Boris Becker, the two-time Wimbledon men's singles champion, has agreed to play in the Sovran Bank/D.C. National Tennis Classic this month, tournament officials said yesterday.
Becker decided to come to Washington for the tournament, July 27-Aug. 2, because he wants to play on the new hard surface at Rock Creek Tennis Stadium and because, coincidentally, he will be within easy flying distance.
Becker will play for West Germany's Davis Cup team in Hartford, Conn., July 24-26 and then will travel here for his first appearance in the Washington tournament. He has played in the District before, in an exhibition.
His decision to play here means the tournament will feature the two top-ranked men's players: Ivan Lendl and Becker.
Officials said Becker will become the tournament's No. 2 seed behind Lendl. Jimmy Connors and Yannick Noah also are in the tournament, which has switched from Har Tru, the traditional synthetic clay surface, to DecoTurf II, the same hard surface used at the U.S. Open.
Like some of the other players, Becker told tournament officials he wanted to play in Washington to tune up for the U.S. Open, Sept. 1-13.
"We're delighted," said tournament manager Jan Smith. "It's a shot in the arm for the tournament. Boris Becker is one of the most exciting and important players in professional tennis right now. . . .
"This points out how our tournament has grown in popularity over the years. Since we changed to the new surface, we believe we will continue to have stronger fields, and this certainly is the best field we've had in years."
Neither Becker nor Ion Tiriac, his manager, could be reached for comment.
Becker, 19, was the two-time defending Wimbledon champion when he lost to unseeded Peter Doohan in four sets in the second round last month.
Because he missed the D.C. tournament's entry deadline, Becker was given one of the tournament's five wild-card entries, Smith said. The other four likely will go to lower-ranked players or players from the area.