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The 2023 Laver Cup is set to start today – Friday, September 22nd. And once again, the event promises to be quite a spectacle for those who tune in. This is the sixth edition of the Laver Cup, and believe it or not, for all six additions, we have had the same captains for Team World and Team Europe. As I’m sure you know, the guys I am talking about here include John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. These guys are two legends of the sport, and back in the day, they had one of the fiercest rivalries of all professional tennis players.
Therefore, it’s pretty cool to see that the rivalry continues even in retirement. And while we might not know for sure, I would bet that they want to beat each other just as badly in the Laver Cup as they did when they competed on the ATP Tour. This is just the nature of both of these men and with the 2023 Laver Cup starting now, I figured now was a good time to take a fond trip back through memory lane with regard to McEnroe and Borg.
After all, if you are in your 20s or 30s, it’s understandable to be unaware of what these legends contributed to the sport of tennis. And that’s because the Borg-McEnroe rivalry dates back to the late 70s and early 80s – well before many of us (including myself) were born. So on that note, before the 2023 Laver Cup kicks off, let me take you on a quick journey back to a time when Borg and McEnroe reigned supreme on the ATP Tour.
2023 Laver Cup captains – the ‘fire and ice’ rivalry discussed
Tennis has been home to some quite incredible rivalries in recent decades. Of course, the latest rivalries that most of us cherish include names like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. Yet there were long-standing rivalries that tennis fans couldn’t get enough of well before these guys even hit a ball. Naturally, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg were one of such rivalries, and these two played each other 14 times in official ATP matches.
Interestingly, the head-to-head rivalry finished 7-7 between these two guys, and of these 14 matches, there were some absolute classics that went down in history. Most notably, the 1980 Wimbledon final in which Borg prevailed over McEnroe in five sets has regularly been described as one of the best Grand Slam finals of all time – not that McEnroe will want to remember that match. He ultimately lost the match 8-6 in the fifth set, which gave Borg his fifth straight Wimbledon title.
As for the Laver Cup, Bjorn Borg has been dominating John McEnroe, as he has four wins compared to McEnroe’s one. With that said, let me jump into some more details about these Laver Cup captains, as this will show why the rivalry is still so interesting, even to this day.
Bjorn Borg – Team Europe captain
As you can see above, the rivalry between these guys has been dubbed ‘fire and ice’. This directly relates to the temperaments of the two players when they competed professionally. For Bjorn Borg, he was the ice, as he was almost emotionless on the court, even when he captured the sport’s biggest titles. And as referenced above, his biggest win over McEnroe came in the 1980 Wimbledon final. As it happens, this was the only time that Bjorn Borg beat McEnroe in a Grand Slam final.
McEnroe actually beat him in three other Grand Slam finals. However, Borg is enjoying bragging rights over his long-standing rival when it comes to the Laver Cup, which I’m sure McEnroe isn’t too pleased about.
John McEnroe – Team World captain
With Borg being the ice part of the equation, as you’ve no doubt guessed, McEnroe was the fire. His temperament on the court is what turned him into a legend, in both good ways and bad. As for his rivalry with Borg, McEnroe was the king of the Grand Slams. He beat Borg in three finals including the US Open in 1980 and 1981, as well as Wimbledon in 1981. And when Borg decided to take early retirement from the sport in 1984, McEnroe claims that he begged Borg to return to the tour on more than one occasion.
This shows that McEnroe needed a guy like Borg to keep pushing him, and when you see both guys on the sidelines at the Laver Cup, things are just as lively as they used to be back in the 70s and 80s – awesome to see!
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