One of the major topics of discussion at rainy Wimbledon this week is the introduction of electronic devices to aid officials in calling lines.
While the players do not object to the devices, they've given them names: R2D2, ala Star Wars. And, wouldn't you know it, one of the boxes went down with short circuit Wednesday.
But the one machine with virtually no chance to shortcircuit is named Bjorn Borg.
So strong was his predominance in the minds of the public that before the tournament begins his odds for winning from one bookmaster were 8 to 5. Jimmy Connors was disdainfully put at 8 to 1. A Connors-Chris Evert-Lloyd double was around 23 to 1 at the other betting shop. "No one wants to bet against Borg," the bookmaker told me. "A Borg-Tracy Austin double right now is about 4 to 1, and even that makes me nervous," he continued.
Borg kept stating publicly that he would be most nervous about his fourth-round match. For, if he won that encounter, he would surpass Rod Laver's record of 31 straight Wimbledon matches won.
Win or lose, Borg is the best player of all time, supplanting Margaret Smith Court on my personal list. Five French Open titles, two Italian, four Wimbledons, one WCT, and a host of others, justify the No. 1 ranking. fIndeed, he has not lost a match in a Grand Prix tournament to a right-handed player in three years, and he is only 24 years old.
While the rest of us play tennis, Borg plays hyper-tennis, a different game altogether. Of all the players, Connors has the potential to play even with Borg. But so far he has stubbornly refused to change his game to adjust to Borg's mastery of the book court.
Connors needs to do three things to better his chances:
1 -- Get more first serves in to keep Borg from running around his backhand to hit a forehand return of serve.
2 -- Attack and hit his approach shots short, low and down the middle. This sounds suicidal but it would force Borg to leave his base line sanctuary as well as hit up on his passing shots. Connors' quickness of anticipation and reaction could carry the day.
3 -- Hit drop shots off his two-handed backhand to Borg's backhand side. Then Connors should position himself just inside the backhand side of his court. From there, he can await Borg's shot to his two-fisted backhand for a lob return or a passing shot. But he must bring Borg to the net.
No one needs to remind Borg of his priorities': right-handers or left-handers, R2D2s or flinty-eyed lines persons, it doesn't matter. He will be ready for all of them.
He and Mariana Simonesciu are to be married on July 24. Vitas Gerulaitis figures the only chance of other players have of taking Borg's title is to schedule the final for July 25.