from Daily Mail.co.uk
by Allan Hall
The English version of Boris Becker's autobiography
Boris Becker told today how he battled addiction to alcohol and sleeping tablets at the height of his playing career.
The 35-year-old tennis star revealed he consumed a mixture of whisky, beer and prescription drugs before the 1990 Wimbledon final - which he lost.
In his autobiography Stay A Moment Longer, serialised in German newspaper Bild today, Becker explains why he started taking pills. "I was sick. In the early part of 1987 I couldn't take the pressure any more. I started with sleeping tablets - apparently quite harmless.
"Our former Davis Cup doctor, Professor Joseph Keul, asked us sometimes, 'Problems with sleeping anyone?' "To stay top-fit one needs between eight and nine hours sleep a night. So we all tried the medication called Planum."
It is recommended that the drug is taken for a maximum of four weeks, but Becker "lived with these things for years" in a "desperate search for sleep". He added: "No one knew about all the chemicals affecting me."
In what he describes as his "worst phase" in 1987, Becker says he drank whisky "to strengthen the effects of the tablets. I wanted to be right back there on top, to win again, and that was to be had at any price
"For the sleeplessness there was Planum, for the pain a couple of other pills, against the loneliness I felt with women, whisky or both. I had to occasionally reduce my tournament appearances to recover in the meantime from the effects of the pills." Instead of finding release in the alcohol and drugs Becker said they made him "melancholy".
When he beat Stefan Edberg in a final in Stockholm in 1991 he said he felt nothing but "deep sadness when I should have been joyful, when I should have been singing with happiness."
After deciding to stop taking the pills he found himself unable to sleep. "There were terrible nights for me," he said.
But soon he was back on the pills and the alcohol. "At 10pm I started with Planum and then a couple of Heinekens and then some whisky to strengthen the tablets' effect... In my worst phase from 1990 to 1991 I was often awake in the morning and I had no idea where I was."
The night before his 1990 final against Edberg that the Swede won, Becker said he drank beer, whisky and pills. They failed to work, however, and at 4am he took more sleeping tablets. He lost the match three sets to two "and my night's sleep following it", he writes.
Becker says his son Noah, now nine, saved him from this "horrific episode". I now had a wonderful reason to remain awake," he said. "I didn't want to escape into sleep any more."
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