The Longshot: Boris on court, in court and on camera

The Longshot: Boris on court, in court and on camera

WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?: A new documentary tells how Boris Becker struggled with life on-court, off-court, and in court.

WHEN I was a child, I was fascinated by the Central African Republic. It was the name. Surrounded by cool names like Chad, Congo, and Cameroon, it had accepted what seemed to be the least imaginative option available, and I respected that.

In those pre-internet years, my access to information on the country was limited to a brief encyclopaedia entry that included its flag and a picture of some wooden boats on a brown river. As the years passed, I’d often perk up at any mention of this landlocked former French colony, but it was rarely in the news and other than usually being a good answer on the quiz show Pointless, it hardly ever crossed my radar.

Until one day, while flicking past a 24-hour news channel, something caught my eye scrolling across the ticker on the bottom of the screen. ‘Central African Republic says Boris Becker’s claims to be their diplomat are false and his passport is fake’. I know this because I took a picture of it on my phone, so astonished was I that all those words were able to make sense together.

A new documentary on tennis player Becker, the six-time Grand Slam winner, sheds some light on this story. It is a two-parter and maybe a little too long at nearly four hours (it’s on Apple TV: get a free trial instead of subscribing), but gives an excellent account of the German’s career and subsequent troubles. My favourite player back when Becker was in his pomp was his big rival, the Czech forehand maestro Ivan Lendl, on whom it would be hard to make a 10-minute documentary. Between the CAR and Lendl, I really knew how to pick them back in the day.

The distinguished true-story filmmaker Alex Gibney’s Boom Boom could have been called ‘From Wimbledon to Wandsworth’, as it’s just three miles from SW19 to the prison where Becker was initially incarcerated last year for bankruptcy offences. It’s worth a watch for anyone even slightly interested in that era of tennis, if only to find out how he became entangled with the CAR and tried to use diplomatic immunity and gain a seat at the UN’s Security Council to make proceedings against himself invalid. Unfortunately for Becker, there is as much in-court as on-court action.

His flirting with Andre Agassi’s fiancee, Brooke Shields, while they faced each other on centre court, is the most entertaining of the latter.

My favourite story about Becker is included, something that wasn’t revealed in that most fascinating account ever produced about a tennis star, Agassi’s autobiography, Open. Agassi and Becker met five times in Grand Slam semi-finals, but having been beaten in the opening three matches, Agassi would lose only one of the next 11, something he put down to Becker’s tongue. Agassi says he noticed that as Becker prepared to serve, “he would go into his rocking motion and as he was about to toss the ball, he would stick it out. And it would either be right in the middle of his lip or it’d be to the left corner of his lip. If he’s serving in the deuce court and he put his tongue in the middle, he was either serving up the middle or to the body. But if he put it to the side, he was going to serve out wide.

“The hardest part wasn’t returning his serve, it was not letting him know that I knew it!”

When Agassi eventually told Becker over a beer, he says the German almost fell off his chair. Becker said: “I used to go home and tell my wife, ‘it’s like he reads my mind’. Little did I know, you were reading my tongue.”

Meanwhile, this era’s teenage sensation, Carlos Alcaraz, who won the US Open last year after just turning 19, becoming the youngest World No.1 in history (Becker was just 17 when he won at Wimbledon) is in action this weekend. He enters today’s Barcelona Open quarter-finals as the 8/11 favourite to retain his trophy there. He has won five of his eight career titles on clay and the slower surface certainly enhances his prospects, but there is little value in him at odds-on, given that Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner (the wonderfully named Italian who is a decent price at 3/1) are still in contention.

Print and be damned with making any sense

SOMETIMES on the Echo sports desk we come across a reporter who has ‘buried the lead’.

This means they have left the most important information until the middle or even the end of an article.

Instead of telling us who has won a game (the scoreline on top is usually a giveaway) or who has bagged the winner, they run through a game chronologically before a big reveal.

Best practise taught to most of us early on in this game is to get the big news out in front first, if simply to get the reader’s attention.

Another thing that happens in newspapers is that sometimes there are printing errors (as opposed to typos caused by the writer).

Catastrophic mistakes are rarer now that presses are computerised rather than mechanised, although a recent example in one of our sister papers did run the headline: “Kate is Ireland’s only female”.

Possibly because the “qualified tower crane operator” part of the headline was lying hidden on the other side of a sports section pullout on a double-page spread.

A few weeks after your boss shouts at you, these things can come to seem sort of funny, even when you were responsible.

It’s the anniversary this week (it was Tuesday, but we were too busy giving dodgy Champions League tips then to notice) of the greatest printing error and accidental buried lead in the history of journalism.

It occurred in the Peterborough Standard on a Friday in 1980. I’ve included a picture of the page, but, for legibility reasons, we will type it out here. I hope I’m not hyping it up by saying it is the funniest thing I’ve ever read in a newspaper, part-Monty Python, part experimental poetry, and part John Motson having a stroke.

Imagining what Frank Parnell’s reaction was when opening the paper to read the account of the silver jubilee ceremony is something that puts me in a happy place.

Under the headline ‘The memories live on’, the following was printed:

The wrong printed word at the library.
The wrong printed word at the library.

CROWLAND’S Silver Jubilee committee was finally wound up on Thursday evening with a presentation ceremony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Parnell as ‘one of the finest efforts in Lincolnshire’, fremony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Parnell as one remony atremony aremony at the library.

The jubremony at the library. Tremony at remony at the library.

Thrremony at tremony at the liremony at the libraremony at the library.

Theremony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Premony rremony at the liremony aremony at the libremony atremony at tremony at the library. Tremorremony at the library. emony at the library.

The jubilee fund, described by chairman Frank Parnell as ‘one of the finest efforts in Lincolnshire’, fn he latched onto a through ball.

Although he was hauled down by the ‘keeper he still managed to stroke the ball home. But for the second week running Durant had to leave the field injured, this time suffering eye trouble.

The winning goal was another 25-yard shot again from Blackstones’ central defender coming from their second chance of the game.

Gary Cooper, recently signed from Queens Old Boys, had a good debut.

Limerick well out in front

LIMERICK are 4/7 to complete the four-in-a-row this summer and join the big three in managing that achievement with ash in their palms.

Kilkenny were the last team to do so, before faltering against Tipp in their drive for five in 2010. This year will be the first time that Kilkenny play in the championship without Brian Cody in charge, since back in the year I left school.

The 11-time Liam-winning coach replaced Ballyhale’s Kevin Fennelly after the Cats had been beaten by back-door magicians Offaly in 1998.

Derk Lyng has taken over after Cody failed to halt the Shannonsiders, despite an epic effort in last year’s decider, and they are 10/1 to go a step further this year.

Emphasising the task facing all the other teams, Galway, under Henry Shefflin for a second year, are second favourites, at 9/1, despite pushing the champs all the way in the semi-finals last July.

Citizen's not arresting

MAN CITY and Real Madrid meeting in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second year in a row isn’t something many would have ruled out at the beginning of the season. City are 8/11 to lift the European crown for a first time, with Real 10/3 to make it just the 15 titles. The Spaniards are also 9/4 to advance to another decider.

The other semi is one very few would have predicted (I picked Napoli to win outright), a Milan derby.

Especially considering the poor form of the two teams from the San Siro this season.

Now that away goals are discounted in the competition there will be no grumbling about who is getting home advantage in either leg.

Things look good domestically for City too as after losing two-goal leads on consecutive Sundays Arsenal have dropped to 9/5 to win the Premier League title while Man City are now odds-on at 4/9.

The Bet

GO for Tipp, Galway and Dublin to win in their hurling this weekend and Offaly, Galway, Armagh and Clare in football for a 30/1 accumulator.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

People holding phone with App

It's all about Cork!

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

It's all about Cork!

App Store LogoGoogle Play Logo
The Echo - Women in Sport Awards - Logo



Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Contact Us Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions

© Evening Echo Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523713

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more