Cronin book recounts Borg v. McEnroe in 1980 Wimbledon final

My book translated into Italian, released this week

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Six years ago, my book, “Epic: John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and the Greatest Tennis Season Ever,” was published in the United States. A number of people have read it over the years. They still do. This week “Borg McEnroe” was published in Italy. Same book but different title and cover.

I am — believe it or not — half Italian. That would be me, Matthew Rezzonico Cronin. My mother, Joan, is 100 percent Italian. On the other side, well, let’s say I am also Irish, from my father, Bill, the former doctor, who passed away 18 years ago.

The thing is that Bill and Joan both loved playing tennis. My mom, Joan, still plays, even as she is an ‘old’ 82-year-old. They both got me into tennis – big time — when I was very young. Many years later, I still am hooked about tennis. Work wise, I have been writing for the past 25 years, traveling, writing/radio/TV etc, and of course, the book, Epic,  — everything. For whatever reason, I am still into tennis, not only following the WTA and ATP folks, but I am always learning new things, on court and off. It is still 2017, and almost every week, somewhere, watching, there will be a fantastic match. Or more.        

For this book’s forward, I asked the former French Open champion Adriano Panatta to be the writer. (Thanks, Adriano!) Here, the Italian remembered how he knew the young Borg and McEnroe were going to be great, eventually. And they did, but it took a little bit of time. Today, he knows them well. They are friends. But, back them, they had some great matches. That’s what tennis is all about.


Forward for “Borg McEnroe”

By One-Time French Open champion Adriano Panatta

The first time I met Bjorn Borg, I thought he was a little bit skinny and he would hesitate. But not for very long, because he grew taller and muscular. He never got tired, and he was incredibly consistent.

A few years later, I saw John McEnoe, running around, twisting it, slicing it, coming into the net and putting it away without hesitation. But on occasion, he would be yelling, all the time.However we eventually became good friends.

When they finally clashed, it was easy to see that they would be the best players out there. They were so driven and so good. Borg and McEnroe never stopped, until Bjorn retired, too early.

However, during the late 1970s, they still had to learn on the courts.

I had to improve every week, too.

In 1976, I won the French Open, beating Borg on clay, possibly the best match I ever played. I always loved clay, sliding, chopping, and when I needed to, I was ready to hit it as hard as I could.

Against Borg, I did a lot of drop shots. I didn’t like to run suddenly, and going fast to the net. He could not match one ball to the other side. It was always very mentally tough..I suffered the opponent and I was able to destroy his game.

In the final, I knew I really had a great chance to win the Grand Slam in Paris and I did, hitting through the lines and never hesitating. It was my best tournament ever.

However, thought time, McEnroe and Borg got better and better. Their serves were so hard and they mixed it up so low. They were so quick, they never got exhausted, they changed the tactics all the time. They could nail their forehands, they were very patient, and they became very intelligent.

I knew Borg better than John, because the Swede was pretty quiet on court, but off the court, he smiled a lot and when I asked him our questions about how to play tennis, he would answer exactly precisely. Bjorn had an ability to track down one ball after another. He almost rattled, he relished playing the big points . . .

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