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Sports Then and Now

Bjorn Borg Blames “Bad Luck” For Never Winning the U.S. Open 9

Posted on July 15, 2010 by JA Allen

Bjorn Borg lost in 4 U.S. Open finals in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981.

U.S. Open 1976

The year was 1976 and 20-year-old Bjorn Borg was playing Jimmy Connors in the finals of the U. S. Open.

The ice man or “Is i magen” in Swedish paced the baseline like a tiger ready to leap forward into the court at the slightest provocation.

The players battled on skimpy-looking green clay under the lights after beginning the match in the bright sunlight.

In 1976, Borg had won his first Wimbledon Championship after losing in the French Open quarterfinals to Italian Adriano Panatta, the only man who ever beat Borg at this event––twice.

It was the Swede’s first final in New York and it was on clay.  1976 would be Borg’s best chance to win what would prove to be his most elusive final.

Connors, however, was aiming toward his fourth grand slam title and his second U.S. Open title. Since 1974, Connors was clearly struggling to quiet his critics who touted that the American could no longer win the big tournaments, especially the majors.

In 1974 the American triumphed in three of four majors––all except the French.  In 1975 Connors made all of the major finals, except the French––losing them all.  So far in 1976 Connors had added no major trophies to his mantle.

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Great Competitors In Men’s Tennis History 3

Posted on December 05, 2009 by Rob York
Rafael Nadal's competitive fire has made him a champion

Rafael Nadal's competitive fire has made him a champion

Talent is the beginning, not the end.

There are so many other traits that a tennis player must have to be a champion. Fitness is crucial, as is willingness to prioritize the game above other interests.

But nothing stretches talent and maximizes it quite like mental strength. When most modern tennis fans think of mental toughness and competitive fire, they think of either Jimmy Connors or Rafael Nadal (pictured). It probably comes as no surprise that both of them make my list of the top five.

The only question is where, and whether anyone tops them. Read the rest of this entry →

The Beginning of the End for Bjorn Borg, Part One 1

Posted on September 25, 2009 by JA Allen

Bjorn Borg was the face of professional tennis in the 1970s.

Bjorn Borg was the face of professional tennis in the 1970s.

“My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.”
– Bjorn Borg

Former world No. 1 and Swedish teen sensation Bjorn Borg brought fame, fortune, and much-needed publicity to tennis in the mid-70s, when he began to play. His long blond hair, smoldering good looks, and rock-star status elevated tennis in the hearts of teenaged girls, if not the media corps.

There was a rhythm, a dance in his cat-like movements along the baseline as he swayed back and forth, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, tensed, ready to pounce as his opponent hit the ball over the net—like a cat playing with a mouse.

Borg understood the necessity of being in shape, of being as strong at the end of matches as you were at the beginning. This athleticism allowed him to dictate matches and gave him five Wimbledon Championships and six French Open Titles, often won back-to-back. Borg was the author of the modern game built on talent, but bolstered by strength and endurance.

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Jimmy Connors Left It All On The Court 0

Posted on September 01, 2009 by JA Allen
Jimmy Connors was never one to hide his emotions.

Jimmy Connors was never one to hide his emotions.

James Scott Connors was a momma’s boy, and that became his strength as he battled his way to the top of men’s tennis.

As we settle in for another two-week extravaganza in New York, we must acknowledge the man who won the U.S. Open five times on three different surfaces.  Connors holds the record of having won 98 singles matches at the Open in New York.

With that outrageous attitude…cocky, self-assured, and in your face, Connors epitomized not only tenacious tennis, but New Yorker tennis.

The women in his life taught him to be strong, to stand on his own two feet, and fight for what was rightfully his.  His mother, a teaching pro, taught him how to play tennis.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Archie Griffin: 2-Time Heisman Winner
      December 11, 2022 | 1:42 pm
      Archie Griffin

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

      As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season.

      Griffin joined the Buckeyes for the 1972 season, which happened to be the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football, and made an immediate impact. After fumbling in his only carry of his first game, Griffin more than made up for it in his second game by rushing for 237 yards against North Carolina. By the end of the season, Griffin had rushed for 867 yards.

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