BUT TANNER had him 15-40 in the second game, fifth set, all tied at two sets apeice. But Borg came back to make it deuce. But Tanner won the next point his ad. But Borg made it deuce again, and then won the next point. But Tanner hit a winner, and made it deuce once more. But Borg won the next point, and the next to win the game and hold his serve. And so it went.

It would be hard to have dreamed up a better final. Roscoe Tanner from Lookout Mountain, Tenn., looking like the biggest kid in town, facing Bjorn Borg fm Swedeb, looking like a hippie d'Artagnan; each knocking the fuzz off the ball for three hours on a center court at Wimbledon that seemed to be made more of herringbone tweed than grass; and neither giving half an inch. In a match that was so up-and-down, there should have been some perceptible psychological shift. Tanner dominated the first set, so Borg should have tightened. Borg creamed Tanner in the second set, so Tanner should have folded. Tanner won the third set easily, so Borg should have collapsed. But there was none of that.The essential difference between them was Borg's patience -- patience in the rallies, which are his strength, and a general patience, a sense that a championship match takes a long time, and is won point by point.

How Borg was able to return Tanner's serve is slightly less perplexing than the problem of how Tanner is able to serve that fast. He tosses the ball too low; has almost no back swing; flies off his feet, and appears to rush. This combination of errors allows him to serve a ball accurately at a clocked speed of 153 mph -- making it visible only to Borg, and then not always. Yet Borg's patience prevailed. Down 2 sets to 1, which was practically the match, he won the remaning games 12 to 7 -- a statistic that might suggest he was nearly twice as good as Tanner when the pressure was on, but that wasn't the case.

For in the final clutch of the many clutched match, in the 10th game, fifth set, with Borg up to 5 to 4 in games, he was winning 40-0 on his serve, one point away from the title.But the Tanner hit a winner, and then another, and another to make it a deuce. And if he had won the next two points, then he, Roscoe Tanner, would at least for the moment have had the chance to be considered the greatest tennis player in the world. It was then that the man who in fact is the greatest tennis player in the world seemed to draw on the reserve of serenity that makes him at least two points better than the strongest challenger.