The golden age of tennis came crashing down suddenly at the 1981 U.S. Open when the stoical Swede, Björn Borg, lost to his brash young rival, John McEnroe, in the final at Flushing Meadows. Through the lens of that era's final tournament, and the play of the other semifinalists, Jimmy Connors and Vitas Gerulaitis, High Strung chronicles the lives and careers of the men who made those Wild West days of tennis so memorable: "Ice Borg," who secretly harbored an inner madman; McEnroe, the tortured, bratty genius; Connors, the game's beloved blue-collar anti-hero; Ilie Nastase, the Romanian clown; Gerulaitis, the New York charmer; and Ivan Lendl, who became a harbinger of tennis's high-powered future. The struggles these men shared were as compelling off the court as they were on.
I'm a huge fan of Steve's work on tennis.com, and was very excited to find out that he was writing a full-length book. This is a pretty good read with a misleading subtitle (Steve has mentioned on his blog that his publishers made him change the original title). You get a lot of interesting stories regarding not only Borg and McEnroe, but some of the other major players of the time (the then up-and-coming Ivan Lendl, Vitas Gerulaitis, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase). Many of the best matches involving these players are highlighted, and the overall theme of the book - the 1981 U.S. Open being the end of an era - seems plausible, with Borg retiring not long after losing the final, Connors having one last hurrah at the top of the game in 1982, and Lendl and McEnroe going on to greater heights later in the decade. I would rate it higher but it strikes me as ending without any definitive conclusions drawn about the rivalry - which may be fitting, since it ended in a 7-7 tie.read more
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