Becker vs Wilander and Edberg in Matches

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by McEnroeisanartist, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Boom-Boom

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    Yep my theory re Becker defeats at Wim and WTF against Edberg particularly has always been over-confidence. Becker clearly felt superior to Edberg (probably cos of the overall H2H) and didn't come in the right fighter mind on those occasions except in Wim 89 with that bagel in the first set and 3 setter win, only to come back to over confidence/arrogance in 1990.

    With Wilander it's a different story, clearly an horrible matchup for BB to play Wilander on clay, especially before 1990.
     
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  2. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I'd agree somewhat. Overconfidence may be a factor, but, again, we're talking about supremely talented players who could legitimately beat Becker, meaning the win doesn't really need to be qualified. They were good enough players to simply be too good on a given day.

    Again, clearly they didn't do this all the time, and Becker was better overall, but they were too good to be that surprised when they beat Becker or that they would have multiple wins over him over their careers.
     
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  3. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I was looking at their h2h matchups and there's a lot of interesting stuff.

    1. People may argue that Becker is the better/greater player overall, and I have no problem with that, but in a broad context they're pretty similarly situated in terms of career accomplishments. So, the dominant Becker H2H is at least somewhat surprising.

    2. A full 21 of their 35 matches occurred indoors. 18 of those indoor matches were on carpet, which just underscores how major of a surface carpet was back then (I miss it). 2 were on hard, and 1 was on clay. All of the Davis Cup matches (3) were indoors and, obviously, all the WTF matches were played indoors.

    Of those 21 indoor matches, Becker was 16-5! That means the outdoor H2H is a more respectable 9-5 in favor of Becker.

    Indoors just really suited Becker's game perfectly and I just think he could take it to a whole other level more often than other players. Maybe just a confidence thing. Maybe Edberg dealt with outdoor unpredictability in the elements better?

    3. Becker won the last 8 matches in the rivalry, so at one time the h2h was a more respectable (from Edberg's point of view) 17-10.

    4. Edberg never really went through any period vs. Becker when he was winning regularly (as rivalries sometimes go through phases). He never won 3 matches in a row. He won 2 matches in a row three times, including the first two. So, his wins were basically distributed over a number of years. Becker generally dominated throughout, and his wins were interrupted by one or two Edberg wins. But, Edberg never went through a year or 2 year phase when he was in control.

    5. To make the h2h look even more bleak, one of Edberg's 10 wins was a 3-3 first set retirement vs. Becker indoors. So, the h2h could very likely be 26-9 in favor of Becker (though that's no guarantee).

    6. Yet, Edberg did beat Becker 10 times, which is a real accomplishment, even if did come at the expense of 25 losses. And, it is significant that he beat Becker 3 of 4 times in Slams, plus in the finals of the WTF (then called the Masters), because 3 of those 4 wins lead to huge titles.

    7. Looking at the full h2h, I can only conclude that, even beyond Becker being "better" (as many believe), Becker was simply a bad match-up. Consider that Lendl had a 12-10 winning h2h vs. Becker including many indoor wins, while Lendl was 13-14 vs. Edberg. Obviously, all of these players are all-time greats and all incredible players who could beat each other. But, clearly, matchups (and surfaces) matter.

    8. IMO, Edberg's best wins over Becker were the 1988 Wimbledon final and the 1989 Masters (WTF) final, both won in four sets after losing the first. Becker had beaten Edberg in straights in the round robin portion in 1989, so the finals win for Edberg was sort of a surprise.

    Another great win was 1987 Cincinnati. Some might be tempted to say that Becker was not quite as far along in his career (Edberg was a little older), but I'd disagree. They both already had 2 Slams (Edberg's 2 AOs vs. Becker's 2 Wimbledons) and Becker was already beating Edberg. In fact, at the time of that match, Becker already lead the h2h 7-3. I remember watching that match and Edberg simply played great to win 6-4, 6-1.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
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  4. NonP

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    Yes, Becker really seemed to switch to a different gear indoors, not just against Edberg but also against Sampras. We can say this with a fair degree of certainty because the differences in service/return stats between Becker's outdoor and indoor matches vs. Pete were quite stark. In case you don't know Pete usually had over 40% of his serves unreturned on any surface but clay, and that was true against Becker as well... at least outdoors. Once inside an arena Boris apparently was not just serving better than Pete but also suddenly diving and getting more balls back on his return a la Djokovic. This effort nearly paid off in their famous '96 YEC final, where Pete scored only an almost shockingly low 31.3% of his serves as outright freebies. That's why you see an equally uncharacteristic count of 15 aces for Pete in this long 5-setter.

    So what explains this discrepancy? You're probably right that most of it has to do with the relative predictability of indoor tennis. There are no winds or sun to distract you, which favored guys like Becker (and Lendl for that matter) since they were not the best of movers and now didn't need to worry about changing directions as quickly or adjusting their high ball toss (though Edberg didn't exactly have a short toss himself). And they tend to be power players, so they naturally liked to play indoors where balls can fly through the courts. And while this probably wasn't as big a factor we should note that the YEC was held in Germany throughout the '90s, which as can be seen from the '89 DC finals could certainly inspire Boris.

    BTW as you pointed out the original point of this thread wasn't really to rank Becker, Wilander and Edberg, but if I were to choose (and here I make no pretensions of objectivity) I'd say Becker 1st, simply because I can see Boris challenging and perhaps even beating the likes of Pete and Fed at their very best, and I can't say the same of Edberg and Wilander.
     
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  5. Vensai

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    Boris Becker really did have another gear to click into.
    Despite Ivan Lendl's winning record against him, Becker tended to beat Lendl in the big matches.
     
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  6. NonP

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    Yes, and I think that had less to do with Lendl's infamous mental frailty but rather his and Becker's style of play, which is related to my comment on another thread about consistency. Again I do have some thoughts on this... will share them when the time is right.
     
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