Leo Borg upholds the family honour with debut win at Wimbledon

Son of legendary father Björn beats Marko Topo 6-3, 6-7, 6-0 in impressive start

 Leo Borg of Sweden plays a forehand in his boys’ singles first round match against Marko Topo of Serbia at Wimbledon. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Leo Borg of Sweden plays a forehand in his boys’ singles first round match against Marko Topo of Serbia at Wimbledon. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

Leo Borg’s dreams of following in the imposing footsteps of his legendary father got off to a quietly impressive start in front of 68 people on Court 9 on Monday.

Precisely 41 years to the day after Björn Borg lifted the last of his five titles at the All England Club, his 18-year-old son upheld the family honour with victory on his Wimbledon debut in the boys’ event.

Dressed head-to-toe in the Italian sportswear brand Fila, just like his father, and displaying an eerily similar double-fisted backhand, young Leo defeated the Serbian player Marko Topo 6-3, 6-7, 6-0.

And Borg, the 14th seed, was just as adept when the inevitable questions about his father came flooding in from the world’s media after his first-round win.

“To be at Wimbledon is always special,” he said. “I remember Dad played here so many times and then he retired. It is very special to get out there and feeling maybe one day I am getting there, the same as my dad.”

Leo Borg with his father Björn
Leo Borg with his father Björn

When Borg left the clubhouse on his way to court, he saw the honours board, listing his father’s five championship wins. But it was his father’s thoughts that were more on his mind.

Impressive groundstrokes

“We talked of course before the match and he said good luck,” he said. “Normal stuff. He is letting my coach get on with the coaching staff. He told me to have a great time, it is always special to play at Wimbledon. Just enjoy it.”

In the first set Borg followed those instructions to the letter, delighting the crowd with impressive groundstrokes from both sides as well as a delightful tweenie. But in sight of victory at 5-3 up in the second set, he squandered three match points before losing the tie-break.

Borg senior was famously known as the Ice-Borg. But at this stage his son looked like he might melt. But it said a lot about his courage that he quickly recovered to win the final set to love – and then made no secret about his desire to go all the way.

“My goal is to be a professional tennis player and to play at the highest level,” he said. “I know it is tough to get there, I am doing my best, and hopefully I can get there.”

When asked whether that meant challenging for slams, he nodded. “Of course, of course. That is my dream to play the big guys and play for big titles. If I work hard, maybe one day I will get there.”

He has some way to go, mind. At the moment, Borg has a world ranking of 2,090 and career earnings of $4,686 (€3,948). However, having only begun training in earnest at 14, when he switched from football to tennis, he believes that there is plenty of room for improvement.

In the past his mother, Patricia, has admitted to crying at Leo constantly being compared to his father and being placed under unbearable scrutiny, while Björn has used the phrase “burden” when describing the Borg surname.

However Borg, who has been training at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain and is based in the Royal Tennis Club in Sweden given the travel restrictions imposed by Covid, has clearly made progress since trying to qualify for the boys event as a 15-year-old.

And he insists he is not worried about having the weight of expectation, or his father’s legacy on his shoulders. “No. I like to do my own stuff, go my own path, and it’s not good to think about the pressure. I am not thinking about it too much.”

– Guardian

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