Becker regains control, rejects Bergstrom's junk


WIMBLEDON, England -- This is the fiercest sight in tennis: Boris Becker screaming at himself in German.

His shoulders scrunch up. His face turns bright red. His eyes glaze over. Sometimes, he even throws his racket.

Mostly, he just broods.

"I get annoyed sometimes," Becker said. "I want to win in straight sets."

Becker got himself into trouble yesterday in the fourth round at Wimbledon. He was on Court 1, an intimate place where the spectators are packed in tightly and the rays of the sun slant in at awkward angles. He was facing a Swedish base-liner named Christian Bergstrom, a quick, darting player who changes pace and answers power with junk.

Becker was in control one minute and out of control the next. He lost a second-set tie-breaker and found himself struggling to regain his composure. But after giving himself a stern lecture, Becker won, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 7-6 (7-2), to advance into today's quarterfinals.

"I'm improving," Becker said. "But so is everyone else."

The men's final eight at Wimbledon is a weird combination of veterans and rookies, serve-and-volley specialists and base-liners.

Becker will meet Guy Forget, a 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 winner over Tim Mayotte. Defending champion Stefan Edberg will square off against Thierry Champion, who finished off a rain-delayed match against Derrick Rostagno yesterday, 6-7 (12-14), 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Jim Courier and Michael Stich will replay their French Open semifinal. In the last quarterfinal, David Wheaton will meet Andre Agassi.

Agassi, playing in front of the Princess of Wales yesterday, defeated Jacco Eltingh, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"It was exciting for me," Agassi said. "That was neat."

Much has been made of Agassi's all-white attire. But overlooked in the daily fashion reports is his tennis. He has been marvelous, trying to refashion his baseline game to cope with the bad hops and lightning speed of grass.

"I've been a power player wanting to just smack around ground strokes and knock somebody off a court," Agassi said. "But I'm starting to add a bigger serve. I'm starting to come in more, and I'm trying to add more dimensions to my game. But I think past champions have proven that they have their strengths and weaknesses."

Agassi, who lost in the first round in his previous Wimbledon appearance, in 1987, is pleasantly surprised by his progress this year.

"I just feel like a qualifier having the tournament of his life," he said. "I really haven't had time to stop and think about it. I'm really just going through the motions and hoping it continues."

Becker, a three-time champion who is aiming for his sixth final appearance in seven years, is intrigued by the quarterfinal mix. He and Edberg are the players with the most Wimbledon experience. But he says Agassi and Wheaton have championship form, even if they play dissimilar games. Agassi still draws his strength from the baseline; Wheaton plays a classic serve-and-volley game.

"That is the match that will be very entertaining for the spectators," Becker said. "There aren't too many surprises in the quarterfinals. Champion? Yes, he is a clay-courter. But the others, they all have interesting styles."

Waiting in the wings is Edberg, the champion who dominates the top of the draw.

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