By 2008, fans had grown accustomed to seeing Roger Federer take on Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final, after the pair squared off for their sport's most prestigious title three years running.

Nadal would win one of the greatest matches in history to claim his first major away from Roland Garros. But before the Fedal rivalry was etched in the record books at the All England Club, another pair of all-court champions became the first male duo in the Open Era to contest three successive championships on the hallowed Centre Court.

Thirty years ago, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker played out their own classic five-setter at the London major. Much like Federer and Nadal, the two shared a refreshing mutual respect for one another.

"I will never say I was better than Stefan and he probably would say he was never better than me. We were very much equal," said Becker.


There was one notable difference in the pair's Wimbledon trilogy, in that their 1990 championship clash served up a good 'ol fashioned rubber match. Edberg triumphed in 1988 to capture his first Slam outside of the Australian Open, but Becker avenged his defeat a year later with a clinical performance to end a three-year major drought.

Edberg looked to be well on his way to victory in 1990 with a two-set lead, but in dropping his serve early in the third, Becker seized his opportunity to claw his way back into the contest.

"Oops, trouble. Boris sees his chance," recounted Edberg.

Edberg and Becker 
recount Wimbledon  
final trilogy

Edberg and Becker recount Wimbledon final trilogy

Getty Images

The German maintained his momentum to open a 3-1 lead in the decisive set, but his botching of a routine forehand volley enabled his rival to sense an opportunity, and Edberg proved to own the firmer hand when the match arrived at its pinnacle climax. The final score: Edberg wins, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4.

"One of my hardest matches, because I felt I had the match in my pocket," Becker reflected.

Sadly for tennis fans, the two would never square off in another major final, or in any round of a Grand Slam event, again. Becker would take 10 of their final 11 meetings—with his only defeat coming via retirement with the first set tied at 3-3 in their 1990 Paris-Bercy final—to finish with a 25-10 record against the Swede.