Tennis: Becker's Timely Warning
John Roberts reports from Queen's Club, The Independent (London, England)
At the conclusion of the Stella Artois Championships beneath a cloudless sky here yesterday, Stefan Edberg, the runner-up, told the winner, Boris Becker, that he would see him in two weeks. "No," Becker corrected, "in three weeks". Both trust that they have not peaked too soon for Wimbledon, which starts next Monday, and the same must be said of the weather.
Edberg is not taking any chances. Last night he pulled out of this week's grass-court event in Halle, Germany, to avoid the risk of aggravating a sore hip.
Yesterday's final between two of the finest grass-court players of their generation gave the spectators an opportunity to pay homage to Edberg, the No14 seed, in his retirement season and marvel again at the attacking skills and determination the second-seeded Becker brings to the court.
Eleven years to the day after he won his first tour title here at the age of 17 - and promptly went on to startle Wimbledon, unseeded - Becker demonstrated that he is capable of winning a fourth All England Club championship.
In equalling John McEnroe's four victories at Queen's, the 28-year-old German did not drop a set in his five matches. He generally had the edge against Edberg, though the final could have been tighter than 6-4, 7-6 if the Swede had served better at the start of the tie-break.
The quality of play was high, and regulars at the tournament were treated to the bonus of witnessing a break of serve in the final for the first time since 1993. There were three breaks in all, Edberg's coming just in time to prevent Becker from serving out the match at 6-5 in the second set.
Both men served, returned and volleyed so well that rallies were again at a premium, even though the court, blessed with a week of dry conditions, continued to play hard and true.
There was one exchange of 11 shots, on the first point of the seventh game of the opening set, which produced Becker's first break of serve. …