 1886. But those crowns were won during an era when defending champions played fewer matches. To be precise it was a time when so-called “challenge-round” obligated, so it means the champions of the previous year’s competition were automatically placed into the final (years 1878-1922). Stats of the final


Wimbledon, London
June 22, 1981; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $450,000; Surface – Grass

Borg loses his 41-match winning streak at Wimbledon (the longest winning streak at majors in the Open era) and never appears in London as a player again.
All scorelines
First round:

John McEnroe lost his temper and survived, but Ivan Lendl, Victor Pecci and Yannick Noah were stunned by unheralded players today in a rousing start to the 95th Wimbledon tennis championships. As a warm sun and 74-degree temperatures helped to bring a crowd of 29,852 to the All England Club, top-seeded Bjorn Borg delivered another surprise by saying that winning his first United States Open title was more important to him than a sixth successive Wimbledon title. Soon after he had defeated Peter Rennert of Los Angeles in the traditional opening match on the center court, 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-1, for his 36th straight victory here, Borg said, ”As long as I stay in the game, my biggest ambition is to win the U.S. Open.” If that candor and the upsets did not shake some of Wimbledon’s mauve and green club roots, McEnroe’s stormy victory did. He put himself in the tournament doghouse for the rest of the two-week run during his 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-3 decision over Tom Gullikson. McEnroe, who is seeded second, left England last summer as a hero after having battled Borg in a memorable five-set final. Today he smashed two racquets, lost 2 points on penalties, called the umpire, Edward James, an ”incompetent fool” and then uttered a four-letter expletive during a final confrontation with Fred Hoyles, the referee. ”It’s never going to fancutt_lendl_wb81end,” McEnroe said, when asked where he would draw the line in his persistent disputes. ”It’s only going to end when I change completely on the court.” The end came unexpectedly for Lendl, Pecci and Noah, seeded players whose reputations and high rankings have come on surfaces other than slickly manicured grass. Less than three weeks after he had lost a close five-set final to Borg in the French Open, and only 24 hours after he had described his attitude for Wimbledon as perfect, Lendl was ousted by Charlie Fancutt, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Fancutt, ranked only 194th, is a 22-year-old, muscular 6-footer and a former junior rival of Lendl, who was seeded fourth. The Australian broke for 4:2 in the final set with two service return placements down the line, a backhand volley winner and Lendl’s game-ending double fault. He served out the match confidently and aggressively. ”I had trouble sleeping last night because I thought I had a good chance to win,” said Fancutt, whose father, Trevor, and mother, the former Daphne Seeney, were international players. Fancutt used an oversized Prince racquet. So did Eric Fromm, who buried Noah, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, with running forehand passing shots, skillful spin serves wide to Noah’s forehand, and aggressive volleys. ”Maybe I was watching too much the quarterfinals and last 16,” said Noah, the Frenchman who was seeded 13th. He was referring to a section of the draw that had opened considerably with the withdrawal last week of fifth-seeded scanlon_pecci_wb80Gene Mayer because of a wrist injury. The losses by Lendl, Noah and Paraguay’s Pecci, the 11th-seeded player who inexplicably dropped 12 straight games in his 7-6, 6-0, 6-0 defeat by Bill Scanlon, left the bottom half of the draw virtually free for a McEnroe-Tanner semifinal. One possible unseeded threat was Sandy Mayer, who out-dueled the Romanian Ilie Nastase, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, on the same field court where he had beaten the then top-seeded Nastase eight years ago. The McEnroe-Gullikson match had the No. 1 court in an uproar. McEnroe was admittedly nervous, and he took his edginess out on his racquets, the linesmen, the umpire, the referee and the crowd. After having survived an opening-set tiebreaker, and after several exchanges with the umpire over a line call at 4:5 in the second set, McEnroe came apart with Gullikson serving at 1:1, 15/30. A service-line call brought him to midcourt for another joust with James. ”You guys have got to be the absolute pits of the world,” McEnroe said, walking back to the baseline. His barrage brought him a point penalty. He went up to the net again, shouted at James, ”You incompetent fool!” and asked for Hoyles. He and Hoyles conferred at midcourt. ”You can’t award a point penalty for nothing,” McEnroe said, while his father, John P. McEnroe Sr., a New York lawyer, watched from the stands. McEnroe leveled his final salvo at Hoyles – an expletive – on the court changeover, after Gullikson had held serve. ”It was a fourletter word,” said Hoyles, who penalized McEnroe the first point of the fourth game. ”I can’t repeat it, but it was sufficiently insulting for me to take action.” Gullikson, a quiet player who ranks 40th, said he was offended by McEnroe’s behavior. ”It has no place,” he said. ”Everyone’s afraid of these guys. All it would take is one default to put them in line. If it was the 120th player in the world, they would have defaulted him.” Shaky Moments for Borg Borg had some early shaky moments against Rennert, a bearded left-hander. He served three double faults in the fourth game, which went to six deuces, but hung on and took the first-set tiebreaker. Among the other seeded players, Jimmy Connors, No. 3, lost only seven games to Dick Stockton, but Jose-Luis Clerc of Argentina, No. 9, another clay-court specialist who seemed uncomfortable on the grass here, came from match point at 5:6 in the 5th set to defeat Alvaro Fillol of Chile. Fillol, the younger brother of Jaime, seemed poised for the kill when, with Clerc serving at 30/40 and on the defensive, he moved in for a backhand approach shot down the line. But in his haste to see where his shot was going, Fillol lifted his head too quickly, the shot sailed inches long, and Clerc held and escaped, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 9-7. It was the only match in the 1981 edition that went beyond 6-all in the deciding set… A Grand Slam debutant from Sweden (7th main-level tournament),  Mats Wilander, at the age of 16 years and 10 months, became the toungest Open era player to win a match at Wimbledon as he defeated John Austin 6-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Wilander’s record will be overcome by Boris Becker three years later.

Second round:

Rain arrived at Wimbledon today, but not before Bjorn Borg reached the third round with straight-set victory and John McEnroe received a surprisingly cheerful reception on the center court during a 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(6)  win over Raul Ramirez in 3 hours 40 minutes. Only 17 singles matches were completed – 13 among the women – before a second prolonged shower halted play in the early evening. Borg beat Mel Purcell, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, for his 37th consecutive Wimbledon victory. The moment awaited most by many of the 35,331 spectators was McEnroe’s return to the scene of his five-set final against Borg last year. Yesterday McEnroe was fined $1,500 and threatened with suspension for his opening-day tantrums. Four years ago, during Wimbledon’s centennial celebration, Jimmy Connors drew a rare chorus of boos and hisses at the center court for having skipped the tournament’s parade of champions. With McEnroe’s name and face on television and the front pages of every newspaper – wrongfully in some cases for a speeding ticket issued not to him yesterday, but to his doubles partner, Peter Fleming – his second round match with Ramirez of Mexico attracted more than routine interest. Cheers drowned out the few boos as the two entered the court. The Duchess of Kent, seated in the royal box with her husband, the Duke, applauded enthusiastically as the players bowed. McEnroe won the first set, courting the crowd with finesse and his customary serve-and-volley aggression. He lobbed skillfully three times against an attacking rival in the second game, and he flicked offspeed backhands on the run with mcenroe_wb81such angle and delicacy that a diving Ramirez could not save a break point in the fourth game. McEnroe was conscious of controlling his emotions. ”I’ve never seen him so down as he’s been in the last couple of days,” said Fleming. On the first point of the eighth game, Ramirez’s serve appeared long, and McEnroe put his hands on his hips after losing the point. But instead of orally assaulting the umpire, as he had done over questionable service calls on opening day, he simply walked to the receiving position. Ramirez, who has not taken a set from McEnroe in four meetings over two years, found his rhythm and held 2 set points, with McEnroe serving at 4:5 in the 2nd set. But Ramirez’s backhand cross-court pass landed wide, and McEnroe saved the next point with a service winner, after which play was suspended at 5-all. After the resumption Ramirez took the 2nd set saving a set point in the tie-break, and had a triple set point leading 5:4* (40/0) in the 4th set, he blew the fourth set point in the tie-break. The McEnroe incident apparently heightened tensions between players and officials. The 300 umpires, summoned to a meeting before the 2 P.M. start of play today, were urged to enforce the code of conduct and instructed not to discuss their decisions with the news media. The first player to feel the squeeze was Fleming, who drew a warning and then a point penalty for ”mocking an official” in the second set of his match with Tim Gullikson, the twin brother of Tom, McEnroe’s first-round opponent. The match was suspended at 5-all in the third set, with the players having split the first two sets. Fleming said he had been penalized for ”jumping up and down,” not for protesting a call. He said the umpire had made a correct call on a service let-cord, ”and I couldn’t believe it after all the other bad calls.” He termed the point penalty ”perfectly fair.” Gullikson won the match 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3. Jimmy Connors was concerned with digging out bad bounces on a scarred No. 2 court that was beginning to live up to its nickname of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Unable to lob effectively, he was carried to two tiebreaker sets by Chris Lewis of New Zealand before the match was suspended with Connors leading, 7-6, 7-6, 1-2. After trailing, 1-2, in the opening tiebreaker, Connors ran off 6 straight points, helped by his opponent’s double faults. Lewis served for the second set at 5:4, only to lose the game at love and the tiebreaker, 10/8. After the resumption Connors took the 3rd set 6-3. Victor Amaya, a 6’7 left-hander, eliminated Britain’s No. 1 player, Buster Mottram, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Amaya’s presence is significant because he will face the winner of the Vitas Gerulaitis-Kevin Curren match, with that survivor probably paired with Borg in the round of 16. In 1978 Amaya led Borg, two sets to one and 3:1, 40/30, but let him escape in five sets. Borg, seeking his sixth straight title here, managed to complete his match with Purcell after a 43-minute rain delay at 2:3 in the third set. ”I feel much better, more comfortable,” Borg said.

Third round:

Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors won in straight sets on the center and No. 1 courts, each sweeping their last sets at love. Rolf Gehring of West Germany served for the 2nd set at 5:3 (30/15) before the top-seeded Borg ran off 10 straight games for his 38th consecutive Wimbledon victory (6-4, 7-5, 6-0). But the stars were overshadowed somewhat by such players as Tim mayotte_wb81fitzgerald_wb81Mayotte, a 20-year-old national collegiate champion from Stanford, and John Fitzgerald, a 20-year-old Australian from a tiny southern farming hamlet called Cockaleechie. “A year ago I could have seen myself as a farmer, but not any more”, Fitzgerald said. His serve-and-volley game is more impressive than his No. 81 ranking, as he again showed in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 performance against the Swedish teenager Mats Wilander. Mayotte, an imposing 6’3 180-pounder, defeated John Sadri 7-6, 6-3, 7-5. Mayotte is ranked 110; Sadri is No. 21. But on the grass courts, where serve and volley and momentum cannot be programmed, the results are unpredictable. This factor was also evident in Paul Kronk‘s 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 surprise over Jose-Luis Clerc. Perhaps dulled from a difficult four-setter on the center court yesterday against John Lloyd, Clerc could not sustain his attacking game against Kronk, a 26-year-old Australian who is rated 95th; Clerc is ranked 6th. Sandy Mayer won with a superb touch the decisive set against Fritz Buehning, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 – the match was rescheduled from Court 9 to Court 17, the equivalent of Devil’s Island, in the most inconspicuous spot in the grounds. Despite being warned for throwing his racquet after being assessed a foot fault on a second serve that cost him the 3rd set, Vitas Gerulaitis survived a 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 scare from Victor Amaya. Gerulaitis practiced with his next opponent Borg almost daily for the last few weeks but remains 0-17 in their match rivalry. “Today was the last practice,” said Borg when asked whether he would hit with Gerulaitis tomorrow, “I’ll have to find another partner”. Connors demolished Tony Giammalva 6-4, 6-4, 6-0, McEnroe dropped two games fewer against Robert Lutz.

Fourth round:

As the crowd of 31,473 helped swell attendance at the All England Club to a first week record of 205, 460, an unseeded 20-year-old American, Tim Mayotte joined the best players in the world by stopping Sandy Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. “I feel comfortable with the people and the atmosphere,” said Mayotte, who turned pro last week and is making his Wimbledon debut. “When you win a lot of matches in a row, you feel you can come through on the big points.” Locked in another challenging center-court duel with his friend and long-time practice partner, Vitas Gerulaitis, top-seeded Bjorn Borg took two tie-breaks in their 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(6) match. In doing so, Borg mcnamara_wb81demonstrated that he is sharpening his first serve and passing-shot for a serious run at a sixth straight singles crown here. “You have to be a little bir lucky, too” Borg said, assessing the significance of tie-breaks. Gerulaitis saved two match points from 4:6 in the second tie-break, but Borg took it passing Gerulaitis off a firsy volley thtat they probably played thousands of times in practice. Borg’s next opponent will be Peter McNamara, who also needed a pair of tie-breaks to end Jeff Borowiak‘s engaging first week. McNamara’s punishing serve-and-volley skills prevailed with a 7-6(6), 6-0, 7-6(6) scoreline. Like Borg, Jimmy Connors has not lost a set in four matches. he dropped his serve only once during a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Wojtek Fibak. John McEnroe‘s 7-5, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over veteran, 35-year-old form champion Stan Smith, was less artistic. McEnroe was the first to admit that all the components of his game are not yet in place to win the tournament. “I feel I’m hitting the ball a little bit better and returning better”, McEnroe said, “But I’m not serving well enough, and you can’t win tournaments unless your serve is good.”


frawley_wb81They were ready to bury Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon today, but he left the center court a five-set winner over Vijay Amritraj and with spot in the semifinals against Bjorn Borg. Second-seeded John McEnroe and Rod Frawley joined Connors and Borg. McEnroe appeared to have more trouble with several British newsmen at a post-match news conference than he had in defeating Johan Kriek 6-1, 7-5, 6-1. Frawley took two close tie-breaks from Tim Mayotte in a serve-and-volley duel, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-3. “I didn’t think Tim would have the experience on grass”, said Frawley, who trailed 1:3 in the second tie-break, “But he played well.” The 28-year-old Frawley becomes the fifth unseeded player in five years to reach the semifinals. But it was Connors, in winning by 2-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, who again showed that his heart remains as firm as his passing-shot on the court. Not since 1974, when Ken Rosewall came back against Stan Smith in the semifinals, has a amritraj_connors_wb81player won a match from a two-set deficit within the last three rounds. Only two players, Kevin Curren and Hans Simonsson, achieved such distinction during this tournament, both in the first round. But in his 10th Wimbledon, Connors remains as special to the sport as Borg, who ground Peter McNamara‘s serve into the turf, and won 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-3, his 40th consecutive Wimbledon victory. “Everything has got to be perfect if you are going to beat Borg”, said McNamara. Connors hit a deep forehand placement that ended a long rally serving at 1:2, 30-all in the 3rd set and told he was still in the fight, in the following game he broke at 15 for 3:2 with a forehand crosscourt service return winner and a running forehand pass down the line. Connors served out the set from deuce. Then, from *2:3 in the 4th set, he won 16 of the next 18 points, breaking to even the match with four winners that seemed to leave Amtritraj almost motionless on the court. “The level I lifted to, maybe he wasn’t ready,” said Connors, “I’ve never rolled over and wasn’t going to roll over.” Connors broke his opponent twice in the final set, the second time at 15, to finish the 3-hour, 42-minute match.


Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe left their trademarks on center court at Wimbledon and reached the men’s singles final for the second consecutive year. Borg made an inspired comeback two sets mac_wb81down against Jimmy Connors and completed a 3-hour, 18-minute struggle by winning 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. “I was lucky to survive” said Borg, the Swedish player who is seeded first. The victory was the 41st in a row for Borg at Wimbledon, and, in his next match, he will be seeking a sixth straight title. McEnroe dispatched Rod Frawley 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-5 in the opening semifinal breaking Frawley in the 11th game of the 3rd set after six deuces (the second game of the match was longer – 11 minutes). But the three sets took almost as long to compete, three hours, as the five sets of the second match. The encounter was marked by McEnroe’s being warned in the 1st set and then penalized 1 point in the third by the umpire, George Grime, for unsportsmanlike conduct. Borg’s victory was his 22nd in 26 five-set matches over his career. For two sets, Connors evoked memories of 1975, when his reign at Wimbledon was ended by Arthur Ashe in a final-round upset that ushered in Borg’s era. In the 2nd set Connors already led 4:2* (30/15), but Borg broke back winning the 8th game after nine deuces (Connors wasted six game points, including one on which he thought that won the game). Connors gave ground, losing serve from borg_connors_wb8140/0 in the 2nd game of the 3rd set. He broke back for 3:2 when Borg missed four of five first serves, but a new pattern had evolved: apparently realizing that he could break serve. Borg became more assertive with his ground-strokes, adding pace and depth. “I played a loose game from 40/0,” Connors said. Borg raced through the 4th set in 28 minutes, granting Connors only 12 points. Connors escaped from 0/40 and held serve for 2:1 in the 5th set and then lobbed his way to break points a game later (Borg saved them both with aces – 16 in total). Connors saved a triple break point again, and held for 3:2, but after coming from 0/40 to 30/40 in the 7th game, he finally succumbed facing 10th break point in the final set, driving a forehand long after he initially sought slice for a shot. Borg held for 5:3, saving two break points thanks to Connors’ backhand errors. “I wasn’t missing much”, Connors said, “This is as good as it is.” Borg came back from two sets down for the sixth time, labeling this comeback as “probably my greatest.


John McEnroe capped a tumultuous two weeks at Wimbledon today by ending Bjorn Borg‘s five-year reign and 41-match winning streak here with a four-set victory in the singles final. On the day borg_mcenroe_wb81that the tournament committee of the All England Club recommended a $10,000 fine for his stormy semifinal match against Rod Frawley, which could lead to a suspension, McEnroe showed that he could control his serve and temper when it counted, even when close calls went against him in stressful situations. The scores in the 3-hour-22-minute match were 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(4), 6-4. McEnroe, the 22-year-old New Yorker, dominated the two tiebreakers with his deep, sharply-angled southpaw serve. In the 2nd set Connors already led 4:2* (30/15), but Borg broke back winning the 8th game after nine deuces (Connors w asted six game points, including one on which he thought that won the game).Of the last eight matches between the two, 12 of the 27 sets have been settled by tiebreakers. ”This is a triumph of McEnroe over Borg,” the winner said, when asked if he had conquered his temperament with today’s performance. ”Anytime I can beat him it’s fine with me.” McEnroe was jubilant and relieved when his forehand volley landed deep in a corner for a winner on his second match point. He started to drop to his knees, then, recalling Borg’s traditional prayerful ritual on the turf after his five victories, decided to stay on his feet. This final lacked the spontaneity and drama of last year’s five-set classic, which Borg won, 8-6, in the fifth set. But with $22 center-court seats scalped for as much as $1,000 and a capacity crowd filled with European royalty, celebrities and standees who had lined up outside the grounds in sleeping bags for more than a week, the interest was unsurpassed. Even before the first serve, spectators shouted the names of the players and chanted ”Hooray!” and ”Boo!” as if they were in a soccer stadium and not in a setting laden with tradition. But then the two weeks, with record crowds, large fines against players and enraged fans throwing cushions on the center court to protest a doubles match curtailed by darkness, had brought Wimbledon further than ever from mcenroe_wb81triumphits traditional roots. McEnroe had sensed the occasion, even as he struggled with almost daily diversions, ranging from the status of his first serve to confrontations with British newsmen and erroneous reports that he had been stopped for speeding. ”It’s got to happen sooner or later,” he said yesterday, when asked if the top-seeded Borg could be beaten here. The last man to have beaten Borg at Wimbledon was Arthur Ashe in the fourth round in 1975. McEnroe had watched parts of Borg’s five-set comeback against Jimmy Connors in Thursday’s semifinal. It was clay-court tennis on grass, McEnroe reasoned, and he would not play like Connors. ”I’m going to hit the ball softer, dink, chip, come in,” he said. Yesterday he tried to get the ”feel” of his serve during the doubles final, which he and his partner, Peter Fleming, took in straight sets from Bob Lutz and Stan Smith. Before today’s match, he practiced shadow-serving and went over notes he had written about his serve and stored in his racquet cover: keep the head up, throw the toss more to the left, try to stay ahead. Borg, who had been blitzed by Connors in the first two sets, struck first, breaking McEnroe from deuce in the 5th game and then holding for the set from 15/40 and 4 break points. ”He controlled the first set and a half,” McEnroe said. If McEnroe had not served well, Borg probably would have received the $43,000 first prize of the $650,000 purse and the winner’s trophy from the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Even with his 10 double faults, McEnroe’s first serve emerged as the dominant weapon. It saved him 13 of 15 break points and helped him to control the tempo. Much of McEnroe’s game revolves around his first serve, particularly against a rival like Borg, whose penetrating ground strokes can pick apart most serve-and-volley stylists. But McEnroe forced him so wide off the court with his first serve that the Swede had no leverage to counter McEnroe’s diverse volleys – dinks, drops and drives. ”When you hit in the first serve, you gain confidence, especially John,” said Borg, who acknowledged that returning serve from his customary position far behind the baseline and especially from a wide position in the ad court, had ”left the whole court open.” The extent to which McEnroe’s first serve dominated play was reflected in the statistics: he won 82 of 104 points played on his first serve, a staggering 79 percent, but only 32 of 63 points played on his second. His first-serve percentage was 62, which is respectable. Borg was under 50 until the fifth game of the third set, and finished at only 55, despite 10 aces. Nowhere was the difference more noticeable than in the second-set tiebreaker. McEnroe got in all four of his first serves, and won all 4 points. In both tiebreakers, he got in a total of nine of 10 first balls. Borg, who had said that ”you can’t play scared on your serve in a tiebreaker,” faulted three of his four first serves and went out quietly. ”The match was very close,” Borg said. ”It was important for me to win the third set. When I had 4 set points, on the important points, when he had to win them, he hit his first serve in.” The key game of the match was the 9th in the 3rd set, with McEnroe down by 4:5 and serving at 15/30, after Borg had squandered a 4:1 lead. Attacking behind his serve, McEnroe punched a forehand volley that the base linesman signaled good. Bob Jenkins, the umpire, who had officiated at two previous McEnroe matches, overruled the linesman. ”The ball was out,” Jenkins announced. Thinking the shot was good, McEnroe paused in the backcourt. Spectators waited, expecting a tantrum or confrontation. McEnroe balanced the white ball on the strings of his mcenroe_wb81championracquet, still seemingly uncertain what he wanted to do. ”The ball was clearly out,” Borg said later. ”Those things happen.” Instead of 30-all, McEnroe was at 15/40, double set point. A voice from the stands cried out, ”Play on, John!” McEnroe looked in the direction of the caller, but said nothing. Finally he served, attacked and won the point with an overhead. Thirty-forty. A service winner to the forehand. Deuce. He survived 2 more set points and finally held on the sixth deuce. ”Maybe it was good for him that he controlled himself,” Borg said. Borg led in the third-set tiebreaker only once, 3:2. But McEnroe volleyed behind his next two serves for 4:3, then swept Borg’s two serves with a looping forehand cross-court pass and a backhand pass down in the line. McEnroe holds an edge on Borg in their tiebreakers. ”If his big serve is working in tiebreakers,” said Borg, who had won his four previous tiebreakers in the tournament, ”it’s a big advantage.” McEnroe was determined not to let Borg reach a fifth set. Last year he ”let him off the hook” in the second set. Close the door and don’t let him back in, McEnroe told himself, saving two break points from 15/40 in the 3rd game of the 4th set and skidding a service winner to the backhand at 15/30 in the 5th game. Borg struggled from 15/40 and held to 4-all. But the pressure of maintaining the streak and harnessing his serve appeared to take its toll at 4:5. At 30/15, he came in behind his serve, only to stroke a backhand volley long. McEnroe attacked a second serve and reached his first match point when Borg netted a two-handed backhand. ”If I held to 5-all, I felt I could break him,” Borg said. He shunned the baseline to serve and volley, and saved the first match point with a deep backhand volley that McEnroe could not counter. But Borg’s serve, perhaps dulled from Thursday’s tiring two-set comeback against Connors, could not hold up. McEnroe moved in on the second serve, pressured Borg’s backhand and won the point with an overhead. Another second serve brought the American in for the clinching volley. McEnroe’s 31st title, third major. Borg never played another match at Wimbledon… Stats of the final

2 Responses to 1980 – 1981, Wimbledon

  1. Voo de Mar says:
    YT films:

    The Borg vs. McEnroe finals:


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