And to think I was, at one point, actually concerned about not getting enough submissions for the Change One Thing idea. All told, there were 10 emails and the length of your responses exceeded 2,500 words.
So as not to overwhelm you in one setting, I’ve chosen to split the process into three parts. Our first four selections, determined by the order in which I received them, come today.
As expected, many of the selections focus on Roger Federer, especially today, but many of you surprised me very much with your choices; today is especially Borg-heavy.
Let’s begin, and what better way to begin than with:
If I could change one thing—I would ask Bjorn Borg to reconsider his decision to walk away from tennis after the 1981 U.S. Open.
Granted, the situation was a bit more complicated than that. Tennis tournament rules further impeded Borg's ability to return. He had won the French Championships in 1981 but lost his Wimbledon crown to McEnroe and then he lost the 1981 U.S. Open and vanished.
I think Borg's place in the hierarchy of tennis greats would be much more secure had he not given up trying to return in 1982. A great rivalry would have continued and more superlative matches could be part of our already very rich history.
I wish Fed could find that X-factor (or the Warrior factor) that will make him step up his game against Rafa.
So many times we've seen Fed serve his way out of trouble. In the match against Berdych, he was really being outplayed. And suddenly out of nowhere, Fed changes gears and beats him to submission.
And yet, it is quite the opposite when it comes to Rafa. I mean, that fifth set in the final was an absolute shocker. Going into the final set, everybody though the momentum was with him. As if to prove us all wrong, he served poorly, made some appalling unforced errors and almost looked like he believed he couldn't win.
Call it self-belief, big-point temperament, or maybe the power to look at Rafa as just another player (albeit really gifted).
I'd give anything to see Fed summon that power (I'm sure he has it in him) and lift the trophy at RG!
Roger Federer: How do you improve on perfection (for he has been, until his illness and loss of confidence last year, as near perfection as I could want)? Many are saying "get a coach." Many don't like his forthright responses to questions about other players or himself. Then there are psycho-therapists who think they could "sort his head out."
What I would like to see, because I think he could excel at it, is a concerted move to more volley so that he can mix up his short/deep game a bit more. He has the attributes to volley like Rafter, but hasn't needed to.
Maybe against Murray and Nadal he does. A supplement to the same point, he should play the occasional doubles tournament, which would help him hone those net skills and give him the chance to express his joyous side. Doubles is special in allowing on-court camaraderie, and this would suit his often submerged extrovert and friendly personality.
Bjorn Borg: the disappointment he felt at failing to nail the USO must have endured many years. Him walking away, like Henin did last year, was one of tennis's big losses.
I'm not sure whether he would ever have been a great volleyer, but he should still have been more aggressive in moving inside the court (much as Nadal has learned to do). His speed and reactions were so good, he may well have been able to win simply by taking more early balls.
I don't think, just running on from the Federer argument, that Borg ever played doubles. I cannot fathom why not, when the majority of players in his era did, and volleying was a widely used weapon.
He was the fittest (and I think one of the most injury-free) players on the circuit, so could have handled the extra on-court hours. The Borg volley wouldn't have been elegant, but his speed could have made it devastating once in a while.
But I wonder if what he really lacked was friendship and a social life to give him more perspective and more ideas. Federer clearly grieves over big losses, but he has a wide network of loyal friends and family who bring him back to normality. Borg, despite coach and girlfriend, seemed an essentially lonely man.
My thanks to all who contributed to today’s selection. Tomorrow we’ll be back with part II, featuring contributions from Rohini, Rock, Poulomee, and Cindy.
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