Wednesday, January 30, 2008

1990 Wimbledon Final: Edberg def. Becker

Edberg def. Becker: 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4.
Classic: no.
Rating: 86

The plot:
For the third straight year Edberg and Becker met in the Wimbledon final. Becker was the defending champion, having won in straight sets the previous year, but Edberg was the only man to have beaten Becker on centre court, two years previously in the 1988 final.

The match: Becker is struggling from the onset of the match, allowing Edberg, who seems to be playing at the top of his game, to dominate and take the 1st set 6-2. In the 2nd set Becker is trying to rouse himself and get into the match, but Edberg continues to play superb tennis. Only at the end of the set does Becker seem to start returning Edberg's serve better, a telling sign. Returning better, Becker breaks Edberg early in the 3rd set and takes it 6-3. The level of tennis picks up in the 4th set, but once again the backhand returns of Becker breaks Edberg's serve to give him a 3-2 lead. He breaks again to win the set. Edberg has Becker down 15-40 in the 1st game of the 5th set, but fails to capitalize. Eventually Becker breaks to take a 3-1 lead, but is broken back immediately by Edberg. At 4-4, Edberg puts together several great returns to break Becker, and then serves out the match in the next game.

The bottom line: Becker is not playing very well at all in the first two sets, and Edberg takes advantage. There are some deligthful volleys from Edberg, but things only get interesting in the 3rd set as Becker seems to "wake up". The 4th and 5th set clearly feature the best tennis of the match, as both men play well at the same time. Edberg's volleys, backhands and topspin lobs provide much joy for the viewer, but Becker is only sporadically inspired to do great things. The match never becomes the battle the scoreline suggests, and while the 4th and 5th set are worthwhile, this match is only recommended for the die-hard Edberg fan.

Bonus info: Becker has later claimed that he had taken a large dose of sleeping medication the night before the final, and was "sleepwalking" when the match started. It certainly is consistent with his performance in the first two sets, but it seems unfair to not give Edberg credit for his high level of play in the first two sets.


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