ATP Finals Flashback: Stefan Edberg wins title over Boris Becker



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ATP Finals Flashback: Stefan Edberg wins title over Boris Becker

Madison Square Garden hosted the world's leading players for the 13th and last time at the end of 1989, with eight competitors fighting for the prestigious title. As usual, the finest indoor players passed the round-robin stage to set the mouth-watering semi-final clashes that ended in straight sets.

The youth had the edge over experience. Boris Becker ousted John McEnroe 6-4, 6-4, and Stefan Edberg toppled a five-time champion Ivan Lendl 7-6, 7-5 to set their 21st meeting and the fifth in 1989. Becker won Wimbledon, the US Open and Paris earlier that season and was arguably the best player of the year despite standing second in the rankings behind Lendl.

The Swede lost finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and finished runner-up behind Becker in Paris, missing a chance to grab a big title and hoping to fix that in New York. Boris won their round-robin clash 6-1, 6-4, but the tables turned in the title match on December 3.

Edberg scored a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 triumph in three hours and two minutes for his first ATP Finals crown and the 20th ATP title. Becker was the defending champion and had the opportunity to hold the trophy for another year.

He missed a chance to move two sets to love up after wasting a set point in the second set's tie break. Edberg became the dominant figure on the court after stealing the second set. The Swede rattled off 12 of the last 14 games after a 2-0 deficit in set number three and marched toward the finish line to lift his only title at this level at 23.

They had a similar number of service winners, with a 35 to 33 advantage for Edberg. While Becker had the edge with his groundstrokes, Edberg prevailed at the net, hitting fewer unforced errors to win five points more than the German.

Stefan Edberg became the last ATP Finals champion in New York in 1989.

Boris had a slight advantage in the shortest points. However, Stefan had the upper hand in the mid-range exchanges, constructing the points more efficiently and finishing them with his sharp volleys and smashes.

Edberg drew first blood in game two after Becker's terrible backhand. The German pulled the break back immediately after the Swede's volley error and gained momentum. Boris delivered another break in game seven with a forehand down the line winner and closed the set with a service winner in game ten for 6-4.

The Swede forged the advantage with a backhand crosscourt winner in the second set's fourth game. Still, he could not stay in front for too long after suffering a break a few minutes later following Becker's backhand winner.

Serving at 5-6, Becker repelled a set point with a fantastic diving volley winner and brought the game home with a forehand crosscourt winner to set up a tie break. Boris had a set point at 6-5 that could have sent him two sets to love up and closer to the finish line.

Still, it was not to be for him, as Edberg fended it off with a service winner to stay in touch. The Swede claimed the crucial mini-break in the 12th point, hitting a forehand return winner to steal the set and level the overall score at 1-1, relieved after such an outcome.

Becker stayed focused to earn a break in the third set's second game. Still, that was everything we saw from him in this encounter after getting broken in the third game thanks to a loose backhand. Edberg seized another break in the seventh game with a forehand winner and clinched the set 6-3 with another break after Becker's backhand error that pushed him closer to the finish line.

Boris squandered game points in the fourth set's fourth game to get broken when his forehand finished in the net, missing a break chance in the next one and finding himself 4-1 down. The Swede was now safely on the winning trail and had an opportunity to close the match on his serve after another break in game six.

Stefan fired four winners at 5-1 to seal the deal and lift his first ATP Finals crown, becoming the last champion of this event before it switched to Frankfurt in 1990.