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5 Greatest tennis rivalries of all time

Subhadeep Roy
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 19:44 IST

The Federer-Nadal rivalry has defined the game of tennis for more than a decade
The Federer-Nadal rivalry has defined the game of tennis for more than a decade

Tennis is an individual sport and therefore, it is all about personal glory and achievements. Over the decades, there have been many champion players who have left indelible marks in the annals of tennis history. But, on the other hand, tennis is also about winning at the cost of another player and therefore, great players develop rivalries among themselves in the course of their respective careers.

Those rivalries often become the essence of the sport itself as the fans worldwide look forward to a battle between two greats. Some of such matches have become parts of history because of the high-intensity, edge-of-the-seat entertainment they provided.

We would like to take a look at the top 5 rivalries in the history of tennis:

#5 Bjorn Borg vs John McEnroe:

   Career head to head: Borg 7-7 McEnroe (1-3 in Majors, 2-0 in Masters)

Borg and McEnroe
Borg and McEnroe

For some, the ultimate tribute to the Borg vs McEnroe rivalry is the fact that a Hollywood movie has been made in this regard. More seriously though, it represented the clash between 2 contrasting styles of the game. Borg was the typical baseliner who reveled equally on the red clay of Roland Garros and the vintage grass of Wimbledon. McEnroe, on the other hand, was a serve-and-volley player who enthralled the audience with his silky touches in the net and infamous temper.

Borg was quite possibly the coolest among the all-time greats of tennis and never spent more energy on a shot than what was required. He liked to wear his opponent down with his relentless accuracy and concentration. McEnroe was the first player to challenge his dominance.

Borg managed to win 6 consecutive French Open and 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles simultaneously and that record has not been broken yet. However, McEnroe made Borg toiled extremely hard in the 1980 Wimbledon final before the latter prevailed in 5 sets in a match that is still considered to be one of the finest of all time.

McEnroe, however, beat him in the 1980 US open to underline his prowess on hard courts. In the following year, McEnroe finally managed to beat his idol in the final to win his maiden Wimbledon title. This was the first of his 7 career grand slam titles.


Borg ended his career abruptly soon after that and therefore, their rivalry could not extend much. However, quality has to be given precedence over quantity here and the Borg-McEnroe rivalry should definitely feature among the very best in the history of tennis.

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Published 09 Nov 2018, 15:49 IST
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