Wimbledon Flashback: Bjorn Borg edges Jimmy Connors in a memorable final



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Wimbledon Flashback: Bjorn Borg edges Jimmy Connors in a memorable final

Ever since his first steps on the tennis court, Bjorn Borg was the one to keep an eye on. Bjorn had a breakthrough season at 18 in 1974, winning Rome and Roland Garros, followed by another title in Paris in 1975 and at Wimbledon in 1976, just after turning 20.

A year later, Bjorn had to skip Roland Garros and all the action between Dallas in April and Wimbledon, competing for the Cleveland Nets in World TeamTennis that spring and earning much more money than at Roland Garros and even Wimbledon, where he grabbed only $25,500!

Things were not easy for the Swede during those two weeks at Wimbledon 1977, trailing two sets to love against Mark Edmondson in the second round and overpowering Vitas Gerulaitis in a memorable semi-final clash. Bjorn prevailed in those and in the title match versus Jimmy Connors on July 2, toppling the American 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in a grueling three hours and 14 minutes for the 25th ATP title and fourth Major!

It was a great final, precisely a century after the first way back in 1877, with Borg describing the triumph as the "happiest one of his career." The encounter could have been completed much earlier, with two break chances for Bjorn in the decider's fifth game that could have sent him 5-0 up.

Jimmy repelled them both to perform a comeback and level the score at 4-4 before Borg claimed the last two games to seal the deal and defend the title, joining Rod Laver and John Newcombe, who did that before him in the Open era.

Connors survived a tight third game of the opening set and broke at love at 4-3 after Borg's double fault, closing the set with a volley winner at the net in the next game for 6-3. Borg fended off break chances at 1-1 in set number two and closed the game with an ace to gain momentum that led him towards his first break at 3-2 when Connors sent a forehand long.

Serving to stay in the set two games later, Jimmy netted a backhand to suffer another break and hand it to his rival who was on a roll now.

Bjorn Borg took down Jimmy Connors in five sets in the 1977 Wimbledon final.

The Swede earned a break in the third set's second game when Connors sent an easy backhand into the net.

A service winner pushed Borg 3-0 up before his advantage became even more significant following another error from the American in game four. Jimmy pulled one break back a few minutes later, but his groundstrokes were nowhere near where he wanted them to be, getting broken again to let Borg serve for the set at 5-1.

The Swede held at 15 with an ace to take two sets to one lead, looking good to seal the deal in the following one. Connors was not to be denied, though, serving better in set number four and breaking Borg for a 4-2 advantage after the Swede's weak smash.

Bjorn broke back in the next game thanks to a loose forehand from the American and had chances on the return in game nine before Jimmy 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 Connors' beautiful lob winner, and the American forced a decider in his quest for the first Wimbledon title in three years.

As always in big moments, Borg started all over, earned a break in the fifth set's opening game with a backhand down the line winner and confirmed the lead with a forehand winner. Wasting game points, Jimmy got broken once again and Bjorn found himself 4-0 up after an ace, marching towards the finish line and controlling the scoreboard.

Facing defeat, Jimmy fended off a couple of break chances in game five and set the comeback trail, pulling one break back to stay alive. The American held in the next game to reduce the deficit to 4-3, and a volley winner in game eight gained the second break for him to level the score at 4-4 and take the thunder away from the Swede.

His efforts were in vain, though, after sending a backhand long in game nine to lose serve and push Bjorn in front. A few minutes later, the Swede held at love to take the set 6-4 and complete the triumph in one of the most memorable Wimbledon finals that took everything from both players.