ATP Finals Flashback: Boris Becker celebrates birthday and title
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 2225
The 1992 season was another exciting one on the ATP Tour. The world's best players claimed between three and five ATP titles and shared the essential trophies to set up another thrilling ATP Finals event in Frankfurt. Ivan Lendl was not in the draw for the first time since 1980.
He finished the season inside the top-8 but decided to skip the event due to an injury, allowing Richard Krajicek to debut alongside other youngsters, Michael Chang and Goran Ivanisevic. It was a stellar field of rock-solid indoor players, drawn in groups named after two of the greatest Australian players, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.
The young Croat Goran Ivanisevic won Stockholm Masters 1000 title on the same surface a few weeks earlier and made the best debut in Frankfurt. Goran beat Michael Chang, the last year's finalist Jim Courier and Richard Krajicek in straight sets to top the standings in the Rod Laver Group.
He finished ahead of Courier, who prevailed against Krajicek to book the semi-final spot. In the Ken Rosewall Group, the defending champion Pete Sampras grabbed all three wins against Stefan Edberg, Petr Korda and Boris Becker.
The German advanced into the semi-final with him after commanding triumphs against Edberg and Korda, reaching the last four for the sixth time in eight Masters Cup appearances. Ivanisevic and Becker set the semi-final clash without being broken in the round-robin stage, and we saw just two breaks in their encounter that contained 89 service winners!
Becker prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 for a place in his fifth Masters Cup title match. Goran drew first blood in the encounter's fourth game with a forehand winner to bring the opening set home. Becker responded with a late break in set number two to send the match into a decider in front of the partisan crowd.
Goran saved a match point at 5-6 in the decisive tie break with a forehand down the line winner and another with a booming second serve at 6-7, only to send an easy volley long and give Boris the third match point. The German sealed the deal with his well-known diving volley at the net, reaching the final after two hours and 20 minutes.
The home favorite faced Jim Courier, who prevailed in an all-American semi-final against Pete Sampras in two tie breaks. In the repeat of the last year's final, Jim saved two set points at 4-5 in the opener with service winners and received a warning at 0-3 in the tie break.
Suddenly, he started to play better and won 19 of the following 24 points to take the breaker and open a 3-0 lead in set number two. Sampras pulled the break back in game five after Courier's forehand error but lost the tie break 7-4 to hand the crown and send his compatriot into the second straight ATP Finals title match.
It was the sixth meeting between Becker and Courier in the last three seasons, and Boris grabbed the sixth triumph. He dominated Jim that year after beating him in an epic Brussels final and the Paris Masters quarter-final!
Becker scored a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 victory in two hours and 24 minutes for his first ATP Finals crown in four years and the first on home soil.
Boris Becker claimed the ATP Finals title in front of the home crowd in 1992.
The match occurred on Becker's 25th birthday, and he received the best possible gift.
The German was the best indoor player of the season, conquering Brussels, Rotterdam, Basel and Paris before going all the way in Frankfurt after another great display against the American. Courier created four break chances and broke Boris once.
It was not enough to stay in contention and extend his opportunities after facing 13 break points and giving serve away five times. Becker had 41 service winners and more winners from the court, taming his shots nicely and mounting the pressure on the other side.
Courier did not make too many unforced errors. Still, Boris forced over 40 mistakes from his rival with his deep and precise groundstrokes that prevailed over Jim that day. Becker had the advantage in the shortest points up to four strokes.
That segment forged the win for him, as there was nothing to separate them in those rallies that passed the four-shot mark. Jim held at love in the opening game with a service winner, and Becker did the same with good serves in game two for 1-1.
The first significant moment of the clash came in the seventh game. Boris claimed four points in a row to earn a break with some great returns, hitting a backhand down the line winner that sent him 4-3 up. Becker held at 15 in game eight with another booming serve to confirm the break and clinched the set after hitting four winners at 5-4 in 35 minutes.
Courier won more points on the return in the first half of the second set but was yet to create a break chance, with Backer patiently waiting for an opportunity on the return. It came at 3-3 when he landed three winners to break Jim at love, fending off a break chance in the next one with a service winner to move 5-3 up.
The German was in his zone and delivered another break to claim the set 6-3. He rattled off four straight games and moved a set away from the title after 80 minutes of play. Jim had to change something on the court and rather quickly.
He took advantage of Becker's loose shots at the beginning of the third set to score his first break thanks to a backhand crosscourt winner. Nonetheless, Becker pulled it back in the next game with a beautiful behind the back volley winner that brought him back to the positive side and kept him on the title course.
Courier saved a pair of break chances in game four with winners and worked hard again in game eight to remain in contention. The American repelled four break points with brave hitting that kept him at 4-4. Serving in game 11, Becker pushed a volley long to give his rival a break chance.
Still, his volley found the target in the following point for deuce. The German saved another break point with a good serve for a crucial hold and a 6-5 lead. Serving to stay in the match, Courier hit a double fault to offer two match points to his rival.
Becker seized the second after a deep return that the American failed to control. He started a massive celebration of one of his favorite titles in front of the packed crowd at the Festhalle Frankfurt, lifting the trophy and blowing out candles on the birthday cake for a double ceremony.