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Hi, Mama. Hi, Papa. Well, my wacation in England was wery boring this time. So cold every day. Much windy. And wery much rain. For sure, I never see so many umbrellas in my life. I stay in Holiday Inn and eat the steak and string the rackets. For sure, I meet some celebrity peoples. Bianca say I am cute, and Larry Holmes say I am "cool dude." Papa, what is "dude"? Oh well. I be home sooner this summer. And no beard, Mama. Since I win Wimbledon third time in row to become one of the greatest tennis players for all time, Mr. Perry say now I have to shave. For sure.
As it turned out, all that stood between Bjorn Borg and a third consecutive Wimbledon title were frostbite, cold sores and Victor Amaya. You think that's a simplification? Ask Victor Amaya. No. Ask Jimmy Connors, who figured he was mobilized, keyed up and in a prime position to challenge Borg in a continuation of their sport's finest, boldest rivalry.
But last Saturday afternoon, in the midst of the same damp and chill that for two weeks had transformed Centre Court at the All England Club into the weather-beaten moors of Wuthering Heights, Connors was not mobilized. Either that, or Borg simply has marched several lengths ahead of him in terms of talent, mental toughness, hunger for battle and sheer, unadulterated weaponry. Because soon after the two unleashed their rackets, it became quite clear that whatever it was that made their glorious five-set Wimbledon final last year so special was sorely missing on this occasion. Too bad.
This time Borg beat Connors 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, a genuine old-fashioned hack-sparkar, as they say in Sweden. The champion bludgeoned the pretender. He turned him inside out and embarrassed him. Choose your verbs, past tense. And say good night, Jimbo. No American has taken such a whomping from a Swede since Floyd Patterson was knocked down seven times in one round by Ingemar Johansson.
"I wasn't into the match mentally," Connors said afterwards, "but the ball never overpowered me." Has Borg improved or changed his game? "Naw, he always plays the same." Is that the best you've seen Borg play? "Naw, he's played well the other 13 times, too."
Nobody summoned an ophthalmologist, but Jimbo must have been watching a different match from the one in which Borg kept whipping his toonder and lightning serves past Connors; kept pounding top-spin approaches into the distant corners or looping rainbow floaters into midcourt where his opponent was unable to contend with the varied pace; kept skidding a newly developed backhand slice short to Connors' vulnerable forehand wing and then dashing to net behind it; kept up a relentless attack that pressured the desperate Connors into scattering balls throughout the Pimm's Cup concessions.
"The plan was to get to net," Borg revealed after the match. "The court was soft and the bounce was low. I want to slice and come in because Jimmy doesn't like that. He usually put the pressure on me—I have to do the passing shot; I have to do the lob. Today he have to do all of that. I win so many points because he can't do."
In fact, Borg won 102 points—a fat, round 30 more than Connors. From 0-2 in the first set, Borg took six games running, allowing Connors only 15 points. In the third set, Borg lost only five points in his four service games. Possibly the most important, and the most dramatic, sequences were in the fourth and seventh games of the second set when the two men dealt with a love-40 deficit in vastly different ways.
In Game 4, having just broken Connors' serve to lead 2-1, Borg found himself on the brink of being broken back. Just in time he rifled three enormous first serves, two of which Connors couldn't even play and the other setting up an easy smash for Borg. Connors forced a fourth break point, but again one of Borg's slingshot deliveries preceded a dainty touch volley and Borg served out the game for a 3-1 advantage.
In Game 7, when it was Connors' turn at love-40, Jimbo came to the net three times for saving volley winners (to reach deuce), but then he was unable to hold off Borg. Bjorn rapped an overhead after his own brilliantly devised lob, then watched Connors net a forehand to lose the game, as well as any real hope.