Boris Becker, the 17-year-old Wimbledon men's singles champion, yesterday withdrew from the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic because of an ankle injury.
A doctor in Monaco, where Becker and his mother had gone to flee publicity after he defeated Kevin Curren in the Wimbledon final Sunday, advised him to stay off his left ankle for five to 10 days, according to tournament director Henry Brehm.
Becker injured the ankle at Wimbledon a year ago and had to be carried from the court. Last week, he twisted the ankle in a match with Tim Mayotte. The Washington tournament will start Monday at Rock Creek Tennis Stadium, with qualifying Saturday and Sunday.
"We're disappointed," said Brehm. "But I think injuries are part of the game. We didn't expect Boris Becker to be such a hot sell before Wimbledon. It was a very pleasant surprise when he did so well at Wimbledon, and we're very disappointed now. It would have been exciting for Washington to see Becker play."
Brehm said $20,000 worth of tickets had been sold this week following Becker's victory in London, but that the final had been sold out before the Wimbledon semifinals.
By withdrawing with an injury, Becker avoids incurring any fine or being penalized in the rankings by the Men's International Professional Tennis Council. He is ranked No. 20 in the world.
A doctor will re-examine the ankle in five to 10 days, at which time a decision will be made on whether Becker will play in his next scheduled tournament, the U.S. Clay Court Championships in Indianapolis starting July 22.
Andres Gomez, the tournament's defending champion and No. 2 seed, might also withdraw. Gomez, who injured his right thigh Tuesday in the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships in Brookline, Mass., is in Washington and has seen a doctor.
"It feels a little better," Gomez said yesterday from his hotel room here. "The doctor said Wednesday there is a good chance I could play. I'm going to play tomorrow morning (Friday) and decide." The deadline for withdrawing without penalty is noon today.
"This is one of the sessions I like to play best," Gomez said. "I play best here. So far this year, I've had injuries and haven't performed the way I'd like. If I don't feel good tomorrow, I'll withdraw and try to be better and recover for Indianapolis rather than risk getting hurt here."
"I don't think this really affects the tournament," said John Harris, co-chairman of the event. "Two weeks ago, none of you knew who Boris Becker was . . . "
The D.C. National Bank Classic has firm commitments from Jimmy Connors, Yannick Noah, Aaron Krickstein, Jimmy Arias and Jose-Luis Clerc, among others.
Becker is scheduled to arrive today in his home town of Leimen, West Germany, according to Kurt Weber, president of the Blue-and-White Tennis Club, to which Becker belongs. Earlier in the week, the town put on hold a victory celebration for him when he flew to Monaco for a vacation instead of returning home.