"Bjorn is like Jekyll and Hyde"- When John McEnroe speculated what could have led Bjorn Borg to retire from tennis aged 26
John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg had a fierce rivalry during the 1970s and early 1980s. Unfortunately, the rivalry lasted just 14 matches as Borg shockingly announced his retirement from tennis in 1981, aged only 26.
The Swede had already won 11 Grand Slam titles by then but had no intentions of continuing any further.
John McEnroe gave his opinion on Bjorn Borg's retirement in his book, "You Cannot Be Serious". The former World No. 1 wrote that the Swede was on the brink of being overwhelmed as his life was too regimented.
"Here’s what I speculate: Borg was on the verge of being overwhelmed. He was also the first guy who could afford to quit. He’d started so young; at age twenty-five, he’d already traveled the circuit extensively for ten years," McEnroe wrote.
"His life had become so regimented, and the superstitions so ingrained, that for the five years he won Wimbledon, he’d stay at the same hotel, practice at the same time and place—all day. Every day, he’d eat the same meals, get a massage at the same time," he added.
McEnroe added that Borg experiencing the partying lifestyle of Vitas Gerulaitis on a small scale was the last straw as it gave him an idea of what he missed out on.
"So when he saw what Vitas was doing, which was the other extreme, the staying up all night, the partying, the women, when Bjorn experienced it on a small scale at the exhibitions, just enough to give him a taste of what he had been missing . . . well, that was that," the American wrote.
John McEnroe also likened Bjorn Borg to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, claiming that he had two sides to his personality. He claimed he could become the world's best guy and then lose his mind.
"Bjorn is like Jekyll and Hyde. A couple of years ago, when I was playing an exhibition with him in Stockholm, he said to me, 'I’m two people.' And he is. He’s the world’s greatest guy, and then he’s completely out of his mind. I’m crazy to begin with—somewhat crazy and somewhat normal. Bjorn goes way to the extremes," McEnroe wrote.
The head-to-head between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg is tied at 7-7
John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg's rivalry was short but fierce. The two locked horns on 14 occasions, with the head-to-head tied at 7-7.
The first meeting between the two came in Stockholm in 1978, with McEnroe winning 6-3, 6-4. They faced one another in four Grand Slam finals and the American came out on top in three of those. The only Major final when Borg beat McEnroe came in the iconic 1980 Wimbledon final, where the Swede won 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6.
The last meeting between the two legends came at the 1981 US Open final, with John McEnroe winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.