How was Boris Becker generally perceived?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by aceroberts13, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. aceroberts13

    aceroberts13 Professional

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    I watched Legends of Wimbldone: Pete Sampras last night and I was a little surprised by how frank Boris was when speaking on how much better Sampras was than him. I thought it took a lot of humility to be able to admit those things. I never really knew anything about him other than seeing him play in replays so I was wondering if he was one of the classier guys to ever play or was that out of the ordinary for him to say?
     
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  2. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Becker was an interesting person when he was playing. He won Wimbledon at such a young age that it was a classic case of too much too soon. He seemed to fall into the trappings of fame and was not highly regarded by some of the top players because of his perceived gamesmanship (most notably McEnroe and Agassi had issues with him). But his battles with Edberg at Wimbledon created a great rivalry and as he aged he seemed to mature and embrace his place in the game. He's a player that I believe would have won more grand slams had he been able to focus more on his career but it's still an outstanding career.
     
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  3. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    He was sure loved and adored by his homeland, so much to his fellow countryman Michael Stich's chagrin. I always felt he considered himself an intellectual and more than a dumb jock (and he may be?), but I know in Agassi's book, he makes a point that he was always trying to use his size to intimidate and in fact was a dumb jock. Ha He was quite stubborn according to Tiriac who claimed he could never get him to attack enough on clay or slower surfaces but instead wanted to stay back and prove that he could outgrind the grinders. In the end, I always liked Boom Boom and his play.
     
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  4. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Boris Becker was somewhat of an underachiever. When he won back to back Wimbledons beginning at age 17, he was expected to dominate the men's tour for years to come. Rod Laver said that he thought Becker had the best chance of anyone since himself to win a Grand Slam. Lendl, Edberg, Sampras and, to some extent, Agassi didn't let any of that happen.

    Having said that, Becker has said more than once that he thought Sampras was the best player of all time, which may be true. But, IMO, there's very little in terms of talent and shotmaking ability that Sampras had over Becker. If anything, I would say that Sampras was just mentally tougher on big occasions than Becker.
     
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  5. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Sampras stated in his book that he felt he was just a touch bit better at everything than Becker was...... movement, serve, volley, and consistancy of strokes.
     
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  6. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    Completely agree.
     
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  7. Tar Heel Tennis

    Tar Heel Tennis Semi-Pro

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    You might read Hard Courts by John Feinstein. It chronicles the 1990 professional tennis season and features personal insights into all of the major players of that time - including Becker.

    I'm in the middle of the book right now...an enjoyable read
     
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  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I give Becker the edge on backhand, and on the dive-n-roll.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The guy took Pete Sampras the best of him and was his major threat on indoors , where he rates as one of the greatest ever , and grass.

    had too much of everything: shots,mind,power.But, sometimes, too much makes for too little...
     
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  10. ramos77

    ramos77 Semi-Pro

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    He was Federers childhood idol (along with Edberg)

    He was mine as well. I've got some nice pics of him in some old photos, will post up one day.
     
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  11. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    yes, except the backhand IMO ....becker's was better ...
     
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  12. theagassiman

    theagassiman Rookie

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    Some of his net approaches wouldnt cut it today and his lateral movement was never that great.

    But this isn't really about his game
     
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  13. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Nothing wrong with this lateral movement:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Herdsman76

    Herdsman76 Rookie

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    I love that book. I have one of the first hardcovers which was a gift from my boss...

    H76
     
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  15. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    Boris Becker was a BEAST. He was like Safin, not fully focused in his entire career. Had he focused on tennis more, he might have been among the GOAT contenders already!!
     
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  16. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Uh... what?
     
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  17. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Becker was kind of viewed as a prototype for the changing of the guard from Mac, Connors, and Lendl after he broke through to win Wimbledon in 1985. While there were some big servers around (Curren, Tanner, Dent), no one had really put together those kind of skills together with an athlete like Becker. This was the harbinger of 1990's attacking/power tennis

    Watching Becker at the time as a teenager blitz the field, it felt exactly like when you later watched Sampras get beat down by Hewitt & Safin in US Open finals. You just felt that everything had changed suddenly in what it was going to take to be the best player going forward. Hewitt's win in 2001 in particular to me was the sign of things to come in terms of where the tour was going in terms of footspeed and defense. Hewitt vs. Nalbandian in the 2002 Wimbledon is kind of the 1st grand slam title match for 2 players with the modern game IMO.
     
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  18. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    He was an amazing player but of course he’s going to be humble comparing himself to Petros. It’s going to be kinda rough for anyone when you’re matching yourself up against the GOAT.
     
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  19. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Hall of Fame

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    Mac and Connors, maybe, but Lendl was still quite early in his run as the world's best clay-, hard-, carpet/indoor-court player at the time. I see young Becker as a talented rival to Lendl, but not a superior.
     
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  20. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    When he beat Cash at Wimbly they got into a debate at the net that seemed pretty heated
     
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  21. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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    Great player. Brilliant often and flaky always. :) Winning Wimby at 17 ruined the guy.

    Great game for a fast surface. Big first serve, nasty second serve, very good volleyer and very good off the ground. Great serve and volley instincts.

    Sampras is about 5 years younger which is significant in men's pro tennis. Becker was arguably well past his prime by the time Sampras was a factor.

    Becker was too big to move extremely well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.Plus, having been raised in european clay, he was really good from the baseline, and his backhand return of serve, when working, is one of the best ever.Killed Edberg with that shot in most of their matches.
     
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  23. theagassiman

    theagassiman Rookie

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    Not on a fast court when he could dive, no. He himself admits that the dive was to cover up his "less than average" lateral movement. Not slow but 'heavy' nevertheless.

    I don't think he was too big to do something about it imo, look at safin he moved a lot better, but boris just wouldn't bite the bullet, his choice in the end.
     
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  24. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    It's actually around 3 years and 7 months difference, so not that big at all.

    In 1990 the four semifinalist at the US Open:

    John McEnroe - 31
    Boris Becker - 22
    Andre Agassi - 20
    Pete Sampras - 19

    So even though Becker broke through so early, his real age group was and should have been the guys who came through in the late 1980s / early 1990s. The fact that Becker and Sampras played eachother 19 times reflects that as well. Sampras played Becker more times than guys like Krajicek (10)and Rafter (16) and one less than Courier (20).
     
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  25. PrinceMoron

    PrinceMoron Hall of Fame

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    Ask a German what they think of him and you might be surprised.
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I"m Asian, and could care less about a German's opinion on a tennis player.
    Becker was a free spirit, a big strong guy who could play at any level he wanted to, which means both up and down.
    He lived life to the fullest, no regrets on his death bed. That's all you can ask for in life.
     
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  27. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Lendl had already been full time on the tour for 6+ years by 1985 and was more lumped in with the older guys. While Lendl was near his peak at the time, Becker was this wunderkind that everyone felt was the future #1. While he never quite lived up to that early potential he projected, his arrival was so memorable at the time. That 1985 Wimbledon final was really the dawn of the modern age pro tennis in terms of what we'd see the next 15 years on tour. It also is the 1st major for a player who'd never used a wood or metal racket as a pro (I think), representing the generational breaks in technology and technique from Lendl.
     
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  28. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Becker is the first player I ever remember rooting for. Loved those diving volleys.

    I can't say how he was/is perceived in Germany, but as to the OP's particular example I'm pretty sure he was just paying PR lip service. Not that he doesn't really think Sampras was better, mind you (as we well know, Pete was just about the worst matchup for Boris). But he knew he'd have a chance at his best vs. Pete's best, otherwise he wouldn't achieved nearly as much.
     
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  29. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    This guy says hi :)

    [​IMG]
     
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  30. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    We agree. Hmmm! Except for serve, Agassi had more power AND was steadier than Becker. In fact, I recall Becker saying that Agassi was just too steady for him.
     
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  31. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    He was steadier and hit more powerful groundies than BB.But BB was quite more powerful, he just didn´t have the patience to engage in long rallies against AA
     
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  32. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Did Wilander ever use wood or metal as a pro?
     
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  33. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    Boris was exciting as hell to watch. My first favorite tennis player as a kid. He and Lendl had some absolute classics, and I probably saw half those matches on TV. I'm watching the other half on youtube, come to find out.

    He was really the first player I saw, when I first started watching, that could put power, speed, and mental ability together when he really wanted it bad enough. Plus those dives were fun to watch.
     
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Not that I'm aware of.

    Also, a little OT, but, I recently read that Miloslav Mecir was the last player on the men's tour to use a wood racquet in a major final, the 1986 USO final.
     
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  35. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Well he was playing in the summer of 1980 (July 1980 Bastad) in tour level events which preceded the F200 being sold and here's a photo of him from the 1981 junior French sporting a Rossignol aluminum
    [​IMG]
     
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  36. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Along those lines, I think Pat Cash must have been the last major winner (1987 Wimbledon) sporting a metal racquet, and Cédric Pioline (1989-2002) the last tour player using a metal racquet. Both sporting Prince Magnesium Pros.
     
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  37. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

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    I live in Germany and most of the people I've met here through tennis think very highly of him as a player. Some people make fun of him being overly philosophical (or trying to be) - but in terms of tennis, the only thing that seems to puzzle the players I know is the perception that he came out of nowhere.

    He was a dominant force on the junior circuit here, and most people who were around at the time all thought it was only a matter of when and not if for Boris.

    Droliver - I've seen a photo of young Boris using a wooden Adidas frame before he swtiched to the GTX. Would have been before he was 15 though I'm guessing, because I recall he used the GTX in Australia at 15 when he lost to Ben Testerman at the AO.
     
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  38. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    The point is, how does he return the next shot while lying prone?
    Why does he need to dive?
     
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  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Because often if Becker didn't drive he wouldn't reach the shot at all. I doubt if he would dive if he didn't have to.
     
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  40. PrinceMoron

    PrinceMoron Hall of Fame

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    The point is someone can be quite fluent in a second language, one you share, and can come across as erudite, charming, debonair etc. However, if you can understand them in their first language you can get a very different idea of their personality.

    The Brits seem to like BB a lot, he is always commentating at Wimbledon. He comes across quite well in English. Aber if you speak German you might think he sounds a bit of a prat.
     
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  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Stich vs Becker was a major debate in germany.Both, well spoken and smart.I haven´t followed them ever since, but now I´d like if they´d vote Merkel or the SPD.

    I think their mutual hate was more a marketing thing than else.Germans are great to sticking together for their nation´s glory.
     
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  42. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Don't kid yourselves, the German press can be vicious towards their own. Just look at what they have done to their German cyclists like Jan Ullrich and others who became entangled in the PED's that was/is the culture of cycling. They were all too happy to build them up and then tear them down.
     
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  43. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Ah yes, Agassi did come to my mind, too. But there's one thing we need to consider: he and Becker met indoors only four times and evenly split their meetings. By comparison all of Becker's seven wins over Sampras came on indoor carpet. My guess is that had Boris and Andre more frequently indoors (or on grass, for that matter) their H2H wouldn't have been as lopsided.

    Anyway the bigger point I was making (and noted by Sampras himself in his book) was that Pete was basically a superior version of Boris. I'd also give Becker the edge in BH and perhaps a little more mileage on serve, but apart from that Pete did just about everything as well or better.

    But yeah, Agassi did have Becker's number. As you may know Dre later revealed (after his retirement) that he could read where Boris' serve was going by looking at his tongue. That was probably both somewhat serious and tongue-in-cheek, but anyway Agassi did seem to neutralize Becker's serve exceptionally well, even for him.

    I also remember Fed playing coy (he called it a "secret") when asked how he could return Roddick's serve so well. I wouldn't be surprised that there was something similar involved with this matchup. Maybe A-Rod's cap or hair?
     
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  44. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    2 of those meetings on carpet were at the beginning of Andre's career , not that big a surprise that Becker won those. One of them of course was that famous Davis Cup match where Becker had to fight tooth and nail to get the W...

    Agassi won the next 2 meetings on carpet, both in straights ....I still think Agassi would have a convincing winning margin over Becker indoors ....

    Now grass would've been a different/interesting story ....

    Btw Becker won their first 3 meetings, Agassi the next 8, then becker broke the streak with that famous W in their 95 Wimbledon SF meeting, agassi won the next 2 ...


    Agree with the part in bold
    but agassi was still the worse matchup for Becker than Sampras ( except on grass ) IMO
     
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