McEnroe v. Borg

Certainly a highlight of my trip to Doha was getting to watch an exhibition tennis match between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. While both of these guys have slowed down a bit as they’ve gotten older, you could tell they are still elite tennis players.

Before the match begin Peter and I spent our time “star watching” as several celebrities including Sir Alex Ferguson (manager of Manchester United), Michael Johnson (American Olympic sprinter), and others were seated in the royal box.

The personalities of the two players could not have been more different. Bjorg was the definition of reserved professional. He rarely showed any emotion at all. Win or lose, he simply played the game and gave his all. At the end of the match he was absolutely drenched in sweat and you could tell he’d left everything on the court. McEnroe on the other hand, was the epitome of the showman. In fact, at a conference session earlier in the day, Pete said McEnroe asked those in attendance if they’d rather watch him play well or put on a show. Apparently McEnroe chose both. Never the slouch, McEnroe also never passed up the opportunity to play to the crowd and to defy the umpire.

Each player was granted three challenges using the “Hawk Eye” camera system to determine if a ball was played in or out of bounds. I think McEnroe must have taken at least 12 challenges and lost every single one of them. Each time he’s rant and rave purely for our entertainment.

One time, while serving, McEnroe’s motion was interrupted by a fan crying out, “I love you John.” He stopped halfway through his serve, put his hands on his hips and turned towards the sound. For a few beats he simply waited while the stadium laughed nervously. Suddenly smiling, John asked if it would be alright for him to continue and if the fan was done speaking. As John has faulted on his first serve, he then began arguing with the umpire that he should be allowed to redo his first-serve as he was likely to fault again now that his rhythm had been interrupted.

In the end, McEnroe took the victory. But for these two fierce competitors it was obviously they were also committed friends who thrived on their rivalry.

  • McEnroe v. Borg: The Match Begins
  • Khalifa Tennis Center
  • Introducing Bjorn
  • Warm-ups
  • McEnroe Practices His Backhand
  • Bjorn Working on His Footwork
  • Service McEnroe
  • Point McEnroe
  • "Are You FInished"
  • Sir Alex Ferguson Looks On
  • A Good Match for Both
  • Post-Game Interviews

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