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All England invincibles

Steven LynchNovember 10, 2013
Bjorn Borg won Wimbledon without dropping a set in 1976 © Getty Images
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You wrote recently that Jack Kramer lost the fewest games in winning Wimbledon, despite actually losing a set. How did he manage that, and how many people have won it without even losing a single set? asked Simon Blunt

To answer the second part first, since the abolition of the Challenge Round in 1922 (before which the defending champion only played one match, against the winner of the rest of the tournament) only four players have won the men's singles at Wimbledon without dropping a set in any of their matches: Don Budge in 1938, Tony Trabert in 1955, Chuck McKinley in 1963, and Bjorn Borg in 1976.

But, rather oddly, they all lost more games overall than Jack Kramer did in 1947, even though he lost a set in his semi-final, to the Australian Dinny Pails.

But Kramer was ruthless in all his other matches, dropping only one game in the first round, six in the second, two in the third, ten in the fourth, and four in the quarter-final, before beating Pails 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-0. In the final Kramer blitzed his fellow American Tom Brown 6-1 6-3 6-2, in just 45 minutes.

That's a total of 37 games lost in seven matches: Budge lost 48 games, Trabert 60, Borg 70 and McKinley 82. "Our match wasn't as bad as it sounds," reflected Brown later. "Jack was, in a word, awesome."

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