A red-headed German Boris Becker made his Queen’s debut in 1985 at 17, turning it into an instant success after winning the title and forging a form that led him to the tennis glory at Wimbledon a few weeks later. Tim Mayotte stopped him in the quarters at Queen’s in 1986, and Boris was back on the winning way a year later. The German toppled Mayotte in the semi-final and defeated a former Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reclaim the title won two years ago, still as a teenager. Jimmy was a three-time Queen’s winner, and the first of those titles came at 19, when Becker was just four, winning it again in 1982 and 1983 and losing in the final against Mayotte in 1986. The veteran played great tennis to challenge world no. 2, taking the opening set but falling short in the rest of the encounter, missing a chance to add the fourth Queen’s trophy to his collection. A left-handed American held at love in the opening game with a service winner, and Becker responded with a solid hold and an ace in game two to level the score.
Boris drew few deuces in game three before Connors held without facing break chances, and the German brought the fourth game home with a service winner for 2-2. Jimmy held at love in game five and broke in the next one after a costly double fault from Becker, moving 4-2 ahead and controlling the scoreboard. His lead was a short-lived one, though, as Boris broke back a few minutes later to get back on the positive side of the scoreline before suffering another break to send the American 5-3 up. Serving for the set, Connors got broken at 15, and Boris was on the level terms after a hold at love in game ten, delivering another one with an ace at 5-6 to set up a tie break. A return winner pushed Jimmy 4-2 ahead, and he wrapped up the set with a lob winner in the tenth point to take the breaker 7-3 and move a set away from the title. A forehand winner gave Connors an instant break at the start of the second set before holding in game two after a service winner to cement his lead and get closer to the finish line.
In 1987, Boris Becker beat Jimmy Connors in the Queen’s final.
The third game could have proved crucial, with two more break opportunities for the American. Becker saved those and closed the game with an unreturned serve to avoid an even more significant deficit. Jimmy grabbed another good hold in game four for a 3-1 advantage and had another break opportunity in the next game that could have sealed the deal for him. Becker repelled it with a booming serve and held to stay in touch with the veteran, hoping to raise his level on the return and erase the deficit. In game six, Connors netted a backhand to lose serve, and Becker moved 4-3 in front after an ace a few minutes later. The momentum was on the side of the German, who fired a forehand winner to break Jimmy again in game eight and move 5-3 ahead. Boris closed the set with a service winner a few minutes later, rattling off five games in a row to turn the tables and get himself on the right way.
The final set kicked off with four good holds, and Becker drew first blood with a break at 2-2 when Connors netted a forehand, a shot that turned out to be one of the most important of the match. However, the encounter was far from over, as Jimmy broke back with a backhand drive volley winner to level the score at 3-3 and add more drama. Nonetheless, Becker found a way to score another break in game seven, only to hit a double fault in the next one to give serve away and keep the American on the positive side. The youngster read Jimmy’s serves much better than in the first part of the match and broke him at love in game nine to gain a 5-4 lead and serve for the victory a few minutes later. A smash winner gave him the match point in that tenth game, and he converted it with a diving volley to secure the second Queen’s crown in three years.