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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Borg on Federer
By Alistair Magowan

Bjorn Borg wins his last Wimbledon title in 1980
Born: 6.6.1956
Sodertalijie, Sweden
Wimbledon titles:
1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980
Runner up: 1981
Grand Slam titles: 11
Career titles: 61
Prize money: $3,655,751

As Roger Federer steps onto Centre Court this year aiming to match Bjorn Borg's record of winning five Wimbledon titles in a row, inevitable comparisons will be made between the two players.

If the world number one wins he will not only equal Borg's record of 11 Grand Slam titles, but he will have done so at the same point in their careers.

And while they are both renowned for their calm demeanour on the court, they also share a history of being less than graceful in their youth.

"I used to be one of the worst behaved kids on the tennis court," Borg told BBC Sport.

"When I was 11 or 12 years old I played for my hometown club outside Stockholm where I grew up and one day the club arranged a meeting with my parents to do something about my behaviour.

"Swearing, throwing racquets - you name it, I was doing it. My parents were really embarrassed.

"The club decided to suspend me for six months and I was really sad and disappointed because I loved to play tennis.

"That was a great lesson for me at the time. When I came back after six months I did not open my mouth and that's probably where I got my temperament from.

"Sure you have feelings and you get emotional and angry but I kept everything inside because I think I still had that thought in my mind - I didn't want to get suspended again."

The lesson clearly worked. Borg's determination to not get suspended lead him to six titles at Roland Garros and five at Wimbledon, six of them coming during a three-year period between 1978 and 1980.

Of course, the answer to whether he could have added to his total will never be known as Borg walked away from the game, following his defeat to John McEnroe in the 1981 Wimbledon final.

Roger Federer wins his fourth Wimbledon title in 2006
Born: 8.8.1981
Basle, Switzerland
Wimbledon titles:
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Grand Slam titles: 10
Career titles: 48
Prize money to date: $31,237,103

Borg was just 25 when he retired in the prime of his career, the same age as Federer is now.

And although the Swiss star possesses a style that competes on all surfaces, Borg's exit suggests Federer's future may well be down to his temperament as much as his talent.

Federer has admitted he "used to carry on like an idiot" when he was a junior and "was getting kicked out of practice sessions non-stop when I was 16".

But even after winning junior Wimbledon in 1998 he found it hard to deal with the pressure of expectation. "People were coming up to me and telling me I was going to be the next great player," he said.

"But at first I wasn't mentally strong enough and I found myself getting frustrated when things didn't go my way."

That soon changed when he defeated seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras in 2001, and then went on to win his first title in 2003.

Since then, Federer has remained undefeated in 32 matches on the grass courts of the All England Club, conceding only four sets in the process.

But with such domination over the last four years, the danger is that with only Rafael Nadal posing a threat to Federer - and then only on clay - the same temptation to walk away may linger at the back of his mind.

"I lost my motivation a little bit in 1981," said Borg trying to explain why he quit just a year after what he called his "best tennis".

I think and hope that Roger will equal my record this year - it could not happen to a better person

Bjorn Borg

"I still played good tennis but I did not have the same focus that I had for many years. I always gave 100% and loved to win and hated to lose but if you lose that little bit of an edge it is very difficult to do well.

"Something was missing and for me as a person that is not right."

The concept of "something missing" seems to have perforated Federer's thoughts after his latest loss to Nadal at Roland Garros.

He let slip a clue to his current mindset when he said: "If I had won I would not have had many other goals to chase in my career."

That suggests Federer is not overly concerned with Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams and it will be interesting to see how motivated he would be should he ever taste defeat on Centre Court like Borg.

With Nadal aiming to improve on his performance last year, that prospect might not be as far-fetched as it would seem, but Borg thinks Federer will be suitably inspired to match his feat.

"This year is going to mean a lot to Roger to equal my record to win for the fifth time so he's going to be more even more focused and concentrated to try to defend his title.

"Federer is a complete tennis player. He is an artist on the court and to beat him at Wimbledon in the best of five sets is almost an impossible task.

"I think and hope that Roger will equal my record this year - it could not happen to a better person.

"He has achieved so many great things in tennis and if he stays clear of injuries, stays motivated and continues at the same pace as he is doing, he will definitely be the greatest player of all time."

Assuming Borg is right, tennis fans everywhere will hope that Federer can prove he has the motivation to carry on beyond the point Borg called it quits.

Federer battles to fourth crown
09 Jul 06 |  Tennis
Federer finally fulfils promise
06 Jul 03 |  Wimbledon 2003
Wimbledon legends: Bjorn Borg
31 May 04 |  History

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