07/12 03:24 CDT AP Was There: McEnroe wins tiebreaker, Borg wins Wimbledon
AP Was There: McEnroe wins tiebreaker, Borg wins Wimbledon
By The Associated Press
EDITOR'S NOTE --- Tennis history is filled with wonderful rivalries, and so
many are remembered because of matchups in Wimbledon finals. The Associated
Press is republishing stories about a handful of such matches while the
canceled grass-court Grand Slam tournament was supposed to be played. One
rivalry is known for one particularly memorable match involving one
particularly memorable tiebreaker: John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg in the 1980
Wimbledon final. McEnroe won the tiebreaker 18-16; Borg won the title. The
following story was sent July 5, 1980.
By GEOFFREY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) --- Bjorn Borg thought he was going to lose his
Wimbledon title when John McEnroe saved seven match points and won a marathon
tiebreaker to level Saturday's final at two sets all.
"I thought ... maybe he will end up winning the match," said Borg after coming
through the 3-hour, 53-minute classic 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6.
"I have never been so disappointed on a tennis court as when I lost that fourth
set. Seven match points, and I failed to do it.
"Every time I had another match point John came up with a great shot."
But Borg emerged as a great champion again after the tense drama of the
tiebreaker was over. He served like a master in the final set and became
Wimbledon champion for the fifth straight time.
Mariana Simionescu, the Romanian player who is to marry Borg in Bucharest July
24, sat smoking incessantly as she watched the final --- one of the greatest in
Beside her was Lennart Bergelin, Borg's coach and mentor. The two of them sat
intently and hardly spoke a word during the whole match. When Borg finally won
the match with a backhand pass, he sank to his knees and raised his arms
skyward. Bergelin stood with his hands up in triumph. Mariana remained seated,
"This was my hardest match at Wimbledon, and it was my best match," the
24-year-old Swede said.
McEnroe was as much a hero as Borg. The 16,000 fans on Center Court of the
All-England Club stood and cheered him as he collected his runner-up medal.
McEnroe played almost faultless tennis in the first set, and Borg was slow to
get into the match.
McEnroe held his service right up until the end of the second set. Then Borg
hit two of his special double-grip backhand returns and broke for the first
time to take the set 7-5.
Borg broke to a 2-0 lead in the third and held on to it.
In the fourth set he broke at 5-4 with two great cross-court backhands and the
match appeared almost over.
Serving at 40-15 in the game, Borg had two match points. And then McEnroe's
greatest hour began.
The U.S. Open champion hit a backhand pass and a forehand volley to bring the
score to deuce. Borg netted a forehand, and then McEnroe swept a tremendous
backhand across the court to break back and level at 5.
Two love games followed with service. Then came the tiebreaker. It probably was
the most thrilling tiebreaker ever played here.
Borg had more match points at 6-5, 7-6, 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11. McEnroe saved
all of them in brilliant aggressive style. On those crisis points he played one
magical drop volley and a series of backhand passes.
McEnroe himself had six set points in the tiebreaker before he cracked Borg
with a backhand return at 18-16.
McEnroe said humorously later: "Since he had already won the title four times,
I thought that when he lost that long tiebreaker he might just give up."
Instead, Borg came back the stronger of the two in the final set. His serving
in this final stage of the match was truly that of a champion. He dropped three
points in seven service games. Two of them were in the opening game of the set.
McEnroe was 40-0 down on his service in the eighth game, and his cause seemed
lost. But he came back to win the game with a series of mighty serves,
including an ace and two outright winners.
McEnroe was looking tired at last, but the incredible Swede charged on as
powerfully as ever. Borg went to 7-6 after serving in six games and dropping
but a single point.
From 15-15 in the final game, McEnroe slumped to defeat. Borg ran around his
second service and hit a crashing forehand return for 15-30.
Next, Borg stood up to a cannonball service and sent a backhand across the
court for 15-40.
On the eighth match point, he hit the last decisive backhand pass. Borg, whose
income has been estimated at $2 million a year, collected another $46,600 with
his fifth Wimbledon victory.
It was McEnroe's first Wimbledon singles final, and he won $23,300.
Borg has broken all records at Wimbledon in modern times. He has now won 35
singles matches here in a row --- three more than Rod Laver, who held the
previous record of 32.
One oldtimer still is ahead of Borg on consecutive Wimbledon titles. Willie
Renshaw won six years running from 1881 to 1886.
But in those days the reigning champion played only one match, in the challenge
round against the winner of the tournament proper. And there were no overseas
"I thought I'd lose the match after the fourth set, especially after losing all
those match points," said Borg, who now has won the first two legs of tennis'
Grand Slam: Wimbledon and the French Open.
"I thought about them at the beginning of the fifth set. But I didn't give up.
At 2-all I said, ?Let's go again.?"
Australia's seventh-seeded Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee won the men's
doubles, defeating U.S. veterans Stan Smith and Bob Lutz 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.
The United States' only titles came in the women's doubles and mixed doubles.
Anne Smith and Kathy Jordan won over Rosie Casals and Wendy Turnbull 4-6, 7-5,
6-1 in women's doubles. Tracy Austin and her brother, John, unseeded, brought
off an upset in the mixed doubles, beating Mark Edmondson and Dianne Fromholtz
4-6, 7-6, 6-3.