Extract from On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker

In the first-ever meeting between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, the 19-year-old McEnroe defeats the 22-year-old Borg 6-3 6-3 in the semifinals of the Stockholm Open in Sweden. The loss marks the first-ever professional loss for Borg to a younger player.
The McEnroe-Borg rivalry becomes one of the greatest in the sport as the two titans square off 14 times in all -each player winning 7 times. The two play in four memorable major finals, McEnroe winning 3 of 4 at the 1980 and 1981 US Open and at Wimbledon in 1981. Their epic final at Wimbledon in 1980 is regarded as one of the greatest matches of all-time, Borg winning his fifth consecutive title in a 1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 8-6 epic.
McEnroe wins the Stockholm singles title the next day, defeating fellow American Tim Gullikson 6-2 6-2 in the final.”

Check out what McEnroe had to say about that first match. Extract from his autobiography Serious:

“Some people compare Sampras to Borg. In my mind, there’s no comparison. Even though Pete is one of the greatest players, of all time, Borg, by his presence alone, gave a lot back to the game. His story was incredible too: Who could ever have imagined such a player coming out of Sweden, a country of only eight million people, with a sub-Arctic climate?

He was the best athlete I’ve ever seen on a tennis court – I don’t think people realize how good an athlete he was. And the fact is, he had to be, because his game was bizarre, in a way: running back and forth, well behind the baseline, hitting ball after ball after ball until an angle opened up or the other guy missed. It was so side-to-side, compared to my forward-forward-forward, but Bjorn was so fast he could make up for it.

The first time we played – in the semifinals at the Stockholm Open in November 78 – was a perfect scenario for me, because it was on fast indoor, which wasn’t well suited to his game, particularly against me. I also think he felt pressure playing me in his hometown, in front of a Swedish crowd who’d gotten excited about the game because of him.

The win in Stockholm was a huge win for me – I was the first player younger than Borg to beat him – but it didn’t make me think one bit less of Bjorn. I just felt that I was with the big boys now – and this was the official coronation.”

And 34 years later, the two tennis legends still provide entertaining matches. (photos by Tennis Buzz, Optima Open 2012).

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe

John McEnroe

Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe reminded everyone of their extraordinary rivalry in a special match on Saturday.

John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

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Read part 1 of my recap here.

A few pics of John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, more coming soon.

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

Bjorn Borg

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An exciting day of tennis at the Optima Open on Saturday, in front of a sell-out crowd.
3 entertaining matches with:
– 2 players I had never seen play: Mark Philippoussis and Thomas Enqvist
– 2 players I had never seen play against each other: the two legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe
and 2 players I’ve seen countless times: Guy Forget and Henri Leconte

Ballboys warm-up:

Optima Open 2012

Optima Open 2012

Optima Open 2012

First match: Thomas Enqvist vs Mark Philippoussis. The winner of the match will meet Goran Ivanisevic in the final on Sunday.

Former top 20 Sabine Appelmans presenting the players:

Sabine Appelmans

Mark Philippoussis and Thomas Enqvist

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Optima Open 2012

Henri Leconte

Last year, I’ve had the chance to win 2 entry tickets for the Optima Open, the belgian stop of the ATP Champions Tour. I really had a great time and enjoyed watching Borg, Wilander and co. Read part 1 and part 2 of my recap.
No free tickets this time, but I’ll be at the Optima Open again this year, and can’t wait to watch the match between BorgMcEnroe on Saturday. So stay tuned for photos, video and reports.

Bjorn Borg

9 players will take part to the tournament: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Henri Leconte, Guy Forget, Thomas Enqvist and defending champion Carlos Moya. Do you think the 1998 French Open champion will retain his title this year?

Who will win the Optima Open ?

  • Goran Ivanisevic (45%, 5 Votes)
  • Carlos Moya (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Thomas Enqvist (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Mark Philippoussis (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Henri Leconte (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Guy Forget (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Who's your favorite among the players of the Optima Open?

  • Mats Wilander (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Goran Ivanisevic (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Bjorn Borg (9%, 1 Votes)
  • John McEnroe (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Henri Leconte (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Thomas Enqvist (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Carlos Moya (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Mark Philippoussis (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Guy Forget (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Carlos Moya

More infos on the Optima Open official website.

@Martina

Hanging out in Russia with an old friend:):)