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Madrid – German tennis legend Boris Becker lauded Swiss maestro Roger Federer as having done more than anyone to change the game with his supreme technical ability.
“The guy who has changed tennis is Federer – beauty, technique, coordination and footwork,” Becker said in an interview published Monday in Spanish daily El Pais.
Becker said he had – at least to begin with – been less impressed with the raw, but at that stage unhoned, athleticism of Rafael Nadal, who along with Federer has defined the men's game over the past decade with 26 Grand Slam singles titles between them.
Meeting the Mallorcan when Nadal was a young teen just starting out, Becker opined: “His serve was rubbish. It was defensive, not a weapon. His technique was bad.”
Becker, who catapulted onto the stage when he won Wimbledon aged just 17 in 1985, said he advised the youngster to look hard at top servers and incorporate some of their technique.
Six-time Slam winner Becker, admitted that he had sometimes struggled to channel his emotions – particlarly as he made such an impressive entry into the game with his debut Wimbledon success, one he promptly repeated a year later.
“I was too weak to hide my emotions – this showed my opponents my moments of weakness,” explained Becker, adding that such wily rivals as John McEnroe would swiftly take advantage.
He insisted that, in an era where sport can appear awash with cash, “I did not play for money – many (players') motivation surrounds winning their first million. Mine was to be the best.”
Now a father of four, twice-married Becker laughed off any idea of being a “playboy” figure, saying that “if at the age of 45 you feel the need to go off chasing (women) as when you were 25 then you've learned nothing.” – Sapa-AFP