Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors played another one of those Grand Slams in Boca Cola, Fla. last week, or was it Pepsi Raton, Fla.? In any event, while the atmosphere was hardly Wimbledonian, the outcome was the same as when the two rivals annually meet at the All-England Championships.
Borg won again. Won laughing. Won going away. Won, and in so doing repeated his victory of the last two years over the same man in the same event in the same place and with the same soft-drink can being windblown all over the place. The scores this time were 6-2, 6-3 and nobody dared say to Jimbo, "Have a Pepsi Day."
On the other hand, the Sunday that Borg had at BocaWest, which, you guessed it, is due west of Boca Raton, went the way most of his confrontations with Connors have gone lately when they are fought out on any surface other than Jimbo's favorite freeway.
On the Har-Tru Sunday Borg set up camp on the baseline, thrashed his topspins to the distant corners and dared Connors to do anything with them. Early on, Jimbo also elected to stay back and he had four break points in Borg's first two service games. Though he didn't get either break, he did use three delicate drop shots to win the fifth game, a new wrinkle for him. "I could have been up four-love," Connors acknowledged later, "but I wasn't worried. There was a lot of time left."
Well, at least 30 seconds. From 3-2 in the first set, Borg began digging welts in the court with his huge serve, obviously trying to bounce the ball past Connors into Cuba. The Swede took five games running, holding serve easily twice and forcing Jimbo into errors—39 for the match—in Connors' own service games.
By this time Borg had won 40 of the first 68 points and had voluntarily come to the net just one time—on the very first point of the match. Connors seemed befuddled; Borg sensed his confusion. "He was hitting high ones, drops, coming in and then going back and hitting with me," Borg said. "I think he don't know what to do. I was a step ahead of Jimmy all day. When I am really psyched up and feeling well in the legs, I can do a lot of things. I was running to the balls just right."
And to the cash. But so what? Just because Borg's victory earned him the ungodly sum of $150,000 and Connors' defeat earned him the not entirely godly sum of $75,000, don't believe there wasn't the devil to pay.
To understand just how dominant a sponsor has become at an event like this, and why, it is only necessary to figure out that the $300,000 that Pepsi-Cola handed over to the four participating players—Borg, Connors, John McEnroe and Guillermo Vilas—last week was about as much money as the entire field will receive at Wimbledon next summer. In exchange for its largesse, Pepsi and your local Pepsi bottlers worked some wonders, which included replacing competitors' products at the BocaWest village grocery with Pepsi's own brands, surrounding the courts with what one executive called "signage" (English translation: Pepsi signs) and covering every living, breathing human being with either a Pepsi warm-up suit or a Pepsi T shirt or both. Then, too, in the event members of the media became forgetful, Pepsi made sure the tournament fact sheet led off:
"Official title: Pepsi-Cola Grand Slam of Tennis.
"Abbreviated title: Pepsi Grand Slam.