ATP Finals Flashback: Boris Becker wins third and last title

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ATP Finals Flashback: Boris Becker wins third and last title

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi highlighted the 1995 season on the ATP Tour, continuing where they left a year earlier. Unlike in the previous season, Sampras did not have such a commanding lead over his closest rival, with less than 100 points separating them in the final ranking.

It was the best season in Agassi's career, winning 73 matches and seven titles from 11 finals, including the Australian Open and three Masters 1000 events. On April 10, Andre became world no. 1 for the first time but could not finish on the ATP throne.

He withdrew from the ATP Finals due to a chest-muscle injury and left the door open for Pete to claim the year-end no. 1 honor for the third straight year. Pete won five titles in 1995 and split them nicely, with two Majors and Masters 1000 trophies in his hands.

He earned enough points in Paris to regain the throne and stay there despite being unable to defend the ATP Finals trophy. Thomas Muster won enormous 12 ATP titles to finish just behind the Americans, returning to the ATP Finals for the first time in five years.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Wayne Ferreira and Thomas Enqvist debuted in Frankfurt in the final edition of the ATP Finals in this town before moving to Hanover in 1996. The last year's finalists Pete Sampras and Boris Becker were drawn in the same group with debutants Ferreira and Kafelnikov, defeating the Russian.

At the same time, the South African proved to be a much more formidable opponent. Wayne barely missed a chance to topple Becker in the opening match before ousting Pete on the final day. However, he still missed an opportunity to secure a place in the semi-final, with the American standing at the top ahead of the German.

Thomas Muster lost all three encounters in the Red Group, and a former two-time finalist Jim Courier also failed to pass the obstacles and enter the final four in his last ATP Finals appearance. Thomas Enqvist had a brilliant run, scoring three wins to march toward the semi-final, with Michael Chang securing the remaining place in the elimination phase.

Michael had an excellent indoor season, improving his serve with the more oversized racquet he started using in 1994. Chang dethroned Pete Sampras after a 6-4, 6-4 triumph to reach the final, overpowering Sampras for the first time in seven matches.

Boris Becker had to give his best to beat Enqvist, prevailing 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 after 50 service winners that guided him toward his seventh ATP Finals title match and third in the last four years. Performing in front of his partisan crowd, Becker secured a 7-6, 6-0, 7-6 victory over Chang in two hours and 16 minutes on November 19.

Thus, he became the last champion in Frankfurt in front of a crowd of 9000 and the fourth three-time champion at this event after Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl.

Boris Becker won his last ATP Finals title in Frankfurt in 1995.

It was the fourth meeting between Becker and Chang and the third triumph for the German.

Boris faced three break chances and lost serve once to keep the pressure on the other side. Chang's serve would never be good enough to overpower Becker, losing 42% of the points behind his initial shot and facing five break opportunities.

Boris turned those into four breaks that carried him home safely despite a solid effort from the American in sets one and three. Chang stayed on just above ten unforced errors. Still, Boris had many more winners thanks to his serve, forcing more mistakes from Michael to control his games nicely and dominate at the net.

Becker outmuscled Chang with his backhand and volleys, blasting 49 service winners against Chang's 30 and forging the crucial lead in the shortest points up to four strokes. The German also controlled the mid-range rallies, and we saw only 16 points with six or more strokes, not enough for Michael to create the difference and impose his shots.

Chang made a better start, breaking Boris in the encounter's second game with a smash winner and forcing an error from his rival to cement the lead and move 3-0 ahead. Everything worked well for the American in the opening eight games before he lost momentum in the crucial moment.

He got broken in the ninth game to keep Becker in the set. Boris had the edge after erasing a 5-2 deficit and hit three winners to level the score at 5-5. The home favorite clinched the tie break 7-3 after a service winner to secure the opener in 55 minutes.

The German struggled a bit in the second set's opening game before bringing it home with two service winners. He moved ahead with a break in game two following a volley winner. The American lost the ground and hit a double fault to suffer another break in the fourth game, with the German gaining a 5-0 lead with four winners in the next one.

Chang wasted two game points in game six that could have helped him at least avoid a bagel, and Becker wrapped up a perfect set with a backhand down the line winner that moved him a set away from the title. After six good holds, Becker hit a double fault to offer Chang a break chance in the third set's seventh game.

He saved it with a volley winner and kept his serve intact after a service winner. Serving to stay in the match at 5-6, Michael held after two deuces to reach the tie break and extend his chances. Becker grabbed an early mini-break in the second point and hit a double fault at 2-1 to keep the rival in contention.

Still, the American sprayed a forehand error to fall 6-4 behind and face two match points. Serving at 6-5, Becker landed an ace down the T line to clinch the victory and lift his third and last ATP Finals trophy in front of the enthusiastic home crowd that had been supporting him over the years in Frankfurt.