The Tennis world witnessed a magnificent sight in the mid-80s. A blond, young German player was taking the sport by storm. He never bounced the Tennis ball much. The youngster would then wind up, bend his knees and back as if he was like a recoiling cobra waiting to pounce. The German would unleash a powerful and accurate serve to follow it up with brilliant serve and volley style.
The style would earn him the nickname Boom, Boom. His other name would be Der Bomber. As he went on to win more Grand Slams, he would also earn the nickname Baron von Slam. Boris Becker, born on November 22, 1967, is considered as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. On grass and indoor hard courts, Becker was second to none in his brilliance. This was endorsed by none other than his rival Pete Sampras, who was at that time one of the greatest players in the world.
Becker was already making waves in the junior circuit. After graduating from the professional circuit, Becker gave a glimpse of his talent when he won the Queen’s Club title just before Wimbledon. When he entered the Wimbledon tournament in 1985, Becker was 17 years of age and was unseeded. His early-round matches in Wimbledon had some struggles.
In his first-round match, he was stretched to four sets by Hank Pfister of the USA. But, in the fourth round, he faced his toughest fight. Against Timothy Mayotte, Boris Becker was trailing by two sets to one but he bounced back to reach the quarterfinal. Becker’s fairytale runs continued as he reached the final with straight-sets wins. In the final, he met Kevin Curren. Becker showed no nerves and he created history by winning the Wimbledon title at the age of 17. This made him the youngest Grand Slam winner in the history of Tennis among the male players.
A new sensation had arrived on the world stage. In the coming years, Boris Becker forged a rivalry with Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg. His brilliance after winning Wimbledon 1985 continued as he successfully defended the title in 1986. In that match, he defeated Lendl, the-then world number one in straight sets in a dominant display.
Becker’s rivalry with Lendl and Edberg dominated the Tennis world as the 80s drew to a close. In 1987, he failed to achieve a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles as he lost in the second round to Australian Peter Doohan. 1988 was a mixed year for Becker. He lost in the Wimbledon final to Edberg but he helped Germany win the Davis Cup title.
1989 would be the only year in which he would win two Grand Slam titles. Becker took revenge on Edberg by defeating him in a pulsating Wimbledon final. His dominance on hard courts began when he defeated Lendl in the final of the US Open. The 90s saw Becker reaching finals and semifinals on a consistent basis but he lost on a regular basis. He lost in the final of Wimbledon to Edberg as the duo competed in three straight Wimbledon finals. But, in 1991, Becker finally achieved his dream. He once again defeated Lendl, this time in the Australian Open final to finally become the world number one.
His struggles in the French Open were well documented. In fact, in his entire career, Becker would never win a title on clay. His best performances would be semifinal appearances at the French Open in 1987, 1989, and 1991.
As the 90s wore on, Becker’s form declined. He lost in the 1991 Wimbledon final to Michael Stich. However, in the following year, he partnered with Stich to win the doubles gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In the subsequent years, Becker’s form declined. From 1993 to 1995, Becker failed to create much impact. There were problems off the court.
Germany’s tax laws, the most stringent in the world, caught up with Becker. In addition, his marriage to model Barbara Feltus was also falling apart. In 1995, for a brief period, he showed his brilliance when he reached the final of Wimbledon for the seventh time. But, he lost in four sets to Pete Sampras. He did achieve some success in the season-ending ATP Finals, winning against Michael Chang.
In 1996, Becker would win his final Grand Slam title when he beat Chang in the Australian Open. But, at Wimbledon during the match against Neville Godwin, Becker damaged his right wrist badly and was never the same again.
Becker retired from professional Tennis after 1999. In Wimbledon, he lost in the fourth round to Pat Rafter and subsequently bid adieu to the Tennis world. The German was not done with the sport though. In 2003, he was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame and was a commentator for BBC.
But, he was notable for becoming the coach of Novak Djokovic from 2013 to 2016. The German was instrumental in the Serb evolving into one of the greats of the sport along with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Under the guidance of Becker, Djokovic won seven Grand Slam titles which included a career Grand Slam by winning the 2016 French Open.
However, in the last couple of years, Becker has fallen on hard times financially. He was in debt of GBP 3.3 million and was hounded by creditors. In one report in The Guardian, he was also in the center of a bizarre scam in which he was made the Central African Republic’s attaché for sports, culture, and humanitarian affairs to the European Union. The only twist – Becker had never been to CAR which is one of the poorest nations in the world.
The current situation with Becker is sad. For a legend, this is a big blow to his stature. But, it does not diminish his contributions to the world of Tennis. Becker was and still remains one of the greatest players in the history of the game.