On this day: Boris Becker tops Jimmy Connors for the second Queen's title


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On this day: Boris Becker tops Jimmy Connors for the second Queen's title

The red-haired German Boris Becker had made Queen's debut in 1985 and turned it to instant success, lifting the trophy and building the momentum that led him towards the tennis glory at Wimbledon a few weeks later, becoming the youngest champion in the cathedral of tennis.

Tim Mayotte had stopped him in the quarters at Queen's in 1986 and Boris was back on the winning way a year later, toppling Mayotte in the semi-final and defeating a former Wimbledon and Queen's champion Jimmy Connors 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 on June 15 to reclaim the title he won two years ago, still as a teenager.

Jimmy was a three-time Queen's winner and the first of those titles came at the age of 19 when Becker was just four, winning it again in 1982 and 1983 before losing in the final against Mayotte in 1986 and another one against Becker.

The veteran played great tennis to challenge world no. 2, taking the opening set and losing steam in the rest of the encounter, missing a chance to add the fourth Queen's trophy to his collection. A left-handed American held at love in the opening game with a service winner and Becker responded with an ace in game two to level the score and get his name on the scoreboard.

Boris drew few deuces in game three before Connors brought the game home without having to play against break chances and risk an early setback. There were deuces on Becker's serve as well, closing that fourth game with a service winner for a 2-2 when Jimmy took charge, holding at love and breaking in the next game after a costly double fault from Becker, opening a 4-2 advantage and controlling the scoreboard.

His lead was a short-lived one, though, as Boris pulled the break back in the very next game to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard, only to suffer another break in game eight that pushed Jimmy closer to the finish line.

Serving for the set, the American got broken at 15 and Becker was on the level terms after a hold at love in game ten, delivering another one with an ace at 5-6 to set up a tie break. There, a return winner sent Jimmy 4-2 ahead, wrapping up the set with a lob winner in the tenth point to take the breaker 7-3 and move a set away from the title.

A forehand winner gave Connors an instant break at the beginning of the second set, holding in game two following a service winner to cement the advantage and make a massive step towards the finish line. The third game could have proved to be crucial, with two more break points up for grabs for the American who squandered both, allowing Becker to close the game with a service winner and avoid an even bigger deficit that would have been impossible to erase.

Jimmy served well to open a 3-1 lead and had another break point that could have sealed the deal for him in game five, being the better player on the court in those moments. A teenager saved it with a booming serve and held to stay in touch with the veteran, hoping to raise his level on the return and pull the break back in the next couple of games.

That happened at 2-3 when Connors netted a backhand to give serve away, drawing Becker back into contention and finding himself 4-3 down after an ace from the German in game seven. The momentum was on the side of the youngster now, firing a forehand winner to break Jimmy's serve again in game eight, moving 5-3 ahead and closing the set with a service winner a few minutes later, rattling off five games in a row to turn the tables and get himself on the title course.

The final set kicked off with four good holds and Becker drew first blood with a break at 2-2 when Jimmy netted a forehand, a shot that turned out to be among the most important ones in the entire encounter. The battle was far from over, though, as Connors broke back with a backhand drive-volley winner in the next game, leveling the score at 3-3 and giving his best to overpower a two-time Wimbledon champion.

Nonetheless, Becker found the way to grab another break in game seven, only to hit a double fault and give serve away immediately, keeping Connors in contention ahead of the closing stages of the encounter. The youngster was able to read Jimmy's initial shot much better than in the first part of the match, breaking him at love in game nine to gain a 5-4 lead and serve for the victory.

A smash winner in the tenth game earned a match point match for Boris, securing the title with a brilliant diving volley, edging the great rival to lift the second trophy at Queen's.