For the first time since Fred Perry led Britain to four successive victories in the 1930’s, a European nation retained the Davis Cup when Sweden defeated West Germany 3-2 at the Olympiahalle in Munich. The year was immensely satisfying because it saw the consolidation of the finest and most powerful all-round Davis Cup team since Neale Fraser was able to call upon the likes of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe in the early 1970’s. Hans Olsson‘s men are a true credit to tennis, not merely for their abundant and varied skills but for the refreshing spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship that they bring to a game badly in need of it. In marked contrast to Gothenburg 12 months before, when the referee, Alan Mills, had to consider defaulting Jimmy Connors, Patrick Flodrops, the French referee in Munich, found himself pleasantly under-employed. Olsson was not so very far from the mark when, in reply to a flippant question about the need for code of conduct agreements, he replied “My boys are so good they don’t even need umpires”.
For Boris Becker, too [the Davis Cup in 1985] had become a whirl of triumph which remained quite untarnished by West Germany’s defeat in Munich. He could, it is true, have done better in the doubles but his performance in both singles, first in beating Stefan Edberg on the Friday, and then in keeping the tie alive for the Germans by outplaying as solid a competitor as Mats Wilander on the Sunday, were performances that required an extraordinary level of determination and self-belief. But not even Becker could beat the Swedes on his own. Proving their amazing versatility and depth of talent, Olsson’s team were able to shrug off the loss through illness of Anders Jarryd, their no. 2 singles player and doubles expert, and still win on a German-made carpet that was really too fast for good quality tennis. It was a tribute to the skills of all the players that we saw anything other than one-shot rallies.
Olsson’s remark after beating Australia in Malmo –
“Germany can choose whatever court they want; I have the players for it”
– was not the statement of an over-confident captain. It was merely the truth. With Wilander beating Westphal in the first rubber despite the young German’s 19 aces; Wilander and the brilliant Joakim Nystrom taking advantage of Maurer‘s service weakness to win the doubles; and Edberg overcoming his nerves (and another 22 aces from Westphal) to prove that he now has the character to match his talent, Sweden’s right to retain the Cup was never questioned either by impartial observers or even by the Bavarian crowd who devised a new form of noisy support for their players by clapping rhythmically between every point. The best team won, and, to their credit, the Germans were the first to recognise it. Now they have beaten such stalwart opposition on an alien court, with a new no.2 singles player and a reserve doubles team, it is difficult to see how anyone is going to take the Cup away from the Swedes in the foreseeable future. But in Davis Cup who knows?
By Richard Evans, World of Tennis 1986
From Hard courts: real life on the professional tennis tours, by John Feinstein:
As always, the men’s semifinals sandwiched the women’s final, so Becker and Agassi had to be on court at 11 o’clock in the morning. Only at the US Open could a semifinal match start with the stadium half empty.
Those who came late missed a wonderful seventy-one-minute first set. Becker saved four set points and Agassi three. Becker finally won in a 12-10 tiebreak.
Sitting in the stands, neither Brett nor Tiriac felt overjoyed at the end of it. Relieved, yes. Perhaps, they thought, Boris would escape on his will and his guile, because, once again, he was not playing the kind of tennis either man wanted to see him play. Point after point, he stood behind the baseline exchanging ground strokes with Agassi. Only when he had too, it seemed, did he come in.
Brett and Becker had sat and talked at length after Becker’s quarterfinal victory over Aaron Krickstein. Becker had been down a set and a break in that match before he had snapped out of his lethargy to win the match in four sets. “He knows very well,” Brett said afterward, “that he can’t even think about playing that way on Saturday if he wants to win.”
And yet, here it was, Saturday, and Becker was back behind the baseline against a man he had to attack to beat. Maybe the conditions – cold and windy, a complete switch from earlier in the tournament – threw Becker off. Whatever it was, he could not keep up the clay-court style of game he was playing. Agassi’s shots began finding their mark regularly. Becker wasn’t even making him sweat to hold serve. At one point, he won six points in eight games that Agassi served? When Becker didn’t get his serve in, Agassi controlled the points.
Agassi broke Becker nine times in thirteen service games during the last three sets. No doubt, he had returned extremely well. But Becker doesn’t get broken nine times when he is coming in. It can happen only if he plays behind the baseline.
Agassi won in four sets. He ended it with a service winner and promptly knelt in a prayerful pose somewhat akin to The Thinker – remarkable behavior from someone who, a week earlier, on this same court, had spewed profanities and spit on an umpire. Becker said nothing, but he noticed.
Considering the fact a young American had just beaten the defending champion, the crowd was surprisingly quiet. The applause was a little more than polite, but not much. Becker tried too hard to be gracious in his press conference. He claimed that he had played better tennis against Agassi than he had in 1989, in the final against Lendl.
“Andre was just too good,” he said.
Later that night, Becker admitted he had gone too far in praising Agassi.
“I didn’t want to sound like a bad loser,” he said. “He did play well, but I probably went too far, saying what I did. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who just says, ‘I was bad’, as an excuse for losing.”
Winner in Melbourne and London, world number one Novak Djokovic is once against the big favorite to capture the title in New York. Will he win his tenth Grand Slam title?
Check out a few pictures of Djokovic practicing on Sunday:
From Hard courts: real life on the professional tennis tours, by John Feinstein:
When Becker walked on court for the final, on a glistening, postcard-perfect day, there was another problem. Katarina Witt, the glamorous German ice skater, had come to town earlier in the week. She was in the process of making a deal with Tiriac, and he had invited her to Wimbledon. Becker, single again, had spent some time with her.
It didn’t take long for the London tabloids to get cranked up. Now, as Becker walked on court, he looked up toward the friends’ box, expecting to see Brett and Tiriac’s assistant, Heather McLachlan, sitting there. That had been the drill the entire tournament. But now, in addition to Brett and mcLachlan, Becker’s sister was there. That was fine. So was Katarina Witt. That wasn’t fine.
From his seat, Brett saw a look pass over Becker’s face. “It was a shock,” Becker said later. “I never expected to see her there. Heather had just given her the ticket to sit there without thinking about what it would me. She told me later she was sorry, that she made a mistake.”
What it meant was tabloid mania. Front page pictures galore, rumors about a Becker-Witt romance everywhere. It wasn’t what Becker needed starting a Wimbledon final.
Those thoughts, his feeling of satisfaction after the semifinal, and Edberg’s brilliance made Becker look helpless the first two sets.
“I just didn’t feel like I was in a Wimbledon final,” he said. “I didn’t even feel nervous going on court. Then I got a little distracted at the start (by Witt), and the next thing I know it’s 6-2 6-2. Then, my only thought was to not make a complete fool of myself.”
Edberg was also as shocked as Becker. How could it be so easy? He had lost three Grand Slam finals in eighteen months. Maybe it was in turn at last.
Or maybe not. Edberg had a break point in the first game of the third set. It was, for all intents and purposes, a match point as far as Becker was concerned. He came in and Edberg teed up another backhand. He ripped it crosscourt. Not this time: Becker read it perfectly and knocked off a sharp backhand volley. From there, he held. Given a glimmer of life, he broke Edberg for the first time in the next game. Maybe, he thought, I can win a set.
He won it. Then he won another. They had played for two hours and fifteen minutes. Now they would play the first fifth set in a Wimbledon final since McEnroe-Connors in 1982. Becker was wound up, stoking. Edberg was reeling.
“I was all the way to fifth gear,” Becker said. “He wasn’t there yet. I needed to take him out before he got there.”
He had his chance. Serving at 1-2, Edberg served two double faults, the second one an ugly balloon that almost went over the baseline. Becker was up 3-1. The match was on his racquet.
“But somehow I could’t keep my mind right there on the match,” he said. “I started to think about holding that trophy again. I knew that if I served the match out, I would be on the same side of the net where I had been the other three times I had won. Those were wrong thoughts at that time. If I win the game at 3-1, he’s finished. But I couldn’t keep my concentration.”
Becker needed to, as Navratilova would put it, stay in the present. Instead, he had let his mind wander into the future. At 30-all, Edberg chipped a backhand and Becker didn’t get down far enough for the volley. He netted it. Break point. Becker came in behind a serve and had an easy forehand volley. He pushed it wide.
Edberg pumped a fist. Becker had let him get into fifth gear. “He was in fifth and I was out of gas,” he said later. With Edberg serving at 4-4, Edberg came up with the shot of the match, a perfect backhand topspin lob that landed on the line, to get one last service break. He skipped to his chair while Becker slumped. Becker tried to talk to himself into it one more time but it as too late. Edberg served it out, finishing with a perfect kick serve that Becker just got to but pushed wide.
As the ball landed, Edberg hurled the ball he had in his hand toward the sky as Pickard leapt from his seat, screaming. Becker, never classier, climbed over the net and hugged Edberg. His eyes were glassy.
“I really couldn’t believe I had lost after coming so far back,” he said. “I went home the next day and wrote for hours and thought and tried to figure it out. In the end, I thought maybe it was his time. He had lost three straight finals. He had been hurt in one that he probably would have won. We’ve played so many times that we both deserve some good things. He’s a good guy. He’s different than me, it doesn’t show his emotion, but he is a great player. I decided he deserved this Wimbledon.”
For Edberg, this second Wimbledon was even better than the first because of the travails of the past two years. He even got to go to the champions’ dinner. In 1988, with the final postponed until Monday, he hadn’t been able to go. This time, he got to go. When he arrived at the dinner, he raced up to Navratilova, panicked.
“What kind of dance do we have to do?” he asked her.
Navratilova laughed. Once, it had been part of Wimbledon tradition for the two champions to dance the first dance together. But in 1978, the dinner had been moved to the Savoy Hotel. There was no room in the ballroom for a dance floor and no more first dance.
Edberg was relieved. The thought of dancing in front of a thousand people was far more terrifying than the thought of being down 3-1 in the fifth. He had survived that and he didn’t have to dance. A perfect day.
“To the Queen,” he said
Everyone in the room stood. “The Queen,” they chorused back. The Championships of 1990 were over.
By Andrew Longmore, London Times, July 7, 1990
Rarely can the ball have been hit as hard for as long as it was in the men’s semi-finals on centre court yesterday. At the end of the bombardment, Ivan Lendl‘s odyssey had ended, Goran Ivanisevic‘s had just begun and Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg were left to contest their third consecutive Wimbledon final. Fearful of an unhealthy sense of continuity, the centre court crowd were mostly sympathetic to the two Ivans, one out of sympathy, the other novelty. But Lendl, by his own admission, was never in the match, losing in straight sets, and Becker survived the loss of the first set and an edgy second set tie-break before beating the explosive young Yugoslav 4-6, 7-6, 6-0, 7-6. He even won the battle of the aces, 15 to 14.
“It was the best grass-court match I have played. Goran went out there and played very strongly for a set and three-quarters. I’m glad it’s all over,” Becker said.
“I know his game blind and he knows me,” Becker said. “It’s going to be a matter of who wakes up in the better frame of mind on the day.”
Two years ago, it was Edberg who won in four sets; last year, it was Becker in three. Neither match quite lived up to pre-match billing, so they owe us a classic.
Lendl, the No.1 seed, was unlucky again, not in the way that he played, but in the way that Edberg played. In an hour and 48 minutes, the No.3 seed gave an almost flawless exhibition of grass-court tennis, winning 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. So complete was the Swede’s superiority that, even after all his painful preparations, Lendl did not feel too distraught in defeat nor too downcast to go through the same agonies again next year.
“Last year was more disappointing because I had a real chance against Becker. Today Stefan outplayed me and I really could not get into the match,” Lendl said.
There is a touch of the Stan Laurel about Edberg. At any moment, you expect him to scratch the top of his head. He looks perplexed whether he is playing like a drain or a dream and as he can do both with equal facility, he lives life in a permanent state of puzzlement.
Yesterday, was one of the dreamy days when his volleys are controlled as if by radar, his serve hums off the grass and even the usually wayward forehand comes to heel. On such days, Edberg explores areas of grass-court play forbidden to less instinctive players. Lendl might have been blindfolded for all the chance he had of finding that promised land.
The Czechoslovak had only one chance to break Edberg’s service in the whole match. The moment came in the second set, the game after Lendl had saved five break points to lead 4-3. Lendl drove a cross-court forehand, which threatened to leave a hole in Edberg’s frail torso, but the Swede, almost standing on the net, parried the pass and the ball dropped sadly into the acres of vacant green grass.
If the tie-break was to be Lendl’s last stockade, it proved to be a flimsy barrier against the arrows which shot from Edberg’s racket. The Swede will not hit a more telling series of ground strokes as long as he graces Wimbledon than the passes, three forehand and one backhand, which left Lendl looking forlornly up into the players’ box for inspiration. He found none. Edberg took the tie-break 7-2.
The decisive break came in the sixth game of the third set. In desperation, Lendl lunged to his left to intercept an Edberg forehand on break point and the ball ballooned over the baseline. With it went the world No.1’s hopes and dreams, 12 months’ thought and three months’ preparation.
Becker had to conquer a strange feeling of nostalgia in his match. Five years ago, he was the big-serving unseeded semi-finalist, hurling himself about the centre court with youthful abandon. In his serving, the power of his ground strokes and his utter disdain for his elder and his better (this time), the Yugoslav was the image of Becker. But the one difference is that Ivanisevic looks permanently in need of a square meal; the one problem that his mind sometimes goes off in search of it. Three times, Ivanisevic paid the price for a lack of concentration. Once when, serving for a two-set lead at 6-5, he netted two volleys to give Becker the break back; second, when he let a 3-0 lead slip in the subsequent tie-break and the third time as Becker took the third set in 17 minutes. By the time his mind had returned to base, Becker was rumbling towards victory and the little the Yugoslav did in the way of imitation could not disturb the inevitability.
“During the match, I was thinking about somebody who was 17 years old who played like that,” Becker said. “The way he serves, hits his forehand volley and his ground strokes. He is doing the same things as I did.”
In time, he should win Wimbledon too.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club:
Wimbledon guided tour – part 1
Wimbledon guided tour – part 2
Wimbledon Centre Court roof
Court 3 : a new Show Court at Wimbledon
Waiting in the Queue to Wimbledon
Wimbledon Museum: The Queue exhibition
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum: Player Memorabilia
Fashion and gear:
A trip down memory lane:
Wimbledon ‘s biggest upsets
Wimbledon memories: Mrs Blanche Bingley Hillyard
Wimbledon memories: Charlotte Cooper Sterry
Wimbledon memories: Dora Boothby
Portrait of Wimbledon champion Ann Jones
Wimbledon 1969: Laver’s getting beat by an Indian
Rod Laver – John Newcombe Wimbledon 1969
Around the grounds at Wimbledon in 1971
Wimbledon 1975: Ashe vs Connors
Bjorn Borg – Ilie Nastase Wimbledon 1976
Portrait of 5-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg
Wimbledon 1976: Chris Evert defeats Evonne Goolagong
Portrait of Virginia Wade, winner in 1977
1981: First Wimbledon title for McEnroe
1982: Jimmy Connors defeats John McEnroe
1984: John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors
1985: Boris Becker, the man on the moon
Portrait of 3-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker
Wimbledon 1988: An era ends as Graf beats Navratilova
Wimbledon 1988: Edberg a deserving new champion
Portrait of 2-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg
Wimbledon 1990: Becker vs Edberg
1990: Martina Navatilova’s historic 9th Wimbledon champion
Wimbledon 1991: the first Middle Sunday
1992: first Grand Slam for Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi: thanks to Wimbledon I realized my dreams
1993: Pete Sampras defeats Jim Courier
1994: Pete Sampras defeats Goran Ivanisevic
1995: Tim Henman disqualified!
1996: Richard Krajicek upsets Pete Sampras
1997: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
2000 Wimbledon SF: Pat Rafter defeats Andre Agassi
2000 Wimbledon Final: Pete Sampras defeats Pat Rafter
2001 Wimbledon 4th round: Federer defeats Sampras
Wimbledon 2010: Rafael Nadal defeats Tomas Berdych
The Spirit of Wimbledon: a 4-part documentary by Rolex retracing Wimbledon history
Wimbledon 2014 coverage
Preview and Recaps:
Who will win Wimbledon 2015?
- Serena Williams (53%, 23 Votes)
- Maria Sharapova (14%, 6 Votes)
- Simona Halep (12%, 5 Votes)
- Other (7%, 3 Votes)
- Petra Kvitova (5%, 2 Votes)
- Caroline Wozniacki (2%, 1 Votes)
- Lucie Safarova (2%, 1 Votes)
- Ekaterina Makarova (2%, 1 Votes)
- Ana Ivanovic (2%, 1 Votes)
- Carla Suarez Navarro (0%, 0 Votes)
- Angelique Kerber (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 43
Who will win Wimbledon 2015?
- Roger Federer (36%, 59 Votes)
- Novak Djokovic (31%, 51 Votes)
- Andy Murray (18%, 29 Votes)
- Stan Wawrinka (6%, 10 Votes)
- Rafael Nadal (6%, 9 Votes)
- Kei Nishikori (1%, 2 Votes)
- Milos Raonic (1%, 1 Votes)
- Tomas Berdych (1%, 1 Votes)
- Other (1%, 1 Votes)
- David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)
- Marin Cilic (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 163