ATP Finals Flashback: Stefan Edberg claims first crown over Boris Becker



by   |  VIEW 1608

ATP Finals Flashback: Stefan Edberg claims first crown over Boris Becker

The 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 one of the season's most prestigious titles. 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 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 their fifth meeting of the season and already the 21st.

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 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, as Edberg scored 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.

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 second set's tie break. Carried by that 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 only title at this level at 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, Edberg prevailed at the net, hitting fewer unforced errors to win five points more than the German.

In 1989, Stefan Edberg became the last Masters Cup champion in New York.

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 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 and closing the set with a service winner in game ten for 6-4.

The Swede forged the advantage with a backhand crosscourt winner in the fourth game of the second set. Still, he couldn't stay in front for too long, suffering a break a few minutes later 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 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, 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, mighty relieved after such an outcome. Becker stayed focused to earn a break in the third set's second game, although that proved to be pretty much everything we saw from him in this encounter, getting broken in the third game after a loose 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 set's fourth game to get broken when his forehand finished in the net, missing a break chance in the next one 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 it switched to Frankfurt from 1990.