Simon Reed

Who’s the GOAT? 2-Pete Sampras v 3-Bjorn Borg

Simon Reed

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In the second of our Greatest of All Time semi-finals, second seed Pete Sampras takes on third seed Bjorn Borg in a clash that would likely have been a real thriller.

Who will face top seed Roger Federer in the final?

Under our GOAT rules each match is three sets, one on each surface. Here's the rundown on the two contenders.

Pete Sampras

Nationality: American

Seeded: 2

Grand Slam titles: 14

Australian Open: Winner (1994, 1997)

French Open: Semi-finalist (1996)

Wimbledon: Winner (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)

US Open: Winner (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002)

Bjorn Borg

Nationality: Swedish

Seeded: 3

Grand Slam titles: 11

Australian Open: Third round (1974)

French Open: Winner (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981)

Wimbledon: Winner (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)

US Open: Finalist (1976, 1978, 1980, 1981)

Simon Reed's verdict

This is a really difficult one to call; they played so far apart, two decades apart, and it's tricky to make a logical analysis of what would have happened.

By the time Sampras was playing the game had moved on and the technology had moved on; the standard rose considerably in that time.

But you have to imagine these two playing at their best, at their peak, when they were both as dominant as each other.

Two of the surfaces are really easy: Borg would've beaten Sampras on clay. He won six French Open titles, four in row.

No-one ruled clay like Borg until Rafael Nadal, so Borg would have won comprehensively on clay, although he would have struggled to break Sampras's serve.

And Sampras would have beaten Borg on hard courts.

Borg never won the Australian Open, and Sampras was a terrific hard court player. He won the Australian Open twice and the US Open five times, so you have to give the hard courts to Sampras.

Grass is so tricky.

As we're talking 'at their peak' I can't imagine anybody beating Sampras at Wimbledon.

At his peak Sampras was the greatest grass court player I've ever seen, and so the American just edges it.

Borg is close: he won Wimbledon five times in a row, so we're talking a tie-break here. But Sampras was such a good tie-break player.

It's a really tricky one, but Sampras edges it

Final verdict

Sampras wins 7-6 (grass) 3-6 (clay) 6-3 (hard)

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