Bjorn Borg admits he has never seen anything like it before. Leaning forward at the very edge of his chair he gives his prediction: this summer, in Wimbledons 125th year of existence, we are likely to witness the best men’s singles tennis the tournament has ever produced.
The 55-year-old who won Wimbledon five times, now sporting a shock of white hair, talks animatedly through the top four seeds. “I can’t see anyone winning Wimbledon except Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer,” says Borg, who seems genuinely in awe at the strength and depth of the men’s talent that will grace Wimbledons courts this year.
“In the past it was two guys, maybe three guys who were rivals, now we have four guys and its unbelievable. It’s great for tennis. Everyone can beat everyone, so its going to be very interesting this year. Can you imagine the end of the second week if you have those four players left? It will be the most thrilling Wimbledon for many years.”
For years, his epic battle with John McEnroe in the 1980 Wimbledon final, in which the American won the first set with a landslide 6-1, before Borg clawed back two sets only to be defeated in the fourth with a 34-point tie-break, was judged the best tennis match ever.
But Borg says he is ready to hand over that honour to two of today’s greatest players for the spectacle they provided in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
“An incredible memory was watching Federer and Nadal play in that unbelievable final [in 2008],” says Borg. “That was something special. I think that match tops the best match I’ve ever watched, and the best match ever played at Wimbledon. My match against McEnroe in 1980 was a good match, and it’s up there too, but I think it’s now in the top three after what Federer and Nadal did. That was extraordinary.”
Still the personal memories come flooding back, as Borg relives his favourite Wimbledon moments. “The happiest moment was winning my fifth Wimbledon title against McEnroe,” he says.
This year Borg will be back among the crowds at Centre Court once more, hoping to witness his greatest summer of tennis as a spectator.
“Do you want to know who I think will win?” he asks with a smile. “All four of those guys have it right now, anyone of them can win Wimbledon. But if I have to pick someone I pick Federer. He played his best clay court tournaments in Paris this year — unbelievable tennis — unfortunately he lost, but I have never seen him play better on clay. Now he’s coming to a surface he likes even more, and if he’s playing the same kind of tennis he’s going to be very difficult to beat.”