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By Scoop Malinowski | Saturday, December 11, 2021

 
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Bjorn Borg holds the Wimbledon trophy after defeating Roscoe Tanner 6–7(4–7), 6–1, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4 in the 1979 final.

Photo credit: Getty

Nicknamed the "Angelic Assassin" Bjorn Borg took tennis to ascendent heights.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion won an astounding 89.8 percent of his major matches and captured three of his 11 Grand Slam crowns without surrendering a set.

The stoic Swede was one of tennis' quietest, most athletic and most enigmatic champions.

Borg
Photo credit: Ray Giubilo/Fila

So what was Bjorn Borg really like?

Author Scoop Malinowski has completed his eleventh tennis book Facing Bjorn Borg, a collection of memories, stories, anecdotes, interviews with players and tennis insiders about how it was to play the Viking of Sweden, Bjorn Borg. Bjorn Borg was both beauty and beast personified on the tennis court... an unstoppable force at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, capturing eleven majors combined in Paris and London before the age of 26. One of the most recognizable figures in the history of sport won 64 singles titles overall...

Here's an excerpt from Facing Bjorn Borg.

Andre Agassi on Bjorn Borg:

"I hit a few balls with my idol Bjorn Borg when I was eight years old. At the Alan King tournament (at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas). My father got me a job as ballboy. He cajoled most of the top pros to hit a few balls with me, Connors, Nastase, Borg. Some were more willing than others. I remember Borg acted as if there was nowhere else he'd rather be."


Roy Barth on Bjorn Borg:

"I played Bjorn on the center court at the 1973 US Open in Forest Hills, New York on grass. We started at 3:00pm with the temperature on the court at 106 degrees. I was twenty-five years old playing on my favorite surface—grass. He was seventeen and a rising star. At sixteen, the year before, he lost to Roy Emerson in a close five set match. I had him two sets to love, break point, his second serve at four all. I missed a backhand return by one inch. He went on to win the set 7-5, the 4th set, 6-2. After 3 1/2 hours and at 2 all I got cramps in both legs.

"In the third and fourth sets he ran like a deer. The more I made him run, the better he played. The heat didn’t seem to bother him. He was calm throughout the whole match, showing no emotion. He’s truly a great person and player. Needless to say, in the fifth set at 2-2, I lost the next four games in ten minutes. Bjorn went on to upset Arthur Ashe and reached the quarterfinals... the rest is history."



Ivan Lendl on Bjorn Borg:

"Bjorn didn't stay on the main regular tour long enough to have a serious competitive history with me (though they did play eight times between 1979 and 1981 with Borg winning six of the eight duels including the 1981 Roland Garros final 61 46 62 36 61).

"But I'll tell you this: he didn't appear as intimidating as McEnroe or Connors because he was a master at controlling and hiding his emotions. But if you weren't at the top of your game against Bjorn, he would quietly and relentlessly dominate you."


Harold Solomon on Bjorn Borg:

"Let me tell you about how good Bjorn Borg was. In 1980 I was playing really well and two weeks before the French Open I had just beaten Guillermo Vilas in five sets in the finals of the German Open. Bjorn and I had arranged to practice the last week before the French at the Pigeon Club in Paris.

"We started Tuesday and played three out of five sets every day. He beat me in three straight sets every day and I think I only got to 6-3 once in the four days snd we would play for three to four hours each time, but he would never get tired and his ball was so heavy it would bounce high and push your racquet back. It was very hard to penetrate off his ball, I had to jump off the ground on almost every ball..."

Facing Bjorn Borg book is available at amazon for $9.99 or $5.99 Kindle version.

 

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