Becker is all alone, in rankings, in celebration, after Aussie win

January 28, 1991|By Sandra Harwitt | Sandra Harwitt,New York Times

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Boris Becker was not interested in waiting for a computer to confirm he is the No. 1 male tennis player in the world.

The German star let the jam-packed stadium of 15,000 spectators know he is the best by sizzling an unstoppable forehand return on his second match point to beat Ivan Lendl, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, yesterday and capture his first Australian Open championship and the fifth Grand Slam title of his career.

After the victory, Becker, who had to overcome a stiff back early in the match, was jubilant, smiling broadly and jumping up and down with his finger in the air to indicate his new stature, as the victory moved him past Stefan Edberg on the Association of Tennis Professionals-IBM computer.

Becker then followed up his on-court gymnastics by running out of the stadium and jogging around a little park with a couple of trees in search of solitude, as he put it later.

When it came time to accept his trophy, Becker gave what could be one of the shortest acceptance speeches ever.

"This is an unbelievable moment for me; I can't say much, I'm sorry," said Becker, 23, who had not captured a Grand Slam title since he won the U.S. Open in 1989. He won Wimbledon in 1985, 1986 and 1989.

Becker, who is the ninth male player to be No. 1 since the computer rankings were started in 1973, is usually able to chitchat with the best. But not yesterday, not after such an important achievement.

"It was a very special moment for me," Becker said later of the moments just after he prevailed. "I couldn't talk. I went out for a run to be by myself. It's not easy to be with many people at that moment."

On Saturday, Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, 17, become the youngest Australian Open women's champion in history, beating Jana Novotna of Czechoslovakia 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

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