Boris Becker’s tips on how to play on grass and how to win Wimbledon:
Bend your knees: “This is the No 1 thing. You move on grass totally differently to any other surface. It’s very slippery, very soft, and the ball bounces quite low. So therefore, whether you like it or not, you have to bend your knees at all times. The first couple of days, you’re going to feel it in your legs much more than on any other surface.”
Understand the movement of the ball: “On grass, the bounce is softer, meaning that it’s slower. On clay courts and hard courts, you sometimes play behind your opponent, as you want to go against play. On grass, you want your opponent to run into the open court because the ball slides away from him, and the players, once he gets to the ball, is likely to slip on the grass. You want your opponent to move.”
Shorten the points – drop-shots can be deadly, and come to the net when you can: “Shorten the points – players don’t do this enough. A drop-shot on grass is deadly. You don’t have to come to the net to play great volleys, but use the grass court to shorten the points. Most baseliners are uncomfortable with the net. If you have any feel or understanding of how to win quicker points you will know you must come forward and use the grass court. A lot of players play on grass the same way that they play on clay, and that’s why you have such long rallies.
“People say that you don’t have to serve and volley any more, and I understand that. You don’t have to serve and volley. But you can still come to the net. Even Nadal and Djokovic, the years that they won Wimbledon, were actually coming to net and looking for the quick volley. It’s frustrating for me. Playing on grass came naturally to me. I didn’t have to think. That was the same with players like Sampras and Edberg. But, with some of the others, that’s not natural. Therefore they don’t it.”
Don’t play as if you’re on a hard court. You’re not: “The grass is a little bit different to when I was playing, but it’s not a hard court. I think the balls are a bit thicker, so that slows the game down a little bit, but it’s still a grass court.”
Boris Becker is a supporter of the Barclays Ball Kids scheme.