A redheaded phenomenon, Boris Becker illuminated 1985 and 1986 with his Wimbledon triumphs at the improbable ages of 17 and 18. The records came tumbling down in 1985 when the unseeded German teenager beat eighth-seeded Kevin Curren, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, in the final. He was the first German champ, first non-seed to win - Boris was ranked No. 20 - and the youngest male ever to win a major at 17 years, 7 months. (Michael Chang, at 17 years, 3 months, lowered that four years later in winning the French.) Richard Krajicek in 1996 and Goran Ivanisevic in 2001 followed his unseeded route.
A big man (6-foot-3, 180) playing a big, carefree game of booming serves, heavy forehand, penetrating volleys and diving saves, he was an immediate crowd favorite. Despite his youth, he showed sensitivity in rejecting an early, obvious nickname, "Boom Boom" considering it "too warlike."
For Germany, never better than a 1970 finalist in the quest for the Davis Cup, Becker was an instant hero. Almost alone he carried his country to the 1985 final in Munich and beat both Stefan Edberg, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 8-6, and Mats Wilander, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the 3-2 loss to Sweden. Three years later he lifted the Fatherland to the long longed-for Cup in a 4-1 victory over the Swedes in Goteborg. Boris pummeled his final round conqueror at Wimbledon, Edberg, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4, then paired with Eric Jelen for the exciting clinching doubles win over Edberg and Anders Jarryd. In 1989 he won both his singles, defeating Wilander and Edberg, plus the doubles again with Jelen, at Stuttgart as Germany kept the Cup, 3-2, over Sweden. By the close of the 1992 season he had won 21 straight Cup singles, and had lost only two of 34 starts, both to Sergio Casal of Spain. He didn't play in 1993-94, but in 1995 extended the streak to 22, second longest in Cup history (to Bjorn Borg's 33), before losing to the Netherlands' Paul Haarhuis.
Becker beat Ivan Lendl, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, in 1986 for his second Wimbledon title, and Edberg just as swiftly in 1989 for a third, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, developing the feeling that Centre Court was his special haunt. He and Edberg also contested the 1988 and 1990 finals, Edberg winning both times. They were the first men in almost a century; since Wilfred Baddeley and Joshua Pim split four finals, 1891-94, to monopolize the final for at least three successive years. In the only all-German male final on Centre Court, Michael Stich upset him in 1991, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. He and Stich collaborated the following year for Olympic gold, defeating South Africans Wayne Ferreira and Piet Norval, one of Boris's 15 doubles titles. It took him four years to work his way back to a seventh Wimbledon final. To get there required one of his more brilliant Centre Court performances, beating favored Andre Agassi from a set and 1-4 (two breaks) down. But he couldn't solve Pete Sampras' serve in the title match, losing 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. Becker's Wimbledon farewell, a fourth-round loss to Patrick Rafter in 1999, finished his match record at 71-12.
By 1996 it seemed that his days of winning majors were past. He was 28, had a wife, Barbara, and a young son. But he arrived in Melbourne fit and eager, (inspired by Barbara's plea, "I never saw you win a big one") and captured his sixth, the Australian, with a blistering attack on Chang, 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
He started out as an unlikely pauper, an 18-to-1 shot on the path to that first Wimbledon title. He might not have gotten past the fourth round if not for the good nature of Tim Mayotte, who waited patiently while Becker, trailing in the match, received treatment for a twisted ankle. Becker wanted to quit, but his manager, Ion Tiriac, talked him out of it, and Mayotte sportingly permitted Boris more than a usual break to recover. Becker won in five sets. Next, Swede Joakim Nystrom had served for the match twice in the third round. Henri Leconte was close to a two-set lead in the quarters, and another Swede, Jarryd, held a set and a set point in the second set of the semis. Didn't matter. Boris wore a halo.
Boris Franz Becker, a right-hander, was born Nov. 22, 1967, in the small town of Leiman, Germany, and grew up there, not far from Bruhi, where the other German wunderkind, Steffi Graf, was raised. The two sometimes practiced together. A promising junior, he dropped out of high school to become a pro. An atypical European player, he prefers faster surfaces to his native clay. His best finishes at the French were semi-finals in 1989 and '91, and the quarters in 1986. Of his 49 singles titles (in 77 finals), none was on dirt. At the conclusion of 1988, he squashed Ivan Lendl's bid for a sixth Masters title by the narrowest possible of final-round margins - two points - on a net-cord dribbler that won the fifth-set tie-breaker, 7-5.
His marvelous 1989 season, during which he won six of 13 tournaments on a 64-8 match record, included his fourth major, the U.S. Open in a 7-6 (7-2), 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory over No. 1-ranked Ivan Lendl. It was the lone major male final to conclude in a tie-breaker. His fifth major (the third over Lendl) was the Australian at the outset of 1991, giving him the No. 1 ranking momentarily. During his 16 years as a pro he was in the world Top Ten 11 times, three times at No. 2 (1986, 1989, 1990). He won $25,080,956, third in prize money standings behind Sampras and Andre Agassi. He was selected to enter the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003.
In December 2013, Novak Djokovic announced on his website that Boris Becker would become his head coach for the 2014 season. As a result, Becker gave up his commentating job with the BBC. In December 2016, Djokovic and Becker parted ways. Over the three seasons they worked together, Becker contributed to Djokovic's six grand slam titles and fourteen Masters 1000 titles.
On 23 August 2017, Becker was named the head of men's tennis of the German Tennis Federation.
As of 2017, Becker is also an analyst on Fox Sports Australia’s Wimbledon magazine program The Daily Serve.
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