Two weeks after triumphing at Wimbledon for the third time, Becker  arrived in Munich to face the United States at the Olympia Halle (the venue of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup held in years 1990-99). Gilbert, a last-minute replacement for the injured John McEnroe, defeated Steeb in the opening rubber putting Becker under pressure against 19-year-old Agassi . Even though the first three sets went to the tie-breaks on the fast surface, there were a lot of breaks – four in each of those sets. Becker came within three points of winning the opening two sets, then he raced to a seemingly decisive 4:1* (40/30) lead in the 3rd set, but Agassi struck a mishit passing-shot winner off the forehand, and soon afterwards he was serving to win the rubber at 6:5 (15-all) – Becker responded with his best tennis, taking the tie-break after a few spectacular rallies at the net. There were again four breaks of serve in the 4th set, that time the German broke his opponent thrice though, to set up a deciding set. According to Davis Cup rules at the time, any match that was still being played at midnight might be suspended at the request of either team’s coach. At midnight, the Agassi-Becker match was stopped by mutual consent. That crazy encounter was resumed at 2 p.m. on the following day, and Agassi broke for a 4:3 (30-all) lead, yet Becker took the final three games converting his second match point with a forehand return winner after 4 hours 25 minutes! Becker came back on court sixty minutes later to win the pivotal doubles. On Sunday, Steeb  unexpectedly beat Agassi and the tired Becker hadn’t to play against the tricky Gilbert to whom Becker lost twice before.
Points won by each set: | 45-42, 43-44, 40-42, 33-22, 35-24 |
Points won directly behind the serve:
38 % Becker – 61 of 159
16 % Agassi – 35 of 211
WEST GERMANY d. USA 3-2 in Olympia Halle, Munich, West Germany: Carpet (Indoor)
Brad Gilbert (USA) d. Carl-Uwe Steeb (GER) 6-2, 2-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Boris Becker (GER) d. Andre Agassi (USA) 6-7(4), 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4
Boris Becker / Eric Jelen (GER) d. Ken Flach / Robert Seguso (USA) 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-6(3)
Carl-Uwe Steeb (GER) d. Andre Agassi (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Brad Gilbert (USA) d. Patrick Kuhnen (GER) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Points won by each set: | 26-17, 31-14, 36-23 |
Points won directly behind the serve:
45 % Becker – 32 of 71
26 % Edberg – 20 of 76
What puzzles me in the rivalry between Edberg & Becker, is exceptionally high number of breaks of serve (even on fast surfaces) despite that they both were tough to break generally speaking. It’s really astonishing that in their 35 meetings, never happened either a deciding tie-break set or a scoreline like 7-6 7-6. In the Davis Cup 1989 occurred one of those many lopsided matches between them – Becker  was serving tremendously well, and Edberg  looked like a shadow of a man, who had recently defeated Becker in the Masters final… As Becker trashed Wilander on Sunday, the West Germans defended their title (they had defeated Sweden in the 1988 final as well), however, it was a dynamic period in German history – in November ’89, so one month before the final, people began the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall which led to the reunification on 3 October 1990.
WEST GERMANY d. SWEDEN 3-2 in Schleyer Halle, Stuttgart, West Germany: Carpet (Indoor)
Mats Wilander (SWE) d. Carl-Uwe Steeb (GER) 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-3
Boris Becker (GER) d. Stefan Edberg (SWE) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
Boris Becker / Eric Jelen (GER) d. Jan Gunnarsson / Anders Jarryd (SWE) 7-6(6), 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-4
Boris Becker (GER) d. Mats Wilander (SWE) 6-2, 6-0, 6-2
Stefan Edberg (SWE) d. Carl-Uwe Steeb (GER) 6-2, 6-4
Yeah, I forgot McEnroe-Ivanisevic! – it’s counter intuitive as far as Ivanisevic is considered… McEnroe had his inclination to play very long matches. I’m very curious how he could play 3 hours 9 minutes just one 11-13 set vs Clerc! I’d love to watch it some day, it’s sick even considering long games, complaining and long breaks between the points due to cheering crowd. The rallies must have been punishing too!
Those wooden-racquet times were strange time-wise from today’s perspective. Laver-Roche in the Wimbledon ’68 final 6-3 6-4 6-2 in just 60 minutes! Twenty-one years later Edberg and Becker playing also serve-and-volley on the same court co-created a 6-4 set within 58 minutes (if I counted well)… No complaining, higher % of first serves, less demanding rallies meant less time to recover between the points, and another factor I think – prior to the 70s no sitting during the change of ends – only a sip of water, sometimes a towel used, and they were already prepared to play another two games…
The McEnroe-Clerc match you have mentioned was at Davis Cup 1980 or 1983? There were two epic Davis Cup clashes between Argentina and the USA in the early 80s. McEnroe was really somebody taking his time. Just consider his French final 1984 against Lendl: it took him about two minutes until he finally played the first point of the match. He was complaining about the crowd noise and especially the photographers’ position…Interestingly, Lendl took very few time then. Often less than 10 seconds between two service points. He once said that in his early career he liked to play quickly, but was so annoyed about the antics of guys like Connors or McEnroe, that he himself decided to slow the game down…So using the 30 seconds time that they had to his advantage.
Yes, the 58 minute 3rd set (6:4) of the Wimbledon final 1989 between Becker and Edberg seems very strange to me. Also, because I cannot remember that there have been so many “Deuce”-games.
Becker-Edberg 3rd set of 1989 Wimbledon – 8 deuces in total (in 4 different games)… they played 74 points in total. Last week I made a stats of Sampras-Becker Indianapolis and surprised me how long 2nd & 3rd sets lasted because in each of those sets only 58 points were played – those sets Sampras was usually playing 15 minutes quicker.
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