Wimbledon Flashback: Bjorn Borg edges Jimmy Connors and lifts trophy



by JOVICA ILIC

Wimbledon Flashback: Bjorn Borg edges Jimmy Connors and lifts trophy

Bjorn Borg was the one to watch ever since he made his first tennis steps. The Swede had a breakthrough run at 18 in 1974, following titles in Rome and Paris. Borg defended the Roland Garros crown in 1975 and lifted his first Wimbledon a year later, a couple of weeks after turning 20!

Bjorn had to skip Roland Garros in 1977 and set his eyes on the Wimbledon trophy following his World TeamTennis duties. The Swede had to dig deep during those two weeks at the All England Club. He trailed two sets to love against Mark Edmondson in the second round before overpowering Vitas Gerulaitis in a memorable semi-final.

On July 2, Bjorn faced Jimmy Connors in the title clash and earned a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory in three hours and 14 minutes. Less than a month after turning 21, Bjorn was already a proud owner of 25 ATP titles and four Major crowns.

It was a memorable final and the one that the event deserved while celebrating the 100th anniversary! The encounter could have been completed much earlier, as Borg had two break chances in the final set's fifth game while leading 4-0.

Jimmy repelled them and performed a comeback to lock the result at 4-4 and increase the drama. Still, the Swede grabbed the final two games to emerge at the top and celebrate the title as the third player in the Open era. Bjorn converted nine out of 19 break chances and experienced six breaks from 14 opportunities offered to Jimmy.

Connors had more winners and unforced errors, while Borg tamed his strokes nicely to stay below 20 unforced mistakes. Connors survived a tight opening set's third game and broke at love at 4-3 after Borg's double fault. The American closed the set with a volley winner at the net in the next one for 6-3.

Borg faced more troubles at 1-1 in set number two, fending off break points and closing the game with an ace to gain momentum. The Swede grabbed his first break at 3-2 when Connors sent a forehand long.

Bjorn Borg overpowered Jimmy Connors in five sets at Wimbledon 1977.

Jimmy served to stay in the set at 2-5 and netted a backhand to suffer another break and hand it to his rival.

The defending champion was on a roll now, and he earned a break in the third set's second game when Connors netted an easy backhand. A service winner pushed Borg 3-0 up, and his advantage became even more significant in the next one after another error from the American, who was far from his best in those moments.

Jimmy pulled one break back in game five, but his groundstrokes were nowhere near where he wanted them to be. The American got broken again, and the Swede served for the set at 5-1. Bjorn held at 15 with an ace to take two sets to one lead, looking good to close the match in the following one after being a better player on the court since the beginning of set number two.

Connors was not to be denied, though, serving better in set number four and breaking Borg for a 4-2 lead after a weak smash from the Swede. Bjorn broke back in the next game thanks to Jimmy's loose forehand and had his chances on the return in game nine before his rival landed a backhand winner to bring it home and stay in front.

Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Bjorn suffered a break at love after Jimmy's beautiful lob winner. Thus, the American forced the fifth set and improved his chances of winning the second Wimbledon crown, the first in three years.

As always in big moments, Borg started all over in the decider and earned a break in the opening game with a backhand down the line winner. He confirmed the lead with a forehand winner in the next one for 2-0. Jimmy got broken in the third game after wasting game points, and Bjorn found himself 4-0 up after an ace a few minutes later.

Facing elimination, Connors fended off a couple of break points in game five and started the first stage of his comeback. He pulled one break back in game six to extend his chances and stay alive. The American held in the next game to reduce the deficit to 4-3, and a volley winner in game eight sent him back to 4-4.

However, Jimmy's efforts were in vain, as he sent a backhand long in game nine to lose serve and end his streak. Bjorn served for the title at 5-4 and held at love to seal the deal and celebrate the second Wimbledon crown.

Wimbledon Bjorn Borg Jimmy Connors