Ever since the junior days, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg forged an incredible rivalry that saw 35 matches on the ATP Tour in 13 consecutive seasons between 1984-1996! Two of the most successful players from the second part of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s battled worldwide for some of the most significant titles of our sport, including Canada, Tokyo, Indian Wells, Cincinnati, Dallas, Queen’s Wimbledon, Paris and the Masters Cup. Between 1988-1990, Boris and Stefan competed in five matches on grass at Queen’s and Wimbledon, and they had to wait for six years to arrange another meeting on the fastest surface. On June 16, 1996, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg stood against each other on the court for the 35th and last time, with the German prevailing 6-4, 7-6 in the final at Queen’s, scoring his seventh ATP title on the beloved surface and the first since Wimbledon 1989! It was the last notable season for the German, who won the Australian Open, Queen’s, Vienna, Stuttgart and Grand Slam Cup to finish in the top-6.
As in their best years, Boris and Stefan were the players to beat that year at Queen’s, with the Swede ousting Goran Ivanisevic, Todd Martin and Tomas Muster to join Becker in the title match, his 77th and the last on the ATP Tour, retiring at the end of that season due to injuries. For the first time in five years, Becker became a Major champion in Melbourne and was at his best at Queen’s. The German defeated Chris Haggard, Jonathan Stark, Patrick Rafter and Wayne Ferreira to advance into the fifth Queen’s final, 11 years after winning the first ATP title in London at 17! Boris saved six out of seven break chances against Stefan, stealing the rival’s serve twice from as many opportunities to cross the finish line in straight sets and lift the 46th ATP crown. The German had more winners and fewer unforced errors, prevailing in those crucial moments to bring the encounter home in straight sets after the better performance in the more extended rallies.
At Queen’s 1996, Boris Becker beat Stefan Edberg in their last match.
After six good holds on both sides, Becker grabbed a break at 15 at 3-3 with a backhand winner before fending off two break chances in the next one to gain a 5-3 lead with a service winner. Serving for the set, Boris delivered an excellent hold to take the opener 6-4, staying focused in the second set’s second game to fire four winners in a row and repel two break points that kept him on the positive side of the scoreboard. Edberg reached two deuces on the return in game eight and had the opportunity to grab the set at 5-4, creating a set point that could have extended the encounter and his chances.
From 40-15 down, Edberg blasted three winners to prolong the game and create that break chance, denied by a powerful serve from Becker, who closed the game after a backhand error from the Swede to level the score at 5-5 to send the pressure to the other side. Stefan couldn’t endure it, and he suffered a break at love in game 11 when his volley found the net, allowing Becker to serve for the title. Out of a sudden, the German played the worst service game in the entire clash, suffering a break at 15 following Edberg’s return to set up a tie break. He stayed focused and clinched it 7-3 with a service winner to celebrate the first Queen’s crown since 1988.