The Perfect Champion: Bjorn Borg's Epic Wimbledon Victory Without Surrendering a Set

Bjorn Borg claimed his first Wimbledon title in 1976, lifting the trophy without losing a set

by Jovica Ilic
The Perfect Champion: Bjorn Borg's Epic Wimbledon Victory Without Surrendering a Set

Bjorn Borg secured his first Wimbledon crown in 1976, beating all seven rivals in straight sets to write history books! Borg was 11 when the Open era started in April 1968, requiring little time to make a name for himself and become one of the world's best players.

The Swede made his Wimbledon debut shortly after turning 17 in 1973. He turned it into an instant success after reaching the quarter-final as the youngest player in the Open era, also becoming the crowd favorite. A home player Roger Taylor halted Bjorn 7-5 in the fifth set, and the Swede would suffer another quarter-final loss two years later, this time against the eventual champion Arthur Ashe in four sets.

Bjorn was ready to take the next step in 1976. The young gun embraced his fourth Wimbledon campaign at 20 and went all the way to claim the title without losing a set as the first player since Chuck McKinley in 1963! A few weeks earlier, Bjorn failed to defend his Roland Garros crown, losing to Adriano Panatta in four sets.

He went to Wimbledon eager to claim his third Major crown and the first on grass despite playing with severe stomach muscle pain that required injections to keep him on the court. One of the reasons behind Bjorn's commanding triumph stood in his serve, improving the initial shot in the last couple of months after working with Ilie Nastase.

The Swede added that extra element to his already perfectly balanced baseline game and delivered the winning formula for success. It was a challenging path for Bjorn, beating Brian Gottfried, Guillermo Vilas and Roscoe Tanner to get to the title match.

Borg met Ilie Nastase in the final on July 3 and scored a 6-4, 6-2, 9-7 triumph to become the youngest champion since Sidney Wood in 1931! Like Bjorn, Ilie reached the final without dropping a set. However, he stood no chance against the youngster, who crossed the finish line in an hour and 47 minutes, with a real battle only in the third set.

The Swede had 32 service winners in comparison to the Romanian's 22. Bjorn had the upper hand from his backhand wing, which proved to be one of the critical elements of his triumph alongside the initial shot. They had a similar number of smash and volley winners, and both created ten break chances.

Borg converted six and lost serve two times to render the crucial difference.

Bjorn Borg claimed his first Wimbledon title in 1976 without losing a set.

The more experienced Romanian defended a break chance in the encounter's opening game to bring it home after a service winner.

He broke Bjorn at 15 in game two thanks to a backhand down the line winner that gave him the initial advantage. Ilie saved another break chance in game three. He hit a volley winner to get out of jail and closed it with a forehand winner that sent him 3-0 up.

Bjorn was still looking for his range. He experienced more troubles when Nastase created another break chance in game four that would have delivered the opening set for him. The youngster saved it with a service winner and repelled two more to put his name on the scoreboard and gain momentum.

A forehand winner in game five pulled the break back for Bjorn, who was back on level terms after a nice hold a few minutes later. The Swede overcame a slow start and took his first lead when Nastase sent a volley long in game nine, delivering a break and serving for the set.

That tenth game went to deuce, and Bjorn wrapped it up with a service winner for 6-4, rattling off six of the last seven games for a massive mental advantage. Nastase squandered three break chances in the second set's second game.

Bjorn broke him in the next one after a loose forehand from the Romanian to take complete control of the scoreboard. A smash winner gave Borg a 3-1 lead, and he opened a 5-2 advantage when Nastase netted a smash in game seven.

Serving for the set, Bjorn fired four winners in game eight to create a 6-4, 6-2 gap and march toward the finish line. Nastase's game fell apart, and he missed an easy volley at the net in the third set's opening game to suffer another break and drift further away from a positive result.

Borg confirmed the lead with a hold at love in game two and repeated that in game four to stay on the title course. A volley winner pushed Bjorn 4-2 up, dropping just one point in the opening three service games and looking good to seal the deal in 15 or 20 minutes.

Ilie stayed in contention behind the initial shot and created two break chances in the eighth game. Borg denied them, keeping his serve intact and serving for the title at 5-4. Nastase repelled a match point and broke on his third opportunity after a great backhand down the line that Borg sent into the net.

Thus, the Romanian leveled the score at 5-5 and gave the crowd something to cheer about. Ilie won three games in a row before Bjorn made an excellent hold in game 12 for 6-6. They stayed neck and neck before the Swede earned the crucial break in game 15 after the Romanian's terrible volley that would cost him a lot.

In one of the most significant games of his career, Borg held at love after a service winner to take the set 9-7 and cross the finish line, celebrating his first out of five consecutive Wimbledon titles.

Bjorn Borg Wimbledon