Where does he go from here?
What does he do for an encore, now that he's won tennis' most prestigious title?
Bjorn Borg had just turned 20 when he won his first Wimbledon. Lew Hoad, Pancho Gonzales and Jimmy Connors were 21. John McEnroe was 22.
If they were phenoms, what does that make the wunderkind Boris Becker?
Gives him a heckuva chance to be a player someday, doesn't it?
Eight other unseeded players -- one of them Rod Laver in 1959 -- went to the final at Wimbledon before Becker. None even won a set.
"I should have had the advantage, being older (27), being in the semis before (1983), being on Centre Court -- but maybe he was too young to know all that," said Kevin Curren, whose service had chauffeured him past the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the world, then left him stranded with a bagful of frayed nerves against No. 20.
There are nits to pick in Becker's great vault upward. He didn't have to play any of the top four seeds, and you have to wonder if he'd have had such a successful final were either McEnroe or Connors playing instead of Curren. He beat four seeded players, but he had to go five tough sets with the 16th and last seed, Tim Mayotte, and beating the Swedes -- Joakim Nystrom, the seventh seed, and Anders Jarryd, the fifth -- is much easier on grass than on clay.
Curren, the eighth seed, is essentially a one-dimensional player. Not only did that dimension desert him -- he put just 46 percent of his first serves in play against Becker -- but he never lusted to play Becker in the final; he'd declared a preference for Jarryd, a far less powerful player. Curren appeared intimidated by the West German. For most of the first two sets Curren played as if in a coma. BBC television commentators frequently assessed Curren's play in terms of timidity. "I'm quite sure he's quaking inside," was a comment offered late in the third set.
But even if there are, on reflection, lingering doubts as to the pedigree of this championship, Becker would seem to have all the right stuff to be a champion.
Strength. As in stamina.
Speed. As in quickness.
Will. As in the kind of confidence that hints at arrogance.
At 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, Becker already is bigger than most tennis players, bigger than Borg, McEnroe and Connors. At 17, he is likely to get larger, and certainly stronger. Right now, he hits his ground strokes as hard as anyone in the game. If he gets much stronger, they may have to put chains on him.
He looks like such an archetypal jock: big in the neck, the shoulders, the thighs, sauntering jauntily as a sailor on liberty might. As it is, with his strawberry-blond hair, his freckles and his frosty blue eyes, he looks like Opie Taylor. Should we call him Baron von Opie? Were he an American, how easy it would be to imagine him as a Parade all-America linebacker and fullback from Enid, Okla., heading for Norman and Barry Switzer. He'd be wearing one of those high school letter jackets with the leather sleeves, with "Boomer" stitched above the heart, and under his name in the yearbook it would say: "Hey, bud, let's party," and, "This won't take but a minute, hold my coat." All the coaches would say the same thing about him: "Nobody works harder. Nobody wants it more."
Becker roots around the court like a hedgehog, going down and getting dirty. He doesn't mind bleeding; in fact, it seems he enjoys it. And if you let him, he will get in your face and melt your bones with his glare. In a sport in whcih bullies often are the most successful, he seems a natural. He is a very, very aggressive player. At 17, on the hallowed ground, on Centre Court in the final of Wimbledon, Boris Becker saw his moments, seized them and choked the very life out of them until they were his forever.
Curren, playing what he called a "horrific game," handed Becker the only break of the first set in Game 2. But in the third set Becker reversed the momentum by answering Curren's break in Game 7 with a break of his own in Game 8. And in the first game of the fourth set, when Curren desperately needed -- after losing the tie breaker -- to reestablish position by holding his serve, Becker broke him again.
It says a lot about what kind of will Becker has that he identified the turning point of the match not as the break in the fourth set, but in the third. "When I broke him back to 4-4," Becker said. "Now, I thought, I'm going to win."
The match was dead even then.
One set each, 4-4 in the third. To know it then is to have the inner conceit a champion needs.
It says a lot about Becker's financial plan for the future that he has already -- even before he broke back in the third -- relocated in Monte Carlo.
The first question asked of Becker after the match was if he thought he would go on to become the best tennis player ever. This of a player who has now won all of two tournaments. Both on English grass. One in June. One in July. This of a boy who doesn't even shave yet.
Becker smiled. "I think it's a little early to say," he said, quite correctly.
Bob Feller was a phenom at 17, as fast a pitcher as anyone had ever seen. In time it came to pass that he made good on his promise. But for every Feller there is a Von McDaniel, a comet who blazes past us so quickly it is as if we never even saw him. For every golfer like Lee Trevino who comes out of nowhere to win the U.S. Open and goes on to long and worthy stardom, there is an Orville Moody who does the same but quickly sinks back into the common pool whence he came.
The promise is there, but it's way too soon to keep.
Curren said, not ungraciously, of Becker, "He's beatable. His weakness is around the net. He's a bit out at sea up there. He isn't No. 1 now. If he had to play McEnroe all the time, he'd have no chance right now. But he can be No. 1 one day. He's 17. He has a lot of time to improve and a lot of room for improvement."
The last question Becker was asked was about the breadth of his ambition. What exactly was it?
"I'm playing in a tournament in Indianapolis in two weeks," the new Wimbledon champion said, "and I'd like to win the first round."
Even if you're going to be the new Mozart, you still have to play them one note at a time.