With their contrasting styles and temperaments, the Borg-McEnroe rivalry spawned a boom that brought tennis into the backyard of thousands of homes and cemented the sport in mainstream culture. Borg, a steady, ice-calm Swedish baseliner, embodied the cool reason of Old Europe. McEnroe, a mercurial, brash, unorthodox tennis genius from New York, embodied the pulsating, unstable energy of the New World. For three years the duo battled at the top of the game, studying each other closely and using each other as a measure of their own greatness. The rivalry was defined by their fourth-set tie break in the 1980 Wimbledon final. McEnroe won it 18-16, but lost the title in the next set. A year later he ended Borg’s streak of five Wimbledon titles, and a few months after that the Swede retired, cutting the rivalry short in its prime. McEnroe would later say that he never quite recovered psychologically, nor enjoyed tennis as much, after his old foe walked away.
Top 10 Tennis Rivalries
Nothing ignites engrossing one-on-one match-ups quite like championship tennis finals: two players, one title. So with the U.S. Open in full swing, TIME takes a look at some historic (and current) rivalries.
Bjorn Borg v. John McEnroe
I Challenge You to a Duel