A Verbal Volley With Boris Becker
Six-time grand slam winner Boris Becker’s name is synonymous with the sport of tennis. At 17, he was the youngest player ever to win the Wimbledon in 1985. He proved that this wasn’t a one-off victory by successfully defending the title the next year. Master of the grass court, the stalwart was less fortunate on clay, although his signature well-placed and fast serve succeeded in getting him out of many a tight spot. As aggressive off the court as he was while playing, his rivalry with John McEnroe contributed vastly in popularising the sport and boosting its viewership. The tradition of gripping rivalries continues with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battling it out in recent years, spilling on to Novak Djokovic, whom he coached from 2013 until recently. Currently, he is a commentator for BBC at the Wimbledon, which is fitting considering this is the court closest to his heart. Here’s Becker in a verbal volley with Verve.
Are you still as aggressive on the court today?
“I retired long back but whenever I get on the court, the infamous aggressive style of play naturally comes to me. It’s just how I love to play. But I also adjust to the situation and analyse the game.”
Rivalries are extremely entertaining for spectators. What do they mean for the players?
“Sportsmen are always different on and off the court. Nadal and Federer are great players of this generation and it is very natural for people to talk about their rivalries. From a sportsman’s point of view, things do get heated while a game is on and such clashes do yield interesting matches for the spectators. It also pushes us mentally to deliver our best. But once you are off that court, you are just professionals and players know how to act.”
You have been coaching Djokovic since 2013 until recently. How similar is his game to yours?
“Novak is a competitor at heart. He has the mental ability to handle really stressful situations on the court in the big matches. That is something which I would always follow when on court. Djokovic is very disciplined, hard-working, opinionated and emotional.”
Did you ever want your son, Noah, to take up tennis professionally? What do you think of this new brand of music that he is a part of?
“He loves the sport but at the same time I respect his decision and fully support his ambitions. I think it’s a great step for him because he is doing what he loves.”
How important is having the right sports equipment and clothing brand on his/her side for a player?
“Sports equipment play a major role in training a player. The right set of gear always adds to the natural talent that a player possesses. For example Puma’s (now called) Boris Becker shoes aided in my unique style of play on the court. The right set of sports equipment and clothing act like performance enablers and aid in the development of a player.”
Favourite tennis player of all time: Björn Rune Borg
Best player currently: Novak Djokovic
Favourite court: Wimbledon, because that is the place where everything started for me.
Favourite Indian food: Chicken Tandoori.
Favourite Indian place: Taj Mahal. I visited the place recently and I loved it.
Becker was in New Delhi to launch Puma’s Boris Becker footwear collection along with his son Noah Becker. This collection is inspired by Becker’s first Wimbledon victory. Primarily made for the court, it also finds a place in the athlete’s closet.
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