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Sports Then and Now




The Toughest Tennis Double is the True Sign of Greatness

Posted on May 26, 2011 by Pete South

Bjorn Borg won the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year three times.

Winning both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year is perhaps the greatest double in tennis. The huge differences between clay and grass means the players who achieve this feat can be considered as the greatest amongst multiple slam winners; in fact it can used as the yardstick for measuring greatness in tennis, the hardest thing to define across eras in any sport.

The proximity of the two tournaments in the tour schedule further elevates the difficulty level of winning them both. Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg (three times), Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (twice) are the only men to have done this dream double in the Open Era.

As harsh as it may seem, the struggles on clay of Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and, in years gone by, of John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall, precludes them from joining the above names at the front of the hall of fame, just as Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander could never conquer grass. Those looking at the Wimbledon odds will know how tough it can be on Centre Court.

Seven women have achieved the feat in the Open Era, Steffi Graf standing out for achieving it four times. Only Serena Williams has done it since Graf’s last double success in 1996, proving how hard it is to do in the modern game. Federer and Nadal’s status in the hall of fame is clear.

If Novak Djokovic does win his maiden Roland Garros title and secure the longest ever ATP tour winning streak, he should be aware that he has another big mountain to climb before he joins his two big rivals on the list of tennis great


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