After five days of pulsating action at Wimbledon, three-time champion Boris Becker delivers his opinion on the action so far, and looks ahead to the weekend’s action.
I am in the camp that wants to see Nick Kyrgios do well and fulfil his enormous potential — I love so much of what he brings to tennis. But to me he is at a crossroads, and the situation is getting urgent. I would go so far as to say that if he does not turn himself around in the next 12 months then it is never going to happen for him.
It worries me that he does not seem in a great hurry to change some of his bad habits. It is an individual sport and his lifestyle is down to him.
I actually like him, and I am really not that bothered if, within reason, he has an evening at the Dog and Fox before his match. He is not the first Aussie to adopt this approach. But really, does he want to be a top player with ideal preparation, or does he want to cruise along on his talent? Only he can answer this, and I hope it is the former.
There has, incidentally, been much discussion about him drilling the ball at Rafa Nadal at the net on Thursday evening. ‘Drilling’ your opponent is part of the game, Ivan Lendl and I used to do it to each other, for example. I have no problem with that.
But I looked upon it as a ruthless strategy, and Nick was too far back in the court on this occasion to fit that description. It was pointless from there and could have gone anywhere, maybe injured someone. So while I am not against going straight for your opponent when they are covering the net and you don’t have much option, I don’t think this was cool, and I would like to have seen him make a token apology. Even if you don’t mean it, employing a certain etiquette is important.
I can smell danger here for Serena against last year’s semi-finalist. On a good day you would make Serena favourite but on the evidence we have seen so far she is playing catch-up due to the fact that she has not played enough matches or tournaments this year.
She is going to have to improve if she is going to take the title and that has got to start today because nothing in her game has been working well enough yet. It is almost like she needs these matches in the early rounds to get herself to the level she wants to be — maybe playing with Andy in the mixed will help that process. You are going to see two of the biggest serves in the women’s game, lots of winners and probably plenty of unforced errors. Serena cannot wait any longer to step it up.
Roger made an uncertain start in his opening match against Lloyd Harris, but I am not concerned about that and he remains very much the favourite for me alongside Novak Djokovic. Since that first set I have been getting the sense that Roger is feeling his game, and he would be ready to play the semi-final now if needs be.
I am a great believer that it is not about the distant past but what you have been doing in recent months, and he has been playing well in that time. Lucas Pouille, coached by Amelie Mauresmo, is a good player but I do not see this being a Centre Court upset and Federer ought to be purring, going into the second week.
Both Jo Konta and Dan Evans have fair chances of progressing on Saturday, and I would be happy to see it because I like a comeback story.
My message to British fans is to really get behind their players, and it is particularly important in the case of Evans because he is clearly a guy who relishes the emotional connection with the crowd.
You look at some players and they are happiest when they are playing somewhere like Court 17, a bit out of the way. He is someone who likes to play on the big arena, and it will really help lift him if the crowds get behind him.
I like his game on grass, his quick hands, but Joao Sousa is a strong competitor. With neither of these players having made the fourth round before there is going to be a big mental dimension to the match.
I have been impressed with the way Konta has bounced back from the disappointment of getting so close to making the French final. That sort of missed chance can get to you, but she seems to have shrugged it off. Sloane Stephens is a tough opponent who is ranked higher but I would not be surprised to see Jo make the second week.
At the start of this week I said nothing would please me more than to see some of the young players in the men’s game contesting the semi-finals or the final. My prayers do not seem to have been answered.
So many of the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and Alex Zverev have ended up falling short of the hopes we had for them. I am actually going to leave sixth seed Tsitsipas out of it, because he made it to the semis of the Australian Open and, as I mentioned before the tournament, I still think he has a lot to learn about moving on grass.
But there is something missing among them as a group, maybe mentorship and mentality. I have a lot of time for Zverev who I know through my work in German tennis, and he has been doing some work with Ivan Lendl.
But it did not help that Ivan was not around for the two months before this tournament. You either have your mentor around or you don’t. I do think it is important to surround yourself with people who know what it takes to win a major championship but it needs to be done properly.
Still, all is not lost, and maybe someone will come through and surprise us next week.
It is always great to see a startling new talent emerge, and how could anyone not enjoy the performances of Coco Gauff? What made me smile more than anything, however, was seeing Andy Murray walk out on to Court 1 on Thursday evening. I remember him limping out of here in agony two years ago, and have followed his fortunes since.
I remember his emotional press conference in Australia in January when we all feared it might be the end for him. So to see him back out there doing what he loves most, pain-free and seemingly relaxed just six months later was inspiring and uplifting. It is early days yet but I hope we are going to see him back at Wimbledon for quite a few more years to come.