‘Rafael Nadal is my dream Roland Garros rival,’ says former legend

Bjorn Borg was the first teenage star of modern tennis, bursting onto the scene in 1972 and winning his first Major title at Roland Garros two years later. At the end of 1978, the 22-year-old had already conquered almost 40 ATP titles and six Majors, making massive steps towards a place among tennis immortals. At the end of 1980, Bjorn was a walking legend and one of the best players ever despite turning only 24 in June, and one could have only wondered where his limits were and where he would stand at 30. Bjorn was the dominant figure on clay and grass and one of the toughest players to beat on outdoor hard courts and indoor, using incredible stamina and fitness to crumble rivals and impose his strokes.

Sick and tired of traveling and competing, Bjorn decided to take a break in 1982 and never fully returned, staying on 11 Major trophies and over 60 ATP titles. The Swede claimed six Roland Garros trophies between 1974-1981, standing as the ultimate legend in Paris before Rafael Nadal stole his records in style. Asked about his dream Roland Garros clash, Borg said he would love to share the Parisian court with Nadal in their primes. Aware he would have probably lost that one, Bjorn would still like to experience how it is to stand on the other side of the net against the most successful clay-courter of all time. 

Bjorn Borg would have loved to face Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.

“I think tennis has changed a lot in the last couple of decades; players hit the ball much harder today. When I see my son Leo playing, I understand how tough it is to achieve good results, with so many high-quality rivals around you, already from junior days. Tennis is one of the most fantastic sports in the world, and I love it so much. I would have done it again because I’m happy with what I accomplished in tennis and what the game gave me; it’s a great satisfaction. The most striking change I see in today’s tennis are the racquets and strings.

You can hit with more topspin nowadays, and it was completely different in the past. It would be interesting to see what the future has to offer in those segments. To make a name for yourself, you have to move well and understand how to hit a forehand, backhand, volley and a good serve. You need to have a big heart and motivation to be a tennis player. You can not tell how your career would develop, but you always have to dream about big goals and play with determination and desire. I would have liked to play against Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros. He has been the best clay-courter in history, and my greatest wish would be to play against him in Paris in our primes. I’m sure he would beat me, but it would be a challenge of my life,” Bjorn Borg said.