Which would win—Nadal in 2017 vs. Borg in 1978?

In competitive sports, it is customary to draw comparisons between current greats and historical greats. These comparisons are driven more by feelings than logic, especially when the two are nearly three decades apart in age. Since the sport has changed so much in this time, it is actually preferable to avoid drawing analogies unless they are done purely for sentimental purposes. And the winner by public vote is always the greatest person alive.

It’s common practice in competitive sports to make historical and contemporary greats parallels. These parallels are motivated more by emotion than by reason, particularly considering that the two are almost thirty years apart in age. It is actually best to avoid making analogies unless they are done only for emotional reasons, given the sport has evolved so much in this time. The best person alive is always the winner determined by popular voting.

Despite having witnessed both of the greats perform at the top of their games and for years together, I won’t attempt to compare the two.


Bjornborg was a top player who used a double-handed backhand during the wooden racket era (I believe he used a donnely). He primarily played from the baseline, however he had a terrific volley and was quite quick on his feet. But his calm demeanor on the court was what really caught my attention. It is hardly hyperbole to state that, in great part because of Borge’s achievements, Sweden became a significant tennis-playing nation and a formidable opponent in the Davis Cup.

Björn Borg, according to Wikipedia, had a rather brief career that ended in 1981 at the ripe old age of 25. By then, he had achieved 11 Grand Slam victories, which included six French Opens (four in a run) and five Wimbledon titles in a row (excluding a sixth-year final loss to McEnroe). Four consecutive wins at Wimbledon and the French Open is an incredible accomplishment that has never been surpassed in the Open Era. I’m not making any references to any of the other records here.

Because the majority of Quora users are probably already aware of Rafael Nadal’s escapades, I won’t talk as much about him. Watching Rafael Nadal play in my hometown of Delhi, India, at this year’s Davis Cup was undoubtedly a fantastic opportunity for me. On Quora, however, very few people would have had the chance to witness the “iceberg,” who retired 36 years ago at the height of his career.


Despite what I have written about Borg, I do not want to draw any comparisons between him and Rafael Nadal, or any other two outstanding athletes from different eras.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.