On this day: Stefan Edberg claims first Masters Cup crown against Becker


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On this day: Stefan Edberg claims first Masters Cup crown against Becker

The Madison Square Garden hosted the world's leading players for the 13th and final time at the end of 1989, with eight competitors fighting for the last and one of the most prestigious titles of the season. 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 took advantage over the experience, with Boris Becker ousting John McEnroe 6-4, 6-4 and Stefan Edberg toppling the five-time champion Ivan Lendl 7-6, 7-5 to set up their fifth meeting of the season and already the 21st overall.

Becker won Wimbledon, 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 some big title and hoping to fix that here in New York.

Boris won their round-robin clash 6-1, 6-4 but tables turned in the title match on December 3, with Edberg scoring a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 triumph in three hours and two minutes for his first Masters Cup crown and the 20th ATP title overall.

Becker was the defending champion and had the opportunity to hold the trophy for another year, missing a chance to move two sets to love up after wasting a set point in the tie break of the second set. Carried by the momentum after stealing the second set, Edberg became the dominant figure on the court, rattling off 12 of the last 14 games after a 2-0 deficit in set number three and marching towards the finish line to lift his first and only title of this level at the age of 23.

They had a similar number of service winners (35 to 33 in Edberg's advantage) and while Becker had the edge with his groundstrokes, it was Edberg who prevailed at the net, also hitting fewer unforced errors to win five points more than the German.

Boris had a small advantage in the shortest points but 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 a terrible backhand from Becker but the German pulled the break back immediately in the next game after a volley error from Stefan at the net.

The momentum was on Becker's side now, scoring another break in game seven with a forehand down the line winner to move 4-3 up and closing the set with a service winner in game ten for a 6-4. The Swede forged the advantage with a backhand crosscourt winner in the fourth game of the second set but couldn't stay in front for too long, suffering a break in the very next game following a backhand winner from Becker who was back on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Serving at 5-6, Becker repelled a set point with a fantastic diving volley winner, bringing the game home with a forehand crosscourt winner to level the score at 6-6 and set up a tie break. There, Boris had a set point at 6-5 that could have sent him two sets to love up and closer to the finish line but it wasn't to be for him, with Edberg fending 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, mighty relieved with such an outcome. Becker stayed focused to earn a break in the second game of the third set although that proved to be pretty much everything we saw from him in this encounter, getting broken in the third game after a terrible backhand and never finding the hitting zone again.

Edberg seized another break in the seventh game with a forehand winner and grabbed the set 6-3 with another break after a backhand error from the German that pushed him closer to the finish line. Boris squandered game points in the fourth game of the fourth set to get broken when his forehand finished in the net, missing a break chance in the next game to find 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. Leading 5-1, Stefan fired four winners seal the deal and lift his first Nabisco Masters crown, becoming the last champion of this event before the venue switched to Frankfurt from 1990.