On this day: Boris Becker downs Ivan Lendl to defend Wimbledon crown


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On this day: Boris Becker downs Ivan Lendl to defend Wimbledon crown

In 1985, the young German Boris Becker stunned the whole tennis world, becoming the youngest and the first unseeded Wimbledon champion at the age of 17! That stands as one of the most significant achievements in the history of the game and a year later Boris faced an even harder task to prove that his title was not a fluke.

Becker passed it in style, losing just two sets in seven encounters to defend the crown and become a two-time winner of the most prestigious tennis event well before turning 19! It was the 100th edition of Wimbledon and there were some surprising results before the semi-final, with no Americans in the last four for the first time since 1970 and with four Europeans there, something that hadn't happened since 1909!

Jean Borotra, the oldest Wimbledon champion still alive, presented the trophy to Boris while Don Budge and Fred Perry were also in the stands during the title encounter. In the final on July 6, Boris ousted world no. 1 Ivan Lendl 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and two minutes in a serve&volley contest that left no room for more extended exchanges.

Boris won 94 points, just nine more than Ivan, and they both had nine break points up for grabs. The German converted five while Lendl scored only two breaks, losing the edge in the pivotal moments to stay empty-handed in another Major final.

Both players rushed forward on every possible occasion, with more than 70 points at the net for each, and Boris would stand as a favorite versus Ivan every time in those battles. It was a high-quality contest with less than 30 unforced errors combined and quick exchanges as almost 80% of the points ended with a maximum number of three shots and only three rallies that went beyond the sixth stroke.

Becker had to dig deep right from the start, saving three break points in the first game before Lendl found the way to secure a break at 2-2 with a backhand down the line winner. Nonetheless, Becker broke back instantly which gave him the mental advantage, doing the same in game ten to clinch the opener 6-4.

Boris hit two return winners to kick off that game and forced errors from Lendl to wrap up the first part of the match. The Czech had some troubles on serve early in the second set although was the first to earn a break point in game five, denied with a good attack from the youngster who stayed on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Just like in the rest of the encounter, Boris used his chances much better than Ivan and broke in game eight to take a 5-3 lead. Becker held at love in the next game to win the second set 6-3, dropping only six points behind the initial shot and moving just a set away from defending the crown.

Lendl did his best to remain composed and focused, breaking in the second game of the third set to forge a 4-1 lead, dropping only two points in the first three service games. Becker raised his level to pull the break back in game seven, delivering a nice hold a few minutes later to level the score at 4-4.

The Czech had 30-30 on return in the last three games after breaking Becker but failed to take another chance and increase his advantage, with that one break proving not to be enough to keep him safe until the end of the set.

Ivan held at love in game nine, forcing Becker to serve to stay in the set and earning a colossal opportunity to break the German and reduce the overall deficit. Lendl went 40-0 in front with three winners before Becker fired three volley winners to get back to deuce.

He won the next two points as well, making a crucial hold and leveling the score at 5-5 to send all the pressure back to Lendl. World no. 1 couldn't deal with it, losing serve to push Boris ahead and returning to stay in the Championships.

Ivan had a shot of breaking back, taking the first two points before Boris claimed one of the best points in Wimbledon finals to make the result even at 30-30, sealing the deal with two service winners and celebrating back-to-back Wimbledon crowns, leaving Lendl in ruins once again.

It was the tenth Grand Slam final for moody Czech who still stood on only three titles, something he was about to change in the next few Major events.