Young players lose focus before they mature, says Boris Becker
December 10 2013 11:06 PM
Former world no. 1 tennis players Romania’s Ilie Nastase (left) and Germany’s Boris Becker in conver
Former world no. 1 tennis players Romania’s Ilie Nastase (left) and Germany’s Boris Becker in conversation at the launch of Doha GOALS forum at Aspire

Boris Becker was just seven months past 17 when he became Wimbledon champion in 1985, the youngest ever and the first German to do so at the time. He repeated the feat the next year too.

The ‘red-headed phenomenon’ went on to win one more Wimbledon, two Australian Opens and a US Open. Sadly, his exploits failed to inspire the future generations. There’s been no German among the top five for quite some time now, and the immediate future doesn’t look very bright either.

What’s gone wrong with German tennis? “There are several reasons. During my playing days, we were surrounded by talented teenagers… There was Michael Chang, there was Stefan Edberg… Pete Sampras started quite young, so did Roger Federer. The one thing common in all of them was focus,” Becker said at the sidelines of the Doha GOALS forum here, where he is one of the speakers.

He continued, “That’s not the case with today’s boys. Too much information can be distracting, and that can make you lose focus. I think that’s the problems with today’s youth. They lose focus before they can mature. Show me one teenager today who can do crazy things on court, like we used to do. I can’t recall any young German who has managed to take a set off say Federer or (Rafael) Nadal. A lot needs to be done, and I can go on talking for two hours on this topic…”

The topic veers towards Nadal. Can he beat Federer’s record haul of 17 Grand Slams?

“If you had asked me that question a year or two back, perhaps I would have said no. But the way he (Nadal) has been playing, in particular this year after his comeback from injury, I think he can. He already has 13 titles, he’s playing some amazing tennis, and he’s only 27. Yes, he can.

“After all that happened to him last season (Nadal was out for nearly eight months with a left knee injury), to return and have the success he has had this year is almost a miracle. For him, nothing is impossible. He will go on to win many more titles,” the German legend said.

Becker also believes that Federer has it in him to win at least one more Grand Slam. “Let’s admit that he’s not getting any younger, he’s already 32. But I still feel that he can win one more… He’s a genius, he’s extremely talented, and he’s still supremely fit.  But he will have tough competition obviously. Tennis, unfortunately, has today become a younger man’s sport, you need younger legs to cope with the power game today’s players,” he opined.

The 46-year-old was all praise for Qatar and the way the country has developed its sporting infrastructure.

“I think Qatar has set an example to the world on how to wisely invest your natural resources. The country has been governed very smartly. It has exploited its resources in a very intelligent way. The infrastructure it has built would serve as a legacy for years to come.”


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