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April 19, 1999

Boris Becker


It's understandable to see you with a big smile on your face after that. It was quite an astonishing match all around, wasn't it?

BORIS BECKER: Yeah. You know, it was a match where we both had many ups-and-downs. On both sides we had chances, in the second set especially, for me to win it a bit easier, but then in the third set for him to win it a bit easier, to win it at all. But, you know, for me fortunately that's clay court tennis. Sometimes it's unfortunate to me. You know, you always have a chance. Even though you're a break down or you're breakpoints down, on the clay you always have a chance. I was able to use my chances.

Q. How important were the five matches in Hong Kong to make you match tight for a close one like this?

BORIS BECKER: Well, I think what I've mentioned to other colleagues of yours in Key Biscayne already that I'm able to play now week after week, I always have a few matches. Hong Kong was ideal to have five matches. Definitely my form is improving, obviously, and my fitness is fine. You know, I wasn't really tired today. Yeah, that was partly the reason I was able to pull it out today, was because I had the five matches in Hong Kong, where I had tough encounters as well.

Q. How difficult was the wind out there?

BORIS BECKER: It was difficult because it was swirling around, you know, so you didn't feel on one side you were playing against it and the other side it's in your favor. It was going back and forth all the time and it made it difficult sometimes.

Q. You mentioned there were lots of ups-and-downs in the match. Is that what you find most difficult now, to sustain a level throughout a long match?

BORIS BECKER: Well, I haven't had so many long matches in the last year, two years. So, yes, with the players I'm playing this week, you know, Pioline as one of them, obviously in order to beat him in two sets you need to play on an extremely high level for an hour and a half. In practice, you just don't find that. You only find it by going out there and trying your best. So I was fortunate to have a match like today. It's going to help me in the long run now.

Q. You've beaten him nine times out of nine matches. What's the reason? His game? His character?

BORIS BECKER: I'll tell you, all matches have been incredibly close. I cannot say that I know how to play him. Yes, I've beaten him nine times in a row. I remember the ones in Wimbledon we have five sets. Today was another very, very close match. So I cannot say that I know how to play him. Probably I find a way to win. That's maybe the difference.

Q. Both of you say the matches were close, but it's the first time you lost a set to him on clay.

BORIS BECKER: Usually I beat him in two sets on clay?

Q. Yes.

BORIS BECKER: I didn't know that (laughter). I mean, before going to the match, I obviously know I have played Cedric a number of times. In fact, we practiced here last week. We know each other very well. I always know that I have to work very hard to win my games. So far I've been coming out on top, but I can't say that I know exactly how to play him, no.

Q. I remember you once said in Hamburg, "I saw the weather this morning, it was cloudy, I thought, 'I don't have as good a chance.'"

Q. Do you still feel on clay when the sun is shining your chances are so much better than when it's cloudy?

BORIS BECKER: Well, of course. I'm an attacking type of player, I'm a serve-and-volley type of player. The more rainy, the more damp it gets, the slower it gets. But then it depends on my opponent. If I have an aggressive kind of player, then we're even. But if I have really somebody who loves the slow conditions, then it's his favor. That's normal.

Q. Do you feel that he has a kind of complex against you because you've won nine out of nine? Do you feel that?

BORIS BECKER: I mean, I don't know. I think I'm a pretty good player after all. To be able to beat me, you know, you have to play well. I'm not going to give it to you; you have to beat me. I'm not going to lose it. Today, 3-Love, I felt that he already thought he'd won. Obviously I play on the lines sometimes, but I play on the lines 15 years. After all, it's where I aim. I happen, on a good day, to hit exactly the line on purpose. But that's normal for players of my standard. Either you're going to beat me easy, but once I'm in a match, when I win a set, you have to beat me, I'm not going to lose. That's maybe the difference.

Q. With the change in the draw and you had to play Rios and now you saw Pioline, it didn't matter to you?

BORIS BECKER: Well, at this stage, I'm just glad to be alive (laughter). I can't tell you that it made a big difference. I've played Marcelo last year twice on the clay, and I've beat him actually once. It really depends in a draw like that on the particular day. Pioline, the finalist of last year, obviously it was a tough draw as well. I can't say that Pioline was much easier than Rios, no. Both are excellent players.

Q. What do you mean by "a player of my standard"?

BORIS BECKER: By winning major championships. I think it's a different ballgame when you have players who play well, win matches, or you have players who win major championships. Usually those kind of players in a critical situation, they're not going to lose it, or very rarely they're going to lose it; you have to beat them. That's what I mean.

Q. Even on this last year?

BORIS BECKER: I think I'm preparing a hundred percent, I'm a professional. A lot of people come out on the court, I'm not going to go half-hearted. Once I go, I go full. So as long as I decide to play and as long as I go out on the court, I'm a professional, and I play a hundred percent.

Q. Did you give some illusions to Pioline in the practice match losing to him one week ago?

BORIS BECKER: We played four games only (laughter). It was 2-All.

Q. When you retire in the autumn-time and you think back, what will be your thoughts on clay courts, in general? Will it be opportunities that might have been?

BORIS BECKER: Well, I'm probably the best player who never won a clay court tournament for the moment (laughter). But, yes, I'm not going to play too many more clay court tournaments. I don't have to remind you about my match points here or in other tournaments where I reached the final. But that comes with the package. You know, I had luck on other surfaces. In order to win such a tournament, you need a bit of luck, as well. I used all my luck in Wimbledon, so I can't blame nobody.

Q. Since you made the decision to retire, have you had a chance of additional purpose that you maybe lacked in the 18 months up till now?

BORIS BECKER: I remember last year, whenever I gave myself the right preparation, I was always good, you know, to win matches. Obviously now I know in every practice or every tournament, it's the last one, therefore I'm not going to waste time of trying to find excuses or so. I made a decision, I'm here for good, and I'm trying to make the best of it.

Q. You may not know it, but since you've beaten Pioline today, tomorrow you will play the next French No. 1, Jerome Golmard. What do you know about his game?

BORIS BECKER: He had a tremendous year as far as I know. I think he won Dubai. He went on to win many more matches. I haven't played him, I suppose. He's a left-hander. He's a talented player. But, hey, we're in the Monte-Carlo Open. You don't have bad players here.

Q. Have you ever seen him play?

BORIS BECKER: I've seen him play, yeah.

Q. When Edberg retired, it was almost like his last year was his farewell tour. He kept getting presentations here, there and everywhere.

BORIS BECKER: Every week. I was trying to avoid that.

Q. Is that something that appeals to you?

BORIS BECKER: No, not at all. Obviously, it's a very personal decision. I don't want to share in a very personal decision with the whole world every week. Therefore, to make it easier for myself, I prolong that a little bit. I made two, three years out of it, each year playing less, so the hurt at the end is less.

Q. Really?

BORIS BECKER: I'll find out, but I hope so. I suppose so, yeah.

Q. Are you still playing well enough to have a chance of winning a clay court title?

BORIS BECKER: You know, as long as I'm able to move properly, as long as I give myself a chance, I'm in the second round, one of 32 players who have a chance.

Q. How many years? You said a couple of years.


Q. You have been playing two years that each year you play less. Do you think at the end the pain will be really nonexistent?

BORIS BECKER: I don't know. I said I suppose so, I hope so. But obviously when you go get away from it, as long as have been my breaks between tournaments, my wife is expecting another child in the summer, so there are a number of issues which are more important to me than whether I win or lose a tennis tournament. I hope I have grown a bit in the last two years to be able to say, "Hey, that was a great time, it was my profession, my passion, I like it very much, but now I go on to do other things."

Q. How do you pick the tournaments you like to play? I'm not surprised you decided to play Monte-Carlo. I am when you go to play in Hong Kong, for instance.

BORIS BECKER: You see, I was starting to practice again just before Key Biscayne. I played two, three weeks in a row. Usually last year every time around Davis Cup I was playing well, so I decided to use the momentum and to go to Hong Kong because I was in good shape, and it paid off. That's why I picked Hong Kong. I was going to seriously play Tokyo. You know, we had the Monday final and I couldn't do it. Then my father is very sick, as you know, so I had to go home and see him for a couple of days.

Q. Is he recovering?


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