In 1980, McEnroe reached the men's singles final at Wimbledon for the first time, where he faced Borg who was aiming for an Open Era record fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. At the start of the final McEnroe was booed by the crowd as he entered Centre Court following his heated exchanges with officials during his semi-final clash with Jimmy Connors. In a fourth set tie-breaker which lasted 20 minutes, McEnroe saved five match points and eventually won 18-16. However, he was unable to break Borg's serve in the fifth set and the Swede went on to win 8-6. The final is often cited as one of the best game's in the history of tennis, with repeats often shown during rain delays at Wimbledon. Just months later McEnroe exacted his revenge by defeating Borg at the US Open final in five sets.
In 1981 McEnroe returned to Wimbledon and again made the men's singles final where he faced Borg. This time it was the American who prevailed and defeated Borg to end the Swede's run of 41 consecutive match victories at All England Club. Their final confrontation came at the final of the US Open the same season. McEnroe was again victorious, winning in four sets and ultimately ending the career of Borg who shortly retired, having never won the US Open despite reaching four finals.
|1||Nov-78||Stockholm||Hard||Semi-final||John McEnroe||6-3, 6-4|
|2||Feb-79||Richmond||Carpet||Semi-final||Bjorn Bjorg||4-6, 7-6, 6-3|
|3||Mar-79||New Orleans||Carpet||Semi-final||John McEnroe||5-7, 6-1, 7-6|
|4||Apr-79||Rotterdam||Carpet||Final||Bjorn Borg||6-4, 6-2|
|5||May-79||Dallas||Carpet||Final||John McEnroe||7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6|
|6||Aug-79||Montreal||Hard||Final||Bjorn Borg||6-3, 6-3|
|7||Jan-80||New York Masters||Carpet||Semi-final||Bjorn Borg||6-7, 6-3, 7-6|
|8||Jul-80||Wimbledon||Grass||Final||Bjorn Borg||1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6|
|9||Sep-80||US Open||Hard||Final||John McEnroe||7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4|
|10||Nov-80||Stockholm||Carpet||Final||Bjorn Borg||6-3, 6-4|
|11||Jan-81||New York Masters||Carpet||Quarter-final||Bjorn Borg||6-4, 6-7, 7-6|
|12||Mar-81||Milan||Carpet||Final||John McEnroe||7-6, 6-4|
|13||Jul-81||Wimbledon||Grass||Final||John McEnroe||4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4|
|14||Sep-81||US Open||Hard||Final||John McEnroe||4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3|