Against Becker, the Swede never missed a tactical choice. So he won
LONDON. (...) Stefan Edberg's win [...] pleases us for two main reasons. Little Stefan was in credit with Lady Luck, since the Australian Open final that saw him slightly favourite, but also injured against Lendl. Second reason, distributive justice. My German friends had had in little time national reunification and football World Cup. Had Becker won, the apotheosis would have reached Wagnerian tones.
And you see how these facts would be linked, reading the fanciful hypothesis of a winning Becker who is awarded at 17.25 by the Dukes of Kent, ends the shower and the unrenounceable press conference at 18.30, and is air-dropped on the Olympic Stadium (ann. in Rome, the home of the 1990 World Cup final). Like Batman, come on.
Actually, Boris remains a phenomenon, but his rise is getting more and more resistible. Failed the Australian and the French Opens, he found under his feet the beloved grass courts, only to face a very troubled tournament, and even a high risk semifinal, when he went very close to a two sets to love gap against young Ivanisevic. During the tournament, I was impressed by Becker's ability to face risks with pondering, but sometimes this mental attitude of his seemed to be reflected in some slowness in movements.
Edberg was certainly quicker than him, even if, as usual, the Swede looked more vulnerable in negative days. You'll probably remember the afternoon when Amos Mansdorf had collapsed against him under the finish line.
As the other two Wimbledon finals played by Boris and Stefan, this one was definitely anomalous. In 1988 the player who was held the more solid, couldn't face the delay with the calmness of the one held more fragile, Edberg. The following year, Stefan, suffering from one of his Stan Laurel-like afternoons, had remembered how to play tennis when the match was already half-lost.
This time, against an almost perfect Edberg in adapting gestures and tactics to the dry surface of the Centre Court, played a firstly inconsiderate Becker, who forgot grass specific requirements, and fought against both furor and frustration. Rather than resist Edberg with grass court shots, Becker always looked for power solutions, who certainly pushed him in recovering third and fourth set, and rose him to a 3-1 lead in the fifth, but also terribly wore him out.
Edberg, instead, never missed a tactical choice, and even in the lost sets, never let himself sink. At the start of the fifth, Stefan showed mind clearness, as much as courage.
Seeing him commit four double faults in two successive rounds of serve almost everyone thought it was over. As an old tennis watcher, I had realized Stefan was risking the abdominal muscles already torn in Australia, was trying the impossible brushing-up the old serve action, the one based on a wide lever. Since fortune helps the fearless, Becker's weariness would give Stefan a hand in recovering the early break. Since 2-3, the match would become Swedish. Little Stefan was fresher, then faster and able to always play ascending balls.
Becker ended on his feet, so dignified and conscious to even hug his opponent. Comparisons are never nice to be done, but you all saw how the other big tournament, the football one, ended. Puah.
Men's singles final: Edberg (Swe) b. Becker (Ger) 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4.
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