Classic Rivalries: Connors vs. Borg
A lot of people talk about the McEnroe-Borg rivalry because of those two memorable finals in the early 80s. However, it’s also interesting to revisit how Borg did with Connors, another all-time great that coincided with Borg’s short but storied career. Connors was arguably the most dominant player in the 70s, finishing number one five years in a row. Compare that to Borg’s two years finishing as the world number one player. Although Borg has more Grand Slams, 11 vs. 8, Connors was more consistent in all tournaments (109 wins vs. 64 wins). Also, let’s not forget that 109 titles is the all-time record! So, how did these guys fare against each other, and what were the most important tournaments they played?
These two played 23 times during their careers, with Borg edging out Connors 15-8. They met eight times in Grand Slams, with Borg edging Connors out 5-3, however in Grand Slam finals they are tied 2-2.
It is well known that Borg had incredible runs at both the French and Wimbledon. However, the US Open eluded him. Borg often talks about his disappointment at never conquering the US Open. Unfortunately for him, in the 1970s, he had to contend with Jimmy Connors owning him at the US Open. They met three times at the US Open in the 70s, with Jimmy Connors winning all three contests to deny Borg (75, 76, and 78). Borg was finally able to get through Connors in the 1981 US Open semis. However, Borg then ran into an in-form John McEnroe in the finals. Borg would retire shortly after that loss.
Where Borg did have success against Connors was at Wimbledon, where Borg defeated Connors four times. They played a classic five setter at the 1977 Wimbledon Final. However, in 78 and 79 it was straight sets for Borg. Their last contest, at the 1981 Wimbledon Semifinals, will be known for Borg coming back from two sets down to win 6-4 in the fifth.
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