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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Classic Matches: Borg v Gerulaitis
1977 - Men's Singles Semi-final
B Borg (Swe) bt V Gerulaitis (US) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6

Bjorn Borg

Once in a while a tennis match will reach its climax with both players convinced they are going to win until the last stroke of the last rally.

Such was the case in one of the matches that is the stuff of sporting legend - Bjorn Borg v Vitus Gerulaitis.

The pair were great friends and practice partners and knew each other's games inside out.

The Centre Court crowd was in raptures as the American twice came back from a set down to level with aggressive serve and volley tennis.

Amid the gloom of twilight in the final set, first one player edged ahead and then the other.

Gerulaitis reached match point and was suddenly faced with putting a simple backhand down the line for the winner.

Having played with a sliced backhand for his entire career, it was the perfect opportunity to play the more aggressive top-spin drive he had worked on in practice. He shaped up to hit it - and then changed his mind.

He went back to his slice. But as so often happens when a player changes his mind, the ball drifted long.

Borg went on to win the match and claim the second of his five Wimbledon titles against Jimmy Connors in the final. Such is the difference between winning and losing.

Gerulaitis never reached another Wimbledon semi-final and died in 1994. He said after the match: "I'm surprised I had it in me to play that well and I'm completely choked I lost."





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