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"There was no trap," Becker says firmly. "I've had these concerns for a long time. I wanted to say these things, and I aimed them deliberately to come out when they did." (It was a two-part interview that received maximum exposure during the weeks of the Davis Cup final in Stuttgart and the Australian Open in Melbourne.)
"People who doubt me must think I live in some void," says Becker. "But I've talked to East Germans about [reunification]. There will be a difficult adjustment. The young ones want to speed up everything, the old ones are afraid. I spent 10 days with Karen's family—her mother and grandparents—in Leibsdorf, south of Berlin. This was just a week before the Wall came down. They agree with me.
"You want to know about backward? In America you speak of one-traffic-light towns. In Leibsdorf there are no traffic lights."
In the Sports interview Becker also spoke with new candor about some of his tennis opponents.
Asked which player made the most of his abilities, Becker said, "Tim Mayotte is a world champion. He can't do anything. He's terrible at the baseline. He made it to Number 10 only with a serve and volley and practice—without any talent."
How about Yannick Noah?
"Noah is also a Number One. Yannick moves beautifully, but this has nothing to do with tennis. If Noah were white and had short hair, he would be Number 50." Why, because white players are intimidated by blacks? "Maybe. [Noah] has a good serve but that's all. No player among the top 100 has such bad ground strokes.... He makes the most out of his limited means."
Asked about Lendl, Becker said, "He is very, very much wrapped up in himself, very egotistical.... Just imagine: For years you've been Number One, 2 or 3 and no one likes you.... During tournaments he is terrible. But in private he is O.K. He's simply much too grim, too much of a fanatic.... He doesn't play tennis; he works tennis....
"Quite honestly, if Lendl would beat me constantly because he took steroids, I would take them too. I would try to even out our chances; that's what this is all about."
Additionally, Becker said he told McEnroe before they played in the Paris Indoor tournament in early November, "If you start behaving like a beast during the match, I will turn into the bigger beast and I will destroy you."