Just after he was informed that Pete Sampras, Wimbledon’s mild-mannered defending champion and his opponent in this year’s grand finale, had described his appetite for a third consecutive title as “ravenous,” Boris Becker asked for an exact definition.
Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion himself, smiled an enigmatic smile and then issued a subtle challenge to Sampras on the subject of the bragging rights to the 1995 championship.
“It seems like two hungry boys are going to play (today),” Becker said.
Despite holding onto the No. 1 ranking for a mere 12 weeks, Becker, 27, has been counted as a major player ever since he burst onto the scene 10 years ago as an unseeded 17-year-old and captured this most formidable of Grand Slams.
Starved out of the Grand Slam winner’s circle for the past four years, there’s nobody as hungry as Becker.
After a hiatus where he added the roles of husband and parent to his unsought responsibility as Germany’s head sports icon, Becker is more determined than ever.
Becker hasn’t won Wimbledon since 1989 and hasn’t won any Grand Slam since he won his first and only Australian Open title in 1991.
With the exception of his two semifinal finishes here in 1993 and 1994, the past two seasons on the Slam circuit have been a struggle.
But this year, remotivated by his association with Nick Bollettieri, Becker again planned his schedule around Wimbledon, the Grand Slam where he feels the most ferocious and thus gives himself the best chance of performing like a schoolboy again.
“It comes down to belief,” said Becker, who has five Grand Slam titles, “and I still do.”
Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge captured their third consecutive Wimbledon doubles titles with a 7-5, 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-5) victory over Americans Rick Leach and Scott Melville.
In the women’s doubles final, play was suspended because of darkness at 4-4 in the third set. Three-time defending champs Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva won the first set 7-5, Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won the second 7-5.
Steffi Graf took a break during her victory tour around Centre Court after winning the women’s title to hug and kiss a fan in the front row. Graf doesn’t know who he is, she just knows that he always shows up at Wimbledon and cheers for her.
“He’s been with me at this tournament for eight or nine years,” Graf said. “He always yells out in a strange accent. You can always hear him in the crowd. I don’t know how he makes it, but he’s always been there.”
What’s his name? “I don’t know,” she said. “He just screams to me: “Come on, Steffi,’ and “Steff-FI’. But he never mentions his name.”
What’s the fuss?
Murphy Jensen doesn’t understand why so much fuss was made about his no-show for a mixed doubles match, which resulted in a default.
Jensen says it was simply a matter of being late for work, and was a bit embarrassed to face his family and the press right away.
“I defaulted because I lost track of time and was late for work. It’s not like I swore at an official or mooned the queen of England,” Jensen said.
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