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An epic encounter between two very evenly matched opponents.

This was the final of the year-end championships, which was held at Madison Square Gardens on indoor carpet. Lendl had beaten Stefan Edberg in the semis, while Becker had beaten Jakob Hlasek. (Incidentally, Mats Wilander, who won 3 slams that year, was eliminated at the round-robin stage, and Andre Agassi qualified for the YEC that year for the first time.)

Alongside the intense, high-quality tennis, the match had drama galore, with contentious calls, a fist-fight in the crowd, Ivan calling someone in the crowd an asshole, swings of momentum, Becker dive volleys, an umpire who looks like he has wandered off the set of Bright Lights, Big City (just to remind us we're in the '80s) and the dramatic net cord to end all dramatic net cords.

Watching the whole match enhanced my appreciation of both players. There were dips in quality in the third and the fourth sets, but both players raised their games for the deciding set. Lendl broke Becker at 5:5 in the fifth, but then Becker played an extremely bold and aggressive return game to force the tiebreak.

More than anything else, I think what made the difference was the rhythm Becker found on his BH wing late in the fourth and in the fifth. All of a sudden, that side became very secure and he hit many excellent winners.

And, yes, that match point, wow!
 

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(You need to go to YouTube to view the points, which is messing a little with the timestamp, but the points I mean are within 10 seconds of where the video is directed to.)
 

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Lendl should’ve won this match, but Becker got in his head as usual. Paved the way for Becker’s ultra-successful 1989, beating Lendl in two close matches in Wimby/USO.
Yes, although Becker did play exceptionally well when down 5:6 in the 5th.

From 30:30 (see video) he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and played bold, aggressive shots:

 

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Yes, although Becker did play exceptionally well when down 5:6 in the 5th.

From 30:30 (see video) he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and played bold, aggressive shots:

Becker was a clutch, big-match player. He knew how to up his level when it mattered. Let’s also not forget that Wilander beat Lendl in a super tight match a few weeks before at USO. This destroyed Lendl’s confidence in tight, big matches.
 

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Becker was a clutch, big-match player. He knew how to up his level when it mattered. Let’s also not forget that Wilander beat Lendl in a super tight match a few weeks before at USO. This destroyed Lendl’s confidence in tight, big matches.
Lendl's confidence cracked a bit after shoulder pain ruined his RG, and Becker-Wilander-Edberg, great players as they were, pressed hard to deepen the crack. Coming off from a massive high is always difficult.
 

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Lendl's confidence cracked a bit after shoulder pain ruined his RG, and Becker-Wilander-Edberg, great players as they were, pressed hard to deepen the crack. Coming off from a massive high is always difficult.
Yes, we should keep in mind Lendl was much older than his main competition (8 years older than Becker), and the fact that he ended up the best of the most competitive era in ATP history is incredible. Note that the other guys had at most one season of dominance, Lendl dominated for many years.
 
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